Excerpt: We recently asked our appraisal community, “What’s the ONE thing that is most often overlooked by appraisers?” We received a wide variety of answers ranging from big-picture oversights to specific details. The most common answer we received was “Highest and Best Use.”…

Highest and Best Use (HBU)

This was the top answer, which was written in by about 8% of survey respondents “First question when doing an appraisal is the highest and best use. If there are two very different opinions of value on a property, different HBU is often the reason.”…


Obsolescence is another item mentioned by multiple survey respondents. Appraisers cited both external obsolescence and functional obsolescence as being frequently overlooked.

External obsolescence for the subject property – When I’m reviewing appraisals, I see this more often than other oversights. When I was performing retrospective reviews for FNMA, their biggest complaint was that appraisers did not point out external obsolescence for the subject and/or its impact on marketability (if there was an impact).”

Functional obsolescence – Appraiser focus has changed over the years as subject functionality has changed.”

To read lots more, click here

Appraisal Humor

Appraisal business tips

For lots more appraisal topics, Click  Read More below!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other sections of this long blog post on, a very wavy house, bifurcated appraisals, mortgage origination stats, Covid tips for appraisers, etc.  

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A Very Wavy House 

Just For Fun!!

Excerpt: “Everyone basically has this ‘Wow!’ reaction, and it’s pretty polarizing: You either love it, or you hate it,” Assemi says of the home, which is now listed for $599,000. Its roof mimics ocean waves and is covered with cedarwood shingles.

“It’s just so unconventional, but inside, it’s a regular house,” …

The home has three bedrooms and three bathrooms in 1,845 square feet, and its ceilings are 21 feet high. It comes with 6.22 wooded acres on Collins Creek at the base of the Sierras and Sequoia National Park, about 20 minutes from Fresno, CA.

Interesting article and lots of fotos: To read more, click here

My comment: Located in Sanger CA, close to Fresno in a primarily agricultural area. A very unusual home for this part of California!! The median home price in Fresno is $258,500 per Zillow. Can You say: over-improvement? In the Bay Area, our median price is around $950,000.


Self Employed Appraisers Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Excerpt: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act creates a new temporary federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

In general, PUA provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits, including those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits.

Individuals covered under PUA include the self-employed (e.g. independent contractors, gig economy workers, and workers for certain religious entities), those seeking part-time employment, individuals lacking sufficient work history, and those who otherwise do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits.

My comments: Fee appraisers who have very little work now due to COVID-19 should apply now for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

Appraisers who do not go into homes, for health and safety reasons, are significantly affected by COVID-19. Also, commercial lender appraisals are way, way down due to market uncertainty.

You apply through your state’s Employment Development Department (or similar name). Search for your state to see what to do.

FYI, it takes persistence in many states to get your application filed. Plus, can take awhile to get started receiving money. In California, when you are finally approved, your payments are retrospective.

Be sure to carefully read the requirements in your state, as every state is different. It is not the same as “regular” unemployment insurance for laid off employees.

My comments: You may be asked to search for work. This has always been asked when receiving “regular” unemployment. Be sure to check the box that says you are looking for work. It is not very relevant today for most workers, but is too difficult for the states to change their systems. You will asked to list where you looked for work at banks, AMCs etc. In CA, you must update this every two weeks. Indeed.com is a good place to look. Assuming you would take assignments for exterior/drivebys, desktop appraisals and maybe reviews.

Link for California click here. Search for your state. Hopefully it has the same FAQs as CA as it is from CARES. I saw the FAQs on several other states’ web sites.

I don’t do interior inspections for health and safety reasons, but have not applied for PUA as I am making money from my newsletter business. If I relied only on appraisal income I would have applied on the first day the state started taking applications. I do non-lender appraisals, but am not comfortable appraising them without going inside, so have been turning them down, unless the property has sold and no interior access is available.The definition of misleading in USPAP is: Intentionally or unintentionally to misrepresent misstate, or conceal relevant facts or or conclusions.


