Digitally-doctored listing photos are on the rise

Excerpts: It will cost $2.40 for a paint job, $24 to replace flooring, and $40 to remove a wall or add a swimming pool.

Digital photo manipulation has become so widespread and cheap that home sellers are increasingly using the technology to spruce up their listings, the Wall Street Journal reported. This has the potential to create new headaches for end users, investors, appraisers and brokers…

Furthermore, with federal regulators pushing for automated appraisals that will make use of online listings, the hazards of doctored images could be spread to the general public.

My comments: How do AVMs and CU deal with this? Appraisers can always contact the agent to confirm what the home looked like. CU robo emails/calls to agents and somehow integrate this into the data?

Lenders and AVMs are now using agent MLS comments. I recently spoke with an appraiser where the lender disputed one of her comps because the MLS mentioned it was “close to shopping” and she did not. Yes, it was very close to a historic shopping street, but there was little to no off street parking on this street, as it was taken up by employees in the stores. The comp had 9 off street parking places for 2 units and sold for a premium price. Typically there is 1 or 0 parking spaces per unit in the historic apartments on the comp’s street. I recently tried to go to an open house on the street. The closest parking space was 3 blocks away. I skipped the open house. The agents often mentioned “close to shopping” to say something positive about their listing’s location.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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7 Women in the Building Business, Including an Appraiser

Excerpt: In 1986, when Dina Miller, her brother, Jonathan, and other family members founded the real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, “there were very few female appraisers,” said Ms. Miller, 56, whose specialty is specialty work – determining the value of a common hallway that a co-op shareholder wants to buy, for example, and handling stratospherically expensive property, including the top-floor apartment at 432 Park Avenue.

Scroll down the page to Dina Miller

My Sister, My Business Partner Gets Her New York Times Due By Jonathan Miller
Excerpt: The New York Times weekend real estate section has a cover story The Boss? You’re Looking at Her: 7 Women in the Building Business and my sister Dina was one of them. I’m very proud of her. She, myself and my wife are the principals of our firm Miller Samuel we co-founded with our parents in 1986. Dina is not a public person like I seem to be but has often said her brother (me) “never met a microphone he didn’t like” which I wear as a badge of honor. Congrats to my sister for her well-deserved recognition.

My comment: Not often an appraiser is featured in an article in a major national publication!! Hardly ever is it a female appraiser.


Help Appraiser in a Coma

By Ryan Lundquist
Excerpt: Folks, a colleague named Barry Cleverdon was in a car accident three weeks ago and he has been in a coma ever since. With his wife’s permission here is a GoFundMe   o help support him.

Barry Cleverdon has over 35 years of appraisal experience in California and he’s been teaching appraisal classes since 1991. On February 5th while on his way to the Real Estate Appraisers Association (REAA)  appraiser meeting in Sacramento he got into an accident with a large truck. After the incident he actually walked to a Walmart, called a cab, and was driven home. But he fell in his front yard and was then rushed to the hospital where he had surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. He has been in a coma since then. He is moving his limbs but not opening his eyes. He is in ICU.

3/2/19 update: Barry is now breathing on his own and is off the life support machines. He’s being moved out of ICU but he still has not regained consciousness. His wife Marie is doing well considering.

My comments: I have known Barry for quite a while and have met him at REAA meetings, taken one of his classes, etc. He is a very dedicated appraiser and instructor. His appraiser friends are helping his wife deal with his appraisal and CE businesses.

This can happen to any of us. Many appraisers drive a lot. I was the major earner in my family as my husband was retired. I always had disability and life insurance so he could be financially supported if something happened to me.

Mermaids, S&M and a Camel: How One Luxury Developer Is Spicing Up L.A. Real Estate Open Houses

Just For Fun!!

Excerpt: Nile Niami hosts over-the-top bashes plotted to attract buzz and buyers to his supermansions amid a cooling real estate market: “In my life, everything is for sale.”

The theme of Nile Niami’s first “underground” networking party was Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, which is considered a moral warning on excess and erotic derangement. So as the queue formed outside the mansion on Londonderry Place in the Hollywood Hills on Jan. 18, expectations were running high.

Great fotos and interesting comments at:


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Expert Witness for Residential

Appraisers – Yes, No or Maybe

In the March 2019 issue of the paid Appraisal Today newsletter
Excerpt: In this article I focusing on residential lender appraisers who are trying to decide if they want to be an expert witness, which is required for some non-lender work. However, much of it applies to commercial appraisers or appraisers with lots of non-lender appraisal experience.

