Private Appraisal Work, the Final Frontier

By Rachel Massey

Author’s Note: Private appraisals aren’t really the “final frontier” for appraisers but it is a good metaphor. Private work for courts and disputes predates modern lending appraisals, so they should actually be considered the “first” frontier…but never let a good Star Trek saying go to waste!

As mortgage work has started to slow down in large swaths of the country, and likely will continue to do so, the temptation to move into the private arena is appealing. This is an area where our work is valued by those who need it the most. Private work is not lending work, and there are different requirements for different clients. Intended use and users rule supreme. Do I have the patience to walk someone through the process who is not experienced? Maybe yes, maybe no. This is not a place where I would want to spout off a bunch of expletives to a client who bothers me, but instead try to step back and ask whether I need to explain it differently so it is understandable. The onus is on me, the appraiser, to help my client understand.

My comment: A good intro to non-lender work. Marketing and client communication is very different. I have written many articles about non-lender work since 1992 in my paid newsletter.

The article “Should you do non-lender work? Pluses and minuses of both lender appraisals and each different type of non-lender appraisal.” Is in the October 2018 issue and can help you decide if non-lender work will work for you.

Appraisal Business Tips including non-lender work

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at

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 beautiful broken places, Coester AMC, appraisal violations, state boards, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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17 of the World’s Most Beautifully Broken Places

Wind, rain, and retreating glaciers left this gorgeous destruction behind.

Here are two:
– Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area New Mexico
The land is full of geologic eye candy like otherworldly spires, mushroom-shaped hoodoos, and prehistoric fossils.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Iceland
Strange rock formations tower above the river that snakes through this enchanting Icelandic canyon.

See the incredible locations and read about them at:

My comment: Click The Link And Take A Break from Your Appraisals!!



8 Common Violations Made by Appraisers

2. Use of unsupported site value
Another common violation is use of unsupported site value in the cost approach. That’s something that a lot of boards have cited as a prevalent deficiency or shortcoming in appraisal reports.

3. Failure to analyze sales history
Failure to analyze the three-year sales history of the subject property is also common. This is surprising to me because it is so easy for someone else to check if you omit or don’t analyze the sales history. A reviewer or an underwriter can check that from their desk in about 3 seconds. So if you fail to do it, chances are someone is going to find out about it.

Click here to read the other 5.

My comment: Although some of the violations may seem very basic, the word “common” shows that they regularly occur. Don’t let it happen to you!!


CoesterVMS shuts down

Did the AMC close its doors for good?

Excerpt: The office furniture is sold. The website is down. No one answers the phone. Everyone stateside is now laid off. The chief executive officer is currently focused on a new line of work.

For all intents and purposes, CoesterVMS, once one of the nation’s largest appraisal management companies, is now out of business.

My comments: I hope Coester does not owe you any money. If so, take it as a lesson to Never Let It Happen Again!! Don’t be too dependent on one client. Watch your receivables. Don’t wait until the phones are shut off. More AMCs will be going down. Get paid while the other appraisers are waiting and hoping for payments!!

How to collect all your billings!!

In the January 2019 issue of Appraisal Today
Excerpt: What you need to do now! Check your accounts
receivable!! Do you have any clients paying later than usual or not paying at all?
With the Coester VMS closed down, and the 2019 appraisal business slowdown, I wrote about collections again. The previous time was in September 2014. Remember Appraisal Loft, JVI, etc.?

The Two Primary Rules of Collections
Every appraisal business has collection problems, unless you get every payment up front, in cash or money order.
1. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. With problem clients, phone every day, send duplicate invoices and letters, use a collection service, etc.
2. The longer you wait to start collection efforts the less likely you will be able to collect. Statistically, for all businesses, 80 percent of accounts are collectible within 4 months. After 4 months past due, on average, only 20 percent are collectible.

