Bad News: Dropped Phone Causes Utah Home to be Valued at Nearly $1B

A Very Strange Story!!

Excerpt: The 1,570-square-foot house built in 1978 on 2 acres in an unincorporated area of the county was recorded in 2019 tax rolls with a market rate value of more than $987 million and an overestimate of about $543 million in taxable value. In reality, the property should have only had a 2019 taxable value of $302,000, according to county property records.

That error — which the Wasatch County assessor explained possibly occurred when a staff member may have dropped their phone on their keyboard — has resulted in a countywide overvaluation of more than $6 million and revenue shortfalls in five different Wasatch County taxing entities.

To read lots more, click here

My comment: Wow!! Makes AMC and client complaints (and appraiser typos) fade away in comparison!! $1 Billion Appraisal Error

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other sections of this long blog post on 10 most popular homes for 2019,  AMCs, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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Good News: Appraiser wins $100 worth of Aurelio’s pizza every month for next five years

Just For Fun!!

Excerpt: Alvin “Chip” Wagner thought he received a crank call when Aurelio’s Pizza CEO Joe Aurelio phoned to tell him he’d won 60 months of free pizza in honor of the chain’s 60th anniversary.

“I had the call on speaker and my wife said, ‘I think this is really Joe,’” Wagner said.

To read more, click here

My comment: I have known Chip for many years. He deserves pizza plus a little big of fame ;> Appraiser in the Good Newz!! Thanks to Jonathan Miller for this Fun link!!





Are you a California Appraiser who works for AMCs? Are you a sole proprietor? Have AMCs been asking for Your Employer ID Number (EIN)?

California’s new employment law (SB5), targeted at the Gig Economy, requires that AMCs have proof that appraisers they work with are businesses. Sole proprietors (as well as LLC, LLP and Corporations) are listed in the law. AMCs need proof that you have this in order to comply with the new law. You do NOT have to form an LLC, LLP or Corporation.

I have always had an EIN because I had employees. The IRS requires it. But, any business owner can get one very easily. Using your Social Security Number is very risky for privacy and security reasons.

AMCs don’t want to classify the appraisers who do appraisals for them as Independent Contractors. Independent appraisers don’t want to be employees as they lose tax deductions for CE, home offices, etc. Companies that are both appraisal companies with staff appraisers and also are AMCs could have problems.


Getting an EIN is free and only takes a few minutes on the IRS web site.

Click here for more info. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. I have been using Nolo Press for many years. They are very reliable and focus on small businesses.

I will have lots more details in the January 2020 issue of Appraisal Today, coming out on Jan. 2 2020, including other requests from AMCs such as new appraiser contracts. Also, what it means for appraisal companies who use independent contractors. And, what it means if you are not in California.

This is evolving fast as AMCs try to figure out what is best. There is some disinformation out there. I suggest relying on what attorney Peter Christensen says as he advises both AMCs and appraisers. The other issue, of course, is what appraisal firms using IC appraisers need to change, if anything. They definitely need to show they have no control over the ICs

Many thanks to Peter Christensen (again) for an excellent webinar on this topic that I took yesterday. Click here to go to his blog to read his blog posts on this issue.


What a Ride! An Eye-Opening Look Back at the Highest (and Lowest) Real Estate Moments of the Decade

Excerpts: How best to characterize one of the most consequential decades ever in American real estate? “Epic roller-coaster ride” doesn’t quite cut it. More like a plunge into the depths followed by a neck-snapping rocket ship into the great beyond. One way or another, it’s been a wild trip.

On a more earthbound level, the past 10 years were a bit like recovering from a monumental bender…

“This decade has been climbing out of a dark hole,” says Senior Economist George Ratiu of®. “From a housing standpoint, we’re now doing well. But it’s taken longer than expected to get here and we’re scarred from the last bust.”

So how exactly did we get here? Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten some of the steps along the way—we’ve recapped the highs and lows of the decade that changed everything!

To read more, click here

My comment: I want a list of the Biggest Appraiser News of the Decade!! I was thinking about writing about 2019 appraiser changes, but this topic is much better… Of course, appraisers were significantly affected, both bad and good, over the past decade’s real estate market. Reading this story will bring back memories, both good and bad.


‘Tis the season for real estate predictions

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpt: Buckle up. It’s real estate prophet season where everyone and their Mom has a prediction about the market next year. Here are some quick thoughts and then a deep dive into local trends for anyone interested.

