As we all know, the housing market has been going through some major changes over the past years. As the market changes, so does the source of many appraisal assignments. This month we ran some polls to see how much work is generated from both refinance activity and foreclosure activity.

The first poll asked, “How much of your work comes from refinance activity?” and received a total of 5,404 responses. The results show refinance activity accounts for a good portion of the current appraisal assignments. No surprise there. The top answer was, “I do 51%-75% refinance work,” with 35% of the vote. A close second was, “I do 25%-50% refinance work,” with 30% of the vote. Quite a large group (20% of the appraisers) responded that more than 75% of their work is for a refinance loan. This work seems to be holding steady for now and should continue if interest rates stay at these historical lows.

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The second poll asked a similar question, but instead of refinance work, the focus was switched to foreclosure work. We had 5,395 total responses to this poll and we found that foreclosure assignments make up a much smaller portion of work volume for appraisers. There are a couple of potential reasons why foreclosure work isn’t as important for appraisers when compared to refinance work.

First, often foreclosure work is done by brokers providing BPOs, rather than by lenders ordering a full appraisal. Second, the default and foreclosure rate is actually falling rapidly in most areas of the country, which is good news for everyone. The top answer with 60% of the vote was that less than 25% of the work volume comes from foreclosures. Keep in mind that this answer includes those who get 0% of their work from foreclosures. About 22% of appraisers responded that they still get 25%-50% of their work from foreclosure activity. The last two possible responses of 51%-75% and more than 75% were essentially tied, each category receiving approximately 9% of the vote. So we can conclude appraisers are not currently heavily dependent on foreclosure activity for new assignments.

My comments: nothing new here. BofA’s recent appraiser layoffs and other layoffs due to shrinking foreclosures show that this is happening. They love their BPOs for foreclosures. There is work for Fannie and others trying to get money from appraisers who were to “high” in the boom time.

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