Discriminatory Language Changes Barely Mentioned For New URAR

Focus is on making new form coming in 2024 more user friendly

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Doug Page
Bias Discrimination

Changes to the form, said Denise Rivoal, Fannie Mae’s manager for single-family mortgage business — digital products, are expected to be finalized in 2024.

“The new URAR form will be very user friendly,” said James Babalitis, senior manager for single-family mortgage business — digital products at Fannie Mae. “It will be standardized, well-structured and readable.

“The key thing is the old form had pages and pages of addenda. In the new report, all the data and photos will be contained in their relevant section,” he added.

He also said the new version of the URAR will be “machine readable.”

The idea behind the changes, Babalitis said, is to create a form that will identify “risk indicators with more discrete data.”

One of the problems with the current form, said Kasie Lynn, a Freddie Mac manager, is that it’s filled with “pages and pages of free form text at the end of the report,” making it difficult to read.

The changes will allow an appraiser “to tell the story of the subject property and (those properties considered to be its) comparables.

“It’s broken down by section so there are pictures of the comparables so you can easily read it and things are more specific. So, if there’s an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) on the property, you’d be able to pull in those fields,” she added.

In addition, Lynn said, the report’s previous pages of addenda will be replaced by commentary that’s relevant to each section of the report.

The only time bias and discrimination was mentioned was when she said, “We have updated the certification language around bias and discrimination. They’ve been broken out into five different certifications.”

She did not describe what those certifications meant.

Late last year, the FHFA, in a detailed blog piece, provided examples of biased and discriminatory language in appraisals, saying it could be reduced if “more objective free-form text narratives” were used, an approach supported by Freddie Mac.

In its June 2021 Appraisal Update, Fannie Mae provided examples of appraisal phrases it considers “problematic” along with ways it suggests the same information could be described without bias.

The panel’s other topic was the Supplemental Consumer Information Form (SCIF), which the FHFA requires lenders to use for mortgages that are sold to the GSEs.

The purpose of the SCIF, said Rivoal, is to collect information about a prospective borrower’s language preference and any homebuyer education or housing counseling they received.

This will help lenders better understand a prospective borrower’s needs, she said, and lenders will also be required to keep a copy of the SCIF.

Doug Page Headshot
Doug Page
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine November 2022 issue.
Published on
Oct 28, 2022
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