Appraisers: How to spend less time on Email

Excerpts: Many appraisers report that they’d like to spend less time on email. The task of providing status emails eats up time in the workday and tends to be more complex and time-consuming than typing a quick email reply. Status requests from AMCs typically require you to log in to their system and go through the process of updating the order status on their website. Simple enough, but if you are doing this several times a day for multiple orders, it interrupts your workflow and decreases your productivity.

2. Only check email twice a day, at designated times

Set aside two short time windows for email (15 or 30 minutes each). Do not read or reply to emails outside of those time windows. For the rest of the day, turn off email notifications on your phone, etc., so that incoming emails won’t interrupt your work. You can add a note to your email signature letting people know that they can reach you by phone if they need to get in touch on an urgent matter.

To read all 7 ways, click here

My comments: I regularly write about managing your emails in my monthly newsletter, including getting to Inbox Zero. This blog post is the best I have ever read, as it is specifically for practicing appraisers.

How to Manage Your Email

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 mortgage rates history, declining prices on high end homes, bias, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.


Gilded Age Seaview Terrace in Newport, Rhode Island

43,772 Sq. Ft. | 29 Beds | 18.5 Baths | 7.64 Acres | Listed in 2021 for $29.9M

Built in 1907 for Edson Bradley, it was initially located in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. The home covered more than half a city block, and included a chapel with seating for 150, a large ballroom, an art gallery, and a 500 seat theatre. In 1923, Bradley began disassembling his Washington, D.C. mansion and relocating it to Newport.

The Great Hall features a whispering gallery, an elliptical room reminiscent of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, in which a person standing at one of the foci can hear the slightest whisper uttered at the other. The television show Dark Shadows used its exterior as the fictional Collinwood Mansion.

To read more and see lots of photos, click here 

My comments: I could not find anything about a sale. Per Trulia, the listing was removed in 4-22. Too much repair and maintenance maybe?


Mortgage Rate History: Check Out These Charts

Excerpts: Mortgage rate history stretches back nearly a century

  • But the best records only go back to the early 1970s
  • The 30-year fixed gained in popularity around the 1950s
  • And rates reached a low around 1945 before hitting new lows in 2012

While it’s hard to get an apples-to-apples comparison of mortgage rates before the advent of the 30-year fixed, the National Bureau of Economic Research does have a chart detailing rates from 1920 to 1956. See image above. 

Mortgage Rates in the 1920s to 1950: We see a steady drop in interest rates from around 1935 to 194, before rates began their ascent, perhaps as the result of World War II ending

A Little Bit of Mortgage Rate History

  • Mortgage rate history stretches back nearly a century
  • But the best records only go back to the early 1970s
  • The 30-year fixed gained in popularity around the 1950s
  • And rates reached a low around 1945 before hitting new lows in 2012

Before that time (when the first 30-year fixed mortgages started), it was common for entities like commercial banks and life insurance companies to issue short-term balloon mortgages, often with terms as short as three to five years, which would be continually refinanced and never paid off. These loans were also underwritten at LTV ratios around 50%, meaning it was pretty difficult to get a home loan.

Then came FDR’s New Deal, which included the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) and the National Housing Act of 1934, both of which aimed to make housing more affordable. The HOLC, established in 1933, could explain why long-term fixed-rate mortgages are in existence today. The purpose of the HOLC was to refinance those old balloon mortgages into long-term, fully amortized loans, with terms typically ranging from 20 to 25 years.

To read more and see more charts, click here

My comments: Fascinating!! Well-written, understandable, and relatively short article.

When the GSEs started purchasing loans from S&Ls in the 1970s, the volume of refis went way up. S&Ls could make many more loans and needed more appraisers. Mortgage rates and refis drive appraisal volume. No AMCs, UAD,etc. and distrust of appraisers then.

I have written about the history of mortgage rates in the past but could not find much before 1971. I read about low rates in the 1950s but could find no good data sources. The author has located many sources and explains how reliable they are.>Getting too many ad-only emails?


Appraisals for estates and trusts – the most popular non-lender residential appraisals

Coming in the September  issue of Appraisal Today 

Excerpts: At a recent residential appraiser seminar, one of the topics was non-lender appraisals. When the speaker took a survey of attendees, estate and trust appraisals was definitely the most popular.

These types of appraisals seldom require court testimony. Most other types of non-lender work, such as bankruptcy and divorce, can sometimes require this.

I strongly recommend considering this type of work, particularly since lender appraisals are moving quickly toward hybrids and desktop appraisals. Also, we are already in a downturn for lender appraisals due to higher mortgage interest rates.

Why do I like estate and trust appraisals? They seldom have turnaround pressure, value pressure, or payment problems. Plus, more important, no UAD, CU, AMCs, Fannie and FHA requirements, etc. I quit doing residential lender appraisals in 2005. They have gone downhill since 2008.

To read more about this topic, plus 2+ years of previous issues, subscribe to the paid Appraisal Today.

If this article helped you decide about doing Estate and trust appraisals, it is worth the subscription price!


