What is a pool worth? It depends.

By Ryan Lundquist June 26, 2024

Excerpts: With and Without Pools (Big Difference)

There’s a huge difference in the stats when we compare homes with and without pools. The properties with pools are larger in square footage and lot size, higher in price, and they’ve taken slightly less time to sell too.

In short, the higher the price, the greater chance there is a pool. This likely has to do with the cost of building a pool, cost of maintaining a pool, and even larger parcels at higher ranges – not to mention buyers at higher price points expecting a pool more often.

The rhythm of pool sales basically follows the pattern we see in the entire market. More sales as the year unfolds, and they typically peak around June. Some smaller areas could be slightly different.

Seriously though, What is a pool worth?

It depends. Different price points and locations come with different expectations. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for the value of a pool. In other words, we can’t just apply one figure to a property because that number isn’t going to make sense everywhere. This is where we have to study the comps. With that said, my observation is pool adjustments have generally gone up since the pandemic as buyers are more in tune with the importance of a backyard. Have you seen that also?

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Check out Ryan’s tables to see his data analysis, which is not difficult to set up.

When I first started appraising in suburban Bay Area cities in the mid-1980s, homes with pools sold for more in some neighborhoods with higher-priced homes. MLS always said a pool was there, which is a good way to check it out. At that time, MLS data analysis was much more limited than it is today. I saw this in a particular neighborhood with very hot summers. This is still the same now.

In contrast, where I live, about 15 miles west, on an island on San Francisco Bay, pools have never been a plus or a minus. Weather is “Mediterranean” weather without hot summers. Often sellers said they would remove the pool, but the buyers never requested it.


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 HOA Horror Stories, Zillow and Redfin lawsuits Videos and Privacy, Residential to commercial transition, real estate market, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc



$139M Bel-Air CA Megamansion

Excerpts: 12 bedrooms, 17 baths, 2.08 Acre lot, Built in 2021

According to those associated with the Los Angeles property, the place is known as La Fin, which means “the end”—as in, “Once you’ve seen it, your search for the ideal home is over.”

That space exemplifies the level at which La Fin embodies luxury. The nightclub space also includes a private wine room with a custom Murano glass art installation. There’s also a fully equipped fitness center with a climbing wall, enough Peloton bikes for an army, a steam room, and a spa.

There’s also a sub-zero vodka tasting room which is rumored to come with faux-fur stoles to keep you warm, as well as a ventilated, humidor-walled cigar lounge.

Theaters? There are two of them. One is a sound-proof, indoor cinema with motorized Belgian leather seating. The other is outdoors, perched beside the infinity-edge pool. It has a 23-foot, retractable LED screen and an outdoor bar with swing seats.

To read more, Click Here

To read the listing, Click Here


Zillow, Redfin Hit with Video Privacy Lawsuits Over Website User Tracking

Mata v. Zillow Group, Inc. was filed June 24, 2024

Zillow Group and Redfin Corporation each face a proposed class action lawsuit over their alleged use of secret pixels on their respective websites to track the videos watched by users and send that data to third-party vendors without valid consent.

Similarly, the Redfin lawsuit states that the real estate brokerage also offers on its website video tours of many properties listed for sale, consisting of prerecorded video with accompanying audio. Like Zillow, Redfin has knowingly installed on Redfin.com surreptitious tracking pixels and other technologies from third-party developers that capture and transmit users’ video viewing data without consent, the complaint claims.

The tracking technology on Zillow and Redfin’s websites send user video activity to third parties such as Reddit, Meta, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Oracle and Snapchat, the lawsuits say.

To read more, Click Here

My comment: Good that someone is finally noticing the privacy issues!

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Residential to Commercial Transition: The Three Legs to Success By Denis DeSaix, MAI, SRA

Note: Denis speaks from experience. He went from working at a residential “sweatshop” to an MAI, including completing his college degree. Some very savvy residential appraisers use the slow times to get their certified general licenses.

