The Sculptured House

Motoring down the scenic drive west on Highway 70, away from Denver, Colorado, into the foothills and sprawling mountains, an odd structure appears south of the freeway. An oval shape seems to float just above the trees at the top of a cliff, looking at the highway below. It would be understandable to think you’ve spotted a UFO, since the Sculptured House is known for its sci-fi history. The Sculptured House Is An Appraisal Challenge !!

To read more, click here

Appraisal Humor

Appraisal business tips

Appraising Weird Stuff is Challenging!(Opens in a new browser tab)

Appraisal Process Challenges(Opens in a new browser tab)

To read about lots more appraisal topics, continue reading below!


NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other sections of this long blog post on Markets Changing, UFO Homes, mortgage origination stats, Tips for Fannie’s Covid appraisal changes, etc.

NOTICE TO READERS: No covid analysis this week except for this market discussions. Taking a break from Covid. To read my April and newsletter, with lots of mostly scientific info, plus updates in these emails since that April 3, go to


House with epidemic influenza and Coronavirus Covid-19 concept

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpt: FIVE WEEKS AGO: About five weeks ago the real estate market started to have a strong reaction to the coronavirus. I look to March 12th as our day of change as that’s when things started to kick into high gear with events cancelling and sellers and buyers backing off the market.


1) Pendings and listings declined heavily for a few weeks.

2) Pending contracts have begun to increase again.

3) More new listings are hitting the market.

See how Ryan analyses his market – lots of graphs. Also watch a video interview with Ryan. To read more, click here

My comment: See how the Burmingham, AL is analyzed below. What works for your market?


Do We Have To Wait To Know How The Pandemic Will Affect Our Market?

Ryan’s interview with Dustin Harris, the Appraiser Coach

Excerpt: Many appraisers are in a “wait and see” pattern, but should we be doing more to be on top of the market? My friend Ryan Lundquist joins me today to talk about his recent article on Sacramento Appraisal Blog called “Seven Things To Watch In Real Estate During a Pandemic.” This is a timely topic for all appraisers.

To listen to the 30 minute audio recording click here

My comment: Ryan’s “Seven Things” article had a huge number of clicks last week. If you missed it, click here




What to put in the map reference field on your 1004 when not doing interior inspections:

ONLY TWO CHOICES: desktop and exterior . Fannie and Freddie say that appraisers are using lots of different words…

I have been using the term “drivebys” for decades and accidentally did it last week. I keep thinking of “external” as going around the outside of the house. I gotta change!!

Of course, it is even more confusing that the 2055 “Exterior-Only Inspection Residential Appraisal Report” (2005 version), with Covid Scope of Work, is still being used for Purchase/Refi no cash out for Freddie and Fannie!! VA is using the 2055 for Purchase/Refi. FHA is not using the 2055.

FYI, the May issue of the paid Appraisal Today will have a long article: “Desktop or External Yes or No?” For example, why did Fannie select external rather than driveby. This is the most controversial topic in residential appraising now!!


Fannie Mae Appraiser Update March 2020 

Dated March 20, 2020

The topics:

  • What is a Horizontal Property Regime?
  • How are you modernizing?
  • Meaning of comparable
  • More about multiple parcels

To read more, click here

My comment: I don’t know how I missed this non-covid Appraiser update!!Getting too many ad-only emails?


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Coming in the May issue of the Paid Appraisal Today, Available May 1, next Friday.

Desktop and Exterior-only appraisals – Yes or No? The most controversial issue today for  residential appraisers!!!

Topics include:

  • Using virtual inspection tools – borrowers take geocoded photos.
  • What does USPAP say?
  • Why did the GSEs select Exterior rather than Driveby?
  • How long will these changes last?
  • Will this change lender appraisals permanently?
  • Recommended pandemic market uncertainty statements
  • Where to get more information and tips: Fannie documents, webinars, etc.
  • etc., etc., etc.

To read the full article, plus 2+ years of previous issues, subscribe to the paid Appraisal Today.

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If you are a paid subscriber and did not get the April issue, emailed Friday, April 4, 2020, please send an email to and we will send it to you!! Or, hit the reply button. Be sure to put in a comment requesting it.


Wanli UFO Village, Taiwan

A rare pod of derelict midcentury Futuro and Venturo houses lines a semi-abandoned beachfront resort outside Taipei.

Excerpt: MYSTERY SURROUNDS THIS SEMI-ABANDONED HOLIDAY resort, home to the last pod of Futuro—a.k.a “UFO”—houses in Taiwan, as well as what may be the largest pod of Venturo houses in the world.

The eerie streets of this abandoned beachside paradise still echo with the cries of surfers fighting against the strong coastal waves from the village’s bygone days as a hub of midcentury futurism.

