What tool do you prefer to use when measuring a house?

Recent Appraisal Buzz survey

  • Measuring tape – over half
  • Laser – less than half
  • Guesstimate – a few, but way too many!
  • Phone app. – not many

To see the graph, click here

My comments: I have always wondered about this. I prefer my phone app – no more rose bush thorns, dog poop, tripping over miscellaneous stuff, etc. I was hooked the first time I used it! I was surprised to see how few use phone apps.

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 changing real estate market, E&O tips, Fannie condo appraisal requirements changing, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.



Residence in Seattle listed for $22,500,000

Excerpts: One of only four waterfront residences within the nine-home enclave known as The Reed Estate.

The 8,000+ sq. ft. residence is sited on just over an acre, with more than 120 feet of walk out beachfront and a private four-season private dock. 3 bedrooms. 6 baths. Built in 1968 and recently remodeled.

Three large en-suite bedrooms and office on the main plus a large daylight lower-level flex space (guest suite/gym or media room) with ¾ bath, kitchenette and floor to ceiling glass doors leading to the pool.

Expansive limestone terrace overlooking the rose garden, specimen trees and level lawn. The pool and spa are secluded and surrounded by tall trees, while retaining views of the garden and the lake. Don’t miss our full-length video under the “Video/Virtual Tour” link!

To read more and see lots of photos, click here

My comments: WoW! A waterfront estate in Seattle. Most, including Bill Gates’ mansion is across Lake Washington from Seattle.


Three Dangerous Insurance Mistakes Appraisers Should Avoid

by Isaac Peck, Senior Broker at www.OREP.org

1. Prior Acts: Coverage for Past Work

This is easily one of the most important aspects of your appraiser E&O policy. All appraiser E&O policies will include a “Retroactive Date” (also referred to as your Prior Acts) which is the date you purchased your first E&O policy and it is the first date where coverage is effective for your operations and activities.

Appraiser E&O insurance is written on a “Claims Made” basis. This is an insurance term that basically means you must maintain continuous coverage until you either retire or get out of the business, at which time you will need to purchase Extended Reporting Period (ERP) unless you qualify for free ERP (Many OREP Members qualify for free ERP when they retire).

So as long as you (1) maintain continuous coverage and (2) insure with companies that honor your Retroactive Date, you have coverage going back to the date when you purchased your first E&O policy.

3. No (or Limited) Discrimination Coverage

This one is a problem that has only developed recently — within the last two years — as more and more appraisers are facing discrimination complaints and claims.

In the same way that fraud is excluded in almost every insurance policy you can think of, the majority of professional liability (E&O) policies exclude discrimination.

To read more, click here

My comments: Lots of practical tips. I have been writing about Number 1 for over 30 years. I still hear from appraisers who let their insurance lapse. I always make sure mine is renewed. The August issue of Appraisal Today is my annual E&O issue with tips on keeping out of trouble, where to buy E&O insurance, what to look for in a policy, etc. I have had continuous coverage from LIA for over 30 years.


New in the July 2023 issue of Appraisal Today

Fannie Mae and USPAP – Neighborhood Analysis by Tim Andersen, MAI

What do Fannie and USPAP want? Topics include what to put in the trend boxes, explanations, neighborhood boundaries, fees and analysis depth, and more.

Appraising in a Changing Market by Joe Lynch with lots of analysis and graph tips.

Changing markets – Sample graphs and explanations for many types of markets. It is hard to keep track of my own local market! Joe has a BA in Economics, a minor in Mathematics and teaches about these topics.

If these articles helped you understand these topics, it is worth the subscription price!

Subscribers get FREE: past 18+ months of past newsletters

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www.appraisaltoday.com/order or call 510-865-8041

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If you are a paid subscriber and did not get the July 2023 issue emailed on Monday, July 3, 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.


Fannie Condo/Co-op Appraisal requirements effective Sept. 18, 2023

Projects with critical repairs or deferred maintenance can lead to unsafe conditions, uninhabitable homes, and financial hardships for homeowners. We introduced temporary requirements in LL-2021-14 to address projects with significant deferred maintenance and special assessments.

Effective Sept. 18, 2023, our requirements addressing critical repairs and special assessments will be incorporated into permanent policy for condo and co-op projects with five or more attached units.

