How Surplus & Excess Land Works

By Jamie Owen

Excerpts: It can be easy to over-simplify value because the value is not always as clear cut as it appears. For example, if a one-acre lot is selling for $10,000, does that mean that a two acre lot is worth $20,000? Not necessarily. The value of something usually changes depending on its size.

Excess land is land that is larger than what is typical for the neighborhood and capable of a separate use. Excess land is land that could be split-off and resold as a buildable lot. In the example below, the zoning required a minimum lot size of one and a half acres to be buildable.

To read lots more and see fun animated gifs, click here

My comment: Definitely worth reading!

2-16-17 Newz .Land surveys in 1784 .Common appraisal errors (Opens in a new browser tab)


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 vaccines and housing, waivers, appraiser skills, surveys, mortgage origination stats, Covid tips for appraisers, etc.


Federal Regulators Want To Overhaul Home Appraisals – How That Could Hurt Both Buyers and Sellers

Excerpts: “If those appraisals are replaced with waivers, it would be logical to assume there will be less data to drive” the models in the future, O’Grady said. And if a property goes uninspected, then changes to the state of the property could go unnoticed, that “could have a dramatic effect on the overall market value of the home,” O’Grady added.

Clear Capital, a California-based appraisal company, has completed more than 120,000 hybrids or “modern” appraisals over the past couple of years.

To read more, click here

My comments: Nothing new. Somehow gotta get those loans done with very few new appraisers for over 10 years. I will have an article in the February monthly Appraisal Today about the increasing use of waivers, etc.


Mountain Estate in Idaho

Excerpts: Five buildings are on the 30-acre compound on Gold Coin Lane in Sagle, ID, on the banks of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho’s largest lake. They’re perched about 150 feet above the lake, with views of the Green Monarch Mountains and the lake from almost every angle.

The five buildings include eight bedrooms, on a total square footage of 9,342 square feet. The project took 15 years to complete

To read more and see lots of photos, click here


What appraisal skill would you most like to improve in 2021?

Excerpt: The Top 4

  • Adopting new technology (28%)
  • Obtaining new clients (17%)
  • Staying up-to-date on industry & market trends (16%)
  • Time management & efficiency (16%)

To read more plus appraiser comments, click here

My comments: I will have articles on 3 or 4 topics in the February monthly Appraisal Today paid newsletter. This weekly newsletter has many links to info on industry & market trends, which are often time-sensitive. Once a month is not frequent enough.Getting too many ad-only emails?


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New in the January Issue of the monthly Appraisal Today Newsletter

The Power of Surveys By Rachel Massey, SRA, AI-RRS

Excerpt: Over the years I have worked on building a list of agents who have opted in on email newsletters, market data, and survey responses. At this writing the list is at 200 participants out of a local board of 850+/- members, so a decent list, but not all.

I’ve used this list to share interesting market tidbits about my small market area, providing monthly market data that is a bit different from what the Board of Realtors distributes, and use it as a way to ask questions when the market data is sparse.

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

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17 of the World’s Most Beautifully Broken Places

Wind, rain, and retreating glaciers left this gorgeous destruction behind.

Fascinating Escape from our current stressful Reality for a Few Minutes (or longer).

Photo is from Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area Bloomfield, New Mexico

The land is full of geologic eye candy like otherworldly spires, mushroom-shaped hoodoos, and prehistoric fossils.

Excerpt: Around the globe, the land still bears the scars of the long-ago past. Retreating glaciers carved caves and ravines in their wakes. Landslides spawned tapestries of pits and peaks. Wind and rain continue to nibble at rocks, sculpting strange geological formations and causing large chunks of the ground to buckle and bend. These 17 places show that some of the planet’s most blemished areas are also it is most beautiful.

My comment: WoW!! I really needed this bit of escape…

To read more, click here


How the Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccines Could Help, and Hurt, the U.S. Housing Market

Excerpts: Now, as the long-awaited vaccines are being rolled out, home buyers and sellers are eager to take real estate’s temperature. Will prices finally cool off? Will the big cities come back? And will more homes finally go up for sale?

Spoiler alert: The housing market is expected to remain hot, but the frenzy that was a hallmark of the majority of 2020 is likely to die down.

“We’re going to settle somewhere in between where we were before COVID and where we were during COVID,” says®’s chief economist, Danielle Hale.

To read more, click here

Another much longer article from Bloomberg: Homebuyers Brace for Pain in a Post-Pandemic Market To read the article, click here

My comments: What will happen? I have no idea, but the crazy market now is tough for buyers and appraisers trying to keep track of it. There will be changes.

I am 77 and already planning what I can do when I get my second vaccine shot. Getting my first shot next Thursday. No more paranoia about getting infected! I will start appraising again, have lunch with vaccinated friends, etc. I live alone and don’t have to worry about infecting anyone at home but will use a mask, distancing, avoid crowding, etc. when not at home.

According to state statistics, of the 31,102 deaths in California since the disaster began last year, 75% have been people 65 and older, and 94% have been people 50 and older. The older you are, the higher the death rate. Be careful out there!

For national data on deaths by age, read my News Update post, click here, and scroll to the bottom. Very Scary.


COVID-19 Recent posts

Covid News Update and What it Means for You
Vaccines, mutations, who gets the vaccine, etc. Updated daily and sometimes hourly!

To read, click here

Latest Vaccine News From the Mayo Clinic 1-11-20 30 minute Video
An understandable expert that speaks conversationally, and does not use technical terminology. Mutations, booster doses and much more.
To watch, click here

Virus Mutations – what you need to know
Four good podcasts from relatively easy to understand to very scientific. Something for everyone! To read, 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 16.7 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 13, 2021) – Mortgage applications increased 16.7 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 8, 2021. The previous week’s results included an adjustment for the holidays.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 16.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 69 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 20 percent from the previous week and was 93 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 8 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 60 percent compared with the previous week and was 10 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“Booming refinance activity in the first full week of 2021 caused mortgage applications to surge to their highest level since March 2020, despite most mortgage rates in the survey rising last week. The expectation of additional fiscal stimulus from the incoming administration, and the rollout of vaccines improving the outlook, drove Treasury yields and rates higher. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate climbed two basis points to 2.88 percent, but reversing the trend, the 15-year fixed rate ticked down to 2.39 percent – a record low,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Even with the rise in mortgage rates, refinancing did not slow to begin the year, with the index hitting its highest level since last March. Both conventional and government refinance applications increased, with applications for government loans having their strongest week since June 2012.”  

Added Kan, “Sustained housing demand continued to support purchase growth, with activity up nearly 10 percent from a year ago. The lower average loan balance observed was partly due to a 9.2 percent increase in FHA applications, which is a positive sign of more lower-income and first-time buyers returning to the market.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 74.8 percent of total applications from 73.5 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 1.6 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 9.6 percent from 10.1 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 15.8 percent from 13.6 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 2.88 percent from 2.86 percent, with points decreasing to 0.33 from 0.35 (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 backed by the FHA increased to 2.93 percent from 2.90 percent, with points decreasing to 0.32 from 0.33 (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 2.39 percent from 2.40 percent, with points increasing to 0.31 from 0.29 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate remained unchanged from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 2.66 percent from 2.63 percent, with points decreasing to 0.38 from 0.41 (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


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