The First Leg: What Can A Residential Appraiser Offer a Prospective


1. The residential appraiser already has the knowledge and practical application of the fundamental appraisal process and practical experience valuing real property.

2. The residential appraiser has an existing source of income; the commercial

The mentor/supervisor will not be solely responsible for ensuring the residential appraiser can “survive”; the residential appraiser, with his/her own business, is already self-sustaining…

The Second Leg: Get Educated & Show Some Initiative Before Marketing to

a Supervisor

The Third Leg: Finding the Right Supervisor/Mentor


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Appraisers Are Extraordinary and Rare, Like Unicorns!

By Mark Buhler

Excerpts: Appraisers are an extraordinary and rare group of humans. As an appraiser, you are part of a select few. You belong to a group of licensed professionals that are extremely rare. How rare? Recent statistics indicate that there are about 70,000 licensed appraisers in the United States. Considering that there are over 340 million people living in the United States, being an appraiser qualifies you as a rarity. There is one appraiser for about every 5,000 people living in the United States.  The number of licensed appraisers is shrinking. Nearly 1/3 of licensed appraisers are eligible for Social Security and likely will not be working for much longer.

How many times have you had a conversation with somebody, and you ask that person what they do for a living? And their answer was “I am a real estate appraiser”. I am guessing rarely, if ever.

To illustrate just how rare and extraordinary appraisers are, lets look at some other professions. There are 1.2 million firefighters, 3.8 million teachers, 1 million doctors and 5 million nurses. Are there advantages of working in a field that makes up ½ of 1% of the US population? My (job) market analysis says yes!

In my opinion, appraisers can have a good life with a healthy work/life balance. Appraisers have options. There are a lot of different ways to be an appraiser. Pick one that works for you and your family. There are many facets of the business that are available to an appraiser. Keep in mind, there are only 70,000 other appraisers trying to get at that slice of the pie.

In my home state of almost 40 million residents, there are 8,000 +/- appraisers. Sometimes it may seem as if all 8,000 of them must have received that request for a fee and turn time bid, but that is not the case. Of those 8,000 I would wager a small portion of them are doing the majority of the work.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: I love being an appraiser after almost 50 years of appraising!

I will always be an appraiser, even if I do few if any, appraisals. I write about appraisal issues and topics now.

Today, we are experiencing a downturn in lender appraisals. This will change, as it always does.


June 2024 Housing Market Update: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities for Appraisers

July 2, 2024

By Kevin Hecht

Excerpts: As we move through the middle of 2024, the real estate market continues to face a complex landscape shaped by economic factors, interest rates, and shifting demand patterns. This update examines key trends across various segments of the housing market, providing critical insights for real estate appraisers.

Nine specific actions for real estate appraisers to stay informed

1. Regularly review market reports

2. Attend industry conferences and seminars

3. Subscribe to real estate publications

4. Network with industry peers

Engage with other real estate professionals, including fellow appraisers, real estate agents, and brokers. Networking can provide valuable firsthand information about local market conditions and emerging trends.

5. Utilize technology and data analytics

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Worth reading, especially details of the 9 specific actions for appraisers. Lots of practical tips you can do today.


HOA Horror Stories: From Poop Disputes to Jail Time for Wrong Paint Colors — and How 2 States Are Fighting Back

Excerpts: Homeowners associations are supposed to maintain common areas and enforce community rules, which isn’t a bad thing.

But when an HOA oversteps its bounds, its motives can seem punitive and predatory. And the fines it levies on residents can seem more like extortion or highway robbery.

“Some say some HOAs stand for ‘hostile environments, ornery, controlling neighbors, and anger-infused management,’” jokes Lee Davenport, a real estate coach and fair housing educator in Atlanta.

And countless people, including Kristen D. Conti, broker-owner of Peacock Premier Properties in Englewood, FL, agree.

