The history of urbanization, 3700 BC – 2000 AD

Watch as the world’s cities appear one-by-one over 6,000 years

Fascinating!! Take a break from appraising and check this out!!

By 2030, 75 percent of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities. Today, about 54 percent of us do. In 1960, only 34 percent of the world lived in cities.

Urbanization didn’t begin in the 1960’s. But until recently, tracking its history much further back than that was a challenging task. The most comprehensive collection of urban population data available, U.N. World urbanization prospects, goes back only to 1950. But thanks to a report released last week by a Yale-led team of researchers, it’s now possible to analyze the history of cities over a much longer time frame.


419.99 Mile Marker

Just For Fun

When zealous marijuana enthusiasts kept stealing the “Mile 420” highway marker, the State of Colorado got creative.

Another obscure factoid from ;>

Since the recreational use of marijuana was made legal in Colorado in 2012, the “Mile 420” post became a hot commodity. So hot, it kept disappearing – and the Colorado Department of Transportation got tired of replacing it.

Check out the photos (and try not to click on too many of the other weird stuff) at:


Refis skyrocketing per Zillow – Brexit


According to Zillow’s report, in the first week after the Brexit decision, which came down on June 24, refinance mortgage requests on Zillow rose 132% when compared to pre-vote activity in the previous week.

During that same week, purchase applications increased 24%, as some prospective borrowers took advantage of falling mortgage rates, which are nearing the all-time low, according to the latest data from Freddie Mac.

And even after the initial panic surrounding the Brexit began to subside, the refinance wave continued on Zillow.


Some left behind on refi boom – Home owners in negative equity still at high levels


About 425,000 borrowers regained equity in the first quarter, bringing the rate down to 5.6%. At the end of 2012, borrowers who were underwater made up 29% of the market.

“As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the pre-crisis peak in U.S. housing prices, we’re just under 3% off that June 2006 peak nationally, and 23 states have already passed their 2006 peaks,” said Ben Graboske, Black Knight Data & Analytics executive vice president. “The result is that equity levels are rising nationwide for the most part.”

The good news is, the number of homeowners in negative equity will likely continue to decrease. Home prices in May increased both monthly and annually, according to the Home Price Index and HPI Forecast released by CoreLogic.

On the other hand, about 2.8 million borrowers are still in negative equity, the report showed. While this is down 13% from last year, it is five times greater than it was in 2004.

About 38 million borrowers now have at least 20% equity.


Record low interest rates? Ha! It’s still getting harder to get a mortgage


Mortgage interest rates are nearing all-time record lows and mortgage applications are up dramatically, all thanks to the Brexit, but it looks like those figures may not lead to a huge jump in actual mortgages being taken out, because it’s still getting harder to get a mortgage.

The wet blanket news for prospective homebuyers comes courtesy of a new report from the Mortgage Bankers Association, which showed that mortgage credit availability fell during the month of June.

That marks the fourth straight month that credit availability decreased.

According to the MBA’s report, its Mortgage Credit Availability Index fell by 1.3% to 119.8 in June.


Email newsletter FAQs – who-what-why, stop getting email ads, not getting email newsletter, etc.

I have a new web page that explains it all.


Using regression analysis in everyday appraisal practice

By Doug Smith, SRA, AI-RRS

In the July issue of the paid Appraisal Today, available now!!

Excerpt: Appraisers Lag Behind in Quantitative Analysis

Appraisers both residential and commercial are bombarded with a daily onslaught of technological choices.

Appraisers are swept up with news of ways of producing reports, finding data, and using more and more sophisticated gadgets, connection portals, and digital devices. Appraisers look for even faster more powerful computers and ways to reap the advantages of the digital age and conquer cyber-space.

In marked contrast to this forward-looking point of view and greater acceptance of technological change, appraisers remain tied to traditional ways of analysis rooted in the beginnings of Appraisal Societies that sought a means of rationally expressing estimates of value that settled on the three approaches to value.

