7 Must-Have Apps for Appraisers

By: McKissock


1. Dragon Anywhere

Dragon Anywhere is a dictation and speech-to-text app that allows you to create, edit, and share documents from your mobile device. This professional-grade dictation service could save you tons of time on typing reports and taking notes in the field. The company boasts a 99% accuracy rate as well as powerful voice editing capabilities. Dragon is very well-liked among appraisal professionals, making it number one on our list of must-have apps for appraisers.

6. Genius Scan

This app gets a lot of love from appraisers. Genius Scan makes it easy to scan, upload, and share documents using your mobile devices. It can even scan handwriting and convert it into text. This tool is excellent for making copies of tax records, floor plans, etc. Over 200 million users and thousands of small businesses are currently using Genius Scan. This app could be a lifesaver for your workfile creation.

To read about the other 5 apps, click here

My comments: Worth checking out. When business is slow is an excellent time to look for new apps, learn how to use your MLS and forms software, etc. etc. Dragon has been around a long time and is popular with commercial appraisers.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Fannie: Words and Phrases in Appraisals

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on non lender appraisals, MLS  hacked, real estate market, UAD redesign and new formats for appraisal reports, unusual homes, mortgage origination


Rappatoni MLS Hacked

Editor’s Note: The two podcasts below were done 8-16-23 and were the most current information I could find as of last night. There may be more information now.

The Appraisal Update Podcast 8.16.23 – MLS Cyberattack (SPECIAL REPORT)

Video 18 minutes

Goes through URAR form and USPAP plus many ideas on what to do.

As you may have heard, a cyberattack has shut down Rapattoni, a property data provider, leaving realtors and appraisers in 12 states without access to MLS data. How will this affect your appraisal reports if you work in the affected areas?

Listen in as Bryan Reynolds reviews what USPAP says and suggests ways for appraisers to handle appraisal reports if you don’t have the data tools you need to create credible results.

To watch the video, click here


SPECIAL REPORT – Rapattoni MLS outage Appraisal Buzz 8-16-23

6 minute video

Excerpts: Consider how this will impact your work as an appraiser. Review USPAP Standards rule 1-4, which requires us to gather, verify and analyze ALL information necessary to produce credible assignment results. Without MLS, do we have ALL information necessary?

On the URAR form, Certification 4 certifies that we have adequate information to produce a reliable sales comparison approach. Without MLS do we have adequate information?

Certification 12 certifies that we have access to necessary and appropriate databases, both public and private (such as MLS).

It may be possible to produce credible assignment results without access to MLS, but that will certainly take more time, lots more.

My comments: I started appraising long before online MLS. In my small city, a local broker compiled a weekly list of sales and listings. No MLS. For other cities, we used comp books (sales), microfiche, and other sources.

The media coverage focuses on real estate agents having difficulty showing homes, etc. But appraisers need other information. The videos above were the only appraiser sources I could find. I wrote this up yesterday. There will be more sources of advice coming.

If you have a street address for a sale or listing, google it. Often it is in multiple locations, such as listing agent office websites, Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, etc. This often happens when I am looking for homes for these email newsletters. They also often include similar homes listed or sold.

To watch the video, click here

Advice from Tim Andersen, MAI and USPAP Expert: Using extraordinary assumptions and a “redo” later is not acceptable. Data is available. MLS is not required by USPAP, GSEs, etc. There are many rural areas with no MLS.

What if your MLS is okay? You were lucky. Time to think about what you would do if it went down in a hacker attack!!


Nearly 1 in 10 U.S. Homes Are Worth at Least $1 Million, Close to All-Time High

Excerpts: The share of million-dollar-plus homes is on the upswing after dropping to a 12-month low in February. That’s because scarce inventory is driving up prices, pushing many homes on the cusp over the seven-figure mark.

Just over 8% of U.S. homes are worth $1 million or more, near June 2022’s all-time high of 8.6%.

All in all, the portion of homes worth $1 million or more is up year over year in 55 of the 99 most populous U.S. metros. But the uptick is small, less than one percentage point, in almost all of those.

The portion of million-dollar-plus homes is unchanged in three metros and down in the remaining 41.

To read more click here 

My comments: Check out how your area is doing with a list of the high home price areas. Of course, where I live, the median price is just over $1,000,000 even with price declines in some areas.


$185,000,000 Mansion in Los Angeles

869 Tione Rd, Los Angeles, CA 9007

10 bedrooms, 14.5+ baths, 34,380 square feet, 2.65 acre lot

Excerpts: An extraordinary Bel-Air architectural triumph with awe-inspiring city and ocean views! Designed and built by world-renowned contractor, Matt Construction, interior designers Meyer Davis and architects Shubin + Donaldson, no expense was spared in constructing this exceptional estate over a six-year period.

8 bedroom main house, 2-bedroom guest house and wellness center, fitness room, custom Italian-made sauna and steam room, custom-designed lighted tennis court, 19-foot ceilings, state-of-the-art theater, and a 2,000 bottle temperature-controlled wine room, along with security cameras throughout the entirety of the property.

To read more, click here

My comment: Too many bedrooms and baths and square footage for me. I would probably get lost ;>


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The Future of Property Appraisal: Unveiling the UAD Redesign and New URAR

By: McKissock August 15, 2023

At the recent Valuation Expo conference in Las Vegas, Heather Sullivan (Aloft), Ken Defeo (Fannie Mae), and Sean Murphy (Freddie Mac) provided a peek at some of the upcoming changes.

