Acting as the receiver of the late Washington Mutual Bank (which was seized by the federal government in 2008), the FDIC is suing two companies — CoreLogic and Lender Processing Services’ subsidiary LSI Appraisal — for allegedly overvaluing homes it appraised to the point of “gross negligence.” In fact, the FDIC says that about 75 percent of the appraisals it examined were inflated.
Lucky for CoreLogic and LPS, the FDIC is only suing over a relative handful of loans and their appraisals: 194 done by CoreLogic and 220 by LPS, for a total of $129 million in damages from the former and $154 million from the latter. Those are only the loans that were on WaMu’s books. Many more loans were packaged and sold as securities, so the FDIC
Unlucky for CoreLogic and LPS, if the FDIC proves its case, the owners of those other loans are likely to load their legal guns. And if a large percentage of those other loans show the kind of issues the FDIC claims, one estimate puts the two companies on the hook for between $82 and $331 billion.
Of course, those numbers are based on the idea that the FDIC is 100% correct in its assertions, and that there aren’t a long list of mitigating circumstances. In other words, it’s an unlikely worst-case scenario for CoreLogic and LPS.
On the other hand, the FDIC isn’t just saying the appraisals were wrong — that’s tough to prove. It’s claiming “multiple egregious violations of USPAP and applicable industry standards.” And standards like that may be easier to prove. May be.
Whatever comes of it, it seems clear that the federal government is — in some way, shape, or form — willing to target at least some of the companies that either caused our current crisis or made it worse. As always, stay tuned.