Appraisal News and Business Tips


About this blog

This blog has recent full FREE email newsletters (that start with the date and Newz) plus excerpts from the email newsletters where you can post comments. This newsletter has been sent out almost every week since June, 1994. I started with 6 subscribers on Compuserve. Now it is up to 17,000 subscribers!! To subscribe to the free email newsletters and get them them when they first come out, go to and sign up in the big Yellow Box!!

Looking for a topic? Use Search box on the right side. There are hundreds of posts on this blog, starting in 2012. 

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Posted in: appraisal, appraisal business, Appraisal fees

3-15-18 Newz//$2,358 PSF Small Tract House, Water Heaters, Affordable Beach Towns

$2,358 per sq.ft. for small home in Sunnyvale CA

Excerpt: This home on Plymouth Drive in Sunnyvale, Calif. recently set the highest price per square foot ever recorded by the Multiple Listing Service. The two bedroom, two bath home – 848 square feet in size – sold in two days for $2 million. It had been listed for $1.45 million. That means it sold for $2,358 per square foot, which is the highest price per square foot in Sunnyvale recorded by MLS Listings which has data going back to Jan. 1, 2000.

My comment: It did have new paint inside and outside plus refinished hardwood floors ;> Check out the fotos for a boring tract house. I got Mine. I am sooo glad I bought my house in 1985 for $145,000, worth about $900,000 now!! Mine is twice the size of this one, but not close to Google or Facebook (30 miles away, but could take the employee Google bus which comes here.)

The World’s Best Affordable Beach Towns

Just For Fun!!

Here are two, not too far away:
3. Tulum (Mexico) Luxury condos in new developments and single-family houses under $100,000
9. Dominical Beach (Costa Rica)

Check out all of them at:

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Posted in: appraisal how to, appraisal waivers, evaluations, lender appraisals, mortgage loan volume, real estate market, square footage, Strange homes, unusual home, weird homes

3-8-18 Newz// .$1 Million Shack, Comps From Different Neighborhood, What is an Island?

Can you use comps from a different neighborhood?

By Ryan Lundquist
Excerpt: BIG CAUTION: If one area has smaller homes, heavy fixers, not enough data, more foreclosures, or more remodeled properties, we might draw the wrong conclusions when looking at stats if we’re not careful. In other words, we need to know how to think through the numbers rather than taking them at face value.

Good analysis and graphs from Sacramento area, but applies to many other locations. Worth reading.

My comments: Going to another neighborhood is tricky if a location adjustment is required. However, I do it occasionally. If the two neighborhoods are similar, it is easy. FYI, I attended a Fannie webinar last week that showed how CU displays comps in neighborhoods, based on census tract blocks, showing how median prices vary. I will be writing about how underwriters use CU in next month’s paid Appraisal Today newsletter.

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Posted in: Uncategorized

3-1-18 Newz//”Just” a Residential Appraiser?, Turret Living, Price Fixing?

I Am Not “JUST” a Residential Appraiser

By Rachel Massey, SRA
Excerpt: There is no doubt that moving to obtaining a certified general appraisal license opens doors to varied and interesting work. If it is in one’s capacity to obtain this level, it is a great idea. That said, the idea of being “just” a residential appraiser has got to stop.

A good professional residential appraiser who studies the market, knows how to analyze and solve a problem, and can communicate effectively and succinctly, is a very valuable appraiser at that!

Worth reading, plus read the comments and post your opinion.
My comment: Rachel wrote a much longer, very interesting article for the paid Appraisal Today March issue: “What being designated means to me”
When I started appraising in the late 70s, residential was somehow considered “inferior”. I guess it has been going on for a very long time. I have always thought that residential appraisers are experts in one type of property: 1-4 units. If you are testifying in court on a single family home and the opposing attorney’s appraiser is an MAI who appraises a few times a year, you will blow them away!!

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Posted in: AMCs, appraisal business, appraisal management company, appraiser shortage, bad appraisers, mortgage loan volume, new appraisers, real estate market, state appraiser regulators, Strange homes, weird homes, weird properties, zillow

2-22-18 Newz//ASB Meeting Live Streaming, McMansions, Risky Appraisal Alternatives

Who Ordered All the McMansions? 10 Cities Where They’re Piled Highest

Excerpt: You know them when you see them.

The imposing, ostentatious structures looming over surprisingly wee plots of land. The crazily mismatched architectural styles. The hipped roofs, gabled roofs, and pyramidal roofs-all on the same house! The bank columns. The front yard Romanesque fountains. The puzzling profusion of window sizes and types. The gigantic, two-story front doors.

Click here for more info and where there are lots of them:

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Posted in: appraisal business, appraisal how to, Appraisal Standards Board, bad appraisers, desktop appraisals, evaluations, hybrid appraisals, mortgage loan volume, real estate market, unusual home, unusual homes, weird homes

2-15-18 Newz//Fannie Appraiser Webinar, Magical Appraiser Wand, Refis Dropping

The Magical Appraiser Wand

By George Dell
Excerpt: Can you just give me some magical software which will calculate my adjustments?

I get asked questions like this often. Can you just show me how to do a graph a client wants? Can you just give me your class stuff so I don’t have to come all that way? So often, the question degrades into something like “Why does the regression software give stupid answers?” I pushed the magic button!

People do not like the answer. You’re paid to do an analysis, not wave a magic wand, or push a magical appraisal button. We have another name for that, it’s called an AVM.   In addition to a point value prediction, AVMs can be tested for reliability. This is called the FSD (Forecast Standard Deviation). The AVM. It gets results. It’s fast. It’s cheap. And it provides a measure of reliability – the FSD.