1) Nothing too extreme: So far I’m not hearing too many extreme views on the housing market. What I mean is there aren’t as many voices saying, “It’s going to tank” or “We’re going to have massive increases.” For instance, here’s a forecast from and it’s pretty mild. Very little price growth and a dip in the number of sales too. For reference, I wouldn’t base my perception of the market on any forecast.

To read more, click here

My comment: This article has lots of detail on Ryan’s market since it is written for real estate agents and home owners to market his non-lender appraisal business. What is your market like? At least twice a week someone asks me about what will happen to the local housing market. I usually say that No one Knows When the peak hits until it has passed and we are on the way down. And… If I knew I would be very rich and famous.


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Why Do Business & Let Them off the Hook?

By Mark Skapinetz

Excerpt: See we all should know who we are dealing with when it comes to our clients. We should be asking others about them, doing our research on them, get feedback, good or bad and make a decision. If it’s bad feedback and the known people or companies are terrible to deal with, what are you complaining about if you choose to work with them? If you know who they are and how they operate, then why do you continue to do business with them? If they are good to deal with in many aspects then all should be well.

For lots of good tips and links click here

My comments: I have been writing about this for many years in my paid newsletter. “Who’s on your Approved Client list and why? Don’t work for low fees with lots of hassles!! Client Rating Grid” in the August 2018 issue. I also write about connecting with other appraisers online, including a description of many web sites, Facebook Groups, and email discussion groups so you can choose what you want to use. This will be updated in the next several months.


The 10 Most Popular Homes of 2019

Just for Fun!!

Excerpt: …We counted all of your clicks to come up with the 10 most popular homes of the year on®.

The resulting list ran the gamut. There was the salacious (the sedate suburban home harboring a BDSM dungeon), the hilarious (the lonely chair of NHL star Phil Kessel in the middle of his home theater), and the mind-blowing (a bunker sunk 26 feet beneath Las Vegas).

And, of course, there were A-listers amid the most popular properties. You were extremely interested in Tom Brady’s mansion in Massachusetts going on the market and the Obama family’s purchase of a compound on Martha’s Vineyard.

To read more, click here


Builder Confidence Ends Year Strong on Solid Economic Fundamentals

Excerpt: Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes increased five points to 76 in December off an upwardly revised November reading, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. This is the highest reading since June of 1999.

Builders are continuing to see the housing rebound that began in the spring, supported by a low supply of existing homes, low mortgage rates and a strong labor market. While we are seeing near-term positive market conditions with a 50-year low for the unemployment rate and increased wage growth, we are still underbuilding due to supply-side constraints like labor and land availability. Higher development costs are hurting affordability and dampening more robust construction growth.

For more info and data click here

My comment: More new home appraisals!!


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 5.0 percent from one week earlier,

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 18, 2019) – Mortgage applications decreased 5.0 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending December 13, 2019.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 5.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 6 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 7 percent from the previous week and was 135 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 6 percent compared with the previous week and was 10 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates were mostly unchanged, even as a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China caused rates to inch forward at the end of last week,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “With rates showing little meaningful movement, both refinance and purchase activity took a step back. As we move into the slowest time of the year for home sales, purchase application volume is declining but continues to outperform year-ago levels, when rates were much higher. Purchase activity was 10 percent higher than a year ago.”

Added Fratantoni, “2019 was another year of inadequate housing supply in relation to demand. The good news is that the tide could be slowly turning for potential buyers. Housing starts and permits rose strongly in November, and homebuilder confidence has surged to a level not seen since 1999.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 62.2 percent of total applications from 62.4 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 4.6 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 13.7 percent from 13.9 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 12.9 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) remained unchanged at 3.98 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.33 (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 3.96 percent from 3.90 percent, with points decreasing to 0.26 from 0.27 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA remained unchanged at 3.79 percent, with points increasing to 0.36 from 0.27 (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 3.40 percent from 3.37 percent, with points decreasing to 0.26 from 0.30 (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 decreased to 3.28 percent from 3.52 percent, with points decreasing to 0.23 from 0.24 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

Please Note: MBA Offices will be closed Tuesday, December 24, 2019 and will reopen on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Due to the holiday, the next release, for the results for the week ending December 20, 2019, is scheduled for December 26, 2019. Results for weeks ending December 27, 2019 and January 3, 2020 will be released on January 8, 2020.

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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