What Appraisers Wish Real Estate Agents Understood

McKissock Survey

Question: “What’s one thing you wish real estate agents knew about the appraisal process?

Top 10 most common answers

  1. The appraisal process is complex and takes time
  2. Appraisers do not assign value
  3. Appraisers are unbiased and must follow guidelines
  4. Appraisers need their input and cooperation
  5. How to select appropriate sales comps
  6. The importance of providing accurate and detailed info in their listings
  7. How to determine correct GLA (gross living area)
  8. How renovations and upgrades affect value
  9. How to prepare for the appraisal appointment
  10. FHA/VA/USDA guidelines

To read all the appraiser comments, click here

My comments: The appraiser comments are worth reading. I will always remember when, many years ago, a top local real estate agent asked me why I was driving around taking photos of homes. Of course, most people confuse real estate agents with appraisers. We have done a very poor job of telling the general public what we do and that we are are objective and unbiased. We need a good Appraiser PR Campaign!

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 AMC layoffs, adjustments, your business voicemail, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.


11 of the Most Remote Homes in the World

From the “Loneliest House in the World” to the smallest inhabited island, these homes are as beautiful as they are secluded.

Description of photo above: Elliðaey, Iceland

Located on Elliðaey, an island within the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago, this home is often given the unofficial nickname of the “World’s Loneliest House.”

Excerpt: If you’ve ever had the—completely reasonable—desire to get away from it all, perhaps the more appropriate retreat is one of the world’s many remote homes. Spread throughout the globe, these homes are often accompanied with views of near untouched nature. What’s more, isolated properties make it easy to disconnect from the distractions of everyday life while embracing simplicity and solitude.

Architectural Digest rounded up some of the most stunning examples of remote homes, from small villages set atop mountains to islands with just one home on them. These 11 far-flung abodes prove that sometimes the most beautiful thing one can experience is the feeling of truly being alone.

To read more click here 

My comment: Take a break and scroll down the list to see some great photos!


Staff Layoffs at AMCs

By Dave Towne

Excerpts: Appraisers, it’s not ‘just us’ who have taken the slowdown in lending “in the shorts.”

I have confirmed changes at THREE different AMCs:

CoreLogic is laying off all W-2 ‘staff’ appraisers, and most of the staff administering those folks. Corelogic may continue placing assignments with 1099 vendor appraisers. My suspicion is that many of the W-2 appraisers will continue to work with Corelogic as 1099 vendors, especially in the urban areas.

Clear Capital is making massive staff reductions in the appraisal management department, including the Chief Appraiser and the Administrative Manager, who both are licensed appraisers.

Aloft is a start-up ‘appraisal company’ and a licensed AMC in Washington.

For more details, click here

My comments: Be sure your AMC clients don’t have any past due appraisal payments to you. Remember around 2008 when some AMCs went out of business owing appraisers lots of money?


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Marketing tip of the week – Your business voicemail

What message does the caller hear when their phone call goes to voicemail? Unfortunately, many appraisers have this type of message: “916-345-678 Leave a message.” Many non-lender prospects, AMCs, and lenders will hang up.

Your message should say, for example, “Hi, you have reached Jean Smith, Atlanta appraiser. I am sorry I missed your call. I promise to get back to you as soon as I can. Please leave your name and number, and I look forward to speaking with you.”

For lots more examples, Google “voicemail business message examples” or a similar phrase.

Be sure to practice your recording. Record it on your phone, listen, and finally, record it for your voicemail.

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If you have any comments or info on any topics, please hit the reply button!! I’m always looking for something new ;>If you are a paid subscriber and did not get the February 2023 issue emailed on Wednesday, February 1, please email info@appraisaltoday.com, and we will send it to you!! Or hit the reply button. Be sure to put in a comment requesting it.


The Scientific Method for Appraisers

By Brent Bowen

Excerpts: The scientific method can be a path which leads to much more credible appraisals; not to mention faster, more supportable, and more accurate. In my practice, this plays out through the creation and testing of formulas, since the scientific method is as applicable in the fields of mathematics and statistics as it is in the physical sciences.

Step 2: Research/Observation

This is when you will want to gather information already available. I recommend starting this with general observations and logic. Regarding our garage example, we might start with answering these types of questions:

What have you observed about how buyer’s react to additional garages?

Do buyers react differently based on the price range, size, quality, or other features of the home? How many garages are enough for most buyers, how many garages are too many?

To read more, click here

My comments: This article applies the scientific method to making appraisal adjustments.

The author studied business and economics in college. I studied science, mainly biology and chemistry, starting with a biology class in my sophomore year in high school. In college, many afternoons were spent in labs. After college, I worked for 7 years in labs. I had never seen the scientific method applied to statistics and appraising.

Definition of the scientific method: The process of objectively establishing facts through testing and experimentation. The basic process involves making an observation, forming a hypothesis, making a prediction, conducting an experiment, and finally analyzing the results.