With some relatively recent changes in both the cost approach and the income approach, the sales comparison approach languishes, bereft of new intellectual stimulus and improvement. Essentially appraisers are rapidly adopting new technological devices and gaining more experience with the assistance the Internet provides, but still use third grade math skills in appraisal sales comparison analysis.

Doug has lots of ideas for “upgrading” your appraisal skills!!

To read the full article, and many other appraisal and business management articles, subscribe to the paid Appraisal Today!!

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To purchase the paid Appraisal Today newsletter go to or call 800-839-0227.


Lots in 2015 are Smallest on Record


The median lot size of a new single-family detached home sold in 2015 dropped under 8,600 square feet for the first time since Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC) started tracking the series.

An acre is 43,560 square feet, so the current median lot size is just under one-fifth of an acre. In 2014, Paul Emrath used a football field analogy to help visualize the median lot size that proved to be very popular. So using a football field as a measuring stick, 5.6 median lots would fit between the goal lines of a football field in 2015.

Check out the interesting graph of changes since 1992


Have you ever, or do you regularly use, the recognized method and technique of Regression Analysis to develop and support your adjustments? Take this week’s poll ” How old will you be when you plan to retire or leave the appraisal business?”

My comments: In my paid newsletter I reviewed two multiple regression software products – statwing and Redstone. In the July issue, Doug Smith wrote an article on how to learn to use it: ” Using regression analysis in everyday appraisal practice” Next month Doug will be reviewing David Braun’s new book “The Valuation Analyst”, research in extracting adjustment rates. Many appraisers use his statistical appraisal software. The book discusses many methods, including regression.


Collateral Underwriter Crumbles

CU Robot Keeps Score on Appraisers

Another good one from Dave Town, Washington state appraiser


No, this is not about “cuukie” crumbles. It’s about what the Fannie Mae Collateral Underwriter (CU) process is finding in far too many appraisal reports.

A few days ago, I had an opportunity to speak with someone on the ‘inside’ of Fannie Mae. The discussion evolved to “what are the most serious items the CU process is finding in appraisals?”

The issues are:

– Changing the Q & C rating

– “One number and done”?! Using same GLA adjustment for every appraisal

Dave has some great tips for how to avoid the dreaded “Fannie Mae Letter”. FYI, they do give warnings before doing something more drastic.

Dave also has good advice on handling remodeling.

Click here, read the comments, and make your own comment!!

My comment: Fannie has been complaining about this for a long time. The June issue of the paid Appraisal Today has an article, written by Rachel Massey, SRA, AI-RRS: ” How do upgrades affect UAD Condition and Quality Ratings?”


HOW TO USE THE NUMBERS BELOW. Appraisals are ordered after the loan application. These numbers tell you the future for the next few weeks. For more information on how they are compiled, go to

Note: I publish a graph of this data every month in my printed newsletter, Appraisal Today. For more information or get a FREE sample issue go to or send an email to . Or call 800-839-0227, MTW 8AM to noon, Pacific time

Jul 13, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 13, 2016) 

Mortgage applications increased 7.2 percent from one week earlier. Last week they were up 14%!

according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending July 8, 2016. This week’s results included an adjustment for the Fourth of July holiday.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 7.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 14 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 11 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was unchanged from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 20 percent compared with the previous week and was 5 percent lower than the same week one year ago. Last year, the Fourth of July fell on the prior week.

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 64.0 percent of total applications from 61.6 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 5.2 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 10.0 percent from 9.5 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 12.1 percent from 12.8 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.6 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to its lowest level since May 2013, 3.60 percent, from 3.66 percent, with points increasing to 0.36 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) decreased to 3.61 percent from 3.67 percent, with points increasing to 0.32 from 0.24 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 3.53 percent from 3.56 percent, with points increasing to 0.32 from 0.31 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 2.88 percent from 2.96 percent, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 2.78 percent from 2.85 percent, with points decreasing to 0.25 from 0.26 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The survey covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. Base period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100.

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