Why an Organized Workfile is Your Best Defense

By Craig Capilla

Excerpts: We all know that the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) set the baseline for what must be included in a workfile. We’ve all also heard ad nauseum that USPAP is a minimum standard. Still, all too many appraisers seek only to meet that minimum standard and little more. That’s where the trouble begins. Particularly when speaking about the workfile, for my money, the most dangerous words in USPAP are “or references to the location(s) of such other data, information, and documentation.” There it is, right there in plain English: USPAP permits appraisers to maintain a reference to the data, information, and documentation considered as a part of the assignment, and the appraiser is NOT obligated to keep a contemporaneous copy of those items.

That minimum standard is all well and fine until one day many months later, when an enforcement agency demands that the appraiser produce that information, usually on a tight timeline, and the information is no longer available or the source now shows different information than what was available at the time of the assignment.

Believe me when I tell you that it is not a good feeling when a regulator asks you to explain why you didn’t consider a particular piece of information, and you cannot summon an answer. Similarly, there are few things more liberating than producing a document that shows the information you are being asked about was not available to you at the time you performed the assignment. I’ve seen this happen. Systems fail. MLS aggregators have software glitches. Public record updates at its own pace. And sometimes, that one crucial piece of information isn’t there anymore when you need it.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: The article also discusses bias. Capilla is an attorney who defends appraisers. Newer appraisers are lucky. Scanning work files is easy. I started appraising before the Internet and easy scanning and filing. My office and home garage are filled up with paper files! I have PDF copies of all the appraisals I have done as a fee appraiser on my main computer, except those done before PDFs were available.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on appraiser discrimination lawsuit, waivers, staying positive with slow business, appraiser’s economic forecast, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.



Luxury living at this 10-acre promontory estate in Beverly Hills CA for $120,000,000

Excerpts: 8 bedroom, 20 bath, 30,610 sq.ft., 9.9 acre lot

Nestled at the end of a long private drive, this sanctuary ensures maximum privacy and prime security with a guard booth and a gated entrance. Upon arrival, you’re greeted by a lavish motor court leading to timeless modern architecture. The 166 sq ft car museum include a turntable and a sliding glass garage door with a waterfall entry catering to only the finest.

Features include a pool house haven, a 5,000 sq ft guest house that can be utilized as a rejuvenation center, and a cantilevered spa with an indoor/outdoor pool. Outdoor amenities include lap pools, lush gardens, natural ponds, an outdoor cinema and fire features. a state-of-the-art home gym, salon, yoga room. No pickleball court. Darn!

To see the listing with 19 photos, Click Here


LoanDepot Appraisal Discrimination Settlement

By Peter Christensen, March 28, 2024

Connolly and Mott v. Lanham, 20/20 Valuations, and loanDepot.com, U.S. District Court, Maryland. This is one of the appraisal discrimination cases that has received significant attention – among appraisers, the media and government agencies. A Black couple in Baltimore – Dr. Connolly and Dr. Mott, both university professors – filed suit in August 2022 alleging racial discrimination against loanDepot.com and the appraiser it engaged to appraise their home for a refinance.

They alleged that the appraiser had taken into account their race in his valuation of their home in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and other laws prohibiting discrimination. The defendant appraiser valued their home at $472,000; a second appraiser later valued it at $750,000 after the couple “whitewashed” the residence and had a white friend stand-in for them.

Significant developments have occurred in the case.

One is: Settlement with loanDepot.com. The second development in the case is that on March 22, 2024, the attorneys for Drs. Connolly and Mott and for loanDepot.com filed a settlement with the court. There is a monetary component – which is confidential. More significantly, loanDepot.com agreed to an extensive revamping of: (a) its reconsideration of value practices; (b) fair housing/non-discrimination training requirements; (c) statistical tracking of appraisal outcomes; and (d) training and contractual requirements for AMCs and appraisers.

The settlement does not include the defendant appraiser. That part of the case will proceed for now, with a trial scheduled later this year.

My comment: The post includes the appraisals and other documents for this lawsuit and a link to others.

