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CFPB and Federal Agencies Seek Comment on Proposed Automated Valuation Models Rule

BY: Morey Barnes Yost, Aileen Ng, Nanci Weissgold
Home mortgage

A&B Abstract:

On June 21, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), along with five federal regulatory agencies (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) (the “Agencies”), published for public comment a proposed rule to implement the quality control standards mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) for the use of automated valuation models (AVMs) by mortgage originators and secondary market issuers in valuing the collateral worth of a mortgage secured by a consumer’s principal dwelling.


Section 1473(q) of the Dodd-Frank Act amended the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), adding 12 U.S.C. § 3354, to address the use of AVMs to estimate the collateral value of a mortgage for mortgage lending purposes.  The statute sets forth the framework for developing quality control standards to which AVMs must adhere and directs the Agencies to promulgate regulations implementing the standards.

Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) and Covered AVMs

The term “AVMs” refers to computerized models used by mortgage originators and secondary market issuers to determine the value of a consumer’s principal dwelling collateralizing a mortgage.  Under the proposed rule, the quality control standards are applicable only to AVMs used in connection with making credit decisions or covered securitization determinations regarding a mortgage, for example, when determining a new value before originating, modifying, terminating a mortgage, or making other changes to a mortgage including a decision whether to extend new or additional credit or change the credit limit on a line of credit, or placing a loan in a securitization pool.  Other uses, such as monitoring collateral value in mortgage-backed securitizations after they have already been issued over time or validating an already completed valuation of real estate, would not be subject to the proposed rule.

Applicability 0f the Proposed Rule
Mortgage Originators and Brokers

The proposed rule would not apply to mortgage brokers if they do not engage in making covered credit decisions or securitization determinations.  As proposed, the term “mortgage originator” would follow the same definition contained in the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), at 15 U.S.C. § 1602(dd)(2).  The term would generally include creditors, as defined in TILA, such as, any person who originates two or more high-cost mortgages in any 12-month period.  Further, the term is also defined broadly to include mortgage brokers.

Mortgage Servicers

Following the exception in TILA, the proposed rule would also generally not cover mortgage servicers unless they perform any of the stated origination activities for any new extensions of credit, including a refinancing or an assumption.  For example, the proposed rule would apply to a mortgage servicer that both uses covered AVMs to engage in credit decisions and performs any of the stated origination activities.  According to the preamble, once the definition of “mortgage originator” is met, a mortgage servicer would be required to comply with the requirements of the proposed rule any time it uses an AVM to determine the collateral worth of a mortgage, including when such usage does not involve a new extension of credit such as a loan modification or reduction of a home equity line of credit.

Secondary Market Issuers

The proposed rule would apply to certain secondary market participants.  It defines the term “secondary market issuer” to mean “any party that creates, structures, or organizes a mortgage-backed securities transaction,” which includes coverage of entities that are responsible for determining the collateral worth of a mortgage when issuing mortgage-backed securities.  This would encompass secondary market participants in the securitization process that make these types of determinations, as opposed to verifying or monitoring such determinations.

Business Purpose and Commercial Loans

With respect to non-residential loans, the proposed rule would reach further than TILA.  The proposed rule includes a definition of “dwelling” that follows that contained in Regulation Z (which implements TILA), at 12 C.F.R. § 1026.2(a)(19).  However, unlike TILA, the proposed rule would apply when a mortgage is secured by a consumer’s principal dwelling, even if the mortgage is primarily for business, commercial, agricultural, or organizational purposes.

Quality Control Standards Address Valuation Bias and Discrimination

The proposed rule would require institutions that engage in covered credit decisions or securitization determinations themselves or through or in cooperation with a third party affiliate, to adopt policies, practices, procedures, and control systems to ensure that the use of AVMs adhere to quality control standards.

The proposed rule defines “control systems” to mean the functions (such as internal and external audits, risk review, quality control, and quality assurance) and information systems that are used to measure performance, make decisions about risk, and assess and effectiveness of processes and personnel, including with respect to compliance with statutes and regulations.

In keeping with FIRREA, these standards would be designed to:

  • Ensure a high level of confidence in the estimates produced by AVMs;
  • Protect against the manipulation of data;
  • Seek to avoid conflicts of interest; and
  • Require random sample testing and reviews.
Extension to Nondiscrimination Laws

However, in the proposed rule, the Agencies take the standards one step further than the Dodd-Frank Act mandate, by including that AVM quality control standards must comply with applicable nondiscrimination laws.  Exercising their statutory authority to account for other appropriate quality control factors, the Agencies included this fifth factor to address concerns about the potential for AVMs to produce property estimates that reflect discriminatory bias.

As a result, this proposed factor would create an independent requirement for institutions to establish policies and procedures to specifically address nondiscrimination and fair lending laws, such as the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and its implementing Regulation B, and the Fair Housing Act.  To that end, the preamble specifically notes that ECOA and Regulation B prohibit discrimination in any aspect of a credit decision, which “extends to using different standards to evaluate collateral” including “the design or use of an AVM in any aspect of a credit transaction in a way that would treat an applicant differently on a prohibited basis or result in unlawful discrimination against an applicant on a prohibited basis.”  The Agencies’ inclusion of the addition of this fifth factor is consistent with the focus of the Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (“PAVE”), as we have previously discussed, on addressing issues of bias and discrimination in residential property appraisal.

The proposed rule does not include specific requirements on how institutions are to structure their policies and procedures – an approach intended to provide institutions the flexibility to set quality controls for AVMs as appropriate, based on the size of the institution and the risk and complexity of transactions for which AVMs will be used.

Use of AVMs by Appraisers Not Subject to Proposed Rule

A certified or licensed appraiser using AVMs in the development of an appraisal would not be subject to the proposed rule due to the Agencies’ recognition that appraisers must make valuation conclusions that are supportable independently and do not rely on the results produced by AVMs in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and its interpreting opinions.  The Agencies also acknowledge that it may be impractical for mortgage originators and secondary market issuers to adopt policies and procedures relating to AVMs used by multiple independent appraisers with which they work.

However, the proposed rule would cover the use of AVMs in preparing valuations required for certain real estate transactions that are exempt from the existing appraisal requirements under the appraisal regulations issued by the OCC, Board, FDIC, and NCUA (such as transactions that have a value below the exemption thresholds in the appraisal regulations).  Additionally, the Agencies’ existing guidance regarding AVMs would remain applicable separately from the proposed rule; for example, the OCC, Board, FDIC, and NCUA have issued guidance about prudent appraisal and evaluation programs in Appendix B to the Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines.


If adopted, the proposed rule would require regulated mortgage originators and secondary market issuers to take appropriate steps and adopt policies, practices, procedures, and control systems to ensure that the use of AVMs in valuing real estate collateral securing mortgage loans adhere to the specified quality control standards, including compliance with nondiscrimination laws to avoid potential valuation bias.  While the proposed rule does not contain specific requirements, it would require institutions to create their own policies and procedures to ensure the credibility and integrity of the valuation determinations produced by AVMs.

Comments must be received by August 21, 2023.

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