Why It’s Impossible to Know a Coastline’s True Length

Measuring around bodies of water is a mathematically impossible


Imagine, for a moment, that you and your friend have been given a seemingly straightforward task: to measure the coastline of Puget Sound, in Washington State. Resources are tight, so you’ve got a yardstick, while your friend has a foot-long ruler. You each walk along, laying your measuring stick along the edge of the water, following the the ins and outs of the shore as best you can. When you’re finished, you compare notes-and you’re shocked. While you ended up with a respectable 3,000 miles, your friend and his foot-long got a way higher number, somewhere around 4,500 miles.

You guys aren’t crazy. You’re victims of the coastline paradox, a tricky mathematical principle that messes with cartographers, stymies government bureaus, and makes it impossible to know exactly how big our world truly is.


My comment: Fascinating article!! Looking at the Big Picture. All appraisers take measurements. It seems so easy… most of the time…



Webinar Title: NEW
FHA Appraisal Essentials – An In-Depth Look
Pre-recorded: September 14, 2016 / Duration: 115 minutes
Registration Link:
This pre-recorded webinar provides an in-depth look at a variety of property appraisal topics such as: property acceptability criteria; minimum property requirements; property defects; appraiser responsibilities and requirements; and, much more. The webinar is targeted primarily to FHA roster appraisers, underwriters, processors, and other appropriate mortgagee staff involved with the appraisal review and mortgage approval process.
Special Instructions:
This webinar is now available 24/7 for viewing.

NOTE ON LINK: it looks like you are registering for the September live session. Just fill it out and a link to the webinar will appear.

Synopsis of recent FHA 4000.1 changes

By Dave Gillispie, former HUD employee

Thanks (again) to Dave Towne, Washington state appraiser and writer!!

Click the link below to read a 7 page synopsis of those changes, written by Mr. Peter Gillispie, who recently retired from HUD/FHA.

Peter Gillispie bio

After nearly 20 years in the real estate industry, Pete Gillispie began his federal career as a staff appraiser with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division, in 1998 and came to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in 2003 as a staff appraiser at the inception of the Home Valuation Policy Division (HVPD) in the Office of Single Family Housing Program Development.

He recently retired from HUD where he was the Deputy Director of HVPD, which is responsible for the management of the FHA Appraiser Roster and real estate valuation policy and appraisal reporting requirements pertaining to one-to-four single-family dwellings as well as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) Program.

In addition to his duties at FHA, Pete represented HUD on the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) for nearly 6 years and was appointed Chairman of the ASC during his final year with HUD. Pete was also HUD’s representative to The Appraisal Foundation Advisory Council (TAFAC) for a period of 9 years. Prior to his government service, Pete worked 18 years as an independent fee appraiser, 12 of which were with an appraisal consulting firm which specialized in the valuation of commercial, industrial and high end residential properties. Additionally, Pete held a real estate sales license for 12 years and was a member of the National Association of Realtors.

Pete is a certified general appraiser, holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of New Hampshire, and lives in Annapolis, MD with his wife. Currently, Pete is an independent contractor and consultant on appraisal related matters.

Click here to download the PDF  fha 4000.1 handbook updates 6-30-16


In the paid Appraisal Today

Your Web Site – the easiest, cheapest and fastest way to get non-AMC work

Web site price increased? Need a new web site host?

Want to get a web site for your appraisal business that really works?

Most of my appraisal business comes from my appraisal Web site

Very, very easy marketing!! They contact you.

Practical tips on lots of important topics:

  • What it will cost to set up and maintain
  • Where to host your web site
  • Your “tag line” makes a big difference
  • Be careful who you use. Domain name “hijacking”
  • An easy 2-3 page web site you can do yourself with existing templates. Lots of practical tips
  • What if you don’t want to do any non-lender work
  • How to evaluate your current Web site.

In the April 2016 issue of the paid Appraisal Today, available to paid subscribers

To read the full article with lots more data and practical tips for getting higher fees, plus 2+ years of previous issues, subscribe to the paid Appraisal Today.

$8.25 per month, $24.75 per quarter, $89 per year (Best Buy)

or $99 per year or $169 for two years

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plus 4 Special Reports, plus 2 Appraiser Marketing Books!!

To purchase the paid Appraisal Today newsletter go to

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If you are a paid subscriber and did not get the October 2016 issue, emailed October 3, 2016, please send an email to info@appraisaltoday.com and we will send it to you!! Or, hit the reply button. Be sure to put in a comment requesting it ;>


How to figure out what an accessory dwelling is worth

By Ryan Lundquist

Very brief excerpt of 2 of the 9 sections:

4) Just a House: How much would the property sell for if it just had a house without an accessory unit? This doesn’t help us put a value on the accessory unit, but in a sense it helps us start gauging value for the neighborhood. This at least gives us a place to begin.