USPAP Will No Longer Be Misleading

By Jonathan Miller

Excerpt: The definition of “misleading” unleashed a wave of criticism because it meant that if an appraiser made an inadvertent error (think about the 800+ fields on a URAR), they were essentially a criminal. This exposed appraisers to a potential tsunami of litigation and real estate attorneys were excited about the prospect.

There is always the usual good-faith attempt to rationalize the pretzel logic but all this did was heighten the confusion and angst of appraisers. For what purpose?

Thankfully it looks like the definition of “misleading” has been scratched in the Second Exposure Draft 2022-23 of USPAP.

To read more, click here

FYI, “Musings on Misleading” by Tim Andersen, MAI, discussing the issue in detail, was in the May issue of the paid Appraisal Today newsletter.

Link to USPAP 2022-23 2nd exposure draft click here


Fannie Temporary Appraisal Requirement Flexibilities What They Are

and What They Mean For You

In the June issue of the Paid Appraisal Today


Fannie’s new exterior-only and desktop appraisals can be confusing. Appraisers have never done them before with the new Scope of Work.

“Traditional” appraisals have not changed. Exterior-only and desktop Scope of Work requirements are significantly different, including forms, photos and research.

Article Excerpts:

The new COVID external-only are NOT the same as the “old” 2055 drivebys

You CANNOT just drive by, take a photo and assume the interior is similar in

condition to the exterior.

You MUST NOT give a fee discount as you are doing a lot more work.

Lenders sometimes want this as they are used to the “old” drivebys.

I have heard during webinars that interior photos are expected, interview of

homeowner, lots of research on Google Earth, Street view, aerials, etc. when

appropriate. Fannie’s LL2020-4 and the FAQs do not give many details about this.

What about the “old” drivebys?

They are still being ordered by lenders for home equity and other

non-Fannie uses. I assume they have not changed in their requirements. Many appraisers charge lower fees, such as in the past, as no interior inspection is required.

Can you expand your scope of work for external and desktops?

If a desktop, for example, can the appraiser expand the scope of work to

include an exterior inspection of the subject property or comparable sales?

Yes. Per Fannie for a desktop: “The appraiser is responsible for determining

what is an adequate scope of work for any assignment and may choose to expand the scope beyond the minimum requirements. In this instance, the appraiser would

enter “desktop” as this reflects the appraisal type agreed to with the acceptance of

the assignment and the minimum scope of work required for the assignment.”

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Bifurcated Appraisal Survey Results

WorkingRE Editor’s Note: This survey was launched before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and appraisers began performing exterior-only assignments. Nevertheless, the survey results published here are what the experts – licensed appraisers – say about fracturing the appraisal process in two and conferring the responsibility for the property inspections on to non-licensed and non-trained contractors.


Question 1: Have you done a bifurcated appraisal assignment as the Appraiser Analyst?

Yes: 17.21%

No: 82.79%


Question 3: Will you consider future assignments as the Appraiser/Valuation Analyst only?

Yes: 24.98%

No: 75.02%

The commentary overwhelmingly suggests that appraisers believe that the bifurcated model and the use of unlicensed, untrained and unaccountable contractors for key elements of collateral assessment will adversely affect the health and welfare of the housing finance system, increase their own liability and damage the public trust. The vast majority of appraisers taking the survey say they don’t want any part of it.

To read the full stats and over 2,000 appraiser comments click here

My comments: Fannie has done little, if anything, on their bifurcated appraisals since last fall, but has been working on UAD updates. Appraisers opposed bifurcated…

This week an appraiser called me asking about Mueller, a company soliciting him to work for them. He said it sounded like bifurcated appraisals. It was. Mueller has been around for a long time using insurance inspectors and decided to move into inspectors for appraisals. When I checked what they paid their property inspectors on Indeed.com, it was $16 to $18 per hour, including $18 per hour in one of the most expensive counties for homes in the country. To read more about Mueller click here .