Here’s a look at some of what’s changing and why it matters.

Integrated commentary

Gone are the days of vague references to some addendum page that the reader has to hunt down. The future is here, and it includes commentary space directly within each relevant section. Appraisers can provide their insights right next to the data, photos, maps, or figures it refers to.

This integrated approach enhances the narrative flow for readers and reviewers. No more flipping back and forth between pages. By embedding explanations alongside supporting data, reports gain clarity.

Dynamic summaries and comparisons

The new UAD opens reports with digestible summaries of key details. This allows stakeholders to grasp crucial information quickly. The sales grid also dynamically adapts to emphasize the most useful comparative details between the subject property and comparables. This makes similarities and differences more transparent at a glance.

To read more, click here

Also listen to the 22 minute Appraisal Update Podcast 8.15.23 – Appraisers React to UAD Redesign – appraisers are interviewed for their reactions. click here to view

The video has interviews with appraisers who say what they think about this.

My comments: McKissock post is worth reading. Short and understandable. I have been reading about this for a long time, but often it was very complicated and confusing and not related to appraising. Thanks for a summary of the recent changes discussed in Las Vegas.


Risks and Benefits of Hybrid and Desktop Appraisals

by Jo A. Traut, McKissock Learning

Excerpts: When appraisers receive appraisal assignment requests, they ask themselves if the fee is acceptable, am I competent for this assignment, can I meet the deadline, and so on. With the GSE appraisal modernization program, appraisers will more likely be asked to complete desktop or hybrid appraisal assignments in the future.

You are unlikely to see an immediate surge in desktop and hybrid appraisal assignments in the current volatile real estate market, but once normalcy returns to the mortgage rates and the housing market (as it always does), you can expect them to increase. We have been here before; appraisers faced the same issues with the initial acceptance of exterior-only (drive-by) appraisals in the 1990s by the GSEs.

At first glance, desktop and hybrid appraisals may seem like driving a car on an icy road. All of us tend to be extra cautious, as we should. This was the same process many of us underwent with the exterior-only (drive-by) inspections. If the appraiser does not see the interior of the dwelling, how could the appraisal be credible? Over time, we became accustomed to these assignments and agreed to perform them when we felt that a limited scope of work (an exterior inspection only) could still produce a credible appraisal. For the property’s interior physical characteristics, we relied on other sources.

Before Agreeing to Perform the Assignment:

• Identify any restrictions regarding desktop or hybrid appraisals and check for any limitations in your state.

• Assess your competency in completing the specific appraisal assignment.

• Request a reasonable fee based on the time involved in developing, analyzing, and reporting the appraisal. If the inspection and windshield time take 20 percent of the appraisal time, then the analysis, research, and development must take 80 percent. You should charge close to that 80 percent fee for this limited scope appraisal (since you are doing the same level of research, development, and reporting).

• Confirm that you are covered by your appraisal E&O insurance policy for hybrid and desktop appraisals.

To read more, click here

My comments: The best article I have seen on this topic written by an experienced appraiser, of course. Well written with lots of ideas and tips to decide if you want to do them plus how to do them.


$4.9M Waterfront Castle on a Cliff in North Alabama

4 bedroom, 3.5+baths, 4,974 square feet, 6 acre lot

354 County Road 211, Bremen, AL 35033

Excerpts: The waterfront abode was built in the 1980s and previously tested the market waters in 2019, with a $4.6 million price tag.

The property includes an 8,000-square-foot garage and workshop.

“It will hold two large buses, like for a country music singer, or a full hookup for two RVs,” Crye says. “You could also make it into a really nice garage for a car collection or a studio for recording music.”

There is also a dock with four boat slips—two with lifts. And there’s even a “fish house” with bunk beds and electricity.

To see 99 photos and watch a virtual tour, Click here

My comment: I could live here! Great location and not too big ;>


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.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 0.8 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 16, 2023) — Mortgage applications decreased 0.8 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending August 11, 2023.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 0.8 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 decreased 2 percent from the previous week and was 35 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 0.2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week and was 26 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Treasury rates were elevated again last week following mixed data on inflation and more indication of resiliency in the economy, which may pose a challenge to the Federal Reserve’s efforts to lower inflation. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased for the third straight week, reaching 7.16 percent, matching October 2022’s rate and the highest rate since 2001,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Overall applications decreased because of these higher rates, as both purchase and refinance applications ended the week at their lowest levels since February 2023. Government purchase applications provided a bright spot, increasing 2.4 percent over the week, driven by increases in both FHA and VA purchase categories. The ARM share of applications rose slightly to 7 percent, the highest since April 2023, as borrowers look for relief from higher fixed rates.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 28.6 percent of total applications from 28.7 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 7.0 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 13.8 percent from 13.6 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications remained unchanged at 11.8 percent from 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 7.16 percent from 7.09 percent, with points decreasing to 0.68 from 0.70 (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 7.11 percent from 7.04 percent, with points decreasing to 0.55 from 0.66 (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 6.93 percent from 7.02 percent, with points increasing to 1.17 from 1.14 (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 increased to 6.57 percent from 6.51 percent, with points increasing to 0.94 from 0.92 (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 6.20 percent from 6.36 percent, with points increasing to 1.45 from 1.20 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

If you would like to purchase a subscription of MBA’s Weekly Applications Survey, please visit www.mba.org/WeeklyApps, contact mbaresearch@mba.org or click here.

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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