January 16, 2024, the Appraisal Standards Board released new Questions and Answers covering important topics in the profession today including:


Does demographic information relating to race (such as Census data) constitute “information relating to” a protected characteristic?

Artificial Intelligence


What is an appraiser’s USPAP obligations when using artificial intelligence (AI) in an appraisal assignment?

Personal Inspection

I recently completed an appraisal on a residential dwelling for Lender A that sells loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the report was completed on a GSE form. Lender A decided not to grant the loan and the borrower then engaged Lender B to obtain financing. Lender B engaged me to perform a new appraisal assignment on the same property. Lender B indicated there wasno need for me to re-inspect the home, since my previous inspection date was only a few days earlier.

To read these new Q&As Click Here.

My comments: AI and demographics are “hot topics” now. I am glad the ASB is explaining them.

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 forecasts for mortgage rates, a look back at the 80s a very similar mortgage market, appraising in a changing market, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.


A Redesigned $48.5M French Chateau in Beverly Hills

Excerpts: 9 bedrooms, 10.5+ baths, 16,225 sq.ft., 1.98 Acre lot, built in 1996.

French chateau: This nine-bedroom stunner is tucked away in the popular celebrity enclave of Beverly Park. The recently redesigned, 16,225-square-foot interior boasts a double-height foyer with coffered, gold-leaf ceilings; antique French chandeliers; and seven wood-burning fireplaces.

Luxurious, first-class amenities include billiard/card room, plush theatre, formal living room with wet bar and adjacent library, wine cellar, and gym. Floors are marble, wood, and travertine.

A gourmet kitchen has a copper farmhouse sink and six ovens. The sumptuous “Parisian” primary suite has dual bathrooms, including a sauna and steam shower.

The nearly 2-acre property also features a guesthouse, “resort-like” pool, two cabanas, an outdoor kitchen pavilion, lit tennis court with a viewing gazebo, and even a vineyard.

To see the Listing with 49 photos, Click Here


The housing market has ’80s vibes

January 23, 2024

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpts: The housing market has ’80s vibes. The ’90s are back for clothing, but it’s the early 1980s when it comes to housing narratives. Today, I want to show some headlines from over forty years ago, and I’d love to hear your take.

Oops the Fed did it again!

This headline from May 1980 could be written about today’s market. Here’s the formula. The Fed increases rates sharply, that changes affordability, and we see sales volume slump. However, new construction back then really struggled, but today in light of so many sellers sitting in the existing market, builders have been thriving. And yes, the “oops” mention is a Britney Spears reference. Sorry.

Newspaper Headline 5/25/1980: Sales Slump Blamed on the Fed’s Overkill

This article from December 1981 mentions inflation, dropping sales volume, younger adults having to live at home longer possibly, and so many of the things we’re talking about today. All too familiar. Isn’t it wild how these narratives from yesteryear have been recycled? Like I said, ’80s vibes.

Newspaper Headline 3/1/81:In Search of the Affordable Home

Look, Baby Boomers ended up winning big-time, but isn’t it interesting to see how it wasn’t a walk in the park for Boomers at the time? Check out the highlighted portion below. Frankly, this piece could be repackaged today, but instead of “Boom Babies,” we could insert “Millennials” or “Gen Z.” By the way, I’m Gen X. Not that I need to say this, but I imagine some are wondering. Technically, I’m a younger Gen X as I missed being a Millennial by five years. But forget about me because that’s what people do about Gen X.

To see more 1980s headlines and article excerpts, plus check out the home prices back then, Click Here

My comments: Thanks so much to Ryan for this blog post, especially for including the old newspaper articles! I started appraising in the 70s and remember the crash of 1980-1985. Few lender appraisers survived. Most were staff appraisers then.

To get very interesting Excel data on mortgage rates from 1971 to today from Freddie Mac: Click Here

High: 18.63% 10/9/81. Low: 3.10% 12/9/21. I tried to find good data before 1991, when the GSEs started keeping records, but I could not find any. S&Ls could sell their home loans to GSEs starting in 1971, changing the mortgage market considerably.

My comments: Our markets are very volatile in the Bay Area and some nearby cities. We purchased our first home in 1977 for $30,000 in Chico, CA, a college town 3-4 hours north of San Francisco. Worried we did not have enough money for mortgage payments. We sold it in late 1985 (after renting it) for $60,000 to purchase our duplex for $120,000 with a “low” 15% loan. 10 miles east of San Francisco. Purchased our large waterfront home for $375,000 in 1995. Slow market with 100% seller financing. Just before the crash, we sold it in April 2008 for $1,000,000. I always tell buyers to buy when no one else is buying. The Best Time!!


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Appraising in a Changing Market

By Joe Lynch

Excerpts: This article will answer the question about why you, the residential real estate appraiser, should care about market changes. I’ll discuss factors causing market change, metrics to track, and suggestions for reporting on local markets in residential appraisals.

Then we will discuss the subject’s competitive market segment(CMS) and tips for how to deal with valuing the subject in a changing market. The article will wrap up with a discussion of the Davis, CA residential real estate market between 2019 and now.

The Supplemental Addendum will have links to resources helpful to the residential appraiser interested in improving their market analysis skills.

Days on market is another indicator of market change. How long it takes to sell a home on average measures activity. If the days on market increases, the market is slowing. During the pandemic, days on market in my area fell from two months on average to less than a week, a massive change indicative of a very hot market.