FYI, if you’re thinking about a new client or want to check out a current client, go to indeed.com and glassdoor.com for comments by employees.

I very rarely get calls from AMCs about an appraisal order. I must be on the

DO NOT EVER CALL LIST!! Master AMC list, I guess ;>


Waivers increasing

Excerpts: Richard Pisnoy, a co-founder and principal at Silver Fin Capital, a mortgage broker in Great Neck, New York, has seen a marked increase in mortgage waivers since the coronavirus began spreading. In the past, perhaps only 10 percent of borrowers qualified for appraisal waivers. Now, Pisnoy estimates, about a third of borrowers are allowed to skip the pre-closing valuation…

Spokesmen from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, declined to say whether the mortgage giants had expanded the availability of appraisal waivers.

Worth reading for more details and comments. To read more, click here

My comments: Dated April 29, but still relevant today. The GSEs are encouraging lenders to run their loans through their system to see if they qualify for waivers when first submitting a loan.


Beware emails from “Appraiser Directory”

By Dave Towne

There is a new outfit sending emails designed to extract dollars from appraisers, with the message “you need us to market your appraisal service.”

The name in their email is: Appraiser Directory

I decided to forensically check this outfit. Their registered “business address” for their web site is actually a UPS Shipping Center business on Sunset Blvd, in Los Angeles. But there is no person’s name tied to that registration.

Is it a good deal to send this suspicious outfit $30 to theoretically advertise your business for a year?

You’ll have to decide for yourself. But I’ll bet you know what my opinion is!

This new operation is very similar to another outfit who barraged appraisers with ‘you need to pay us’ messages last year. They were allegedly based in an office building in downtown Miami Beach, FL…..and the building manager had no knowledge of that business in their building.

My comment: these emails started in mid-May. I am still getting them. Guess I am not on their Do Not Ever Email list.


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 www.mbaa.org 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 https://www.appraisaltoday.com/products.htm or send an email to info@appraisaltoday.com . Or call 800-839-0227, MTW 7AM to noon, Pacific time.

Mortgage applications decreased 3.9 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 3, 2020) – Mortgage applications decreased 3.9 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 29, 2020. This week’s results included an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 3.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 14 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 9 percent from the previous week and was 137 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 7 percent compared with the previous week and was 18 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“Purchase applications continued their recent ascent, increasing 5 percent last week and 18 percent compared to a year ago. The pent-up demand from homebuyers returning to the market continues to support a recovery from the weekly declines observed earlier this spring,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “However, there are still many households affected by the widespread job losses and current economic downturn. High unemployment and low housing supply may restrain a more meaningful rebound in purchase applications in the coming months.”

Added Kan, “In contrast to the upswing in purchase activity, refinance applications fell for the seventh consecutive week – even as the 30-year fixed rate hit another MBA survey-low of 3.37 percent. After reaching a peak of 76 percent earlier this year, refinances now account for less than 60 percent of activity, and the index is now at its lowest level since February 21.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 59.5 percent of total applications from 62.6 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 3.5 percent of total applications.

The state-level data declined over the week, but the results were not adjusted to reflect impacts from seasonal factors or the Memorial Day holiday.

The FHA share of total applications remained unchanged from 11.2 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 12.0 percent from 12.4 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications increased to 0.7 percent from 0.6 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) decreased to 3.37 percent from 3.42 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 $510,400) decreased to 3.66 percent from 3.71 percent, with points increasing to 0.30 from 0.29 (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 increased to 3.46 percent from 3.41 percent, with points decreasing to 0.23 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 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 2.85 percent from 2.87 percent, with points decreasing to 0.27 from 0.30 (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 3.05 percent from 3.08 percent, with points increasing to 0.25 from 0.01 (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

1826 Clement Ave. Suite 203 Alameda, CA 94501

Phone 510-865-8041

Email  ann@appraisaltoday.com 


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