By Jonathan Miller

Excerpt from Jonathan Miller: She recently promoted her video called Fool The Appraiser a catchy marketing phrase to promote dishonesty. She literally has no idea how offensive this is to the appraisal industry and how unprofessional this makes her look to the public and her peers.

Excerpt from the video: “So, the purpose of the game is to fool the appraiser into thinking that the property is worth the agreed upon purchase price.

Because if we follow the rules of the game, the homeowner has already accepted an offer greater than list price. So how do we get an appraiser to think that the property is worth? The agreed upon purchase price which is higher than list price.”

To read Miller’s article, watch the 1 hour 17 min. video, plus transcript and webinar handout, click here

Direct link to broker video and transcript Click here

Note: Registration is required to watch it and read the transcript, but you can always use your “alternative” gmail address. If you don’t have one, get one. I have one.

My comments: Great training for real estate agents. NOT!! But, maybe you will see someone doing this. This video and handout will let you know what they are up to!!

Which Appraisal Clients are used the most?(Opens in a new browser tab)

What Is An Appraiser?(Opens in a new browser tab) Humor


To read about Appraising – where are we going?, 200 years  of U.S. interest rates, Sand Dollar house, Tales of a Trainee, FHA no photos required, mortgage lending forecasts, appraiser Covid tips, etc. scroll down the page!

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FHA Issues Temporary Policy to Waive Requirements for Interior Photographs in Presidentially-Declared Major Disaster Areas

FHA info #20-73 October 6, 2020

Today (Oct. 6), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) published a temporary policy waiver to its Single Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1 requirements that suspends the standard inspection requirement for “interior” photographs of property in designated Presidentially-Declared Major Disaster Areas (PDMDAs).

This waiver of requirements for interior photographs in PDMDAs is now consistent with the temporary inspection guidance allowing for exterior-only or desktop-only inspections due to the COVID-19 National Emergency currently in place.

To read the PDF document click here


Appraising – where are we going?

The Direction of the Appraisal Industry video, 27 minutes. 

An interview with Joan Trice, Founder of Clearbox, and Scott Reuter, Chief Appraiser and Director of Valuation for Freddie Mac.

We sat down with Scott Reuter to discuss the future of the appraisal industry. How do GSEs continue to respond to the pandemic? Where do we go from here? These questions and much more are answered by Scott Reuter while he shares on this evolving subject.

To watch the video click here

My comments: Video starts with Covid changes. Scott’s comments on the future start at 16 minutes. Also a discussion of the opening part of Freakonomics book, about buying a house and the appraiser, at 18 minutes. Don’t miss this part. Very good.

I really don’t like the term “appraisal industry”. I prefer appraisal profession. I guess that makes me an Old Timer from back when appraisers were professionals before mortagage brokers, next AMCs took over residential lender appraising and decimated it.


Visualizing the 200-Year History of U.S. Interest Rates

Excerpt: U.S. interest rates will stay near zero for at least three years as the Federal Reserve enacts measures to prop up the economy.

But are low interest rates a new phenomenon? Interestingly, one study (insert link) by the Bank of England shows that this pattern of declining interest rates has taken place globally since the late Middle Ages. In fact, it suggests that these downward-sloping rate trends have taken place even before modern central banks entered the scene—illustrating an entrenched, historical trend.

To see a larger graph and read the analysis click here. 


Visualizing the 700-Year Fall of Interest Rates

To see a graph of 700 years of interest rates,

plus analysis click here

My comments: WoW! You gotta check out the very interesting comments plus larger images to see all the details. Many thanks to Jonathan Miller for putting this in his Housing Notes blog. Signup for notifications at his most recent post click here: Getting too many ad-only emails?


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New appraisers Need Live, Not “Virtual” Field Training

By Julie Friess, SRA, AI-RRS, MA

The CEO and Chief Appraiser of Appraisal Camp Sedona

Excerpt: Why aren’t appraisers properly trained?

Up to this point in time the Appraisal Foundation with the Appraisal Subcommittee at their side, has completely dropped the ball when it has come to appropriately training and educating appraisers.

A few years ago I was at a conference where an esteemed colleague of mine named Paul Chandler said, “If the Users of these services WANTED appraisers to be properly trained, they would be.” Exactly.

So why aren’t appraisers properly trained then?

Appraisers have not been properly trained for more than 20 years, in the field or not. It is time for a change. Appraisers were given the chance to train new appraisers and they did not do it and when some did do it, most did not do it properly.

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

If this article gave you a better understanding of appraiser training, it is worth the subscription price!!

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Curvaceous ‘Sand Dollar House’ Floats Onto the Market in Texas for $2.2M

Excerpt: kind of famous for this area, says the co-listing agent, Michelle Jones, of an organic modern home designed to mimic a sand dollar.

