Are Human Appraisers Being Phased Out? Federal Regulators Vote to Loosen Requirements

Excerpt: What’s that drone doing hovering over a property?

Soon that sight may be the norm on homes for sale.

The days of human appraisers may be coming to an end for homes priced under $400,000, if regulation proposed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve gets approved.
Previously, only homes valued under $250,000 could be purchased or sold without the use of a human appraiser. That threshold is potentially being raised to $400,000, opening up more business for drone-monitored and computer-generated home valuations. The vote is nearly there, awaiting expected agreement from the Federal Reserve before the regulation takes effect.

While the appraisal industry is concerned the change could negatively impact real estate at large, the brokerage side of the business predicts the threshold hike should have minimal effects on homeownership and the home-buying experience.

Comments from many sides of the issue and lots of comments by readers.

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Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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In this truly magical place, rent hasn’t been raised since the year 1520! Just For Fun!!

Excerpts: After minting coins for the Vatican and making a name for himself as one of Europe’s greatest early entrepreneurs, Jakob Fugger (aka “Jakob the Rich”) turned his eye toward those in need. What emerged from this vision has persisted as the world’s oldest charitable social housing com
In the year 1517, construction began on Fugger’s vision for what would become the golden-walled enclave of Fuggerei, which he created as a way of providing affordable homes for day laborers, artisans and their families. Though it sustained heavy damage during a bombing raid in WWII, the community was restored to its pre-raid condition, where it has remained uninterruptedly inhabited since its founding in 1520. The city-within-a-city consists of private residences including 67 houses, 147 apartments, St. Mark’s Church, and an administrative building.
To read more, click here

My Comment: Wow!! Really gives me a perspective on rent control here in California and in my small city. Rents are increasing all over the country.



FRT (Federally Related Transaction) issues and definition

Excerpt: Buzz: Why have FRTs recently become another “hot button” issue for appraisers? In what ways have FRTs recently raised issues with policies and/or appraisers?

John: I think this issue has legs because not many people, even within the regulatory community, understand why the definition is important – especially in light of the 1994 interagency regulations that to a large degree mooted the definition and, as a result, Congress’s intent when it originally passed Title XI of FIRREA.

For example, the recent North Dakota appraiser credentialing waiver only affects FRTs. But an FRT, under the 1994 regulations, essentially means the waiver only applies to portfolio loans above the residential appraisal threshold. So, what, we went through a waiver process for a miniscule amount of lending activity in the state of North Dakota? Especially when paired with the relief afforded by Senate Bill 2155, it marks a Pyrrhic victory at best. Had the parties involved understood how little the world would change under the waiver process, they may have chosen a different course of action in dealing with their issues regarding appraiser availability.
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Good definition and explanation of FRTs. Worth reading.
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My comments: there is still confusion among appraisers about what an FRT is. Unfortunately, the post above does not discuss that, but gives background on what it means. My definition and info link above has lots more on FRTs from the Appraisal Institute, including changes since FRTs started in FIRREA in 1989.

Why so many suburbs look the same

Interesting and fun video (worth waiting for the ad to finish)
7 min and 40 seconds with over 1,500 comments!!

To watch the short video, click here

Bifurcated Appraisal Reports and USPAP Compliance

By Julie Friess, SRA, AI-RRS, MA

Excerpt: Fees?
I had an AMC offer me one of these and try to sell me on it with this
statement, “You can complete this report in one half hour and we will pay you $45.”

No, I can’t. If you can, but complete it correctly, then go ahead and do it. I can’t. I decided to binge-watch Netflix instead. At least by doing that I didn’t have to worry about an Appraisal Board complaint or a lawsuit in a year or two because I decided I needed $45 now?
That’s not even the deductible to take myself to the doctor or the gas it would cost me to attend the initial file review for the Appraisal Board complaint? What was that saying Nancy Reagan was trying to push in the 80’s… “Just Say NO!”

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Appraisal Foundation and Trainee Experience Methods (PAREA Exposure Draft) Webinar

PAREA Webinar TODAY at 1pm Eastern Time!!
For more info, click here It will be on the Appraisal Foundation’s youtube channel by next Monday or Tuesday.

For more info on PAREA click here
Link to PAREA Draft click here

My comments: This has been talked about, by the Appraisal Foundation and others, since licensing. Before licensing, most appraisers were trained by lenders. However, after licensing they were trained by fee appraisers, which did not work out very well.
Appraisal Foundation and Evaluations
General Info click here
Copy of concept paper issued 9-3-19 click here
Recording of Sept. 10 webinar on concept paper click here

More on evaluations click here

My comment: The Appraisal Foundation’s role in evaluations is somewhat controversial. My next two paid newsletters will have articles written by Tim Andersen on evaluations and will cover lots of issues. FYI commercial appraisers have been doing evals since FIRREA. Whether or not who will be doing them for residential appraisals is uncertain. It all depends on what Fannie does.
Bloomberg, Sept. 5 before plan released but good commentary.
To read more, click here
Politico, Sept 10To read more, click here
Housing Wire – after Senate approvalTo read more, click here
More comments and info, from appraisers To read more, click here
My comments: What will it mean for appaising if Fannie and Freddie don’t dominate forms, CU, UAD, Fannie Guidelines, etc.?? What about F&F appraisal modernization with new forms, bifurcated, etc. What if private companies are securitizing like F&F? I am trying not to think about it!!! Not even considering the effect on borrowers and the mortgage market.
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 increased 2.0 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 11, 2019) – Mortgage applications increased 2.0 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending September 6, 2019. This week’s results include an adjustment for the Labor Day holiday.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 2.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 9 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 0.4 percent from the previous week and was 169 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 5 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 8 percent compared with the previous week and was 9 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgages rates continued to decline over the holiday-shortened week, with the 30-year fixed rate decreasing five basis points and remaining near three-year lows,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Refinances were essentially unchanged, up just 0.4 percent, but August overall was the strongest month of activity so far in 2019. Purchase applications rose around 5 percent, with increases for both conventional and government applications.”

Added Kan, “Purchase activity was 9 percent higher than last year, continuing the trend of solid year-over-year gains.”
The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 60.0 percent of total applications from 60.4 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 5.6 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 9.3 percent from 10.2 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 11.9 percent from 11.3 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications decreased to 0.5 percent 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) decreased to 3.82 percent from 3.87 percent, with points increasing to 0.44 from 0.34 (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 3.84 percent from 3.94 percent, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.24 (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 3.76 percent from 3.80 percent, with points decreasing to 0.31 from 0.32 (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 3.28 percent from 3.29 percent, with points increasing to 0.47 from 0.32 (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 3.42 percent from 3.40 percent, with points increasing to 0.48 from 0.27 (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 

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