My new sewer line adds huge value, right?

January 19, 2021, By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpt: A new sewer line. That’s what 2020 gave my family as a parting gift before the year closed. Yep, just before Christmas, we had to replace our entire line at a whopping $13,688. I know that sounds crazy expensive, but we had four separate bids and went with the most reasonable one. In part it was so pricey because we had one hundred feet of the line under eighty feet of concrete.

The good news is my house is worth $13,688 more now, right?

To read more plus lots of appraiser comments click here

What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review(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 fees, house settling, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, Covid tips for appraisers, etc.



Be A Crack Detective

By Jamie Owen

Excerpt: Over the years, I have seen many cracks: big cracks, small cracks, long ones, and short ones. I’ve seen cracks of all different shapes and sizes. I should make it clear that I am not a crack expert. Before I go on, I should also make clear the type of cracks I am referring to. Settlement cracks!

Let’s first talk about the two fundamental types of settlement cracks. Structural and non-structural. It should be noted that sometimes a crack may appear to be structural, when it is not, and visa-versa. That’s one reason why a qualified professional is sometimes needed to make this determination.

To read lots more, see two good videos, and find out where the phrase “Crank Detective” came from click here:

My comments: One of the first house appraisals I did in the Bay Area was a large 2-story home on a steep hillside. I saw cracks radiating from the same corner of the drywall on both floors. Outside, on the same corner, I saw cracks on the outside stucco. A drain pipe ending at a depressed area, where water had been sitting for a long time, was the cause of the interior and interior damage. The home was settling on that corner. Under the house were cracks in the foundation.


Anatomy of a Sales Comparable

By Tom Horn

Excerpt: 1) Verify the sale occurred – An appraiser can obtain information about a recent sale from the sources noted above or even from a homeowner who was aware that one occurred. However, this information must be confirmed and verified.

I have had multiple occasions where some of the information provided to me was not correct. This was not because anyone was lying or it was intentional but because there was a typo or some other error.

Ideally, it is best to first verify with a party to the transaction that the sale occurred and then to double-check this through public records. Verification sources include the buyer, seller, listing or selling agent, or closing documents. The information to be verified includes the sale price and date of sale.

To read more, click here

My comments: Written for real estate agents, but good reminders for appraisers.

Note: Tom recently recovered from Covid. He did not get it while appraising. A Case of COVID, 2020, and Birmingham Real Estate To read more, click here


Martha’s Vineyard Estate From 1688 Tops This Week’s List of the 10 Oldest Homes for Sale

Excerpt: The list is topped by an estate on Martha’s Vineyard, MA, that was established in 1688. The James Allen House sits right next to Chilmark Pond and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

There’s something soothing about looking at things that have withstood the test of time. Perhaps that’s why our regular peeks at the oldest homes on the market are so darn popular.

The 10 oldest homes available for sale this week date all the way to the establishment of the 13 ragtag Colonies. Each represents a long-standing commitment to the stories they have to tell and to all the people who took care of these homes through the years.

To check out all 10 of the oldest homes, click here.

My comment: Here in the Bay area, there were relatively few homes until the Gold Rush, which started in 1868. People from all over the world came to San Francisco. It was a wild time! There were few comparatively homes built prior to 1860. The oldest buildings in California are missions and churches built by the Spanish in the late 1700s.


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New in the January issue of Appraisal Today

Excerpt: Ten Top Appraiser Time Wasters by Doug Smith, SRA

1. Over emphasized work-life

Appraisers generally underestimate the fatigue factor in their lives.

Appraisers with travel time and heavy inspection schedules can become pressed for time to relax and re-energize.

Working when you are tired hinders thinking. The words “time off” and “vacation” should not be a foreign language in the appraiser’s vocabulary.

The most important software in the appraiser’s office is themselves. Why run on overload when there is a simple alternative to planning and inserting time to refresh and recharge? Sooner or later, health may suffer when the crisis point is reached. Your time off will be forced, and it will probably occur at the wrong time.

One casualty of an overly hectic schedule is sleep. Sleep is fundamental to health, and appraisers must be aware of the need for sufficient sleep and rest. Take a sleep inventory over a couple of weeks and abide by the results of this survey.