7) Rent: Can the accessory unit be legally rented? What is the market rent? This is where we might use the Income Approach to come up with a value (another blog post). Imagine an accessory dwelling has a market rent of $1000 per month. Now imagine an appraiser says the extra unit is worth $10,000. Does that seem reasonable? Doesn’t it seem low right away since the unit would be 100% paid for after 10 months? Or imagine a unit rents for $300 but it’s being given $150,000 in value. Doesn’t that seem excessive based on the low rent? Thus sometimes when we know market rent we can begin to sniff out whether a value adjustment is even approaching reasonable.

Read the full blog plus the interesting comments at:


My comment: Almost all appraisers encounter secondary units/granny flats/legal units, etc. Of course, your lender client may be surprised if it is a legal unit and it is appraised as a 2-unit property, with a higher appraisal fee. They can be tricky to appraise. This is the best discussion I have ever seen on secondary units. Also, Ryan works in an area where there are not very many. Because of high rents and housing shortages in some cities, there is a lot of discussion about allowing secondary units.

My city is full of units, legal and non-legal, mostly converted homes or something detached built during World War II. Not all are old. A few days ago I went on open house tour and saw a completely re-done rear unit that used to be a shed. No permits, of course. The owner built it for her grandmother and now rents it out.

Fortunately, I the city will tell me what is a legally rentable unit. It is either legal or not. If not legal, I treat it as if it is detached living area, such as a “bonus” room and adds less value than if attached to the main house because you have to go outside to get to it. In other cities it is much more difficult to figure out what it is worth, if it is legal, etc.

I always wonder about non-local appraisers do when they come to my city and see all these additional units. Also, we have rent control as of 3/16, which significantly affects all rented properties including homes.


Miller Samuel at 30, A Short Story


It’s hard to believe that thirty years have passed since my family and I began our Miller Samuel appraiser journey. Here’s a little bit about the experience which reminds me of that old joke about marriage:

“We’ve been married for 30 years and it only seemed like five minutes…under water.” (boom)

It all began in 1986 when my parents, wife, sister, former brother-in-law and I got the idea to form an appraisal company after we had actually raised a substantial amount of money to launch a real estate brokerage firm. My wife and sister were already appraisers. A lawyer that I sold a condo to in 1985 (yes, I was a real estate agent in NYC for a brief stint) found a group of Japanese investors willing to back us. When it came down to it, we just couldn’t sign on the dotted line because we didn’t want to become real estate brokers.

Our family’s collective real estate background was mixed, including brokerage, appraisal, management, development, rentals, sales, but most importantly, a lot of analytics and a fascination with technology. We seemed to be different from our competitors, creating our own software (there was no appraisal software), going with the Mac as a platform over PC and collecting any data we could re-use. I remember that we were the first New York appraisal firm to have two fax machines, with a hunt and search two line setup, allowing us to give out only one fax number (LOL). We cold called banks and hand delivered our appraisal reports to better connect with our clients (Who had heard of email?)

Read the full, very interesting, blog post at:


My comment: Of course, I will have to insert something from my past ;> I quit my corporate job and started my appraisal firm in January 1986, taking out my 401k of $20,000 to start my (solo) business. After realizing that I hated paperwork, 2 months later I hired a trainee, who started by doing my clerical work. There were very few loans, and few appraisers left, after 5 years of 18+% mortgage interest rates. Unlimited demand for residential appraisals. No significant fee increases, just as much work as you could take. No licensing. Later, I went through ups and downs, including laying off 6 of my 7 employees in 1993/94. I kept one part time clerical assistant


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 https://www.mba.org

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 www.appraisaltoday.com/products or send an email to info@appraisaltoday.com . Or call 800-839-0227, MTW 8AM to noon, Pacific time.


WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 12, 2016) 

Mortgage applications decreased 6.0 percent from one week earlier,

according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 7, 2016.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 6.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 6 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 8 percent from the previous week, to its lowest level since June 2016. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 3 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week and was 27 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 62.4 percent of total applications from 63.8 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 4.1 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 10.9 percent from 10.0 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 12.0 percent from 11.4 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.7 percent from the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) increased to its highest level since September 2016, 3.68 percent, from 3.62 percent with points increasing to 0.35 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) increased to its highest level since September 2016, 3.67 percent, from 3.60 percent, with points decreasing to 0.24 from 0.25 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to its highest level since September 2016, 3.54 percent, from 3.50 percent, with points increasing to 0.23 from 0.16 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to its highest level since September 2016, 2.97 percent, from 2.93 percent, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs remained unchanged at 2.92 percent, with points decreasing to 0.28 from 0.44 (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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