An explosion of appraisal waivers. Is that good or bad?

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpts: Appraisal waivers have really exploded in recent years – especially during the pandemic. But how many are there exactly? Let’s look at actual numbers to walk away with some perspective. These stats are from January 2021 from AEI.

  • 47.4% of all Freddie Mac loans had a waiver
  • 44.5% of all Fannie Mae loans had a waiver
  • Waivers are far more common during refinances
  • Only 10-12% of purchases had an appraisal waiver in January
  • Non cash-out refinances have the most waivers (67-69%)
  • The higher your loan-to-value, the lower your chance of a waiver
  • Waivers have seen a dramatic increase during the pandemic

2) Seeing numbers: What real estate professionals experience with appraisal waivers with their clients can really vary. For instance, if you work with FHA borrowers putting very little down, you probably don’t see many waivers, but if you work with conventional buyers putting 30-40% down, you’re going to see more. This is why seeing actual stats is so important.

Read more of Ryan’s comments, see graphs, plus over 25 appraiser comments: click here 

To read the AEI report, click here

My comments: I wrote about this in the February issue of the monthly Appraisal Today. Also included is data on which states are doing the most, and least, alternative appraisals. I spent a lot of time trying to get any statistics from Fannie without success. I knew waivers were going way up, especially for purchases. AEI reports have the analysis

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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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 unusual homes, Trip fees, waivers, solar, AVMs, mortgage origination stats, etc.


My Cardboard “Computer” – how to calculate value without AVMs!!

By Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpts: In 1980 I attended a new ERA Real Estate franchisee orientation in Kansas City. In my welcome tote bag was a cardboard slide rule type device called a Home-Rule®, subtitled “Residential Real Estate Sales Price Computer.”

If I can figure out the algorithm, add a few more wheels, and expand the slides, maybe in years to come clients can call me when I’m sitting by the pool or out on my boat. I’ll do a quick check online with my smartphone to get the subject’s characteristics and a price range, spin a few wheels on my expanded cardboard Home-Rule “computer,” and pocket $50. Let’s see, I could probably comfortably do 20 a day x $50 = $1,000 daily income… I can live on that.

To read more, click here

My comments: Worth reading for a perspective about lender AVMs. Multiple regression analysis was being used in assessor’s offices in the late 1970s. Reminds me of the slide rule I carried around in college during the “old days” for doing calculations ;>


Nearly Half of All Americans Missed Rent or Mortgage Payments as the Nation Hits One Official Year of COVID-19

New GOBankingRates’ surveys showcase staggering statistics on how the pandemic has drastically affected Americans across the country during the past year

Excerpts: A new GOBankingRates survey found that a staggering 46% of Americans missed one or more rent/mortgage payments, and that 25% have missed more than one…

In terms of age groups, 62% of Americans aged 18 to 24 years say they missed a payment, while that number decreases to 54% for the 25 to 34 age group, according to the survey. On the other side of the generational spectrum, the figure decreases to 23% for the 55 to 64 age group.

To read more, click here

My comments: I have owned rental property since 1980. The deferred rental payments, which most tenants will not be able to pay, is very scary. Failure to pay rent was one eviction reason that was always available to landlords. It is going to be a Big Mess!! I am declining all appraisal requests for 2-4 units and 5+ units.

Forbearance has helped property owners defer and re-do their loans so the missing payments get added to the mortgage loan. Not sure if there will be many foreclosures.


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Review: Residential Property Appraisal Buy This Book!!

By Mark Ratterman, MAI, SRA

Residential Property Appraisal is the best well-written appraisal books I have ever read, published in February 2020. Understandable with excellent “real life” examples. This book is very useful for all residential appraisers, especially those

who work for lenders, with many references to Fannie guidelines, USPAP,


Fannie and USPAP are unfortunately misunderstood by many. You could copy and paste from this book (PDF) and include the excerpt in your response to “reviewer” questions.

My review includes quotes from the book so you can see how practical and relevant is the book content.

To purchase the book Click Here. $85 ($75 for Appraisal Institute members). A print/PDF bundle also is available. I strongly recommend buying the PDF version so you can search for what you want. Or, the bundle with both PDF and printed. The price is very reasonable for this comprehensive residential book.

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La Jolla’s Famous Sundial House

Take a short break from grinding out appraisals!!

Excerpts: Records show it was completed in the year 2000, on a prime La Jolla lot, with views of sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. The large parcel was purchased for $940,000.

Taking full advantage of those ocean views, the house has unique, curved, beamed ceilings and curves throughout, from the round platform bed in the main bedroom to the circular kitchen with its granite island in the shape of a grand piano.

Now listed for $6.9 million, Sundial has bounced on and off the market several times over the last three years. Prices have ranged from a high of $8,495,000 in 2018 to a low of $6,395,000 in 2019.

To read more and see lots of photos, click here


Random Thoughts of an Appraiser – Part 5

By Matt Simmons

Excerpts: The language in AMC engagement letters about $75 trip fees if an appraisal is cancelled prior to report delivery is laughable. As an appraiser, if a job is cancelled figure out what general percentage of the work is done, apply that percentage to the whole fee, and send the bill. To their credit, we’ve never had an AMC try to argue with us about that.

To read more interesting comments from the author,click here


Solar: The Future Is Bright

by Mark Buhler

Excerpt: Appraisers and Solar

Under what circumstances does an appraiser consider placing value on solar panels? Most appraisers know that if solar is leased, they do not have to consider the contributory value of the solar array. There are additional scenarios where they are off the hook to consider placing value on the solar.

According to the Fannie Mae Selling Guide, the solar panels may NOT be included in the appraised value of the property if the solar panels are 1) leased, 2) under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or 3) have a Solar Loan with a UCC-1 Filing. Under these three scenarios, most appraisers breathe a sigh of relief because they are under no obligation to determine contributory value. However, an appraiser should analyze the lease, PPA or Solar loan to determine any possible effect on the marketability of the property. If solar is owned, an appraiser is obligated to determine the contributory value of the solar, if any.

To read more, click here

My comment: Well written and understandable. Buhler wrote an article, ” Appraising Solar: New Fannie guidance” for the September 2020 issue of the monthly Appraisal Today.


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 5.1 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 7, 2021) – Mortgage applications decreased 5.1 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 2, 2021.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 5.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 5 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 5 percent from the previous week and was 20 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 5 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 4 percent compared with the previous week and was 51 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates resumed their upward move last week, with the 30-year fixed rate at 3.36 percent. The return of rates to the highest level since last June contributed to a slowdown in applications for both purchases and refinances. The rapidly recovering economy and improving job market is generating sizeable home buying demand, but activity in recent weeks is constrained by quicker home-price growth and extremely low inventory,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Refinance applications declined for the fifth straight week, but there was a gain in VA loan activity. Overall, refinance demand has decreased, with volume over the past 10 weeks down by more than 30 percent.”  

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 60.3 percent of total applications from 60.6 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 3.7 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 10.2 percent from 11.3 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 13.8 percent from 10.3 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications increased to 0.5 percent from 0.4 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($548,250 or less) increased to 3.36 percent from 3.33 percent, with points increasing to 0.43 from 0.39 (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 $548,250) increased to 3.41 percent from 3.34 percent, with points increasing to 0.41 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 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to 3.36 percent from 3.29 percent, with points increasing to 0.36 from 0.34 (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 2.74 percent from 2.71 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.

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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