To read more, including 25+ appraiser comments, Click Here


Are you getting too many ad-only emails?

4 ways to get only the FREE email newsletters and NOT the ad-only emails.

1. Twitter: https://twitter.com/appraisaltoday posted by noon Friday – all recent newsletters

2. Read on blog www.appraisaltoday.com/blog Posted by noon Friday. You can subscribe to the blog in the upper right of each blog page.

3. Email Archives: https://appraisaltoday.com/archives

(posted by noon Friday) The link is above and to the right of the big yellow email signup form. Newsletters start with “Newz.” Contains all recent emails sent.

4. Link to the 10 most recent newsletters (no ads) at www.appraisaltoday.com. Scroll down past the big yellow signup block.

To read more about the 4 ways, plus information on why I take ads, etc.

Click here


How to stay positive with slow business

Excerpts: We are still experiencing a significant appraisal downturn. No one knows when it will end. Staying positive is more challenging than it was a year ago. But, if you can stay positive, you will survive the downturn or find another business or career, maybe based on a hobby or previous employment.

Maintaining a positive attitude is very important to being happily

self-employed. All appraisal practices have bad periods. Sometimes, they last for quite a while. Maintaining a positive attitude can seem impossible.

Anticipate regulations getting less onerous. Avoid pessimistic people. Listen

to motivational recordings or read a book on it. They really help.

To most appraisers, the idea of listening to a motivational recording seems

odd or somehow implies there is something wrong with them. I got many strange looks from appraisers when I asked which motivational books or recordings they liked. You can listen to them while driving, gardening, exercising, or walking the dog, for example.

Staying positive is very difficult if all you read are negative comments. I don’t recommend spending much time reading pessimistic appraiser comments. In my free newsletter, I typically don’t include links to very adverse blog posts and articles. If you read a lot of negative comments, how can you be positive about your business?

To read this article with much more about this topic, plus 2+ years of previous issues, subscribe to the paid Appraisal Today at WWW.APPRAISALTODAY.COM/ORDER

Not sure if you want to subscribe?

Sign up for monthly auto renewal for $8.25!

Cancel at any time for any reason! You will receive a prorated refund.

$8.25 per month, $24.75 per quarter, and $89 per year (Best Buy)

or $99 per year or $169 for two years

Subscribers get FREE: past 18+ months of past newsletters



What’s the difference between the Appraisal Today free Weekly email newsletter and the paid Monthly newsletter? Click here for more info.


If you are a paid subscriber and did not get the April 2024 issue emailed on Monday, April 1, 2024, 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.


If you have any comments or info on any topics, please hit the reply button!! I’m always looking for something new

The Full Measure with Kevin Hecht: March 2024 Housing Market Insights

By Kevin Hecht, March 28, 2024

Excerpts: In this installment of The Full Measure with Kevin Hecht, uncover March 2024 housing market insights, plus key takeaways for residential appraisers.

February 2024 marked a dynamic period in the housing market, presenting opportunities and challenges for real estate appraisers. With shifts in existing and pending home sales, new home sales, construction activity, and economic indicators such as inflation and mortgage rates, appraisers are navigating a complex landscape. This post synthesizes the latest data to offer a comprehensive view of the market’s current state in March 2024.

Mortgage rates

Mortgage rates exhibited a minor retreat to 6.79%, remaining within the 6.6% to 7% range observed since December. The high policy rate environment maintained by the Federal Reserve has kept borrowing costs elevated, affecting the affordability and accessibility of home financing. The market outlook suggests a cautious optimism, with potential relief for homebuyers through increased listings and possibly moderated prices.

Considerations for residential real estate appraisers

Mortgage Rate Influence: The current stability within the 6.6% to 7% range for mortgage rates and anticipated fluctuations will significantly impact buyer affordability and demand. Appraisers should closely monitor these trends.

Regional Variability: The disparities in home sales and construction activity across different regions underscore the importance of localized market knowledge. Appraisers must consider regional economic conditions, inventory levels, and buyer sentiment when evaluating properties.

