Three Home Features Are the Most Challenging to Appraise

From McKissock appraiser survey

Excerpt: 1. Solar panels and “green” features (37%)

“Solar panels and green features are still new in my market and require more attention to the details of the benefit these items provide to the homeowner and how they impact the subject’s marketability.”

“There are so very few homes with solar panels in our markets. The limited data makes it very difficult to find enough data to determine the market reaction.”

The other two challenges include Accessory Dwelling Units and views. Plus info on more challenges.

To read more, click here

My comment: All 3 are tricky in my area!! Very interesting survey on which Home features: the most difficult to appraise

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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 appraising in Alaska, secret doors, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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Banks Are Driving the Appraisal Waiver Train

By Jonathan Miller

Excerpt: Look at the ASC members and their North Dakota waiver vote on July 9, 2019

Only FHFA and HUD voted against the North Dakota Waiver. Those specific agencies deal with appraisers first-hand and understand their role in the risk management process. The remainder are bank regulators or in the case of CFPD, represent consumer interests (and the agency has been gutted over the past several years to reduce its pro-consumer efforts).

In other words, banks are driving the waiver train. They want to remove a pain point from the mortgage process to grow more origination volume. The Federal government has already proved it will be willing to back up the banks if the economy collapses so why not keep pushing for removing of all pain points?

To read more, click here

My comment: Nothing new. Lenders have wanted to get rid of appraisals for decades. Impediments to The Deal.


Real estate agents have been around for 100 years, who will survive the next century?

Tech startups tout big plans for market takeover

Excerpt: 100 years ago, the U.S. passed its first law regulating real estate licensing and the agent profession officially came to be.

At this notable milestone for real estate agents, their future is under attack. Tech startups tout big plans for a market takeover. Real estate companies with new-fangled platforms and business models joke about the agent’s extinction. The doubters are loud and in many cases well-funded. However, it’s nothing that real estate agents haven’t heard before.

My comment: Some perspective for appraisers… Interesting history of regulations for agents.

To read more, click here


No power shutoff in Alameda CA for Appraisal Today

We have our own Alameda electric company (Alameda Municipal Power), for 132 years, since 1883!!

Some of our electricity comes via PG&E transmission lines through Oakland. Remote possibility of a problem with that.

Oakland hills (5 miles away) are a very exteme fire hazard…. Their electricity is off. They refuse to pay extra fees for cleaning out vegetation, trees, etc. Very narrow roads.

I finally quit working there as I always worried about getting stuck there in a fire.

This is excellent practice for the Big One (Earthquake)!! We get less than 30 seconds notice then…

It will be a lot, lot worse. I can see the Hayward fault area from my home and office – about 5 miles to the east. San Francisco is 10 miles to the west.

In the late 60s I lived in a small cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains for about a year. Our electricity regularly went out for 1-2 weeks. No Internet. No problem. Phone lines worked. Had a gas stove (propane), wood heat, water tank (gravity fed). My neighbor cut down the tree branches that fell into our long one lane road. Now, I go crazee if it is out for a couple of hours ;>

I am somewhat prepared for the Big One at home: water storage, extra food, flashlights and batteries, etc. Crank radio with solar and iphone charger port, etc. Some stuff in my car (water, food, first aid kit, etc.). I can always go somewhere else and rent a hotel room.

I have had cloud backups of all my data and appraisals ever since it was first available. I used to carry around backup hard drives in my car, but nowhere is safe with earthquakes.

I would use text messages to communicate. Set up my iphone to “low power” mode, with only phone and text.

My tech person relocated to Texas and can handle the newsletter side of the business – get the ads and subscriber notices out, send out this newsletter etc. Estate appraisals are never a big rush.


Appraising in Alaska

By Bob Henricksen

Excerpt: First off, it’s no tougher than anywhere else, but also like anywhere else, it has its unique attributes. Any such discussion needs to define some scope, so let’s first address the size. How big is it? Alaska is one-fifth the size of the continental United States. If placed on top of the continental US, it stretches from the east coast to the west coast. It has three full-fledged mountain ranges and more coastline than the rest of the US combined. Size is only a contributor to Alaskan uniqueness – we smack the rest of the US around in population density, or the lack thereof. There are only 1.3 people per square mile, the least in the nation. The great state of Texas at less than half of our physical size, but has 101 “pardners” per square mile. The US averages 89.5 people per square mile, and New Jersey clocks in at 1,210.

