The broker who extorted “The Jills” exposed an industry secret: MLS manipulation is widespread

Excerpt: When One Sotheby’s agent Kevin Tomlinson was charged with extorting Coldwell Banker star brokers “the Jills” over manipulating the Multiple Listing Service, it exposed what many agents claim is a common practice in the industry. This one, however, was particularly egregious, market pros said.

My comment: nothing new for appraisers. When I googled “MLS manipulation” lots of links came up.

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To read more of this long 9-28-18 blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on Zillow addicts, Podcasts, fees and antitrust, mortgage origination stats, etc.



Unusual pyramid house in Malibu takes its cues from the sun and moon

Excerpt: This one-of-a-kind residence looks like it belongs in the swirling sands of Giza rather than on a hilltop in Malibu. The three-bedroom house was designed for two astronomy photographers and built to face the magnetic north like the needle of a compass. Sitting on one of the highest points in the Santa Monica Mountains, it has perfect vantage for observing the ocean as well as the movements of the sun and moon.
Read more and see the fotos plus video!! Currently listed for $2,999,000. Has been on the market for awhile.—————————————————————————


Why Zillow Addicts Can’t Look Away

 Excerpts: “Most people are kind of obsessed” with the Zestimate, said Stacey Simens, a saleswoman for Coach Realtors in Hewlett, N.Y., on Long Island. Once a potential seller has a number in mind, it can be hard to pull them away from it, regardless of reality. “They’re looking for that magic button that will tell them that their house is worth exactly what they want it to be,” she said.

My comment: Of course I looked at my duplex. Value was not too far off (assuming it was a house) at $880,000, but rent estimate was way too low. Looking at my previous home (large, waterfront) was reasonable at $1,400,000. Increased 45% since the sale in 4/08. Both properties were built between 1948 and 1956, new for my city. Victorians prices tend to be way off. Zillow indicated some recent slight price declines. Local newspapers report softening market in some areas. Of course, many local agents are in denial…

Is the public trusting Zillow too much?

By Ryan Lundquist, Sacramento CA appraiser

Excerpt: I don’t have an axe to grind. I’m not angry. And I’m not worried about Zillow replacing my job. I am concerned about the public trusting Zillow way too much though, so I wanted to share an eye-opening “Zestimate” example to help create conversation.

1) OVERPRICED: This home was originally overpriced in MLS at $380,000 and the Zestimate happened to be $380,414 when the home listed for sale…
4) Feeling stressed: I had a friend who used to get stressed out when his Zestimate would dip. He has since passed away, but I can only imagine how he’d feel about an 8% price decline in 30 days if that’s what Zillow said about his home.

Worth reading: a real life example of a tract home in Sacramento plus the appraiser comments.

My comment: Very good analysis of the changes from listing to after the sale. And, what Zestimates mean. Of course, the real estate agents have the biggest problems with Zillow and sellers. I just tell owners that Zillow can work well in a stable market on tract homes built in the past 5 years. I try not to be mean and say “you get what you pay for” ;>


A Decade After Housing Bust, Recovery is a Story of Location (Zillow)

Excerpt: A Handful of Powerful Markets Lead the Nation’s Recovery, But Millions of Homeowners Are Still Waiting to Regain Lost Value

— The median home value nationwide is 8.7 percent higher than it was at the height of the housing bubble.

— Twenty-one of the top 35 metros have more than recovered from the bust. San Jose and Denver lead the recovery with huge gains, while Las Vegas, Orlando and Chicago have been the slowest to recover.

— Nationwide, home values now are nearly equal to what they would have been had values continued along the pre-bubble trend without a bubble or bust.

My comment: I like Zillow historic price trend graphs for an overall picture. (Most of my work is retrospective for estates). Plus some of the other data analysis they perform.

What’s your favorite podcast?