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Appraisal Standards Board to Issue Fourth Exposure Draft for 2020-21 USPAP Dated February 8, 2019

Excerpt: “After careful consideration of public comments, the Appraisal Standards Board, an independent board of The Appraisal Foundation, unanimously agreed to move forward with a fourth exposure draft for the 2020-21 edition of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) at its public comment meeting today in Scottsdale, Arizona. The ASB will issue the fourth exposure draft within the next few weeks. At that time, the ASB will announce the date and place for its next public meeting, where final adoption of changes for the 2020-21 USPAP is expected.

“After hearing the comments today, especially about the single reporting standard issue, the ASB decided it was critical to issue a fourth exposure draft.”

Click here to read the full notice

My comments: The Third Draft was supposed to be the Last Draft. What happened? The elimination of Restricted Reports, or the use of “Report”, of course. The differences between the “Gang of 3” reports from FIRREA days: Self Contained, Summary and Restricted were sorta hard to figure out, so many reverted to Summary. I did two Self Contained Reports for my MAI and SRA designations (before FIRREA). Never did another one. To me, it seemed like clients thought of them by price and length of report.

I never used Restricted as the requirement that there could be only one client did not seem reasonable. No One Likes Change, Even if It Is A Good One IMHO. I have been waiting since 1990 for all of them to be eliminated. Once again, Lenders Heavily Influenced Appraisals.

Homes in Luxury Neighborhoods the Object of Desire for Home Shoppers – A Valentine’s Day Special Report

Home values in the most-favorited neighborhoods reached as high as six times greater than in their overall metro areas

Excerpt: “The heart moves in mysterious ways – in real estate as often as in love. But in both love and real estate, there are some common patterns. The homes that Zillow shoppers have loved the most over the past year cluster into the beautiful, the fun, and the expensive,” said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas. “Inventory is starting to recover, but home shoppers still have to decide between the must-haves and the extras that they are willing to do without. Shoppers may gravitate toward fantasy homes and neighborhoods initially, but most often decide on homes in more affordable communities with good access to transit and jobs, as evidenced by home prices growing fastest in these types of areas.”


Appraisers Facing Their State Boards

Excerpt: Emotionally, this is a serious blow to our professional lives. Thing is, complaints and lawsuits appears to be on the rise. In conducting a lot of internet research, I found a range of varying information. In speaking with some legal counselors, I’d received a plethora of information.

Speaking personally, the feeling of being alone out there on the ocean was the worst part. My thoughts wandered onto all sorts of jagged rocks like panic, fear, and anxiety. The more I read, the more anxious I’d become because honestly, some of what is out there, true or otherwise, was terrifying!

What helped was knowing that I was not alone. This was from finding people who knew what I was going through.

My comment: Worth reading. Good advice and links here. Many thanks to the author for sharing her personal story to help other 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 3.7 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 13, 2019) – Mortgage applications decreased 3.7 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 8, 2019.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 3.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 4 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 0.1 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 6 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 6 percent compared with the previous week and was 5 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Application activity fell last week – even with rates decreasing – as renewed uncertainty about the domestic and global economy likely held potential homebuyers off the market,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Industry Surveys and Forecasts. “Despite the recent decline in applications, we still expect that the continued strength of the job market and lower rates will support more purchase activity in the coming months.”

Added Kan, “The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to its lowest level since last March, and was 52 basis points lower than its recent high last November. Government refinances provided a bright spark, picking up over 10 percent, as both FHA and VA refinancing activity saw increases over the week.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 43.2 percent of total applications from 41.6 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 7.5 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 11.0 percent from 10.5 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 11.0 percent from 10.0 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications increased to 0.6 percent from 0.5 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) decreased to 4.65 percent from 4.69 percent, with points decreasing to 0.43 from 0.45 (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 $484,350) decreased to 4.48 percent from 4.50 percent, with points decreasing to 0.27 from 0.28 (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 4.61 percent from 4.70 percent, with points decreasing to 0.53 from 0.57 (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 4.04 percent from 4.11 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 3.97 percent from 4.04 percent, with points increasing to 0.42 from 0.37 (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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