VA Update for Appraisers

Interview with VA’s Chief Appraiser

By Isaac Peck

Excerpts: …the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), is known throughout the valuation community for respecting the work of appraisers and maintaining reasonable fee schedules.

The questions:

  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are making desktop appraisals a permanent fixture in their valuation offerings. Is the VA looking at these types of valuations and what are some of the considerations?
  • There’s been a lot of buzz about measuring homes to ANSI standards in the appraisal industry–what can you tell us about the VA’s stance on ANSI? Do you anticipate requiring ANSI on VA appraisals in the future?
  • There is a lot of concern about discriminatory appraisals—what is the VA doing to protect Veterans from discrimination and what are your thoughts on the topic?
  • What’s new at the VA? Any final thoughts?

To read the answers and more, click here

My comments: I have always strongly recommended doing VA appraisals, especially since AMCs took over other lenders’ appraisal management. VA wants you to help veterans. Lenders want to make more money. I wrote a long article about VA in the past, available to paid subscribers. I interviewed VA appraisal employees, fee appraisers who liked VA, and other appraisers who did not want to work for VA.

Appraisers and local market 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 real estate market, mortgage forecast, Halloween haunted homes, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.


Haunted House Appraisals

2022 Study: More Than Half of Buyers Would Purchase a Haunted Home in a Competitive Market

October 10, 2022

Excerpts: How many people lived in a real haunted house? About one-fourth of Americans (24%) believe they’ve lived in a real haunted house, down from the 44% who said the same in 2021, when people spent more time at home.

About 58% of home buyers say they’d consider purchasing a haunted home, according to our new survey of 1,000 Americans. In fact, nearly one-fourth of Americans (24%) believe they’ve already lived in a real haunted house.

Today, 69% of Americans believe in the paranormal — down from 76% in 2021 and 70% in 2020. Although Americans’ faith in the supernatural is waning, believers’ conviction stems from firsthand experience.

About 60% of respondents say they’ve personally experienced a supernatural event, with more than 1 in 4 people (28%) saying they’ve seen a ghost and 1 in 7 people (14%) saying they’ve seen a UFO.

To read more click here 

My comments: Wow! They are everywhere, even in my small city where. there is an active Facebook group and a published book!  Of course, the market has changed in most areas. Maybe now buyers would be less interested in haunted houses.

I had links to many fun Halloween articles last year. I did not want this newsletter to be really long, so I did not include them. To read last year’s Halloween post click here  Scroll down the page.

Topics in last year’s post:

  • How to find out if a house is haunted – worth reading. Practical tips. You may be surprised. I was! To read more, click here
  • 38 Real Haunted Houses and the Stories Behind Them
  • The 32 Most Haunted Places in America
  • 11 Haunted Hotels Where You Can Rest in Peace Includes comments from a local appraiser I have known for many years. He stayed in a haunted house. He is about the last person you would think who saw an apparition of a woman. The owner and other visitors had seen her also.


The (Haunted) White House, Washington D.C.

Excerpt: No residence in the country has had a history quite like that of the White House. Completed in 1800, burned by the British in 1812, and summarily reconstructed, the building has witnessed numerous physical changes over the past two centuries. However, as one of the most famous haunted houses, it’s the human history attached to it that seems to be the most enduring.

For generations, reports of apparitions have come from those living and working in the building, including from sources such as presidents, their family members, and visiting rulers and dignitaries.

The most frequently seen and felt presence is that of President Abraham Lincoln. He has been seen sitting on his bed and tying up his shoes, lying in bed with a contemplative expression, as well as walking the halls. Abigail Adams has also been seen periodically.

For 37 more houses,click here The White House is Number 4.

My comments: Haunted houses are everywhere!


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New in the November 1, 2022 Issue of Appraisal Today

Communicating with non-lender clients: Very, very different than lenders!! Some of the issues: What are you appraising? What is the effective date(s)? Turn time? Highest and best use? What was the property like on the effective date? Get more appraisal business with higher fees.

Tips for dealing with complex residential appraisals by Joseph Lynch Some of the topics: Methods for dealing with complexity, 6 samples including market changing, and suggestions for moving into complex assignments. Some very good tips. You can become the “go-to” person for lenders’ tough ones. You will get more confidence when doing non-lender appraisals, which can be complex. Get more appraisal business with higher fees.

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

If this article helped you understand the issues, it is worth the subscription price!

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If you are a paid subscriber and did not get the October 2022 issue emailed on October 3, 2022, please email, and we will send it to you!! Or hit the reply button. Be sure to put in a comment requesting it.


Are home prices declining? What are appraisers saying?

October 25, 2022, By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpts: If you didn’t know, there is a box on appraisal reports where appraisers can state property values are either increasing, stable, or declining. Here’s what the box looks like. I’ve been hearing about some appraisers checking the declining box lately and others not. It’s a mixed bag (rightly so).

It’s really important to note the market is NOT the same in every location and price range across the country, so appraisers aren’t going to be checking the same box everywhere. Even in a local market, it’s possible different locations or property types are not experiencing the same trend. I mean, all ships tend to rise and fall with the tide, but we have to let the research do the talking instead of imposing a declining narrative on every portion of the market.

