Appraisers: What should you have in your car?

Excerpt: Here are a few items:

  • Screwdriver: A screwdriver has many uses. You can use it to take the cover off a crawl space entry panel, check wooden structural members for rot or insect damage, remove an electrical outlet cover to check for insulation in the walls, etc.
  • Voltage detector: To determine whether wires are live.
  • Ice pick: To check for termites or wood rot.
  • Magnet: To determine whether old pipes are made of iron or lead.
  • Mace or pepper spray: To defend yourself, especially if you’re appraising REO and foreclosure properties.
  • Bug spray: To protect yourself from mosquito bites, ticks, etc.
  • Spare clothes and footwear: Including an extra coat or jacket, hat, and boots—especially if you work in rural areas.

To read more, click here

My comments: Good tips! I definitely need to add some of the items to my car, especially dog repellent, which is not on the list. I have been bitten by dogs. I left the homes and contacted the lender. Don’t know if they got their loan and did not care. Once two large Dobermann dogs broke down a trailer door. I barely got into my car in time.

This was originally posted on McKissock’s Appraisal Blog, but that link was not working.

Appraisers – The Past and The Future

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 AMCs, appraisal business, real estate market, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.


Catskills Modern: ‘Sleeve House’ Highlighted by Charred Wood Exterior

Excerpts: An extremely modern home with an equally dark exterior is now available in Ancram, NY. Built from concrete, glass, and burnt wood, the Sleeve House is on the market for $2,275,000. Nearly 46 acres of land with forest surrounding it. 2,500 sq.ft., three bedrooms, and two bathrooms.

Architect Adam Dayem designed the unique 2,500-square-foot residence, which was completed in 2017 after several years of construction. According to the architect, the idea was “conceived as two elongated volumes—a smaller one sleeved into a larger—sitting on a cast-in-place concrete base.”

Charred Accoya acetylated wood wraps around both sleeves as a sort of “skin”. To create the blackened slats of lumber, the ancient Japanese technique of shou sugi ban was employed. It creates a waterproof, insect-proof, and fire-retardant piece of wood—ideal for an exterior meant to stand the test of time. While the wood is blackened by fire, the end result is extremely usable and resistant to rot and decay.

Inside the home, there are two distinct interior spaces. In the larger space, you can see the sleeve of the smaller one. “The experience of moving between these two types of spaces is like moving between two different worlds,” according to the architect’s notes.

To read more and see lots of interesting photos, click here 

My comments: Should be interesting and challenging fitting it onto a URAR form with UAD coding, etc. What would a reviewer or underwriter think about “ancient Japanese technique of shou sugi ban”?


Lot values up. Modular and Panelized home trends.

Lot Values Set New Records

Excerpts: When adjusted for inflation, lot values are now close to the record levels of the housing boom of 2005-2006 when half of lots were valued over $43,000, which is equivalent to about $57,800 when converted into inflation-adjusted 2021 dollars. At the same time, home building shifted towards smaller lots, resulting in record high prices per acre.

The Pacific division has the smallest lots. However, median lot value reached $143,000 in 2021, the second most expensive value in the nation and a new record for the division, even after adjusting for inflation. As a result, Pacific division lots stand out for being most expensive in the nation in terms of per acre costs.

Similarly, the Middle Atlantic division recorded a strong rise in lot values and set a new record with half of lots priced at or above $90,000. This made the Middle Atlantic division SFD lots third most expensive in the US. The Mountain division followed with a median lot price of $75,000, a new divisional record.

To read more, click here

My comment: If you appraise new construction or are interested in the trends, subscribe to their email updates on the upper right side of the web page. Data is national and regional but can give you ideas of what may be happening in your area.


Modular and Other Non-Site Built Housing In 2021

Excerpt: The total market share of non-site built single-family homes (modular and panelized) was at 2% of single-family completions in 2021, according to Census Bureau Survey of Construction data and NAHB analysis. This share has been steadily declining since early-2000s despite the high-level of interest for non-site built construction.

In 2021, there were 24,000 total single-family units built using modular (10,000) and panelized/pre-cut (14,000) construction methods, out of a total of 970,000 total single-family homes completed. While the market share is small, there exists potential for expansion. This 2% market share for 2021 represents a decline from years prior to the Great Recession. In 1998, 7% of single-family completions were modular (4%) or panelized (3%). This marked the largest share for the 1992-2021 period.

