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8-31-17 Newz// Appraiser indicted, Hurricane Donations, Appraisers’ Future

Where to contribute to help people affected by Hurricane Harvey

a la mode Software’s Relief Efforts
From Dave Bigger’s (Founder, a la mode) recent email:
We’ve already set up our systems to defer payments for those of you in the storm-hit areas on the Gulf Coast.  We’re also ready to help anyone drastically affected rebuild in any way we can – whether it’s replacing damaged Distos, laptops, printers, or anything else, we’re here.
If you know appraisers, agents, mortgage pros, or inspectors who need help, let us know and tell them to call 1-800-ALAMODE or email relief@alamode.com.
 
We  are working on several relief projects, and we encourage you to join us.   Read the announcement here. 
Yesterday, we also donated $100,000 to the Greater Houston Community Foundation’s Hurricane Relief Fund.  We chose this organization because they’re local, working with many boots-on-the-ground non-profits.  They’re in rescue mode – focused on essentials like water, shelter, medical emergencies, and supplies. But our $100,000 is designed to just “prime the pump” for the broader real estate industry, including other technology companies, to step up as well.

We all need to act quickly, and show our commitment to our colleagues. Donate like we did to the Greater Houston Community Foundation’s Hurricane Relief Fund via our pass-through website, www.alamode.com/harvey . (When you donate through our site, you won’t pay credit card fees. We’ll cover those.) By coming through our portal, your donation will be grouped with other real estate professionals and vendors, showing solidarity as an industry.

Every gift makes a big difference – $10, $50, $100, or more.  Our goal is to gather enough funds within the real estate industry to at least match our donation, and preferably many times more.

Overworked and underpaid appraisers?

Excerpt: While most sectors of the industry managed the increased demand with few hiccups, the appraisal services segment of the industry did not fare as well. The uninterrupted appraisal demand throughout 2016 and into the first quarter of this year led to chronic fatigue that spread throughout the appraiser population.
This led to a number of service level issues, including missed deadlines, longer than customary turn-times, increased revision rates, unresponsiveness and higher appraiser fee demands, to name a few.
My comment: Low AMC fees are always a problem. But the “overworked” comments are out of date for my area. Low fee appraiser price competition has really heated up in the past few months. When I quote my standard fee from 2016 for estate work or don’t reply within a few hours or am not available to go out tomorrow, I don’t get the assignment. Earlier this year, prospects were glad I called them back. AMC fees are way down also.

Read more!!

Posted in: appraisal business, bad appraisers, future, Mortgage applications, zillow

8-24-17 Newz .Fannie Freddie appraisal waivers, AVMs and HELOCS, Passwords

The Traveling Apprentices of Germany

 And you thought appraiser trainees have it rough!!

Just For Fun ;>
Excerpts: They hitchhike across Europe, instantly recognizable in the wide-bottomed, corduroy trousers, white shirts and colored jackets that identify them as bricklayers, bakers, carpenters, stonemasons and roofers.
While on the road, journeymen are not supposed to pay for food or accommodations, and instead live by exchanging work for room and board. In warm weather, they sleep in parks and other public spaces. They generally carry only their tools, several changes of underwear, socks and a few shirts wrapped into small bundles that can be tied to their walking sticks – and that can also double as pillows.
In an adaptation of the old rules to modern times, journeymen do not carry devices like cellphones that allow them to be found. They carry digital cameras, if they like, and write emails from public computers.
My comment: Fascinating with great photos!! Yes, there are women travelers now…

Passwords: What if Everything You Know Is Wrong?

By Shelly Palmer
Excerpt:  According to the Wall Street Journal, Bill Burr (the man who wrote the NIST memo back in 2003 that recommended the cryptic craziness and frequent replacement guidelines) has had an epiphany. “Much of what I did I now regret,” said Mr. Burr, 72 years old, who is now retired. If the reporting is accurate, he had very little evidence upon which to base the NIST’s recommendations. (Sort of makes me think about the USDA Food Chart I grew up with. But that’s for another article.) Why were Mr. Burr’s assumptions wrong?…
Do what the experts are now telling you to do. Start using the longest passwords possible. I would not use correcthorsebatterystaple, but “passwordswedontneednostinkinpasswords” will absolutely do the job.

My comment: Very interesting article!! Plus the Fun Cartoons ;> Passwords are a Pain.. I think one of the most popular passwords is “password”. Looks like finally there is another way.

Read more!!

Posted in: AMCs, AVMS, Fannie, fees, Freddie, lender appraisals, Mortgage applications, trainees

8-17-17 Newz//Appraiser Goes to Jail, Mercury Network Bidding, $10,000 Lighthouse

Buy a lighthouse for $10,000

 Just For Fun!!

Excerpt:
Bidding is underway for six decommissioned lighthouses built before 1930 that the federal government has put up for auction. Five overlook the Great Lakes in Michigan, and the sixth is on the Chesapeake Bay.
It’s a tempting prospect, perhaps, for those who yearn for scenic surroundings – and who have the stamina to tackle periodic renovations.
Interesting article with photos and commentary
My comment: I Want One!!! A former lighthouse in San Francisco Bay was converted to a very popular B&B. Someday, maybe, I will stay overnight there ;>

How Air-Conditioning Conquered America (Even the Pacific Northwest)

Excerpt: Air-conditioning has been remarkably good at creating demand for itself.
 It enabled the sweeping postwar development of the South, where all new single-family homes today include central air. In automobiles, it made the commutes between air-conditioned homes and air-conditioned offices possible. In the Southwest, its arrival facilitated new methods of rapid construction, replacing traditional building designs that once naturally withstood the region’s desert climate.
Interesting graphs and analysis.