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Appraisal Fees on the Move: New Survey Asks How Much

by Isaac Peck, Editor, WorkingRE

Excerpt: The latest data from Freddie Mac indicates that appraisers have unquestionably participated in this boom. Danny Wiley, Senior Director of Valuation for Single-Family Credit Risk Management at Freddie Mac, reports that the seven months since the COVID-19 pandemic began (March-September 2020) represent the seven highest volume months in terms of appraisals received to the Uniform Collateral Data Portal® (UCDP®) ever on record. Compared to 2019, appraisal volume was up 40% from January–September 2020 based on UCDP numbers.

… only about 15% of appraisal assignments ordered utilize the new appraisal flexibilities permitting exterior only, or desktop assignments, according to Fannie Mae’s latest data.

To read more and take the survey click here

My comments: AMCs are desperate! I had a call from PCV Murcor AMC this week. The first AMC call I have had for a very long time. Maybe they were going to the state regulator and calling every appraiser in my small town. There very few active fee appraisers here.

I will have info on the volume of Covid alternative appraisals in each state in Appraisal Today’s February issue

Raise Your Fees Now!!! They will go down again when rates go up. 


Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch Sells for $22 Million

Excerpt: Initially listed in 2015 for $100 million, the home sat on the market for more than five years and multiple drops in the asking price until it finally sold last month for $22 million.

Before being listed in 2015, the property was extensively renovated, and most traces of Jackson had been removed, including the amusement park rides and zoo. Billionaire and former family friend of Jackson, Ron Burkle, purchased the property for what he has described as a “land banking opportunity.”

To read more, click here


COVID-19 Recent posts

I got my first vaccine shot yesterday – Moderna. Plus my Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card. No side effects, No lines and very fast, except for waiting for 15 minutes to see if I had a bad reaction. A friend called last Thursday morning and said to call Kaiser Permanente, the largest provider in the Bay Area, and gave me the phone number. After an hour on hold, I got an appointment. I was very lucky. By Friday, the phones were overwhelmed. By Saturday or Sunday, Kaiser was scheduling the appointments (no call-ins) for 75+, not 65+ . Six million people in CA over 60 including 3 million over 70. The total population is 37 million.

A great weight has been lifted from me. No more worries about getting very sick and maybe dying. I will be doing appraisals and getting my house cleaned for the first time since February. Hopefully, someday we will find out that vaccinated persons cannot transmit Covid. Then, no more masks, distancing, etc., and worrying about getting someone else infected, my greatest fear.

Note: I am doing new blog posts 2-3 times a week. Subscribe to the blog to get notified – upper right of each page.

Mayo Clinic What is happening now – Vaccine Rollout, Variants, and much more. January 20, 2021, Excellent, understandable, weekly update with the latest news topics. Video 32 minutes To watch the video and read more, click here

Anyone of any age can become a Long Hauler with Covid symptoms that last for months January 19, 2021 Video 13 minutes To watch the video and read more, click here

How To Judge 6 ft. Physical Distance – What We All Need!! January 18, 2021, Fun Video 4 minutes To watch the video and read more, 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 decreased 1.9 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 20, 2021) – Mortgage applications decreased 1.9 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 15, 2021.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 1.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 1 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 5 percent from the previous week and was 87 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 9 percent compared with the previous week and was 15 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates increased across the board last week, with the 30-year fixed rate rising to 2.92 percent – its highest level since November 2020 – and the 15-year fixed rate increasing for the first time in seven weeks to 2.48 percent. Market expectations of a larger than anticipated fiscal relief package, which is expected to further boost economic growth and lower unemployment, have driven Treasury yields higher the last two weeks,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “After a post-holiday surge of refinances, higher rates chipped away at demand. There was a 5 percent drop in refinance activity, driven by a 13.5 percent pullback in government refinances.”

Added Kan, “Purchase applications remained strong based on current housing demand, rising over the week and up a noteworthy 15 percent from last year. Homebuyers in early 2021 continue to seek newer, larger homes. The average loan size for purchase loans jumped to $384,000, the second highest level in the survey.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 72.3 percent of total applications from 74.8 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 2.1 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 9.3 percent from 9.6 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 13.8 percent from 15.8 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 2.92 percent from 2.88 percent, with points increasing to 0.37 from 0.33 (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 3.19 percent from 3.17 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.28 (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 increased to 3.01 percent from 2.93 percent, with points decreasing to 0.29 from 0.32 (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 increased to 2.48 percent from 2.39 percent, with points increasing to 0.33 from 0.31 (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 increased to 2.76 percent from 2.66 percent, with points decreasing to 0.31 from 0.38 (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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