Are Sheds Outbuildings?

Excerpts: Often, when appraising homes, I see MLS listings that call a shed an out building. Ask any appraiser and they will likely say that a shed is not an outbuilding. So, are sheds outbuildings?…

In appraising properties, there is a big difference in value between a shed and a large outbuilding. Most of the time, at least in my market, sheds really do not add any significant market value to a home. However, a large out building can add tens of thousands of dollars in value to a home…

Well written and worth reading:

My comments: I never really thought about this before, even though I see a lot of “sheds”…

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at

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To read more of this 11-8-18 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 strange townhome, templates, mortgage origination stats, etc.


What’s 8 Feet Wide and Has an Elevator? Manhattan’s Tiniest Fancy Townhouse – asking $5 million.

Excerpts: On a cobblestoned lower Manhattan street near the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge, a four-story house is about to go on the market for $5 million. The widest room measures 10 feet.

Small houses have a long history in New York. A Dutch-style gabled house at 75 ½ Bedford St. in Greenwich Village built in 1873 is 9 ½ feet wide. It is “popularly known as the smallest house in the city,” according to the city’s landmarks preservation commission. Its tenants have included poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and anthropologist Margaret Mead.

My comment: I wonder what an 8 ft wide floor plan, with an elevator, looks like???

7 Quick Tips for Using Appraisal Templates

Excerpt: Use these tips for proofreading appraisal reports:
5. Proofread Will a few typos or misspellings ruin your appraisal career? Probably not. However, they do seriously undermine your professionalism and suggest that you lack attention to detail. Take the time to ensure you are putting forth polished reports.

Focus on your most recent edits. When you edit something, it’s easy to introduce new errors, such as missing or repeated words. Proof new content and comments two to three times after you edit them, but also home in on those areas again during your final proof.

For more very good tips that we can all use click here:

My comment: I use a few templates for form reports and my assistant has to very carefully check each appraisal I writeup to be sure everything is okay! I gotta make sure I change the effective date of the appraisal and signed dates around the first of the year, of course…




Top 6 reasons real estate appraisers should have a blog

Excerpt: 2) Helps you get found by people needing an appraisal- Years ago when people needed a professional to help them with their problem they would look in the phone book. Can you think of the last time you used a phone book? Me neither. People now use Google to find everything, including real estate appraisers. By having a blog you will be included in the search results provided by Google. If you are an appraiser and have an informational blog you will be ahead of about 99% of other appraisers in search results because most appraisers don’t have a blog, which is good for you if you do since your information will show up before theirs.

Well written with 5 more reasons with good info on blogs.

Also worth reading: 5 Steps to start an appraisal blog – the second in the series.

My comment: I have posts from 4 popular appraisal blogs in this newsletter so you can see what they are like.
I started my blog in 2012 using Very easy to use. But, I was not able to integrate it with my old web site. When I set up my new web site in 2015, it included a built-in blog and I moved all my old blog posts there. I was speaking with a friend recently who had a new web site but not many visitors. I strongly suggested doing a blog as it was already set up on his new web site, and to make a commitment to post something every week. Very effective for getting higher ranking on google searches.

Next month’s paid newsletter will have an article on getting your first web site, or updating your current web site. 


Business slow? Non-lender appraisals are an excellent option!


In the November 2018 issue of the paid monthly Appraisal Today
Coming in the December issue: 
Get more non-lender work by getting a new web site or updating your current web site. 

If no one can find your contact information (phone number and email address) on the Internet they can’t give you any appraisal work.
People don’t call much now, including myself. We use email.
I am always surprised how few appraisers have a web site, even a 1-page site with name, address, contact information (phone and email) and where you work (including state).

When I need contact info for an appraiser and google the appraiser’s name, I often get long lists of where their name is listed, such as an old FHA directory with a phone number and address which may or may not be accurate. But, they seldom have email contact info. Sometimes there is a phone number.

Lots of appraisers (and other people) show up on Linkedin but no contact info is provided. Linkedin charges for this information as its primary users are employers and search firms looking for employees.
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A hair stylist says we’re not in a bubble…

By Ryan Lundquist

1) Opinions: Everyone has an opinion about what the market is doing or will do in the future. These days when I meet people I tend to ask them what they think is happening, and I’m always grateful and fascinated to hear responses. The truth is I like to hear opinions, but the bigger issue is an opinion without influence from local data isn’t that meaningful, whether it’s from a hair stylist, economist, or real estate professional.