Just For Fun!!
I listen to podcasts when exercising and driving. I subscribe to many. My iphone has over 14GB stored!! I seldom listen to live radio stations and never listen to talk shows. I don’t listen to political podcasts very often. For unknown reasons I seldom listen to appraiser podcasts…

– Freakonomics Radio of course!!
– Marketplace
– Planet Money
– The Economist – Money Talks
– Stuff to Blow Your Mind
– Science Friday
– Hidden Brain
– Discovery (BBC)
– Ted Radio Hour – my favorite
– This American Life
– Fresh Air
– Bay Curious – local
News and analysis
– KQED Forum – local
– The Daily – national
– Pickleball (5 podcasts)
work for food
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More borrowers faking their incomes, employment to buy homes

By Ken Harney

Excerpt: According to mortgage-fraud researchers, income misrepresentations on home-loan applications were up 22.1 percent in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2017. Ominously, most of it is not traceable to criminals trying to bilk lenders out of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars through traditional loan swindles. Rather it’s increasingly what researchers call “bona fide” borrowers who don’t have the incomes to qualify but are determined to get a home mortgage, even if they have to mislead the lender.

Well written. Read the full article:

My comments: I remember long before 2008, I refi’d using the same mortgage broker for many years. She told me to put in a specific income in my loan application rather than my actual income. I did not do it, but she said it was very common with borrowers who were well qualified but had slightly low incomes.

Fast forward to 2004-2006. A friend worked at a large local mortgage company doing clerical work. He said they had a large group of CPAs who set up non-existent companies so borrowers could qualify for the loans. Many of these borrowers were not well qualified and could not get a loan otherwise.

Talking Fees and Antitrust

by Isaac Peck

Excerpt: Whether in online appraiser forums, Facebook groups or in the audience at a national appraiser conference, whenever the discussion turns to fees, some appraisers worry about running afoul of Federal antitrust laws. At an appraisal conference several years ago, a handful of veteran appraisers actually got up and exited the session when the discussion turned to appraiser fees!

Since then, at similar conferences, I have heard “cautions” to appraisers to avoid any discussion or even mention of fees. So how much concern is actually prudent?

Worth reading. Discusses the topic from many angles. Also discusses Antitrust and the Louisiana Appraisers Board, accusations of price fixing by the Federal Trade Commission relating to enforcing a mandate that customary and reasonable (C&R) fees must be paid to appraisers per Dodd-Frank.

My comment: I have written and taught about this topic for many years. The key is competitors “conspiring”. For appraisers, a good example is commercial appraisers conspiring to fix fees. One appraiser in the group bids low on an assignment for a client and gets it. Next, one of the other appraisers in the group does it for another assignment for the same client. Residential fees are much lower than commercial, so I don’t it would be worthwhile considering the risk for a similar group of appraisers.

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 paid monthly 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 7AM to noon, Pacific time.
Mortgage applications decreased 1.8 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 12, 2018) – Mortgage applications decreased 1.8 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending September 7, 2018. This week’s results include an adjustment for the Labor Day holiday.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 1.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 13 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased six percent from the previous week to the lowest level since December 2000. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased one percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 11 percent compared with the previous week and was four percent higher than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 37.8 percent of total applications from 38.9 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 6.4 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 10.4 percent from 10.2 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 10.5 percent from 10.0 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.8 percent from the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) increased to 4.84 percent from 4.80 percent, with points increasing to 0.46 from 0.43 (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 $453,100) increased to 4.72 percent from 4.67 percent, with points increasing to 0.47 from 0.30 (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 4.84 percent from 4.79 percent, with points decreasing to 0.51 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 increased to 4.28 percent from 4.23 percent, with points increasing to 0.47 from 0.45 (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 decreased to 4.07 percent from 4.09 percent, with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.31 (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.

Ann O’Rourke, MAI, SRA, MBA
Appraiser and Publisher Appraisal Today
2033 Clement Ave. Suite 105
Alameda, CA 94501 Phone 510-865-8041
Fax 510-523-1138

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