There is a petition and a letter being circulated about appraisers getting access to CU, particularly the Web interface which lists comps. This is unlikely for many reasons, which I write about in my paid newsletter.

More important (and more likely to occur) is: Why don’t appraisers get access to subject and comp physical characteristics from the CU database, which was provided by appraisers using UAD?

For example, which appraisers are able to measure their comp GLAs? Not many. This data would really help appraisers do better appraisals. We can always look at MLS interior photos and interview agents, buyers, and sellers for other information we need, such as condition. When the MLS listing says “contractor special” or “fixer” that is a good indicator of condition.

The only reason I have heard is that appraisers vary widely and there are too many differences. GLA is a good example. This has has always varied among appraisers. When I used the old CMDC appraiser database in the late 1980s, sometimes there were more than one source of GLA on a property. I have done relocation appraisals since 1986. It was very seldom that the 2 or 3 appraisers have the same GLA. The “rule of thumb” was up to a 5% difference in GLA was ok.

How many appraisers are “fudging” their dimensions to make their GLA match public records and avoid “stips”? Hopefully, CU will change this. Maybe CU will notice how many appraisers just use public records and how many use their own measurements.

I am really hoping that Fannie allows appraisers to get property characteristic information. It will help all of us – Fannie, lenders, AMCs, appraisers, reviewers, etc.

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  1. Mike you are 100% correct. I have looked at the interior photos (when they post them) and haven’t found any reason to advertise it as a “fixer upper”. After over 47 years in the business as both a broker and appraiser I always assume when there are no interior photos the agent is hiding something.

    • Another tell-tail is when there are lots of MLS interior photos but none of the kitchen. You can bet it is outdated or in poor condition.

  2. You stated “When the MLS listing says “contractor special” or “fixer” that is a good indicator of condition”. This is often not true. Realtors throw this type of statement in listings of short sale properties that are actually in good condition in order to expedite the sales process. In this all-too-common scenario the property owner does not care what the MLS says and neither the Realtor or the seller are trying to get the highest price. This is a kind of reverse marketing that attracts a lot of bottom feeder attention. And it gives Realtors a boat load of low ball data to send to the lender as justification for the below market price.

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