What Tools Do You Use to Support Your Appraisal Adjustments?

By McKissock

As part of our monthly survey series, we asked our community of real estate appraisers, “What tool(s) do you use to support your appraisal adjustments?” Respondents were allowed to make multiple selections and write in their own answers as well.

Popular tools include Synapse by Spark, Solomon Adjustment Calculator, and Redstone by Bradford Technologies. The majority of respondents said they use a combination of various tools and methods, such as paired sales analysis.

We’ve included “paired sales/matched pair analysis” in the list as well, even though it’s a method rather than a digital or appraisal software tool, because it was mentioned by so many appraisers.

A few sample appraiser comments:

“I am capable of determining the adjustments without any software. I look at the MLS data and am able to determine appropriate adjustments. I would need to know all of the assumptions the software takes into consideration before I would trust the adjustment with my signature.”

“I use Synapse by Spark for typical property adjustments and Solomon for more complex properties.”

In addition to the top answers, we received many other write-in responses. Sample responses:

Allocation method


Cost to build

Sample appraiser comments

“Due to rural location, there are no algorithmic tools to be utilized for adjustment data. I utilize paired and grouped data analysis and experience and knowledge.”

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Short, well written, and Very Interesting, especially the appraiser’s comments! I quit doing adjustments a while ago. I always do market conditions adjustments (or explain why not) and for views and other factors that significantly add to value.

I have never used any of the appraisal software listed above. I use Excel and MLS data. I often go back in time for comps with views, etc. I also interview agents to see what they say. Not for a number, but about marketability.

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on Geographic Data and Comps, effect of renovation on value, very low foreclosures now, current real estate market, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.




$99.5M Hamptons, NY Compound Comes With a 750-Gallon Shark Tank

Excerpts: 24 bedrooms, 27.5 baths, 45,000 sq.ft., 21 acre lot

Jutting out on a private peninsula overlooking Burnett Creek, this spectacular seaside property in Water Mill, NY, comprises two separate addresses. The lots are being offered together for the first time, priced at $99.5 million.

The multiparcel property boasts two separate residences that offer a combined 24 bedrooms and 38 bathrooms. The homes sit along 3,100 feet of private shoreline on Burnett Creek, with access to Mecox Bay via a private dock. Everything faces directly south, with unobstructed ocean views.

71 Cobb Lane
Sitting closest to the water, the 17,173-square-foot residence at 71 Cobb Lane was designed by Barnes Coy Architects. It features 13 bedrooms, a tennis court, saltwater pool and spa, and a two-level pool house with a commercial kitchen, gym, sauna, and pool-side deck.

The 9.11-acre property is also available for sale individually for $52.5 million. Originally hitting the market in 2022 for $72 million, the estate has seen various price decreases since then.

70 Cobb Lane
The secondary estate nestled on the inland portion of the lot at 70 Cobb Lane boasts a 28,000-square-foot estate with some outrageous amenities, including a heated pool and spa, a pool house with a 14-seat movie theatre, 2-lane bowling alley, half court basketball, professional gym, 350 bottle wine cellar, spa with sauna and steam room, indoor swimming pool, and a game room with billiards, 750 gallon shark tank, wet bar, and arcade.


The 12.2-acre property is also listed individually for $54,950,000. The price reflects a substantial decrease from its original list price of $59.5 million last year.

To read more, Click Here

To read the listing and see 36 photos, Click Here


Geographic “Data” Competency?

By Tony Pistilli

Excerpts: I recall receiving MLS books once a month and being thrilled that a whole new population of sales were available to be considered within the pages of each book. By the time I got the new book, the sales were already a bit dated, and since they were only closed sales – they had actually sold a few weeks to months prior.

Each month there was a new book, but every 6 months, there was a combined book with the last 6 months of sales in one bound and printed book. It was a great day when that set of new books arrived in the mail!

Geographic competency was introduced into the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) in the 2000 edition. This addition emphasizes the importance of an appraiser’s familiarity with the geographic area in which they are appraising property.

My question today is: does an appraiser have to live in a particular area to have geographic competence? With the plethora of data available today, could an appraiser living hundreds or even thousands of miles away gain sufficient knowledge of local market conditions, trends, and regulations to produce accurate and reliable appraisals?   And could it actually be a benefit to not live in the immediate geographic area?

Geographic “Data” Competency refers to an appraiser’s ability to effectively understand, interpret, and utilize geographic data in the appraisal process. In the context of real estate appraisers, it is essential for accurately valuing properties and providing credible appraisal reports.

I would suggest to the Appraisal Foundation, or whomever controls USPAP going forward, consider an addition to Geographic Competency in USPAP to include the term “data” and further emphasize that Competency in general includes knowledge of and practical application of new and emerging technologies and analysis of data.

To read more, Click Here

My Comments: Excellent topic. I had never thought about this before. Worth reading. I remember the old MLS books and have copies from 1986 when I started my appraisal business. I sent my appraisal data to CMDC in California (residential comp sharing started by S&Ls in the 1970s). Tony has been around for a long time and is very savvy.


