Agents and Comparable Sales – Tips for Appraisers

Excerpts: When real estate agents provide relevant comparable sales to appraisers, it certainly benefits both parties. Agents can ensure that appraisers are reviewing comparables that match their properties and, hopefully, meet the seller’s desired price.

Additionally, while appraisers still must verify the information, it can save them time. Here are some dos and don’ts to follow as agents and appraisers work together on establishing comps for appraisal properties.

One of the tips: Don’t go outside the neighborhood

Other neighborhoods may be less or more desirable, and that can affect overall value. Comparable sales should come from only the direct neighborhood in which the house is located—even if that means choosing homes that are slightly smaller or bigger to use as a comparison. Agents should never use sales from a “better” neighborhood to boost the value of an appraisal property.

To read more tips, click here

My comments: All appraisers get comps from agents sometimes. Unfortunately, many are not useful. I always ask if an agent has any sales or listings for me. Agents are often experts in their particular area and know what is happening. Appraisers work in a much wider area usually. Whenever I speak with agents, I tell them how to select comps, especially pending sales, using some of the criteria above.

This does not apply to the sales provided by AMCs, of course, which require a response and often wasted time for the appraiser. Most are generated by computer algorithms or occasionally a review appraiser that knows nothing about the local market.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at

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To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on big homes, USPAP, Fannie Update, mortgage origination stats, etc.


$33M Custom-Built Mansion in Portola Valley, CA, Is a ‘Livable Work of Art’

Excerpts: The 7,965-square-foot home is set on a sloped lot and features three levels, six bedrooms, and double-height walls of glass framed with wood that take in views of the bay.

Travertine floors extend from the inside to the outdoors. An eye-catching staircase ascends to all levels. A third-level roof deck offers views of San Francisco.

To read more and see more photos, click hereFrom ‘Zoom Rooms’ to Chef Kitchens: Zillow’s Top 10 Home Trends for 2021


Zillow’s top home trends for 2021 are driven by COVID-era design and home features that will continue to grow in popularity even when the pandemic subsides.

Excerpt: A Zillow survey found a desire for a home with a dedicated office tops the list of reasons why Americans working from home say they would consider a move, if they were to continue working remotely at least occasionally.

In 2021, people will receive more clarity from their employers about the ability to telecommute moving forward, which could trigger a move to a home with more space. And, as people tire of working from a kitchen table, they will be wanting a more permanent — and quiet — solution for their at-home desk.

To read more, click here

My comments: I recently took a zoom appraiser annual local conference with 6 hours CE and about 250 attendees. I spent a lot of time looking at the backgrounds in attendee videos ;> I knew many of them and really missed seeing them in person. Fortunately, I have always had a home office with a door that can be closed.


USPAP: A Living (and Changing) Document – Part 2

By Philip G. Spool, ASA

Excerpt: 2005: The 2005 USPAP was the last year of the Departure Rule along with the defined terms Complete Appraisal, Limited Appraisal, Binding Requirements, and Specific Requirements. A Compete Appraisal is now referred to as an “Appraisal Report” and a Limited Appraisal is now referred to as a “Restricted Appraisal Report.”

The article goes through each new edition in order.

To read more, click here

Link to Part 1, changes from 1992 to 2004 click here

My comments: The first edition was in 1992. From 1998 to 2006 it was changed every year. Since 2006 it has been changed every other year. Seems very excessive to me. Appraisers have to buy the book and take a class. Maybe it’s time to change to less frequently. 2022, the 30th anniversary, is coming soon. Will there be any changes to the frequency of publication by then?


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Coming in the January 2020 issue of the monthly Appraisal Today!

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  • Top 10 Appraiser Time Wasters And What to do About Them By Doug Smith, SRA
  • The Power of Surveys   By Rachel Massey, SRA, AI-RRS
  • George Dell – The Anti-Statistics Guy by George Dell, MAI, SRA

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LeBron, Bieber, and J. Lo: 3 Celebrity Homes of 2020

Excerpt: For some of the biggest stars, the need to shelter in place inspired a desire for larger, more opulent abodes with tricked-out amenities, parklike grounds, and resort-worthy extras.

2. Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin buy in Beverly Park

11,000 square feet. Amenities include a large living room, library, dining room, eat-in kitchen, and adjacent family room. Walls of glass open the space out to the patios and lawn. The spread also features a home theater, wine cellar, and gym.

To read more and see more photos, click here


Fannie Update, year-end, received by email 12-16-20

Excerpt: On December 16, Fannie Mae announced changes to the Selling Guide to allow the purchase of loans secured by certain single-width manufactured homes (MH) that are titled as real property. We’ve also updated the MH appraisal requirements and standards, including comp requirements for single-width MH and the requirement to provide photos of the HUD Data Plate or Certification Label(s) in all appraisals of MH.

To read more, including links, click here


COVID-19 Recent posts

Keeping up on who gets the vaccine and when they will get it is driving me crazy! Getting the vaccine delivered from the manufacturer to the states is much simpler in comparison. I am working long hours writing about the CDC’s new recommendations on December 20, which includes frontline essential workers and persons 75+. I am 77 and can’t wait to get the vaccine! It will greatly relieve my stress about getting infected. Of course, I will continue to protect other people with face masks, distancing, and avoiding indoor crowding while waiting to find out if I can infect anyone.

States decide who gets vaccinated and when. Check with your state. Prisoners, older people vs. essential workers, who are essential workers, teachers, and many other issues. A few days ago I attended a very interesting live youtube streaming of a California Advisory Committee.

Sorry, I don’t think appraisers will be on the frontline essential worker lists, like bus drivers and grocery store clerks. We don’t spend all day in close proximity to persons who could be infected. We control what homes we appraise.


Find out what is happening today, and what it means for you, from a trusted source:  Dr. Tony Fauci

Dr. Fauci Current Vaccine News: Who Gets It First and Why, Virus Mutations, Travel Bans, etc. 13 minutes. 12-21-20 

I have a list of topics, including Virus mutations, Travel bans, Do the current vaccines protect us? Plus first shipments of the Pfizer vaccines were smaller with fewer doses than expected.

To watch, click here


Coronavirus Vaccine Update With Anthony Fauci 32 minutes 12-11-20 

I have a timed list of the topics so you can scroll to what you want to know about, including Data on the elderly and teenagers, Severe allergic reactions, and Vaccination timeline.

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 0.8 percent from one week earlier

Mortgage applications increased 0.8 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 23, 2020) – , according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending December 18, 2020.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 0.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 1 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 4 percent from the previous week and was 124 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 5 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 7 percent compared with the previous week and was 26 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates are closing the year at record lows. The 30-year fixed rate – at 2.86 percent – is a full percentage point below a year ago. Last week’s increase in refinance applications was driven by FHA and VA activity, while conventional refinances saw a slight decline. Overall refinance activity was 124 percent higher than in 2019, as borrowers continue to seek lower monthly payments or different loan terms,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Purchase applications decreased for the second time in three weeks, as both conventional and government applications saw a drop-off. Despite the decline, purchase applications remained 26 percent higher than the same week a year ago, and the average loan balance reached another record high.”  

Added Kan, “There are still signs of relative strength in the housing market as 2020 ends. However, housing affordability will be worth monitoring next year. The lower loan size segment of the market – particularly for entry-level and first-time buyers – continues to be impacted by rapidly increasing home prices and tight inventory.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 74.8 percent of total applications from 72.7 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 1.9 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 11.5 percent from 11.0 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 13.8 percent from 12.1 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) increased to 2.86 percent from 2.85 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate remained unchanged from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $510,400) decreased to 3.10 percent from 3.12 percent, with points decreasing to 0.29 from 0.33 (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 2.90 percent from 2.96 percent, with points decreasing to 0.32 from 0.42 (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 2.43 percent from 2.49 percent, with points decreasing to 0.28 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 5/1 ARMs increased to 2.71 percent from 2.58 percent, with points increasing to 0.48 from 0.36 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

Please Note:

MBA Offices will be closed Thursday, December 24, 2020, and will reopen on Monday, January 4, 2021. Due to the holiday, the results for the weeks ending December 25, 2020, and January 1, 2021, will be released on January 6, 2021.

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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