To Drive or Not To Drive, That is the Question!!

Excerpt: The argument of using MLS photos or shooting your own photos has been debated by appraisers for the last few decades. You, as appraisers, want to be sure the comparables you are using are of the correct house and also look as the MLS illustrates. Most importantly, you want to make sure the house is still standing. The listing agent’s job is to sell the house. As the salesperson they will highlight all the positives and leave the negatives up to the imagination. This is one of the main reasons it is extremely important to not solely rely on MLS when utilizing comparables.

Click here to read the full post, plus over 50 comments from appraisers. Add your own comments!!

My comment: this issue has been going on for decades and is still controversial. Especially in rural areas!! Note: the post is a sorta promo for proxpics, a photo taking service, but the appraiser comments are great.

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 long blog post, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other sections of this long blog post on Fannie, Coester AMC, unusual home, mortgage origination stats, etc.

Futuristic Houses With Some Weird Architectural Designs

Just For Fun!!

Excerpts: You may have watched Transformers, robots that transforms to a vehicle. Well, that’s exactly how these house designs are made. Futuristic? Sure it is. Considering that we need space to build our homes, now we can just take our homes to wherever it is we like. It transforms from a box to a home. How cool is that?

Some of these sleek, weird houses look like they’ve been ripped out of the twenty-second century and some look like they’re from the next millennium. Get ready to move into the freaky saucer homes of tomorrow.


Fannie Appraiser Update: Special Edition for Rural Appraisal

December 2018

Excerpt: Get tips for appraising rural properties, learn more about our manufactured housing appraisal policy, read about recent appraisal policy updates, and more in the latest Fannie Mae Appraiser Update.

We love hearing from you! Please continue to use the Contact Us form for appraisers to share what’s on your mind and to submit feedback and questions on appraisal topics.

Topics include:
Adjustments, Comps, Cost Approach, etc. tips relevant for most appraisers.
Click here to download the Update PDF
My comment: Even if you don’t appraise rural homes, there are some good tips in this document for all of us! Who never gets a weird house to appraise?


Coester having financial problems? Worried about collecting your AMC billings?

Excerpt: But now, it seems that CoesterVMS is, in fact, running out of money. So much so that some appraisers may not get paid what they’re owed in the process. A letter was recently sent out by International Fidelity Insurance Company that CoesterVMS’ penal limit of its bond is $25,000, but that it received claims in excess of that amount.

My comments: It is unclear what is happening with Coester. But, the claims above is a Warning sign. What does this mean for you? If Coester owes you any money, get aggressive in getting paid. If they go into bankruptcy, you will get little or nothing from them. Remember Appraisal Loft? Lots of rumors but appraisers kept taking work.

Next month’s paid newsletter will have an article on good tips collecting past due billings from AMCs and others. See below. I have been writing about this since 1992. Since 1986, I have only lost about $2,500 in billings and those were many years ago. They were a good business lesson for me.

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How to collect all your billings.
Don’t work for free!! 

In the paid Appraisal Today January 2019 issue
Topics include:
  • Keeping close track of your accounts receivable
  • Identifying risky clients and when to take action
  • Collection techniques that work
  • Small claims court
  • What happens in Bankruptcy
  • When you may have to “give back” the fees you received

I last wrote about this in September 2014. Times have been good for appraisers but the market is changing.

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How to Speak Up on the Proposed $400,000 appraisal threshold limit

Comments due by Due Feb 5 2019, at 11:59 PM ET
The proposed regulation has been published in the Federal Register. Link to readable version including comments (only 85 as of yesterday morning) including how to make comments.

Link to appraisers’ petition:
Over 3,700 have signed it as of yesterday. We need more!!

An underrated metric & slumping volume

By Ryan Lundquist
Excerpt: There’s a stat that doesn’t get much love. It’s not sexy, nobody really writes about it in the newspapers, and most people don’t even know what it is. But it’s really important because it helps us tell how hot or cool the market is. I’m talking about the sales to list price ratio. Oops, did I lose you? I know, a topic like this sounds painful, but let’s consider why this actually matters. Then if you’re interested I have a huge local market update below to discuss slumping volume and slowing momentum. Any thoughts?
My comment: This is one of my favorite ratios!! Plus number of pendings to listings, drops in list price, etc. Sales are the past. Listings are today. Every week I go on open house tours in my city (since 1990) to see what real estate agents say. It is getting pretty bad out there… FYI, I get a lot of non-lender referrals plus a free lunch, snacks, prizes, etc ;> His top graphs are very similar to my city. Of course, our prices are 3 times higher…



Appraisal Ethics = Do Not Lie
Don’t need USPAP on this one!!
Some lenders want Stable indicated. Why? To make closing the loan easier. Don’t risk your appraisal license. Be prepared to show data, graphs, tables, etc. if necessary. Don’t rely only the Past (sales). Listings are Today’s market.

There is an an excellent thread on this topic in National Appraisers Forum in Yahoo groups. My favorite email group. Lots easier than looking though online forums. No whining, flaming etc. I check it every day, multiple times. I filter the messages into a folder.

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 rose 1.6 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 12, 2018) – Mortgage applications rose 1.6 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending December 7, 2018.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 1.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 1 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 2 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week and was 4 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates fell across the board last week, driven by a similar slide in Treasuries. Trade fears dominated investors’ concerns, and this was amplified by data released by the U.S. Commerce Department showing a widening trade deficit,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “The 30-year fixed mortgage rate decreased 12 basis points over the week back below 5 percent, representing the largest single week drop since 2017.”

Added Kan, “As a result of these recent rate declines, we saw another weekly increase in refinance applications, along with a rise in the average refinance loan size. Larger loans tend to react more readily for a given change in mortgage rates. Meanwhile, purchase application activity also increased over the week and was up more than three percent compared to a year ago.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 41.5 percent of total applications, the highest level since March 2018, from 40.4 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 7.6 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 10.8 percent from 10.2 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 10.2 percent from 10.0 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications increased to 0.7 percent from 0.6 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) decreased to 4.96 percent, the lowest level since September 2018, from 5.08 percent, with points increasing to 0.48 from 0.44 (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) decreased to 4.80 percent, the lowest level since September 2018, from 4.89 percent, with points increasing to 0.33 from 0.30 (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 4.97 percent, the lowest level since September 2018, from 5.05 percent, with points decreasing to 0.55 from 0.62 (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 4.41 percent, the lowest level since September 2018, from 4.50 percent, with points decreasing to 0.44 from 0.60 (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 4.24 percent from 4.33 percent, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.21 (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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