Favorite Crazy Appraisal Stories – The Psycho Kitty

Excerpt: Psycho Kitty

I had an appointment at a home in the country out in the woods. The access instructions said the cat MIGHT be caged. Got to the home and the cat was at the front door and hissed at me as I went in. I tried to make friends with the cat, but it didn’t work, so I ignored the cat and started my inspection.

As I came out of the first-floor master, he was waiting. He stood on his hind legs, teeth showing, hissing, and came at me. Once again, I used my clipboard and ran to the laundry room where I was able to shut the door. I was safe…

To read more strange and/or funny appraisal stories, click here

My comment: We all have appraisal stories, of course!! In my 45 years of appraising I have never been attacked by a cat. My creepiest cat encounter was appraising the home of a cat foster parent for a local animal shelter. Large outside cat enclosure full of cats, multiple cats on top of dressers and other places, looking at me (looked like they were hungry). I wish I could forget about all the cat eyes looking at me :<

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on psycho kitty, waivers, value vs. price, hot market, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.


2021 update on GSE on use of appraisal waivers

The share of appraisal waivers rose for both GSEs in February 2021. Fannie’s share stood at 50%, up from 44% in January, while

Freddie’s stood at 49%, up from 47%. For the GSEs combined, the

waiver share stood at 49% setting a new series’ high.

133% Increase in the use of waivers (all loan types) since Feb. 2020

260% Increase in the use of Cash out waivers since Feb. 2020

Shares of GSE appraisal waivers in February 2021 stood at 69%

for No Cash Out refinances, at 36% for Cash Out refinances, and

at 10% for Purchase loans.

Over time, these shares have grown rapidly, however as of recently, they appear to have plateaued for Purchase loans and No Cash Out refinances.

To read more and see graphs and tables, click here

My comment: Worth checking out the tables and graphs. Updated from October, 2020 data analysis.


Biltmore Estate’s Secret Passages, Asheville, North Carolina

Excerpts: With 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, and nearly 180,000 square feet. The enormous 250-room Vanderbilt mansion conceals hidden doors and secret passageways.

The Biltmore Estate was built as the ultimate indulgence of George Washington Vanderbilt II, a descendant of Cornelius “The Commodore” Vanderbilt, the builder of Grand Central Depot in New York and a pioneer of the Gilded Age in America. It was designed with several concealed doors, hidden passageways, and secret rooms, which blend in seamlessly with the decor so that they are not noticeable to the untrained eye.

To watch a short video (1.5 minutes), see more photos and read more click here

My comment: I love secret passages in homes. I live near the Winchester House, in San Jose, CA with secret doors plus many more strange features. The owner was definitely eccentric!Getting too many ad-only emails?


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Rules are Made to Be Followed

By Claudia Gaglione, Esq., National Counsel for Liability Insurance Administrators

Excerpt: When a lawsuit is filed, one of the first questions asked is how long the case will be pending before it gets resolved. Often, that can’t be answered with any degree of certainty.

Rarely, some lawsuits are resolved in trial. Other matters are concluded if the parties agree to a settlement. Both of those resolutions could take years.

Early in the life of a lawsuit, counsel for the insured might have a chance to file a motion asking the Judge to dismiss the case. This would be an option if the facts, and the law, are clear. The motion explains to the Judge that no matter how the lawsuit might develop, those key facts, and the applicable law, could not be changed. Rather than waste the time of the parties, and the court, it would be appropriate to simply end the case.

Unfortunately, these motions are often ignored. Judges want to give the parties (most often the plaintiffs) a chance to develop the case, even when it seems unlikely that they could manipulate the facts in their favor.

Some Judges don’t want to take the time to read the papers and to consider the arguments. They don’t want to make the “hard” call to end a case in its very early stages. We will hear Judges say they think the case should be decided by a jury, even though every Judge knows the odds of a case lasting that long are slim.

Despite the odds not being in our favor, we never stop trying….

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How much are buyers paying above the asking price?

May 5, 2021 By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpt: Fresh stats: Today I have some brand new stats. I’ve never broken out numbers like this before and I’m excited to share. Even if you’re not local I hope this gives perspective or ideas for how to visualize your market.

Four reasons why prices have risen so quickly:

1) Supply & demand: Prices have been increasing rapidly due to supply and demand being so lopsided. It’s no secret we have a shortage of listings and excessive demand. This has created a market that feels like chaos where the median price in April in the Sacramento region is up 11% since January. Of course rates below 3% have also played a role in supercharging the market.

2) Appraisal gap: Buyers are paying above the appraised value or bridging the “appraisal gap” so to speak (the difference between the appraised value and the contract price). In some cases appraisal waivers are also helping properties close at higher levels…

To read more, click here

My comments: Written for buyers, sellers and agents, but relevant for appraisers.