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Appraisals for estates and trusts
The most popular non-lender appraisals

Topics include:

  • Estate/trust liability advice
  • Use the IRS definition of Fair Market Value
  • What forms to use?
  • Date of value – be sure you use the correct date(s)
  • What information do you have on the condition of the subject?
  • What geographic area is best for this work?
  • Fees – do NOT quote your AMC or lender fees
  • Engagement letters
  • Marketing to attorneys, accountants, and real estate agents
  • Referral sources

In the past 38 years of my appraisal business, I have done many estate appraisals.

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What Impact Do Renovations Have on Appraisal Value?

By Tom Horn

Excerpts: As an appraiser, I get asked about how much value will be added for different types of home projects or renovations. The truth of the matter is that it is difficult to give a straightforward answer.

Contrary to what you see on the home improvement shows it is not always possible for an appraiser to shoot from the hip and reply back “An updated kitchen will add $50,000 to the value of your house”. There are so many factors that must be taken into consideration.

It’s important to understand the difference between updates and renovations. Updating typically involves less extensive types of improvements and might include painting, and changing out some light fixtures or door hardware.

These types of updates are more cosmetic in nature, however, they can improve the appeal of your home. They can help it to sell more quickly but do not have the value that an extensive renovation would.

Appraisers will also consider how the proposed renovations will compare to other currently sold homes. Appraisers look for conformity of the improvements to the surrounding area and how well they fit in.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: This blog post is written for homeowners but is very useful for appraisers. I regularly get these types of questions from homeowners. Now I have some more ideas about what to say to them and can send them a link to this blog post!

You may get some new ideas for the effect on value of renovations and other less extensive upgrades.

I often appraise estate homes that need fix up for sale. I always recommend whatever fixup they can afford, such as new interior paint and floor coverings. I explain how much it will add to the value if they do this. If they don’t want to spend any money or do not have any available, I tell them to take out personal items and clean the home so they can eat off the floor.

I see what happens when they do nothing: a lower sales price and reduced marketability. For buyers, I tell them to look for these homes for sale. With some fixup they can easily increase the value.


U.S. Mortgage Delinquency, Foreclosure Rates Hover Near Historic Lows in February


In February, the U.S. overall mortgage delinquency (2.8%), adverse delinquency (0.4%), foreclosure (0.3%) and transition rates (0.7%) were all unchanged from numbers recorded in February 2023.

Four states posted small overall annual delinquency rate increases in February, eight saw no change and 39 showed year-over-year declines.

The Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii metro area continued to post the nation’s largest annual overall and serious delinquency increases due to last summer’s devastating wildfires in that region.

Most Americans with a mortgage are still able to make their payments on time, with nearly all stages of delinquency remaining near historic lows in February. Only four states posted small year-over-year overall delinquency rate increases, the fewest since late summer 2023.

Even if homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments begin to struggle, substantial U.S. home equity growth — which was up by $1.3 trillion (8.6%) on an annual basis in the fourth quarter — should provide many with a financial cushion that will help them avoid falling into foreclosure.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Check out state info and excellent graphs.

Good and bad for appraisers: Good: not many appraisal claims or Fannie repurchase demands. Bad: very few REO appraisals which kept appraisers busy during previous crashes, such as 2008.


Curvy Roofed Eco-Home in the San Francisco Bay Area for $2.75M

Excerpts: 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2,396 sq.ft., 3,000 sq.ft. lot, built in 2023

The home was designed by California architect Fred Herring of Herring & Worley. Herring is known for contemporary designs featuring sleek curves and high-end finishes, much like the one on the market.

Jauregui (agent) explains that the three-level residence was designed to blend modern design with sustainability. The amazing views are a bonus—and the indoor-outdoor flow of the open-concept design, with two decks.

Massive double pane windows and doors add plenty of natural light throughout the home. A top floor master suite with private view deck overlooking San Bruno Mountain and additional large rear deck set into the hillside.

The lower level media/family room has radiant floors and a light well spanning two floors.

To read more, Click Here

To read the listing with a Video tour and 111 photos Click Here


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 increased 0.5 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 15, 2024) — Mortgage applications increased 0.5 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 10, 2024.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 0.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 0.3 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 5 percent from the previous week and was 7 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week and was 14 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Treasury yields continued to move lower last week and mortgage rates declined for the second week in a row, with the 30-year fixed rate down 10 basis points to 7.08 percent, the lowest level since early April,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “The decline in rates led to a small boost to refinance applications, including another strong week for VA refinances. However, the overall level of refinance activity remains low. Purchase applications decreased, driven largely by a 9 percent drop in FHA purchase applications. Conventional home purchase applications were down around one percent.

Added Kan, “While the downward move in rates benefits prospective homebuyers, mortgage rates are still much higher than they were a year ago, while for-sale inventory remains tight.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 32.0 percent of total applications from 30.6 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 7.0 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 12.4 percent from 12.9 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 12.7 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 ($766,550 or less) decreased to 7.08 percent from 7.18 percent, with points decreasing to 0.63 from 0.65 (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 7.22 percent from 7.31 percent, with points increasing to 0.58 from 0.46 (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 6.86 percent from 6.92 percent, with points increasing to 0.94 from 0.91 (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 6.61 percent from 6.60 percent, with points increasing to 0.65 from 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 decreased to 6.56 percent from 6.60 percent, with points increasing to 0.66 from 0.65 (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.


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

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