Why would a client want something slower and more expensive with no measure of reliability? Why hire a pesky appraiser?

Click here for the answer!!

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Posted in: adjustments, appraisal how to, appraisal waivers, evaluations, Fannie, Mortgage applications, mortgage loan volume, rental market, unusual homes

2-1-18 Newz//Fannie Selling Guide Update, Zillow sued, Cost vs. Value Remodeling

Fannie Selling Guide Update for appraisals

Announcement SEL-2018-01: Selling Guide updates

Two appraisal changes:
– Remove the requirement for a field review on certain properties valued at $1,000,000 or more.
– Require lenders to choose the most reliable appraisal when two appraisals are obtained for one property.

– Detached Condo Projects
– Minor Litigation in Projects
Click here to read the announcement for more info

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Posted in: commercial appraisal, Fannie, hybrid appraisals, zillow

2 GREAT ways to get into appraisal trouble. Tales From Barry Bates

If you really WANT to get in trouble here are 2 ways to do it, (eventually) guaranteed to succeed

Advertise your uniqueness!
More important than earning a living, providing support for your family or
serving the general public is to let the world know who you really are!
When meeting a homeowner or commercial building owner for the first time,
take a few minutes to explain your facial tattoos, your exotic mode of medieval
dress and your political positions as shown by the 188 bumper stickers on your car. Some straights are freaked out by creativity, so it’s worth taking the time to
calm them down.

When I was Chief Appraiser for The Money Store, I got a call from a
prospective borrower in one of the northern rural counties of California. I had just
added another appraiser to the panel in an effort to improve coverage. The borrower reported that although the appraiser was pleasant of demeanor and appeared to be knowledgeable, there was no question that she was living in her car.

When I called her, I had to cite that stuff in USPAP that talks about inspiring trust of appraisers among members of the public, and told her to reapply to the panel when she would be able to present a more conventional appearance. I didn’t hear from her afterwards, but, sure enough, she was a duly certified California appraiser.

Pump that value!
It’s a “win win” for everyone! I mean, you’d think so, right? What refi borrower
complains about a high appraisal? The lender sure won’t complain. Even in
appraising for a loan to purchase, it will flatter the owner and facilitate the
borrower’s deal, right?

Actually, wrongamundo, Buckwheat. By far, the most frequent complaint I
saw while at BREA (California Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers) was inflation of value, tendered by the lender, the buyer, the seller, etc.

I recall one respondent, who appraised exclusively for VA lenders, assuring
me that he considered it his duty to make sure that if the veteran really wanted the property and his valuation could make it happen, he would find legitimate
comparable sales to support that sale price.

What was unclear was his understanding of the word “legitimate”. I guess it’s tough when another couple of grand is added to the price just for the VA guarantee, but doable, certainly, for someone with such a holy mandate.

As an 11-year Army veteran myself, I let him know that I appreciated his
devotion to cause, but I had to tell him that he was a crook. And that he should
reexamine his assumption of duty during his license suspension, during which he
had to find 25 hours of courses on ethics.

Editor’s notes: this is a very brief excerpt from Barry’s article in the December 2017 issue of the paid Appraisal Today newsletter. Click the graphic below for more info on the newsletter. Barry has had a wide variety of appraisal jobs over the past 40+ years, including a state regulator investigator. He is now retired from appraising but still giving his opinions!! Contact him at

Posted in: bad appraisers, Barry Bates

1/24/18 News//New USPAP Q&A-Hybrids .Dying Appraisal Profession? .Cat Urine & Big Data

Is the Appraisal Profession Dying?

By George Dell
Excerpts: Yes. Appraisal as we know it is dying.
Can it be saved?  No.
So what should I do?  What should “we” do?

To answer these questions, we need to look at causes and conditions. Some of these are obvious.
– Judgment is good; Analysis is better.
– Human generalization is excellent; Computation is fast…

So what can we do? If we cannot be saved. If computers are faster. If we have complete data. If we too have software.  If we too can provide results instead of opinions…  Leads to an obvious question: Can an experienced appraiser do these things as well as, or better than those others?

Worth reading at:

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Posted in: appraisal business, Appraisal fees, appraisal management company, Appraisal Standards Board, appraisal waivers, bpos, desktop appraisals, evaluations, Mortgage applications, mortgage loan volume, square footage, USPAP

1-18-18 Newz//Hybrid Appraisal Rejected, Scope Creeping, UsPaP False Assumptions

Scope Creep – Head’em Off at the Pass!

By George Dell
Excerpt: Why do we have scope creep?
Possible answers include:
– The reviewer or clerk has to justify their existence;
– There is genuine concern about something;
– The work should’ve been there in the first place;

It’s important to remember that our entire system of appraisal production and review is belief-based.  It must be “worthy of belief.”  We have no objective standards.  Your work must be subjectively “credible” in the mind of the reader.

Read this short, interesting blog post at:

My comment: George Dell writes regularly for Appraisal Today. His articles are much longer than his blog posts, often expanding on a blog post.

UsPaP – A few of the more obvious false assumptions

By Barry Bates

Excerpt from blog post

The appraisal client is always the intended user.

A lovely concept out in the ether somewhere, but hardly ever the case in practice. The client (who engages the appraiser) is a lending technician or AMC drone; the intended user is an underwriter, servicer or portfolio manager. (This assumes the fact that only about 10% of appraisals are ever done for anybody other than a mortgage company.)

To read the full post, click here

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Posted in: AMCs, appraisal business, Appraisal fees, appraisal how to, appraisal management company, hybrid appraisals, Mortgage applications, mortgage loan volume, USPAP
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