How many months of data are needed before we can establish a trend? I’m not sure there is a specific answer that applies to all situations, but I would say having almost six months of slower data now is more than enough. I think we probably needed half or more of that to start seeing a clear trend. Even by June, we knew volume was starting to take a 25%+ hit, so we knew there was a sharp change at hand. It just takes time for the trend to show up in actual prices to be able to make the call as to what is happening. It’s okay if you think we still need more data, but let me ask you this. What more do you need?

To read more, Click Here  Scroll down the page to see what Ryan’s market is like in graphs and comments that can apply in other areas.

My comments: I am no longer including links to info on national, state, or regional trends. Your current market is very, very local, dependent on many factors.


Watch a video of an excellent McKissock podcast discussing market changes and many other very practical topics, focusing on residential lending appraisals. I agree with the speaker, of course. September 2022 Real Estate Appraisal Outlook with Kevin Hecht, September 28. Podcast Name: Beyond the Numbers.

To watch the video Click Here

My comments: I listen to podcasts for an hour every morning while exercising. I subscribe to most of the appraiser podcasts. This one is at the top of my list.


A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Forecast For The Mortgage Industry

MBA economist says origination for 2022 is slipping even further than predicted

October 24, 2022

Excerpt: “I don’t have anything good,” said a somber Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist. “We’re forecasting a recession.”

“Unbelievable volatility” has driven mortgage rates to their highest point at any time since the pandemic and almost double what they were just a year ago, the economist noted, as if everybody in the audience didn’t already know that.

What they didn’t know is how bad their businesses would tumble or for how long. And on that score, there wasn’t any good news, either. The MBA expects total origination volume to slip from $2.26 trillion this year to $2.05 trillion in 2023. That’s less than half the $4.4 trillion in loans that were written in 2021.

The bulk of that decline will be in refinancing, which will fall off by a staggering 24%. But purchase money lending will slip as well, by 3% to $1.53 trillion.

To read more, click here

My comments: Of course, no one knows what will happen with the Fed and interest rates. Recession indicators are also changing. Of course, this is all relative. I purchased a duplex in 1986 and got a 15% mortgage loan. Slightly down from the 18%+ from 1980 to 1985. The Fed had raised rates to reduce inflation.


6-Bedroom Castle in Arkansas for $1.1 M

Although it may look historic, the nearly 7,000-square-foot castle, located fittingly at 193 Castle Lane in Mena, AR, is actually just shy of 25 years old. Priced at $1.1 million, this chateau was built by its current owner in 1997 as a “dream retirement home.”

The three main floors, include six bedrooms, 6.5 baths, a sauna, six fireplaces, and a wine cellar. The latter doubles as a storm shelter. 41 acres with 2,500 square feet of deck space.

How did a castle end up in the middle of the Ouachita National Forest? Homeowner and Buck Titsworth has a few answers. “I wanted to create a unique, outstanding property that capitalized on the 360-degree view, while capturing some of the medieval and Gothic architectural aspects of my favorite travel memories,” Titsworth explains.

Among his favorite memories were trips to see castles in Germany, Italy, Scotland, and Britain. These travels might explain his castle’s 50-foot observation tower and gated entrance.

To read more and see lots of photos, click here

My comments: Overimprovement? Use Cubicasa to measure? Where I live $1.1M gets you a starter home…

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 1.7 percent from one week earlier

Mortgage applications decreased 1.7 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 21, 2022.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 1.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 0.1 percent from the previous week and was 86 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 3 percent compared with the previous week and was 42 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates increased for the 10th consecutive week, with the 30-year fixed rate reaching 7.16 percent, the highest rate since 2001. The ongoing trend of rising mortgage rates continues to depress mortgage application activity, which remained at its slowest pace since 1997,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Refinance applications were essentially unchanged, but purchase applications declined 2 percent to the slowest pace since 2015 – over 40 percent behind last year’s pace. Despite higher rates and lower overall application activity, there was a slight increase in FHA purchase applications, as FHA rates remained lower than conventional loan rates.”

Added Kan, “MBA’s forecast expects both economic and housing market weakness in 2023 to drive a 3 percent decline in purchase originations, while refinance volume is anticipated to decline by 24 percent.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 28.8 percent of total applications from 28.3 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 12.7 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 13.9 percent from 13.6 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications remained unchanged at 10.7 percent from the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.5 percent from the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($647,200 or less) increased to 7.16 percent from 6.94 percent, with points decreasing to 0.88 from0.95 (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 6.53 percent from 6.31 percent, with points increasing to 0.68 from 0.67 (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 6.79 percent from 6.63 percent, with points decreasing to 1.59 from 1.60 (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 6.39 percent from 6.09 percent, with points increasing to 1.52 from 1.18 (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 5.86 percent from 5.65 percent, with points decreasing to 0.88 from 0.90 (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


1 Comment
  1. These desktop assignments are here to stay it seems. I commend the VA for respecting the work of appraisers and maintaining reasonable fee schedules. I wish everyone would adopt their fees.

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