Construction and Inventory Trends: With new construction activity surging and a notable increase in permits, there is an impending shift in market supply. Appraisers should consider the potential impact, especially in markets with significant new construction.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: In addition to being an appraiser, Kevin is an Adjunct Professor of Economics at Maryville University. This is the only economic analysis I always read.


Wedding Cake House’ in Kennebunk, ME for $2.6M built in 1825

Excerpts: 8 bedrooms, 5.5+ baths, 6,263 square feet, 2.23 acre lot, Built in 1825

“It’s very unusual from the exterior with the detail, trim, and molding,” says listing agent Nathan McCabe, of Pack Maynard & Associates Real Estate.

“The interior’s mechanicals have all been updated, but the sellers intentionally chose to leave much of the interior details alone to preserve its history. It is also located in the Historic Preservation District, so any proposed renovations would have to be approved.”

The residence was built for a shipbuilder George Washington Bourne, according to the Bangor Daily News. It also claims to be “the most photographed house in Maine.” The circular staircase features a hand-painted mural lining the wall to the second floor.

“The property is just 2 miles from the beach and 2 miles to the dock square area,” McCabe says. “It has over 300 feet of water frontage and is also located on a historic street where shipbuilders would build their homes.”

The property comes with a carriage house and a barn with a two-bedroom apartment.

“The barn has been fully restored and structurally repaired from the bottom up,” McCabe says.

To read more, Click Here

To read the listing, with 108 photos, Click Here


Prevalence of GSE Appraisal Waivers

By Edward J. Pinto | Tobias Peter (AEI, American Enterprise Institute)

March 28, 2024

Key Points:

The share of appraisal waivers for both GSEs combined for January 2024 stood at 12%, down 0.3 ppts. from last month and down 37 ppts. from its series’ peak in March 2021. In August 2023, shares for Fannie and Freddie converged for the first time since June 2021 and have moved in lock step since then.

Freddie introduced ACE+PDR* in July 2022. In January 2024, these shares stood at 1.7%, 9.4% and 4.8% for Purchase, Cash Out, and No Cash Out loans, respectively.

Fannie introduced Value Acceptance + PropertyData (VA+PD)** in April 2023. In January 2024, the share of the new program was 0.5%, 5.5%, and 1.6% for Purchase, Cash Out, and No Cash Out loans, respectively.

Waivers are granted using a data based analysis of the reasonableness of the applicant’s self valuation. The data measure whether an appraisal waiver was used, not only granted, on the loan.

To read the full report (PDF) Click Here

My comments: The text summary above is okay. but the graphs and tables in the PDF are well done and much more understandable. Lots of information.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. Many appraisers are not busy. Some are busy, usually with non-lender appraisals.


Mortgage applications decreased 0.6 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 3, 2024) — Mortgage applications decreased 0.6 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 29, 2024.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 0.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 0.1 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 2 percent from the previous week and was 5 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 0.1 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 1 percent compared with the previous week and was 13 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates moved lower last week, but that did little to ignite overall mortgage application activity. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate declined slightly to 6.91 percent, while the 15-year fixed rate decreased to its lowest level in two months at 6.35 percent,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Elevated mortgage rates continued to weigh down on home buying. Purchase applications were unchanged overall, although FHA purchases did pick up slightly over the week. Refinance applications decreased to fall 5 percent below last year’s pace.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 30.3 percent of total applications from 30.8 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity remained unchanged at 7.0 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 11.7 percent from 12.0 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 12.1 percent from 12.0 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged from 0.5 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($766,550 or less) decreased to 6.91 percent from 6.93 percent, with points decreasing to 0.59 from 0.60 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $766,550) decreased to 7.06 percent from 7.14 percent, with points increasing to 0.57 from 0.38 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 6.74 percent from 6.75 percent, with points decreasing to 0.90 from 0.97 (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 decreased to 6.35 percent from 6.46 percent, with points decreasing to 0.56 from 0.75 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 6.37 percent from 6.27 percent, with points increasing to 0.68 from 0.64 (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

Online: www.appraisaltoday.com

We want to know what you think!! Please leave a comment.