One notable regional concentration is found in the Midwest where 6% (7,000 homes) of the region’s 125,000 housing units were completed using non-site build construction methods, the highest share in the country.

To read more, click here

My comments: Modular vs. mobile is a tricky issue for appraisers. I had never heard of a panelized home. From NAHB: A panelized building system incorporates construction techniques that use advanced technology, quality materials, and a controlled work environment to build energy-efficient homes in less time.

Click here for more information on panelized homes.


Which are your best current and former AMC/lender clients?

To get more business, market to them.

Coming in the October 1 issue of the monthly Appraisal Today.


The Three Factors: Turn time, Fee, and “Quality”

What do you want to offer to AMCs and lenders?

How to increase your competitive advantage.


Turn time (what AMCs’ clients, the lenders, want): decrease your turn time. Consider turning down time consuming appraisals. Time factors include driving time, saving time writing up appraisals using your software more efficiently, and having fewer “reviewer” questions. You can work on these now.

“Quality” is also a factor. AMCs know that appraisals kicked back by Collateral Underwriter and reviewers cost them money. They have to pay employees to get the problems corrected. Their lender clients don’t like the turn time delays. Are your templates dated? Do you have too many generic addendum pages that take too much time to read? Also focus on doing appraisals without the common errors found by bank reviewers: no adjustment support, “all comps given the same weight” in the reconciliation, etc.

What do you not want – low fees, of course. But the days of the $1,000 and up fees for all appraisals is gone. It never happened in lender appraisals prior to the recent surge and appraiser shortage. You don’t want to work for AMCs that always take the lowest fee.

To read more about this topic, including how to analyze your clients to find the ones you prefer, subscribe to the paid Appraisal Today.

If this article helped you get one more appraisal, it is worth the subscription price!


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Disaster-prone and flood risk areas – effect on values and/or marketability?

America Is Increasingly Building Homes in Disaster-Prone Areas

Excerpts: America is increasingly building homes in places endangered by natural disasters, according to a new report from Redfin (, the technology-powered real estate brokerage. More than half (55%) of homes built so far this decade face fire risk, while 45% face drought risk. By comparison, just 14% of homes built from 1900 to 1959 face fire risk and 37% face drought risk. New homes are also more likely than older homes to face heat and flood risk, but the gap is largest when it comes to fire and drought.

Overall, heat is the most common danger, with nearly 100% of homes constructed in the last two years at risk. Heat risk is based on the number of extremely hot days expected in the future. Next comes storm (78%), followed by fire (55%), drought (45%) and flood (25%). Storm is the only risk more likely to plague older homes. That’s likely because many of the country’s old homes are located in the storm-prone Northeast.

To read more, click here

My comment: Very interesting and worth reading.


Homebuyers With Access to Flood-Risk Data Bid on Lower-Risk Homes

Excerpts: Redfin users who viewed homes with severe and/or extreme flood risk prior to a Redfin experiment proceeded to bid on homes with 54% less risk after gaining access to flood-risk data.

Redfin users who viewed homes with an average flood-risk score of 8.5 (severe/extreme risk) prior to the study went on to bid on homes with an average score of 3.9 (moderate risk) after gaining access to flood-risk data—a decrease of 54%. By comparison, users who viewed homes with an average score of 8.5 before the study but did not get access to risk data went on to bid on homes with an average score of 8.5.

Redfin only saw this impact on users who had been viewing homes with severe/extreme risk prior to the study, suggesting that flood danger is currently unlikely to change homebuyer decision making unless it’s substantial. When users who viewed homes with lower risk (minimal, minor, moderate and/or major) prior to the study gained access to flood-risk scores, there was no statistically significant change in the risk level of homes they proceeded to bid on.

To read more, click here

My comments: What risks are in your area? Very interesting data and research above. I live on a low-lying island in San Francisco Bay. Some areas here will flood, especially during King (high) tides and heavy rain runoff from the mountains. Fortunately, I am in an elevated area not expected to be affected by sea level rise. Many homes were re-zoned a few years ago and needed flood insurance. At a big meeting, the primary issue was where to get a surveyor to say that my home was high enough not to require flood insurance. I don’t know if it affected marketability as there were relatively few homes affected, and some flooding did not affect the home, just the yard area.

I live between two major earthquake faults and have never seen any effect on values, even for homes built on fault lines. The last one (not very big) was in 1989. Earthquake insurance is available but expensive. I have it because my home is my most valuable asset.