Fees are very high. You will get repeat business.  Clients see you as an expert, not someone who will “cause problems” for getting a mortgage loan done.

I focus on letting you know what it is like so that you can
decide. There is very little competition for this work from residential appraisers as most refuse to testify. In contrast, estate/trust appraisals will become very competitive as many appraisers will want to do them when their lender business slows down.

In the March 2019  issue of the paid Appraisal Today, available to paid subscribers.  

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Cyber Attacks on Corelogic

By Peter Christensen, Liability Insurance Administrators
Excerpt: Recent Cyber Attacks on CoreLogic and a Large Appraisal Firm Expose a Real Business Risk to Valuation Firms and Companies.

As two recent attacks show, cyber crimes pose a real risk – legally and economically – to appraisal firms, management companies and other businesses involved in property analytics. If an operation like CoreLogic can be victimized by criminal hackers seeking property information, as it was in an attack earlier this month, any valuation firm or property analytics company is at risk. And, more seriously, the losses suffered by an appraisal firm in the separate cyber attack discussed below demonstrate how devastating the financial harm can be from an attack that spills valuation data onto the “dark web.” That appraisal firm, with 350+ commercial and residential appraisers in Australia, has been suspended for new appraisal orders by the four biggest banks in that country and by other clients as well.

My comment: A few months ago, my main email address ( was hacked and I could not access it. Fortunately, my tech guys were able to fix it the same day because it was an unsophisticated hacker. They said to use lastpass to better manage my passwords. Or, you can use other software.

Fannie: free manufactured home webinar for appraisers

Excerpt: Affordable starter homes have become scarcer, smaller, older, and more likely in need of major renovations. They have also seen a significant increase in prices. Fannie Mae believes today’s modern, high-quality manufactured homes can help ease the nation’s affordable housing shortage, address borrowers’ evolving needs, and provide a growing business opportunity for lenders and the industry.

MH Advantage is an innovative new mortgage option that offers affordable conventional financing for manufactured housing (MH) with features similar to site-built homes, including:

The underwriting and origination processes are streamlined and straightforward, allowing you to manage your MH portfolio with greater ease and flexibility.

Appraisers can easily identify homes eligible for MH Advantage through a manufacturer sticker. Appraisers will use the best and most appropriate other sales available, which may include sales of site-built homes. Standard MI coverage applies.

Link to webinar
Link to original notice:


Can a pub shed add value?

Excerpt: Seems like adding additional living areas to your home has become quite the rage with the shed being used in a lot of creative ways. They go by different names like she shed, pub shed, party shed, and he shed among other things. The cost of buying the shed and modifying it to your liking can range from around $1,000 to upwards of $20,000 depending on how serious you want to get.

My comment: What I always say is “My first appraisal business was in a detached “in law” unit behind my house. Walking there in the rain or dark at night was just not the same as walking to a rear addition!!” If you have to go outside to get to it (shed, bonus room, basement, etc.), the sq.ft. is not included in GLA. I also say that it can often add value, but not as much as an addition or a finished basement with interior access from the main living area.
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 2.5 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 6, 2019) – Mortgage applications decreased 2.5 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 1, 2019. The results for the week ending February 22, 2019, included an adjustment for the Washington’s Birthday (Presidents’ Day) holiday.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 2.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 10 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 2 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 3 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 11 percent compared with the previous week and was 1 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“Slightly higher mortgages rates last week led to a decrease in application volume. Furthermore, the average loan size for purchase applications increased to a record high, led by a rise in the average size of conventional loans. This suggests that move-up and higher-end buyers have so far become a greater share of the spring market,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Overall, conventional purchase loans are up 2.1 percent relative to last year, indicating that homebuyers continue to be inspired by the stable rate environment and the modest increase in housing supply.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 40.0 percent of total applications from 40.4 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 7.4 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 10.3 percent from 10.2 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 10.4 percent from 10.7 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged from 0.6 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) increased to 4.67 percent from 4.65 percent, with points increasing to 0.44 from 0.42 (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 $484,350) increased to 4.41 percent from 4.40 percent, with points decreasing to 0.25 from 0.29 (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 increased to 4.66
percent from 4.64 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.48 (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 increased to 4.08 percent from 4.00 percent, with points increasing to 0.46 from 0.38 (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 4.08 percent from 3.95 percent, with points decreasing to 0.39 from 0.40 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased 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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