Why We Love Cabins

Excerpt: Set against the chaos and complexity of contemporary life, the dream of eloping to the woods to live out a simple and unfettered existence is an increasingly tempting fantasy. The perfect wooden cabin plays a large part: appealing not just for their material honesty, attractive geometry, and breathtaking surroundings, cabins are, at least in popular imagination, a symbol of unity between man and nature, the humble abode of adventurous pioneers and poets-and, more recently still, the object of our wanderlust.
Great photos and info at:
My comment: When I first moved to the Bay Area in the late 1960s I rented a small cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was high in the mountains with a great view of the distant ocean. I had to learn to use a chain saw and an axe to split wood, be careful using water during the dry season so I didn’t run out of water in the water tank, etc. I drove up and down a very steep, long and narrow one lane road my cabin. When winter storms knocked down trees and blocked the road, I helped a neighbor cut and remove them. I will never forget lying on the ground staring up into a grove of redwood trees nearby. I still have a great fondness for redwood trees. Of course, now it is fully developed with a lot of big homes…

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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To read more of this 9-6-18 long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!


NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on lot size, best schools, appraiser diversity, mortgage origination stats, etc.


Jackie Gleason’s iconic ‘Round House’ aka The Mothership, is listed for $12M

Excerpt: The Mothership revolves around a stunning marble spiral staircase, just one of seemingly endless details in the home dedicated to keeping all things round. Other features to watch for: wood flooring curved by a steaming machine and by hand, the master bedroom bed that runs eight feet in diameter, plus lots of curved storage, walls, and railings.

Beautiful and original home. Check out the fotos and details at

Where Are the Largest Public School Real Estate Premiums in U.S.?

Excerpt: Coastal cities and their suburbs dominated the California list, with America’s most expensive prime public school areas dotting California-from the mansion-speckled towns around Silicon Valley to the affluent school district of Rancho Santa Fe, outside of San Diego.

Note:  This article focuses on California, Washington state and New York city.

Click here to see a map of the school ratings where you appraise, used to live, live now, etc. Definitely accurate for my city. Yes, being in some districts make a difference in value… Fascinating!!




The most and least valuable neighborhood names

A few weeks ago I published a link to the most valuable names a few weeks ago. I did not notice the link to the original research at the bottom of the page with great infographics, data for states, and lots more data and analysis on neighborhood names and value.

Excerpt: Whether it makes sense or not, the names and identifiers of our American communities and housing developments often say more about the people living there than we might realize. In some cases, the way a particular neighborhood is branded can be a direct response to how a community has changed over time, or it can help people feel a sense of connectedness or identity with the area in which they live.

Very interesting. Check it out at:
More links near the bottom of the article.
Appraisal Dictionary

Lot Size Remains Record Low

Excerpt: The median lot size of a new single-family detached home sold in 2017 stands at 8,560 square feet, or just under one-fifth of an acre. This is just 2 square feet smaller but statistically not different from the 2016 median. In 2015, the median lot size fell under 8,600 square feet for the first time since Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC) started tracking the series for single-family detached homes. It remained in this record low territory ever since.

More info, including regional variations at:

My comment: Maybe someone will do a study on new homes on small lots. About 10 years ago, in my city, several detached home small subdivisions were built with a typical lot size of about 2,500 sq.ft. Now they are building 3 story townhomes on about 1,400 sq.ft. lots. The reason for the small lots and townhomes? Very high land costs and few places to build. They are also being built in other Bay Area cities. Typical lot size in my city for pre-1970 homes is around 3,000 sq.ft.


at ad

Fannie Mae Announcement SEL-2018-07: Selling Guide updates – PIWs to appraisal waivers, waivers in rural areas

– Adopt the name “appraisal waiver” for what was previously called “property inspection waiver (PIW)” and “property fieldwork waiver. – – Announce a new appraisal waiver option for eligible home purchases in certain rural high-needs areas.


“PIWs” renamed “appraisal waivers”
We are adopting the name “appraisal waiver” to replace “property inspection waiver.” This move aligns our terminology with general industry usage and is part of a broader effort to simplify the appraisal process and increase transparency in our communications with customers, investors, and other stakeholders. This is a name change only and does not impact our appraisal waiver policy.

For more information about appraisal waivers, visit

Click here to download the original announcement


Appraising Appraiser Diversity

Excerpt: Data from the Appraisal Institute and ASC National Registry also confirm that fewer people are entering the profession overall. More than half of appraisers surveyed – 52 percent -have been in the profession for 20 years or more. Eleven percent say they’ve been doing the job for 15 to 19 years, and 19 percent for 10 to 14 years. A problem emerges on the other end of the spectrum, however. Three percent of those surveyed said they had less than a year’s experience on the job, with the “1 to 2 years” and “3 to 4 years” categories both sitting at four percent each. For “5 to 9 years,” the numbers creep all the way up to 7 percent.

The appraisal profession also demonstrates a lack of diversity in other areas. The field is overwhelmingly white and male. According to Appraisal Institute data, the field is 75 percent male and 87 percent white, with Hispanic/Latino being the closest runner-up at only 4 percent.

My comment: The answer? Allow residential trainees to sign on lender appraisals, of course. There is no similar problem with commercial appraiser trainees.
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 www.mbaa.org 
Note: I publish a graph of this data every month in my paid monthly newsletter, Appraisal Today. For more information or get a FREE sample issue go to https://www.appraisaltoday.com/products.htm or send an email to info@appraisaltoday.com . Or call 800-839-0227, MTW 7AM to noon, Pacific time.

Mortgage applications decreased 1.7 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 29, 2018) – Mortgage applications decreased 1.7 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending August 24, 2018.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 1.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased three percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased three percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased one percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased three percent compared with the previous week and was three percent higher than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity remained unchanged at 38.7 from the week prior. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 6.3 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications remained unchanged at 10.2 percent from the week prior. The VA share of total applications remained unchanged at 10.5 percent from 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 ($453,100 or less) decreased to 4.78 percent from 4.81 percent, its lowest rate since the week ending July 20, 2018, with points increasing to 0.46 from 0.42 (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 $453,100) remained unchanged at 4.68 percent from the week prior, with points increasing to 0.30 from 0.28 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate remained unchanged from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 4.77 percent from 4.82 percent, with points increasing to 0.75 from 0.69 (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 4.24 percent from 4.25 percent, with points increasing to 0.48 from 0.47 (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 3.95 percent from 4.00 percent, with points decreasing to 0.34 from 0.52 (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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Ann O’Rourke, MAI, SRA, MBA
Appraiser and Publisher Appraisal Today
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