Read the Appraisal and Property-Related FAQs, Questions 13-15 are for appraisers. Plus other FAQs. To read, click here

Visit the Condo, Co-op, and PUD Eligibility page Overall info of the changes. To read click here

Short video (2 minutes): Future of Condo Lending. To watch, click here

My comments: Of course, this is because of the recent condo building collapse in Florida. A significant change for condo/coop appraisals is coming soon. Don’t wait until the last minute. Should appraisers be doing this? Not in my opinion, but that is another burden of lender residential appraising.


S.F. Bay Area’s $38.9M ‘Western White House’

Excerpts: A palatial estate known as the “Western White House” has landed on the market for $38.9 million. The 24,350-square-foot home was built in 1915 and while it’s within commuting distance of San Francisco, it occupies a world all its own.

The 11-bedroom, 14-bathroom residence features an 8-car garage and is perched on three acres, much of which is forested, with a meandering creek that winds its way through the trees. The home is private, beyond the view of passersby.

“This property is a historic jewel set in the town of Hillsborough,” Alex Buljan says. “This week, when the home landed on the market, the mayor, Christine Krolik, visited the property because she recognized its historic value and had never been before. As soon as she saw it, she asked if she could host a city event at the property. She was that blown away.”

Julia Morgan tackled the redesign of the Western White House, when George Hearst hired her to completely revamp the home and property after it sustained major fire damage. Morgan accepted the commission in 1930; the original house dates back to the 1870s.

Hearst was introduced to Julia Morgan by his tycoon father, William Randolph Hearst, who’d previously hired the architect to design his now-iconic Hearst Castle in San Simeon in 1919.

Morgan redesigned the Hillsborough home to mimic the presidential White House in Washington, DC, with an Oval Office and a rose garden.

To read more and see lots of photos, click here

My comment: I have heard about this house for many years. It is famous here in the Bay Area


Amazingly, 2023 Is Not the Most Unaffordable It’s Ever Been To Buy a Home—Not Even Close

Excerpts: The baby boomers had it worse. In May of this year, the typical buyer spent just under a third of their household income, about 32.8%, on housing. As uncomfortable as that might be, it’s not even close to how much buyers plunked down in the early 1980s.

In 1981, the same year the AIDS virus was identified, the Iran hostage crisis came to an end, and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” topped the box office charts, homebuyers that September and October spent 51.3% of their household income on their mortgage payments.

To read more, click here

My comments: Worth reading. Very interesting. I often hear about how homes are so unaffordable now. Now, I have a Blast from the Past! I purchased my first house in 1976 for $45,000, when only 20% down was required. Very low mortgage payments.


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 increased 0.9 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 12, 2023) — Mortgage applications increased 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 July 7, 2023. This week’s results include an adjustment for the observance of Independence Day

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 0.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 19 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 1 percent from the previous week and was 39 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 19 percent compared with the previous week and was 26 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Incoming economic data continue to send mixed signals about the economy, with the overall impact leaving Treasury yields higher last week as markets expect that the Federal Reserve will need to hold rates higher for longer to slow inflation. All mortgage rates in our survey followed suit, with the 30-year fixed rate increasing to 7.07 percent, the highest level since November 2022,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “The jumbo rate also increased to 7.04 percent, a record high for the jumbo series, which dates back to 2011.”

Added Kan, “Purchase applications increased, but remained at a very low level and are 26 percent lower than the same week last year. The rise in purchase activity was driven by increases in both FHA and VA purchase applications. The refinance index dropped to its lowest level since early June, as demand for rate/term and cash-out refinances remains extremely low with mortgage rates over 7 percent.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 26.8 percent of total applications from 27.4 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 6.6 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 13.3 percent from 13.0 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 12.6 percent from 11.7 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.4 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 7.07 percent from 6.85 percent, with points increasing to 0.74 from0.65 (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 $726,200)increased to 7.04 percent from 6.95 percent, with points decreasing to 0.59 from 0.64 (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 6.86 percent from 6.68 percent, with points increasing to 1.23 from 0.98 (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 6.42 percent from 6.30 percent, with points increasing to 1.22 from 0.91 (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 6.24 percent from 6.00 percent, with points increasing to 1.42 from 1.23 (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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