By Tom Horn

Excerpt: Here are three of the topics:

1) I’m taking what I think the home is worth based on the owners estimate and looking for sales in this price range

4) Using higher sales from another neighborhood when there are good sales within my own subdivision

6) Using price per square foot

To find out what Tom says and the other 4 ways, click here

My comment: written for real estate agents, Tom Horn’s primary referral clients, but useful for appraisers. Maybe it will help you explain about comps to agents, or why you did not use the comps they provided. I always take whatever sales and listings the agents have. Sometimes the MLS has it miscoded somehow and I miss it. Or, there is a “pocket” listing that sold but was never listed on the MLS. Also, I never want to miss a sale very close to the subject, if only to mention it and explain why I did not use it!! 7 ways to choose comps gives you some ideas.

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 VA and bifurcated, Gratitude, Cemeteries, 15 most expensive homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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By George Dell

Excerpt: This question caused me to rethink the relationship of ‘spiritual’ or ‘mental health’ principles to profitable business practices. From last year’s blog, the research showed benefits with: relationships, physical and emotional health, reduced

anger/isolation, sleep, self-esteem, and even improved brain power! Cool.

So, do these things cost me money? Or do they help make more money?

Let’s start with the obvious: what’s in an appraiser’s required belief system: Standards, ethics, and conduct. Recall that USPAP requires you to be worthy. Worthy of belief. Credible.

So, what in that list helps me make more money?

To read more, click here

My comment: Very good appraisal comments for Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays! Worth reading.


Cemeteries Alive With Beauty, Art, and History

Excerpt: … burial sites across the globe and through the ages. In the remote Scottish Hebrides, at Reilig Odhrán on the Isle of Iona, ancient, worn gravestones mark the resting places of Irish, Scottish, and Norwegian kings. Argentinian First Lady Eva Perón is buried in La Recoleta, a cemetery in Buenos Aires. In Iran, the grave of 12th-century mathematician and writer Omar Khayyám is marked with a towering, geometric 20th-century monument.

To read more, click here

My comment: Good fotos and comments!! Take a break and check it out. I have appraised homes near or next to cemeteries, which did or did not affect value, but none were like these!! One of them was on and near Mound St. I have been to New Orleans above ground cemeteries. No cemeteries in my small town. Sea water table is too high. There were some large Native American shell mounds, other Bay Area bayside cities, which were removed a long time ago.


Ancient structures and artifacts hiding in plain sight


Excerpt: The world is a vastly different place than it was during the 14th-century, or the final days of the Roman empire. Today, temple and aqueduct construction projects have been replaced with highways and skyscrapers. Despite our modernization of the world, many ancient structures and artifacts still exist. However, many are now hiding in plain sight, lost amidst our modern world.

To read more, click here

My comment: From a home surrounded by huge office buildings to the remains of an original Roman wall in London. Places from all over the world. I had never heard of most of them.
The 15 most expensive homes sold in the US over the past decade, ranked

Excerpt: The US has long been home to jaw-dropping real estate with expensive price tags.

From a number of $100 million mansions to one nearly $240 million penthouse, 14 out of the 15 homes that made the list are located in either Florida, New York, or California — three states with notoriously expensive housing markets.

The only sale that didn’t take place in those markets was a 50-acre property in Greenwich, Connecticut; that home sold for $120 million in 2014.

Here are a few (with photos, links and comments):

– Massive estate in Palm Beach, Florida, sold for $99,130,000 in 2019.

– 25,000-square-foot mansion in Los Altos Hills, California, sold in 2011 for $100 million

– The penthouse atop 220 Central Park South, a residential tower in Manhattan, New York, sold in January 2019 for $239,958,219.

To read more, click here

My comment: The list was made by Jonathan Miller, appraiser media star ;>

I see him showing up everywhere!!


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2019 year-end tax planning for appraisers
It’s not too late to save on your 2019 taxes!!


How to increase deductible expenses by timing payments

Pay as many bills as you can by the end of the year, such dues, software maintenance agreements, etc. I make as many payments as I can in late December.

Consider making charitable donations before the end of the year.

Credit card payments for charitable donations made by December 31 are deductible. I do this every year.

Clean out your closets every other year and contribute your unwanted items to a charity for a deduction. Be sure to get a receipt for all donations and contributions, regardless of the amount. Photos can also work well for verifying your donations. I am donating household and business items I don’t need any more in December. Saves on my taxes, helps the charity and gets rid of stuff I don’t need.

How to defer income until 2020

If you are self-employed and on the cash basis of accounting, bill your clients near year end if you can. They will probably pay you next year. Many appraisers were very busy this year, but 2020 will probably be slower. I do this every year.

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VA supports veterans on bifurcated appraisals

Excerpts: Read the announcement by the Veterans Administration basically telling lenders and appraisal management companies we are going to protect our Veterans with sound appraisal practice.

…the person providing property information to the appraiser must have entered into an agreement with the appraiser to do so.

…the person who provides to the VA fee panel appraiser information must sign the appraisal report in the “Appraiser” section of the left side of the appraisal report.

To read the full announcement and the comments click here

My comment: Good to see the VA is protecting veterans, their Primary Mission!! VA is one of the best, most reliable appraisal clients. I wrote about it in my paid newsletter in 2014, available to paid subscribers. Not a lot has changed since such how to get on the VA list.


Fed warns of economic ruin from burgeoning U.S. debt

How much debt can an economy sustain?

Excerpt: The U.S. government’s debt, which broke $22 trillion for the first time this year, is on an “unsustainable path,” according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Debt in itself isn’t a problem unless income is lagging, the paper said, and for governments, that typically means money raised by taxes. The U.S. is now is in its 19th year of deficit spending. Income hasn’t exceeded spending since 2001, the year President George W. Bush took over from President Bill Clinton.

Short with interesting analysis

To read more, click here

My comment: I’m an appraiser and just gotta put in something negative (and scary) in this newsletter ;> Lots of differing opinions on the effect of U.S. debt: positive, negative and neutral. Of course, for appraisers, economic downturn means lots of REO and foreclosure appraisals. Remember the S&L crash in the late1980s and FIRREA (Finally I am a Rich Real Estate Appraiser)? Bank appraisals started during the Great Depression for foreclosures.


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 1.5 percent from one week earlier,

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 27, 2019) – Mortgage applications increased 1.5 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending November 22, 2019. This week’s results are being compared to the week of Thanksgiving 2018.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 1.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 11 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 4 percent from the previous week and was 314 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 increased 4 percent compared with the previous week and was 55 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates stayed below 4 percent for the second straight week and borrowers responded positively, with mortgage applications rising 1.5 percent on the back of increases in both refinance and purchase activity,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Refinances have been strong this month, but we are starting to see the average pace slow compared to the peak experienced in August through October.”

Added Kan, “The annual increase in refinance and purchase activity was even more prominent in this report because Thanksgiving was a week earlier last year. However, with roughly five weeks of reporting data left in 2019, the mortgage market is on track for its best year for originations since 2007.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 62.0 percent of total applications from 59.5 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 4.8 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 11.7 percent from 13.0 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 14.1 percent from 12.9 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 3.97 percent from 3.99 percent, with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.33 (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 3.87 percent from 3.93 percent, with points increasing to 0.29 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 3.79 percent from 3.80 percent, with points decreasing to 0.23 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 3.38 percent from 3.40 percent, with points decreasing to 0.27 from 0.31 (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 3.42 percent from 3.51 percent, with points decreasing to 0.22 from 0.23 (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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