I recently appraised (for an estate) a home with the date of death 3/28/2001. This was about the time when the dotcom market started crashing here. My best sales were from Dec. 2020 to April 2021. To get an overall idea, I looked at MLS sales before and after that date and could see when homes sold over list and gradually went to selling at list, then started going below list. Days on market also helps. Just took a few minutes to get an idea about what was happening. I always use the ratio of listings to pendings for current values. Declining market has lots of listings, few pendings, listing price declines and many expireds. Today, increasing market – sales price over list prices, very short days on market, very few listings as almost all are pending. Stats of course to get adjustment percent. Condos and townhomes are very different markets from detached in my market, so I only use detached for stats.

But, the most difficult part of the appraisal was trying to figure out what the condition was like in 3/38/2001. This can be very tricky for many retrospective appraisals. The house sold for almost 3 times more over the 2021 value in December 2020 but had over $100,000 in remodeling in 2020. I interviewed neighbors, relatives, got Home Inspection and Termite Reports (done after the remodeling), Permit history, etc. The surviving spouse, the only person who knew the condition on the effective date, was in a nursing home with difficulty communicating and not available for comments. I shoulda charged a higher fee!!


What is Market Value vs. Price?

May 5, 2021 By Tom Horn 

Excerpt: Sometimes people confuse market price with market value. I have heard many people state that a home is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

While this is true the price may not always reflect market value, but it could. The price could reflect a possible value but maybe not market value, which is the value that the appraiser is estimating.

The appraiser’s job is to provide an educated and professional opinion as to what the majority of people would pay. If you have ten buyers and 9 would pay the price in question then that would reflect market value, however, if only one would pay the price out of ten that is market price.

In the end, we must not confuse the highest possible selling price with the most probable selling price.

To read more, click here

My comment: written for buyers, sellers and agents but useful for appraisers. Maybe you can forward the link when you keep getting asked about “low appraisals”!! Good explanations.


FHFA Announces Extension of COVID-Related Loan Flexibilities to retire at the end of May due to low usage – 4/21/2021

Excerpt: The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced today that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) will extend some temporary loan origination flexibilities until May 31, 2021. All temporary flexibilities were originally set to expire on April 30, 2021.

Alternative appraisals on purchase and rate-term refinance loans are among the flexibilities that will now be extended through May 31, 2021.

Due to low usage of the temporary flexibilities, FHFA expects to retire all temporary selling flexibilities on May 31, 2021.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, FHFA has actively monitored the pandemic’s impact on mortgage market participants’ use of the temporary selling policies. Low usage of the flexibilities make the temporary flexibilities no longer mandatory to ensure efficient market function.

To read more, click here

My comment: I wrote about appraisal flexibilities (driveby, bifurcated) in my February, 2021 monthly newsletter, which included the image below. They were not widely adopted by lenders.

Link to the FHFA report: Appraisal related policies, practices, and processes. Image below is on Page 10 of report with more analysis.

Figure 3: Appraisal Flexibilities Share by State – March 23 through November 14, 2020


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 www.mbaa.org 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 https://www.appraisaltoday.com/products.htm or send an email to info@appraisaltoday.com . Or call 800-839-0227, MTW 7AM to noon, Pacific time.

Mortgage applications decreased 0.9 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 5, 2021) – Mortgage applications decreased 0.9 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 30, 2021.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 0.9 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 increased 0.1 percent from the previous week and was 17 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 3 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week and was 24 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“There was a mixed bag of action in the mortgage market last week. Mortgage rates were slightly higher, refinance applications were essentially unchanged, and purchase applications fell for the second straight week,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Both conventional and government purchase applications declined, but average loan sizes increased for each loan type. This is a sign that the competitive purchase market, driven by low housing inventory and high demand, is pushing prices higher and weighing down on activity. The higher prices are also affecting the mix of activity, with stronger growth in purchase loans with larger-than-average balances.”

Added Kan, “An increase in conventional refinances was offset by a decline in government refinances. The 30-year fixed rate was up slightly to 3.18 percent, which is still 22 basis points lower than a year ago, but higher than it was between mid-2020 and February 2021.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 61.0 percent of total applications from 60.6 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 3.9 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 10.1 percent from 10.7 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 11.9 percent from 12.2 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 ($548,250 or less) increased to 3.18 percent from 3.17 percent, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.30 (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 3.31 percent from 3.28 percent, with points decreasing to 0.27 from 0.30 (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 3.13 percent from 3.12 percent, with points decreasing to 0.22 from 0.24 (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 2.54 percent from 2.55 percent, with points increasing to 0.31 from 0.30 (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 2.76 percent from 2.59 percent, with points decreasing to 0.23 from 0.47 (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

Email  ann@appraisaltoday.com 


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