Read lots more comments at:


Mortgage News – Refis

Surge in Cash-Out Refis Doesn’t Concern UI Researchers

Excerpts: Cash-out refinancing is currently a larger share of the refinance market than at any time since the financial crisis. However, the Urban Institute (UI) says even though those refinances were one of the main contributors to the crash, the present trend doesn’t worry them…

Despite the high percentage of loans, the dollar volume of equity that is being withdrawn is still well below the crisis peaks. Homeowners cashed out $15.8 billion in equity during the second quarter of this year, far below the $75 to $85 billion in the pre-crisis years.

Lots more info and graphs
The Rising Toll of Rates on Refinancing, Affordability

Excerpt: By mid-October the average interest rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages (which at that point was at 4.85 percent) represented an increase of 85 basis points from the first of the year and 35 basis points just since August. In light of this, Black Knight’s September Mortgage Monitor attempts to measure how many homeowners might still have an incentive to refinance their homes. They estimate that the refinanceable population has been more than cut in half (a 56 percent reduction) since the beginning of 2018 as some 2.2 million people have lost that incentive. This leaves only about 1.86 million homeowners who would be likely to qualify for refinancing and still have a rate-based reason to do so.
Lots more info and graphs click here:

My comment: I recently spoke with a friend who needs $100,000 to payoff credit card debt and remodel his kitchen. He has about $500,000 equity in his home. However, he has a 3.5% first for $300,000 which he does not want to give up. I suggested a fixed rate second, but he said lenders were not very interested. I told him it was probably because of his large credit card debt. A Catch 22.

Divided Congress = gridlock for financial services policy?

Excerpt: The midterm elections Tuesday night upended the power dynamic in the nation’s capital, with Democrats seizing control of the House. But the net result of that for financial institutions will likely be very little change in regulatory or legislative policy.

With Republicans still controlling the Senate, regulators and banks are in for two years of even more divided government. Rather than tangible reforms, the biggest impact will be a change in rhetoric in the House, and perhaps mixed messaging from two chambers often in conflict.

More comments at:

My comments: Of course, no one knows what will happen. Bipartisan Compromises?? Lots more comments in next week’s newsletter.

What did I care about? Local elections and rent control. I have been a landlord since 1980, purchased my Alameda duplex in 1985, rent control started two years ago here. California proposition 10, very pro-rent control, failed. Alameda anti-rent control Measure K failed. Mayor and city council – looked for pro landlord candidates. One pro and one anti rent control were elected to city council.

Of course, I did watch tv last night to see which party would control house and senate.. Could not resist that one ;>
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 4.0 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 7, 2018) – Mortgage applications decreased 4.0 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending November 2, 2018.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 4.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier to the lowest level since December 2014. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 3 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 5 percent from one week earlier to the lowest level since November 2016. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent compared with the previous week and was 0.2 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Rates increased slightly last week, as various job market indicators showed a bounce back in job gains and an acceleration in wage growth in October. The survey’s 30-year fixed-rate, at 5.15 percent, was the highest since April 2010,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasts. “Application activity decreased over the week for both purchase and refinance applications, with the overall market index down to its lowest level since December 2014. The purchase index declined to its lowest level since November 2016, but remained only slightly below the same week a year ago. It’s evident that housing inventory shortages continue to impact prospective homebuyers this fall.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 39.1 percent of total applications from 39.4 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 7.8 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 10.1 percent from 10.3 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 10.1 percent from 9.8 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged from 0.7 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) increased to 5.15 percent from 5.11 percent, with points increasing to 0.51 from 0.50 (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 4.97 percent from 4.94 percent, with points decreasing to 0.27 from 0.28 (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 5.15 percent from 5.08 percent, with points increasing to 0.64 from 0.62 (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 remained unchanged at 4.55 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.51 (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 increased to 4.36 percent from 4.33 percent, with points decreasing to 0.35 from 0.42 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate remained unchanged 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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