However, I don’t cover the whole state, just the 380 roadless miles of temperate rainforest known as Southeast Alaska…

To read more, click here

My comment: Wow!! I gotta quit whining about about freeway traffic, morning temps here under 50 degrees, etc ;>Practical tips you can use today for getting more appraisals done and make more money during this boom time!!


Practical tips you can use today for getting more appraisals done and make more money during this boom time!!

Excerpt: Cut your driving time by reducing your geographic area!

The easiest and best way to save time is to cut your geographic area. EVERY EXTRA MINUTE OF DRIVING IS TIME AND MONEY LOST.

I am always surprised to hear that many appraisers are still working the large geographic areas they worked when there was much less business. They are working 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day. But, they could be making a lot more money by working closer to their offices.

To read the full article with lots of time management tips, plus 2+ years of previous issues, subscribe to the paid Appraisal Today.

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Not everything is getting multiple offers

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpt: Everything is getting multiple offers, right? Many sellers feel that way, but it’s just not true. Today let’s dive deeply into what is actually happening with multiple offers. I’m excited about this and I hope you like it too.

5 things to learn about multiple offers

1) A rhythm of multiple offers: There is a rhythm to seeing multiple offers in the Sacramento region. There are more multiple offers in the spring and less as summer and fall unfold. This isn’t a huge surprise, but it’s cool to see on paper. If you wanted to know, 42% of sales last month had more than one offer (which is what I mean by “multiple offers”).

For more info, click here

My comment: What’s happening in your market? They are changing all over the country. Read Ryan’s article for some ideas. In my market, multiple offers are unusual now, but sometimes occur. I gotta look at why some get multiple offers, other get one, and some get none.


Bidding wars are taking a strange turn in the fall housing market

It’s not just Sacramento

Excerpt: In September, 11% of offers written by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage, faced a bidding war.

That is down dramatically from 41% a year ago, but up from the 10% reading in August. It might not seem like a big deal, but in the past four years, the bidding war rate has dropped from August to September, not increased.

To read more, click here


Secret Doors to Hidden Places

Just For Fun!!

Take a Break From Refi Mania!!

Excerpt: Escape tunnels, panic rooms, and hidden speakeasies. Behind the seemingly mundane and expected facades of buildings all across the globe, there are secret rooms and surprising features hiding just out of sight.

To read more, click here

My comment: Take A Break from Once I appraised a condo where I could not figure out what was in the middle of the unit behind some walls. It was an elevator shaft!! I am sure there have been other hidden spaces, but I missed them… One of the many reasons I love appraising… always something new ;>

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Mortgage applications increased 5.2 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 9, 2019) – Mortgage applications increased 5.2 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 4, 2019.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 5.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 5 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 10 percent from the previous week and was 163 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent compared with the previous week and was 10 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“U.S. Treasury rates moved sharply lower last week, as data showing weakness in the services sector was a sign that slowing economic growth is not confined to the manufacturing sector. This in turn caused a flight to safety by investors, resulting in mortgage rates dropping across the board, with the 30-year fixed rate decreasing nine basis points to 3.9 percent – the lowest level in a month,” said Joel Kan, Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “As seen a few times this year, the large drop in rates caused another surge in refinance applications. The refinance index increased 10 percent to its highest level since late August, with both conventional and government refinances experiencing an upswing.”

Added Kan, “Purchase activity was muted, declining almost 1 percent, but was still 10 percent higher than a year ago. Despite low rates, the cloudier economic outlook and ongoing market uncertainty may be keeping some potential homebuyers away from the market this fall.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 60.4 percent of total applications from 58.0 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 5.3 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 10.3 percent from 10.4 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 12.3 percent from 12.4 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged 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 3.90 percent from 3.99 percent, with points decreasing to 0.37 from 0.38 (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 3.90 percent from 3.98 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 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 3.75 percent from 3.79 percent, with points increasing to 0.29 from 0.23 (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 3.35 percent from 3.43 percent, with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.37 (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 3.25 percent from 3.42 percent, with points decreasing to 0.34 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 


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