As home prices fall again and regulatory reforms take hold, long-simmering tensions between mortgage lenders and appraisers are flaring up anew.

Under a provision of the Dodd-Frank Act, lenders are now required to pay "customary and reasonable" fees to appraisers. The measure was written to address a long-standing appraiser complaint: That appraisal management companies (AMCs), hired or owned by lenders, have been driving down fees at the expense of quality. The law's goal is to ensure lenders seek the most competent appraisers rather than the cheapest ones.

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