My many years of scientific training, including the scientific method, make me a better appraiser. It means always looking for the truth, being open to other ways of looking at problems, defining the problem, developing hypotheses, being objective, etc.

I will always be a science nerd and regularly read about many types of science. This is the first I have read about math and statistics appraising and the scientific method.Two 2022 Remodeling Cost Vs. Value Reports


NAR Research Spotlight: 2022 Remodeling Impact Report

August 30, 2022

Excerpts: This report is unique in that it looks at the typical cost of a remodeling project (with data from our partners at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), what could be recovered at resale of the home (information from REALTORS®), but then also the homeowner’s own experience taking on a remodeling project (from Houselogic.com).

To read more, click here


Remodeling Cost vs. Value 2022 – Zonda Home research

This report compares average costs for 22 remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 150 U.S. markets. It drills down to the regional, city and zip code levels. The research was done by Zonda Home .

Excerpts: The 35th annual Cost vs. Value report by Zonda (JLC’s parent company) shows improvement projects that are on the exterior of the house continuing a multiyear trend of providing the greatest return on investment (ROI) to homeowners. Of the 22 remodeling projects in the report, 11 are exterior replacement projects, and all of these rank within the top 12 projects with the highest ROI. At the top is the replacement of the garage door (at No. 1; see “Cost vs. Value: National Averages,” right), new siding (including manufactured stone veneer as an exterior accent at No. 2 and fiber cement at No. 4), and windows (with vinyl replacement windows at No. 5 and wood replacement windows at No. 7).

To read more, click here

My comments on the two reports: Check them out and see how they relate to your local market. The reports are from 2022, but much of the information is still relevant.

In the past, the NAR report had data from local areas, which was more useful than the national data in their current report.


8 Airbnb Shipping Container Homes

Excerpts: The image above is from Teasdale, Utah

Sporting 1,000 square feet of long, wide decking that’s mostly covered in order to keep the sun out, one might forget this is two shipping containers meshed together to make a two bedroom and two bathroom Airbnb. With nooks and build-outs, it definitely feels like there’s more space than the actual square footage. Each room is smartly designed, making good use of the space—a soaking tub in the primary bath, a work area in both bedrooms, and a living room that’s connected to the outdoor deck.


Whether in California or Texas, common design features in shipping container homes include a boxy interior, extreme durability, and the ability to easily go off the grid if desired. A cost-effective alternative to typical building materials is another draw, as is digging into the reusable philosophy in lieu of buying new, but the end result is a cooler house than anything else nearby.

Shipping containers, of course, come in all sorts of sizes, and the architect and owner get to play a game of Tetris to nail the right configuration. Because these types of homes are typically built on lots surrounded by nature—although examples do exist in urban environments—this offers a chance for Airbnb guests to wake up to pine-scented forests or the desert’s wide expanse.

To read more, click here

My comments: Very interesting and creative! Of course, shipping container homes and commercial buildings are not popular in many areas. In my city, a commercial building constructed of shipping containers was proposed for a long-vacant site at the primary access to the city’s historic shopping street. It was not approved, of course. A standard commercial building was constructed.


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, click here.  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 go to www.appraisaltoday.com/order Or call 510-865-8041, MTW 7 AM to noon, Pacific time.

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


Mortgage applications decreased 7.7 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 15, 2023) — Mortgage applications decreased 7.7 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 10, 2023.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 7.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 7 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 13 percent from the previous week and was 76 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 6 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 5 percent compared with the previous week and was 43 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates increased across the board last week, pushed higher by market expectations that inflation will persist, thus requiring the Federal Reserve to keep monetary policy restrictive for a longer time. After five straight weeks of decreases, the 30-year fixed rate increased by 21 basis points to 6.39 percent,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Mortgage applications decreased for the second time in three weeks because of these higher rates. Refinance borrowers, both rate/term and cash-out, remain on the sidelines as current rates provide little financial incentive to act.”  

Added Kan, “Purchase applications dropped to their lowest level since the beginning of this year and were more than 40 percent lower than a year ago. Potential buyers remain quite sensitive to the current level of mortgage rates, which are more than two percentage points above last year’s levels and have significantly reduced buyers’ purchasing power.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 32.0 percent of total applications from 33.9 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 6.9 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 12.6 percent from 11.9 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 12.6 percent from 13.4 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.6 percent from the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($726,200 or less) increased to 6.39 percent from 6.18 percent, with points increasing to 0.70 from 0.64 (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 $726,200) increased to 6.26 percent from 5.96 percent, with points decreasing to 0.43 from 0.55 (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 6.25 percent from 6.14 percent, with points increasing to 1.14 from 0.88 (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 5.85 percent from 5.64 percent, with points increasing to 0.81 from 0.63 (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 decreased to 5.53 percent from 5.56 percent, with points decreasing to 0.72 from 0.80 (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.

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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