There is a significant wildfire risk in more rural, heavily wooded areas in California and other states. Getting fire insurance can be very expensive or not possible, and keeps getting more difficult. The state-run California FAIR Plan is available as a last resort but has very limited coverage. I suspect this does affect values and marketability.


About 6M U.S. Homes Not Suitable To Live In

Excerpts: One in 20 American homes don’t meet the standard of “a suitable living environment,” as defined by the Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Over 11% of homes in Pittsburgh have some kind of structural damage, which includes cracks in the foundation, holes in floors and walls wider than a dime and leaks from outside the structure.

On average, about 3% of American homes experience these issues regularly. However, in Washington, DC, these issues are twice as likely to affect its residents, with 6.6% of its homes presenting severe plumbing problems.

To read more, click here

My comments: What’s it like in your area? Very interesting and well written! Ethically, appraisers must disclose if there are significant problems, whether lender or non-lender clients. For lenders, it may mean repairs are required, or they don’t want to do the loan. FHA and VA have stricter requirements. The San Francisco area, where I live, is at the bottom of the list. Maybe the mild Mediterranean climate, many homes built after World War II when the population significantly increased, or other factors.


5 Big Homes That Are Still On the Market

Too elaborate? Too expensive? Too eclectic? Too different?

Five out-of-this world homes that have grabbed our attention this year. In fact, these properties have been ranked among the most popular homes so far in 2022.

But sold they have not—and so, we thought they deserved another look. We have two of the most storied estates in L.A., a famous reality star’s home, a private island with an unfinished Mediterranean, and a San Francisco classic.

Each one seems more fascinating than the next, yet they all have languished on the market. If nothing else, they’re fun to drool over. Let’s take a peek.

1. 10066 Cielo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA (PHOTO ABOVE)

Price: $59,995,000

Cielo Estate: Of all the grand estates in the 90210 ZIP code, this one surely has one of the most colorful histories: It was the site of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders.

“Full House” creator Jeff Franklin purchased the property, demolished the existing house, and built a 21,000-square-foot Mediterranean masterpiece in its place. The mansion was designed by architect Richard Landry and sits on a hillside with fabulous views. It has nine bedrooms, 18 bathrooms, and luxe amenities.

Franklin has had it on and off the market over the past several years, with prices ranging from $59,995,000 to $85,000,000. It’s also been available for rent for around $250,000 per month.

To read more, click here

My comments: The types of properties above are difficult to appraise. Appraisers who can appraise “luxury” homes are always in strong demand, especially by lenders, who have special approved appraiser lists and pay much higher fees, even if they use AMCs. Consider specializing in them.


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 I publish a graph of this data every month in my paid monthly newsletter, Appraisal Today. For more information or get a FREE sample go to Or call 510-865-8041, MTW 7 AM 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 decreased 1.2 percent from one week earlier

Mortgage applications decreased 1.2 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending September 9, 2022. This week’s results include an adjustment for the observance of Labor Day.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 1.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 12 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 4 percent from the previous week and was 83 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 0.2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 12 percent compared with the previous week and was 29 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hit the six percent mark for the first time since 2008 – rising to 6.01 percent – which is essentially double what it was a year ago,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Higher mortgage rates have pushed refinance activity down more than 80 percent from last year and have contributed to more homebuyers staying on the sidelines. Government loans, which tend to be favored by first-time buyers, bucked this trend and increased over the week, driven mainly by VA and USDA lending activity.”

Added Kan, “The spread between the conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate and both ARM and jumbo loans remained wide last week, at 118 and 45 basis points, respectively. The wide spread underscores the volatility in capital markets due to uncertainty about the Fed’s next policy moves.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 30.2 percent of total applications from 30.7 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 9.1 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 13.4 percent from 13.3 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 11.3 percent from 10.8 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications increased to 0.7 percent from 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 6.01 percent from 5.94 percent, with points decreasing to 0.76 from 0.79 (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 5.56 percent from 5.46 percent, with points decreasing to 0.39 from 0.40 (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 5.71 percent from 5.61 percent, with points increasing to 1.12 from 1.06 (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 5.30 percent from 5.23 percent, with points increasing to 0.89 from 0.86 (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 4.83 percent from 4.81 percent, with points decreasing to 0.52 from 0.88 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased 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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