Everybody wonders about the house, she adds. They need wonder no more: The asking price for the distinctive local landmark is $2.2 million.

The spiral-shaped, stark-white 2,240-square-foot structure is located in Lakeway, TX, roughly 20 miles northwest of Austin.

Known as the Sand Dollar House, the residence was designed by John Covert Watson and echoes the design of the Guggenheim Museum, on New York City Upper East Side.

To see lots of fotos and read more information, click here

My comment: Very interesting. Worth checking out!!


Tales of a Trainee at Appraisal Camp Sedona

By Bryan Aldridge, Appraiser Trainee

Excerpt: Julie (Freiss) said, “What do you see?”

As we pulled up to the home, Julie asked what I saw when we were driving the neighborhood. I didnt know what she saw, so I modestly replied, A bunch of houses? Sharp, I know. She nodded and we walked up to the house to begin our exterior inspection.

The first thing I noticed was how soft the ground around the home was, especially at the edge of the small level portion of the hill that it sat on. It was as if the soil was not packed down properly or it was eroding quickly.

What we saw on the second trip to the house

Several months later, we visited again out of curiosity and two sinkholes had appeared in the driveway. Before we got far, Julie informed me that there was a huge problem with this appraisal and a mystery to solve.

To read lots more, click here


COVID-19 Recent posts

Fauci on Current Status of Covid Infections, including the President and White House

Recorded 10-8-20 8 min. 19 sec. video. The excellent interviewer asks Fauci the very tough current questions about infections in the NFL, Trump, and the White House, surges in some states, etc. Fauci does not point the finger at anyone. Instead, he repeats what the science says about what should be done.

To watch the video or read the transcript, click here

Excerpt from My comments: I am a real estate appraiser. I was taught to look at the data, analyze it, be objective, and tell the truth. Almost all appraisers are pressured sometimes to not disclose defects in a property or change a property value because a client wants a higher or lower number. I know what pressure is like. To not give in may result in losing a major client or getting a bad reputation for not “helping out a client. Fauci, even though he has extreme pressure sometimes, stays with the scientific truth.


How to reduce Covid airborne transmission risk – 6 minute video. 

The speaker is definitely an expert: professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, and her expertise is in the airborne transmission of viruses.

She uses smoke analogy, which works well. Worth watching.

To watch, click here


Deep Cleaning For Covid Is Not Very Effective – 22 minute podcast

The best explanation I have heard about Covid and surfaces (fomites!!)!

Microbiologist Dr. Emanuel Goldman talks about the science behind COVID transmission research, the strong evidence that infection comes from aerosols and not surfaces, and how excess sanitation in public spaces may be giving us a false sense of security.

To listen, click here


College Student Q&A with Dr. Fauci 37 minute video. Recorded 10-26-20

Most of Fauci interviews are by adults: scientists, media interviewers, etc. Fauci addressed students’ concerns, the trajectory of the pandemic, and ways we can respond and help.

Toward the end of the event, Fauci talked about his own background, including the sense of social responsibility his family taught him that led him to his current career.

It also important to keep in mind, he said, that “you don’t know everything at any given time – there’s more to learn.” Reminds me of appraising!! Science and appraising are very similar: get data, analyze it, tell the truth (about the value, the property, etc.)

To watch, click here


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 increased 4.6 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 7, 2020) – Mortgage applications increased 4.6 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 2, 2020.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 4.6 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 8 percent from the previous week and was 50 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 1 percent compared with the previous week and was 21 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates declined across the board last week – with most falling to record lows – and borrowers responded. The refinance index jumped 8 percent and hit its highest level since mid-August,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Continuing the trend seen in recent months, the purchase market is growing at a strong clip, with activity last week up 21 percent from a year ago. The average loan size increased again to a new record at $371,500, as activity in the higher loan size categories continues to lead growth.”

Added Kan, “There are signs that demand is waning at the entry-level portion of the market because of supply and affordability hurdles, as well as the adverse economic impact the pandemic is having on hourly workers and low-and moderate-income households. As a result, the lower price tiers are seeing slower growth, which is contributing to the rising trend in average loan balances.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 65.4 percent of total applications from 63.3 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity remained unchanged at 2.2 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 11.0 percent from 11.4 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 12.2 percent from 11.9 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 ($510,400 or less) decreased to 3.01 percent from 3.05 percent, with points decreasing to 0.37 from 0.52 (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 3.31 percent from 3.33 percent, with points decreasing to 0.3 from 0.39

(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 3.12 percent from 3.15 percent, with points decreasing to 0.32 from 0.43 (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 2.59 percent from 2.65 percent, with points decreasing to 0.36 from 0.49 (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 2.80 percent from 2.95 percent, with points decreasing to 0.34 from 0.55 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

If you would like to purchase a subscription of MBA’s Weekly Applications Survey, please visit, contact or click here.

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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