Appraisers Blame Countrywide for Lost Income

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MORTGAGE EXPERT
10 · 16 · 08

A group of appraisers has filed a class-action lawsuit against Countrywide Financial Corp. claiming the mortgage giant was responsible for damaging the business of thousands of appraisers.

Capitol West Appraisers filed the lawsuit today in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against the Calabasas, Calif.-based company, according to an announcement from the plaintiffs’ law firm, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.

The plaintiffs claim that appraisers who don’t come in at values expected by Countrywide are blacklisted. The field review list reportedly included 2,000 blacklisted appraisers as of Aug. 28.

“Capitol West Appraisers refused to succumb to Countrywide’s alleged pressure to compromise its integrity and independence and refused to commit fraud and violate federal and state laws,” the press release stated. “As a result, the company made the field review list.”

The Boise, Idaho, appraisal firm claims that since it has landed on Countrywide’s appraiser blacklist, its revenues have declined by $8,000 monthly.

Countrywide’s actions have also allegedly caused real estate prices to be distorted.

Thousands of appraisers have suffered damages as a result of being blacklisted, the statement said. Lawyers for the plaintiff hope to include all of the blacklisted appraisers as part of the class.

However, the announcement does not acknowledge that even a single appraiser may have been blacklisted because of appraisal deficiencies. And no mention was made that severely declining originations may have impacted the appraisal business.

The appraisal industry has largely blamed originators — and not appraisers — for fraudulent appraisals with inflated fair market values. Appraisers claim they inflated values because they feared they would lose business and income if they didn’t.

Bank of America Corp. spokeswoman Eloise Hale told MortgageDaily.com that the company had not yet been served and could not comment.

Capitol West Appraisals LLC, on behalf of itself and all other similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. Countrywide Financial Corp., Countrywide Bank N.A., Countrywide Home Loans Inc., Landsafe Inc. and Landsafe Appraisal Services Inc., Defendants.
Case No. C08-1520 RAJ, Oct. 16, 2008 (U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington)

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