“Oftentimes, people on the boards are on a total power trip and use that to advance their own desires,” Conti says. “I don’t invest in communities with HOAs anymore because their rules are so over the top that it upsets the tenants.”

Conti recalls a personal encounter with such an HOA: “They came and measured the length of the grass, and if it was half an inch too long, we would get fined,” Conti says. “Here in the summer in Florida, grass grows quickly. So it can be half an inch too long just three days after being cut. It was a constant headache.”

Florida and Michigan fight back

Two states are taking steps to fight back against overbearing HOAs.

Starting July 1, homeowners associations in Florida will lose much of their power when HB 1203 goes into effect.

When it does, Florida HOAs will no longer be able to restrict people from parking in their own driveway or on public streets. And HOAs won’t be able to stop people from parking work cars in their driveway anymore, either. (This excludes commercial vehicles.)

Fining residents for leaving trash cans out on garbage day will also be a thing of the past.

Plus, HOAs will no longer be able to enforce rules about backyards or the inside of structures, as long as they can’t be seen from a neighboring property, from the street, or from a common area.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: This is worth reading. It is very interesting. Four to five-story condo/townhome developments are under construction in my city (also across the street from my former office, now demolished) and other Bay Area cities. Vacant land is too expensive for detached homes. The buildings are “boxy” and totally different from the pre-1950 single-family homes nearby.

For your information, common ownership with HOAs can mean having playgrounds, community centers, parks, and almost anything else. I have appraised townhomes, detached homes, stacked condos, all single-family homes, and mixed detached and attached homes with HOAs from three units to hundreds of units.

When I started appraising large townhome projects in a nearby city for FHA loans in the 1980s, FHA told me I had to review their repair and replacement reserves. I told FHA that they were inadequate. The buildings were older and had deferred maintenance. The HOA was responsible for all exterior maintenance plus landscaping.

Once repairs were needed without adequate reserves, the HOA had to collect a large assessment from each owner. The special assessments affected the sales prices of local stacked condo HOAs.

Later, California started requiring adequate reserves. Of course, there are still fights over dues increasing for repair costs. I always review all the HOA documents. I also look for any HOA newsletters I can read to get information on on any issues. Sometimes, the newsletters are posted on bulletin boards. I also encourage the unit owners to tell me what is happening. I have heard some horror stories.

I will never, ever buy a home with an HOA! It might be okay today, but the Board of Directors can change their regulations into something like one of the stories above. Leaving up Christmas decorations “too long” is a common issue.

If a friend insists they really want to live in a place with an HOA, I tell them to carefully read all the documents and try to get newsletters from the HOA.


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 2.6 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 3, 2024) — Mortgage applications decreased 2.6 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending June 28, 2024.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 2.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 8 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 2 percent from the previous week and was 29 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 3 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 7 percent compared with the previous week and was 12 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage rates moved higher last week, crossing the 7 percent mark, even as the latest inflation data has kept market expectations alive for a rate cut from the Fed later this year,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s SVP and Chief Economist. “Purchase applications decreased the final full week of June, even as both new and existing inventories have increased over the past few months. Refinance activity also remains subdued – although there was a slight increase in applications for conventional refinance loans.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 35.7 percent of total applications from 35.1 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 6.0 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications remained unchanged at 13.1 percent. The VA share of total applications decreased to 12.9 percent from 13.8 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications decreased to 0.3 percent from 0.4 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($766,550 or less) increased to 7.03 percent from 6.93 percent, with points increasing to 0.62 from 0.61 (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 $766,550) increased to 7.11 percent from 7.04 percent, with points decreasing to 0.5 from 0.60 (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 6.90 percent from 6.82 percent, with points decreasing to 0.95 from 0.99 (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 6.56 percent from 6.46 percent, with points decreasing to 0.54 from 0.75 (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 6.38 percent from 6.29 percent, with points increasing to 0.54 from 0.50 (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

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