The New URAR: A Complex Decision Tree For Appraisers

Mortgage News May 11, 2023

The Uniform Residential Appraisal Report (URAR) is a crucial document for real estate appraisers. It provides a comprehensive evaluation of a property’s value, which is used by lenders, insurers, and other parties in making informed decisions. Recently, the URAR underwent a significant overhaul, and its new format has generated a lot of buzz. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the new URAR and explore its key features.

The new URAR is more of a decision tree or flow chart than a traditional form. It is designed to trigger new sections and required data and supplements based on the appraiser’s responses to “yes/no” questions. For example, if an appraiser notes a deficiency in the property, the form will prompt them to provide further details about the repair and estimated costs. This decision tree model enables the GSEs (government-sponsored enterprises) to use the same form for almost any residential property type imaginable.

One of the most significant changes in the new URAR is its format. The new format is designed to eliminate narrative in favor of discrete fields of data, making it easier for underwriters and reviewers to analyze the appraisal report. However, this change has divided active field appraisers. While some applaud the effort to create a format that doesn’t result in a reviewer searching the document for a keyword or phrase, others have expressed concerns about the limited information in discrete fields. They fear that reviewers may request a narrative to “tell the story” elsewhere, leading to redundancy for appraisers.

Another notable change in the new URAR is its reliance on mobile technology. The new report is designed to be filled out in real time during the inspection on an iPad or similar device. This means that appraisers who are not comfortable with this technology may need to get up to speed soon. The new URAR also requires reporting of ceiling height, which can be easily done with a laser but may be difficult with traditional measurement tools like tape or wheel.

Finally, the new URAR is likely to be far longer than its predecessor, with some reports exceeding 21 pages. While the length of the report is not a significant issue, appraisers may need additional time to develop the appraisal due to the new format and associated technology.

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