Appraiser Files Lawsuit Against WaMu Over Home Price Estimates

Sacramento–A California appraiser filed a lawsuit against Washington Mutual Inc., claiming she was blacklisted after reporting lower home prices, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.The suit, filed in state court in Sacramento, also named two appraisal-management companies and alleges the lower home evaluations made it difficult for the bank to get loans approved.The appraiser, Jeniffer Wertz, says she found prices were dropping in a neighborhood last May during the appraisal process and marked a box in one of her reports to show the decline. Marking that box typically causes a lender to cut loan amounts and ask for a greater down payment, which could make financing fall through.According to Wertz, a WaMu sales manager questioned the report and asked her to mark a different box that would indicate prices were “stable,” the Journal says. Wertz says she refused and was removed from the bank’s preferred appraiser list.WaMu has been dealing with inquiries from regulators about possibly basing loans on inflated appraisals, according to the Journal. Washington Mutual declined to comment on the case.