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The Sedona Domes, Arizona

Excerpts: Located near two of Sedona’s most popular vortexes — Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock, woodsy 3.5 acres with cafes, restaurants, upscale grocery store, shops, galleries, spas, bike rental, public golf course and trail heads nearby.

The Sedona Domes is extreme architecture at its most spacious and gracious— 10 soaring cement domes well lit by skylights, bright white interior, and contemporary eclectic furnishings. Private guest quarters are the two largest and tallest domes, with your own front door, kitchenette, two bedrooms and bathrooms, and a 1000-square-foot Great Room, and enclosed outdoor courtyard.

To read more and see lots of photos, click here

My comments: I love the Red Rocks! Fascinating geologic formations. I took a geology class my last semester in college. I would have changed majors, but it was too late for me. I know a few geologists who became appraisers, including Lyle Radke, Senior Director of Collateral Policy at Fannie Mae.


Housing prices are cooling fast and it’s hitting high end homes in metro areas the hardest

By Edward J. Pinto | Shawn Tully

Excerpts: The hardest hit neighborhood: high-end homes in America’s most expensive metros.

The latest news flash on housing is a shocker: A new window into where prices are trending up-close and right now shows that values in many markets are dropping. That reading marks a sudden downshift from the boom that persisted across virtually all metros for two years. The data illustrating the turn are based on fresh methodology developed by the American Enterprise Institute’s Housing Center.

The AEI introduced the measure late the week of July 25, and August 1, its director Ed Pinto released an even more detailed analysis showing which price tiers of the overall market are suffering the most damage or showing the greatest resilience.

The category that until around March was going gangbusters and posting the biggest gains in the housing universe is now falling fastest. The hardest hit neighborhood: high-end homes in America’s most expensive metros.

In his newest deep dive, Pinto explores a further dimension. He demonstrates how four different price categories fared from on a monthly basis back to 2018, providing the most recent figures from May to June. The tiers are low, low-medium, medium-high and high.

Until recently, the high end was king and super-low rates supplied a super-boost.

To read more, click here

My comments: Well written and worth reading. Of course, appraisers know about this. Percent of value increases and decreases often vary by price range. AEI has been doing some great statistical research on single family homes, including debunking alleged appraisal bias. This is a reprint of the original Fortune magazine article, available only to paid subscribers. I’m glad AEI is reprinting it.


CFPB Investigations in Alleged Appraisal Discrimination

By Peter Christensen August 9, 2022

Excerpts: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has started investigating alleged appraisal discrimination. This is a new development, as federal investigations had so far exclusively been by HUD. The CFPB is an aggressive investigator, and AMCs, large firms and lenders should be wary.

For the last year, 40% of my legal work has been occupied by issues concerning alleged discrimination – balanced between representing parties in fair housing investigations and helping clients improve compliance and decrease risk. It’s the CFPB that makes me most anxious for clients in the future.

I addressed some of the details of what I’m seeing in the most recent issue of the Appraisal Institute’s Valuation magazine. Here’s a snippet: “in a recent investigatory demand, the CFPB demanded that an appraiser produce more than five years of appraisal reports and work files — comprising more than 35,000 separate documents and more than 100,000 pages.” In all, we produced about 150 gigabytes of data.

My impression is that the CFPB will be using such initial “small” investigations to work its way up the food chain – AMCs, larger firms and lenders may be at the beginning of some serious pain to be inflicted by the CFPB.

To read more, click here

My comments: Lots of appraiser comments, of course. Peter wrote the article for Valuation Magazine, but their online version is difficult to read. This blog post makes it readable. The excerpt above is from Peter’s Fair housing and discrimination article published Q2 2022.

My annual E&O Update in July 2022 said that not many E&O complaints were filed against appraisers regarding bias. Looks like this may change.


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.

My comments: Rates are going up. Some appraisers are very busy and others have little work. Varies widely around the country.


Mortgage applications increased 0.2 percent from one week earlier

Mortgage applications increased 0.2 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending August 5, 2022.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 0.3 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 4 percent from the previous week and was 82 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week and was 19 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates remained volatile last week – after drops in the previous two weeks, mortgage rates ended up rising four basis points. Mortgage applications were relatively flat, with a decline in purchase activity offset by an increase in refinance applications,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “The purchase market continues to experience a slowdown, despite the strong job market. Activity has now fallen in five of the last six weeks, as buyers remain on the sidelines due to still-challenging affordability conditions and doubts about the strength of the economy.”

Added Kan, “Refinance applications increased over three percent but remained more than 80 percent lower than a year ago in this higher rate environment.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 32.0 percent of total applications from 30.8 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 7.4 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 12.1 percent from 11.9 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 10.9 percent from 10.8 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.6 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($647,200 or less) increased to 5.47 percent from 5.43 percent, with points increasing to 0.80 from 0.65 (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 $647,200) increased to 5.09 percent from 5.06 percent, with points increasing to 0.59 from 0.36 (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 decreased to 5.35 percent from 5.39 percent, with points decreasing to 1.02 from 1.03 (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 remained at 4.74 percent, with points decreasing to 0.62 from 0.65 (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 4.60 percent from 4.55 percent, with points decreasing to 0.63 from 0.69 (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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