Tester, Thune, Brown, Perdue Introduce Bill to Recognize Unique Housing Needs of Veterans & Rural America

Bipartisan legislation to add VA and USDA representatives to the Appraisal Subcommittee of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and David Perdue (R-Ga.) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that the housing needs of veterans and folks in rural America are reflected when Federal agencies are setting policies that affect homeowners.

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Housing Service (RHS) are not represented on the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. The Senators’ bill adds VA and USDA’s RHS to the Appraisal Subcommittee of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, to help address the persistent delays in appraisals for those purchasing a home through loan programs at both agencies. 

“Folks looking to buy a home in rural areas frequently find themselves waiting too long for home appraisals,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Veterans in Montana are especially affected— their appraisals are often delayed or come to a complete standstill. Our bill expands VA and USDA representation where industry standards are set to ensure these delays are addressed to help our veterans and folks in rural America. I’m continuing to work to push this bill over the finish line in Congress, to help speed up the process to provide more timely appraisals for prospective buyers.” 

“Federal agencies that administer programs requiring appraisals should have a seat at the table when the Appraisal Subcommittee conducts its oversight activities and other statutory functions,” said Senator Thune. “This bill achieves that by ensuring membership of the Appraisal Subcommittee is inclusive to designees of these other federal agencies.” 

“Rural Ohioans and veterans face unique challenges throughout the home buying process,” said Senator Brown, Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. “This legislation will help ensure the interest of rural communities and veterans are fully considered as appraisal standards are set.” 

“When it comes to tackling housing problems, it’s important to have the right voices at the table, including farmers and veterans,” said Senator Perdue, Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development. “As we’ve seen in Georgia, metropolitan areas and rural communities have very different housing needs. Bringing together all stakeholders is an important step toward creating positive change in America’s underserved communities.”

Last fiscal year, VA-registered appraisers executed more than 500,000 VA home loans valued at $161 billion and RHS executed over 123,000 loans last year valued at $18 billion. Although VA and RHS execute a significant number of home loans, appraisals have historically been lengthy and burdensome processes in rural communities as a result of a shortage of licensed and certified appraisers. Earlier this month, Tester sent a letter to VA Secretary Wilkie, requesting additional information regarding the Department’s efforts to facilitate appraisals for veterans seeking VA Home Loans.