To read more, click here


Lotsa FREE webinars!!

Appraisal Institute Recent (and upcoming) Webinars

Valuation Impacts Of COVID-19 (April 17, 2020)

Appraisal Institute

Very good 2+ hour webinar on commercial real estate markets.

I attended it. “Webinar featured about a dozen nationally recognized commercial real estate experts who addressed changing market conditions during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”


AIAnswers April 22, 2020

1 hour webinar. First half hour was updates on state and national issues. Second half hour features Scott Reuter, Chief Appraiser at Freddie Mac with some good tips.


Another AI webinar from April 15 is also available. I did not receive a notification so did not watch it live. On Facebook, next to the video above.


Upcoming AI Webinar – AIAnswers 

AI plans on having this event on facebook on Wednesdays at 10am Pacific Time. Go to the Facebook page, video section to see it


Appraiser eLearning Recent (and upcoming) Webinars

April 23 Appraising in Uncertain Times 4-23-20

Featuring Craig Morley, President of the National Association of Appraisers (NAA)


April 27 Special Edition Webinar – A Conversation with Freddie Mac With Scott Reuter, chief appraiser at Fannie Mae.

To watch both (and many other recordings) go to 


Appraisal Buzz webinar

Understanding Appraisal Flexibilities During COVID-19

Multiple policy changes have been put in place by the FHFA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other entities to allow lending to continue safely during COVID-19. Learn more about what is now allowed for appraisals, and what tools are available to gain additional information on the interior of a home while social distancing and sheltering in place.

Speakers were John Brenan (now with Clear Capital), Lyle Radke, (Fannie Director on Collateral Policy and Strategy) and Jeff Allen (Clear Capital) doing a brief demo of his new software for borrowers to take interior photos.

The downloadable recording will be available this afternoon. It will be published in the Buzz store where they put all our recordings.

My comment: in the May issue of the paid Appraisal Today I will be reviewing two tools with geocoding so borrowers can take their own interior fotos from Clear Capital and Bradford software. Both are very easy to use.


Excerpts: While we can get a general idea of the real estate market by listening to national news it really doesn’t tell the story at the local level. The charts I am sharing here cover Jefferson and Shelby counties in Alabama.

Certain neighborhoods may perform better or worse than others in the Birmingham area so to find out about a specific neighborhood or subdivision it would be necessary to analyze sales from that location. The information in this post gives a general picture of the overall Birmingham Market.

To read more, click here

My comment: See how this compares with Ryan Lundquist’s analysis of the very different Sacramento CA market area above. Which works best for your market? I am seeing similar trends in my market and other markets. But, prices in lower priced homes in nearby cities appear to be declining, similar to other market changes in the past.

Some appraisers are reporting that other markets appear to be declining. Also, in lower priced homes in nearby cities appear to be declining, similar to other market changes in the past.


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 0.3 percent from one week earlier,

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 22, 2020) – Mortgage applications decreased 0.3 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 17, 2020.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 0.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 0.1 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 1 percent from the previous week and was 225 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent compared with the previous week and was 31 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage applications were essentially unchanged last week, as a slight drop in refinance activity was offset by a 2 percent increase in purchase applications. California and Washington, two states hit hard by COVID-19, saw another week of rising activity – partly driving the overall increase. Despite the weekly gain, the purchase index remained close to its lowest level since 2015, and was over 30 percent lower than a year ago,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “The pandemic-related economic stoppage has caused some buyers and sellers to delay their decisions until there are signs of a turnaround. This has resulted in reduced buyer traffic, less inventory, and March existing-homes sales falling to their slowest annual pace in nearly a year.”

Added Kan, “Despite the 30-year fixed rate remaining at a record low in MBA’s survey, the refinance index dropped slightly last week but remained close to its 2013 highs. Borrowers continue to take advantage of low rates to gain some monthly savings, which is a welcome reprieve during these tough economic times.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 75.4 percent of total applications from 76.2 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 2.8 percent of total applications.

Looking at the impact at the state level, here are results showing the non-seasonally adjusted, week-over-week percent change in the number of purchase applications from Washington, California and New York:

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The FHA share of total applications increased to 10.3 percent from 9.5 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 13.8 percent from 14.3 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged from 0.4 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) remained unchanged at 3.45 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.29 (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 $510,400) increased to 3.81 percent from 3.80 percent, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.23 (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 decreased to 3.33 percent from 3.45 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.19 (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 3.03 percent from 3.04 percent, with points increasing to 0.33 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 5/1 ARMs decreased to 3.29 percent from 3.34 percent, with points decreasing to -0.15 from 0.35 (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

1826 Clement Ave. Suite 203 Alameda, CA 94501

Phone 510-865-8041


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