Current listings and especially homes in contract show current market conditions. The problem with listings and homes in contract is that they are not closed sales. Many listings have price changes before closing while homes in contract will sometimes fall out or will close at a price different from that published in the MLS.


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Smooth Appraisal Ad on January 17, 2024

The ad looked like an AMC ad to me and other appraisers. There was no contact info or anything about the company. Some negative comments online, including “spam” and “just another AMC”. Some appraisers looked for their name on approved AMCs for their states without success.

To get any information, you had to sign up for the service. I contacted them about the ad and suggested adding a direct link, such as About Us.

Their WorkingRE ad on January 23 had an About Us page. Click here to read.

I signed up, read the FAQs, and watched videos on the types of clients. They were both well done and worth watching.

Smooth Appraisal was launched by True Footage appraisal company and is not an AMC. They want to help appraisers (and maybe some of their staff appraisers) get non-lender work, which requires marketing. Many residential lender appraisers have worked only for AMCs since they took over—no marketing required.

Will Smooth Appraisal be successful? No one knows. It is a good idea for residential lender appraisers who want to try non-lender work without all the marketing required.


I always check out new advertisers before accepting their ads

In late December, True Footage contacted me about running ads.

Over the years, I have turned down some advertisers. I only want ads for appraiser services and products. One appraiser ad had a sentence that I considered misleading, and I requested removing that part. They declined and never requested ads again.

I had heard of True Footage and researched the company on the Internet, listened to an interview with John Ziss, the CEO, in a 2022 podcast, checked out Ziss on LinkedIn and other online links, and interviewed him. Very interesting background.


Hobbit House in Sanger, CA (near Fresno)

Airbnb: 3 bedrooms 3 baths $550 per night

This unique house is on 6 wooded acres. Designed in 1986 by the famous architect Arthur Dyson, we have done our best to bring it into modern times. Enjoy a tranquil stay among nature. While the property is totally secluded and private, it’s a great stop on the way to many locations!

To see many photos, inside and outside, Click Here

My comments: I love the exterior!


Mortgage Rates and Origination Volume for 2024 – Who Knows The Future??

Fannie Mae Predictions Indicate Mortgage Rates Below 6% and a 19% Increase In Single-Family Purchase Origination Volumes

January 18, 2024

Excerpts: Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research is predicting that mortgage rates will end the year below 2024 and mortgage originations will increase.

It expects 2024 single-family purchase origination volumes will be $1.5 trillion, a 19% increase from $1.3 trillion in 2023.

It projects 2024 single-family refinance volumes for the overall U.S. market will be $490 billion, up from only $246 billion in 2023. Despite this being a near doubling of volumes, it is at a level still 33% below 2022 refinance originations.

“In 2024, we expect home sales and mortgage origination activity to begin a gradual recovery in the presence of a slow-growing economy,” Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Doug Duncan said. “Inflation’s decline and the resultant Fed pivot to signaling future rate cuts rates lead us to believe that home sales and mortgage originations likely bottomed out in the second half of 2023 and that a gradual improvement is now underway.”

To read more, Click Here

Mortgage Bankers Association

Rates Will Decline to 6.1% In its December Mortgage Finance Forecast, the Mortgage Bankers Association predicts that mortgage rates will fall from 7% in the first quarter of 2024 to 6.1% by the fourth quarter. The industry group expects rates will fall below the 6% threshold in the first quarter of 2025. Jan 8, 2024.

Goldman Sachs

Mortgage rates are going to stay above 6% through 2025, according to estimates from Goldman Sachs. Goldman said the decline in mortgage rates should offer marginal improvements in housing affordability. The average 30-year mortgage rate fell to 6.62% last week after hitting a cycle-high of 7.8%. Jan 4, 2024

My comments: Crystal Ball? Ouija Board? Throw darts? If I knew I would be rich and get a Very Special Award


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 Or call 510-865-8041, MTW, 7 AM to noon, Pacific time.

My comments: Rates are going up and down. Many appraisers are not busy. Some are busy, usually with non-lender appraisals.


Mortgage applications increased 3.7 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 24, 2024) — Mortgage applications increased 3.7 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 19, 2024. The results include an adjustment to account for the MLK holiday.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 3.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 4 percent compared with the previous week. The holiday adjusted Refinance Index decreased 7 percent from the previous week and was 8 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The unadjusted Refinance Index decreased 16 percent from the previous week and was 8 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 8 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent compared with the previous week and was 18 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates increased slightly last week, but there continues to be an upward trend in purchase activity. Conventional and FHA purchase applications drove most of the increase last week as some buyers moved to act early this season,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Refinance applications declined over the week and remained at low levels. There is still little incentive for homeowners to refinance with rates at these levels.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 32.7 percent of total applications from 37.5 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 6.3 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 14.1 percent from 14.3 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 13.7 percent from 14.2 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications decreased to 0.4 percent from 0.5 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($726,200 or less) increased to 6.78 percent from 6.75 percent, with points increasing to 0.63 from 0.62 (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 6.94 percent from 6.86 percent, with points increasing to 0.46 from 0.42 (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 6.51 percent from 6.46 percent, with points increasing to 0.87 from 0.80 (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 6.31 percent from 6.24 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.59 (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 6.22 percent from 6.14 percent, with points decreasing to 0.49 from 0.68 (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



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