My comment: A timely topic in today’s increasing temperatures. I have never lived in a house with air conditioning, even in Oklahoma when I was a kid. But, I used to visit my aunt in Dallas in the summer – air conditioned house, car, etc. I always say that people here in California do not know what hot is: 85 degrees and 85% humidity when I lived in Oklahoma ;>

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Posted in: appraisal business, Appraisal fees, bad appraisers, Mortgage applications, real estate market, Strange homes, weird properties

8-10-17 Newz// Fannie-Appraiser Future, AMC goes down, Delightful Domes

A Tour of the World’s Most Delightful Domes

17 half-spheres that do round right. Just For Fun!

Excerpt: Employing massive hemispherical roofs first became popular with the ancient Romans-most famously the iconic Pantheon, built in the 2nd century. Since then, the feature has taken many forms across the globe, providing cover for everything from ancient tombs to futuristic houses. The circular nature of domes has special significance in religious houses such as churches and mosques, where it represents the eternal, with no beginning and no end.

http://www.atlasobscura.com/lists/domes-architecture-world-tour 

TC Valuations (AMC) Ceasing Operations!

Paying appraisers $ .25 on the dollar!!

Excerpt from letter sent to appraisers: It is with much regret, that I write this letter to inform you that TCV has commenced an orderly wind up and liquidation of operations. Unfortunately a significant downturn in revenue and the loss of part of our volume with two key clients in the second quarter of 2017, has forced the company to wind up its operations.
Read the full letter plus lots of comments at

My comment: There will be more AMCs going down, particularly small ones. In 1993, when the appraisal business crashed and I had way too many employees, I almost went out of business. But, I had no uncollected billings, even from mortgage brokers. Why? I always carefully monitor my accounts receivable. My assistant called all my clients every day until they paid. My husband, a very large man, wearing black clothes (Gangsta style ;>), went to a local mortgage broker’s office and left with a full payment check. It may be time to write a collections article for the paid Appraisal Today…  predictions are for more small AMCs Going Down.

Read more!!

Posted in: AMCs, appraisal business, Appraisal Qualifications Board, Fannie, forecast, mortgage loan volume, real estate market, weird properties

8-3-17 Newz// Forest Guitar, Wells Fargo-no AMCs, Creepy Scope

Forest Guitar made of trees, dedicated to a man’s lost love.

Excerpt: Breaking up the flat agricultural areas of Argentina’s Pampas is a guitar formed entirely out of trees. Stretching for 2/3 of a mile, the multi-colored instrument was created by one Argentine farmer to memorialize his wife who tragically died at the age of 25.
My comment: Just for Fun ;> Fascinating photo and brief writeup.

Scope Creep Causes Creepy Scope

By George Dell, MAI, SRA

Excerpt: …scope creep has turned into scope running. I’m sure many appraisers, particularly residential people will agree. He (David Braun) points out that as the reviewers ask for more, appraisers are finding ways to not be specific. This has turned into a self-perpetuating loop:  “As the providers, users, and enforcement bodies have differing opinions on the proper level of the scope required . . .”

My comment: Interesting blog post. Short. Worth reading.

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Posted in: AMCs, appraisal business, Mortgage applications, Strange homes, weird properties

7-27-17 Newz// LA-FTC and AMC fee survey, Silent place, No Bubble?

One Square Inch of Silence

A tiny red pebble marks what may be the quietest outdoor spot in the United States.

Just For Fun!!
Excerpt: One Square Inch of Silence, an independent research project created by the author and Emmy Award-winning acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, aims to protect the space from human noise intrusions. The tiny quiet spot, accessible via a three-mile rainforest hike down the Hoh River Trail near Forks, WA was designated on April 22, 2005 (Earth Day) as a “noise control project” to ensure the decibel count at the square inch would never rise.
 
My comment: Our lives today are very noisy: cars, lawn mowers, refrigerators, air conditioners, fans, etc. etc. Plus, external noise can affect property values. There is quite a bit of noise “pollution” in most places. It is very hard to find a quiet place today, even in very remote locations. I keep reading articles on this topic.

Smoking pricing crack, era charm, & blaming appraisers

By Ryan Lundquist July 5, 2017
Excerpt: Smoking Pricing Crack: Did you see that listing in Waco Texas of the property that was rehabbed by Chip & JoAnna Gaines of the reality show Fixer Upper? It was purchased for $28,000 and now it’s listed for sale at $950,000. Would you pay more because Chip and Joanna rehabbed it?
My comment: Interesting blog post plus lots of comments!!

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Posted in: Appraisal fees, fees, Mortgage applications, real estate market, va

7-20-17 Newz// Fannie data, USPS gyrocopters, Costar data

When the U.S. Postal Service Used Gyrocopters to Deliver the Mail The flying machines hopped from roof to roof of post offices.

Excerpt: Sensing opportunity, the United States Postal Service-then the U.S. Post Office Department-decided to invest in the new technology. In 1937, Congress appropriated money to fund a series of experiments on autogyro mail delivery, and within a year the first flight-from Bethesda, Maryland to Washington, D.C.-was made.

My comment: Check out the photos (no videos in 1937). Very interesting!!

Why Fannie Mae Shouldn’t Keep Data Secret

Excerpt: Today’s lenders have access to massive amounts of data. According to (Richard) Hagar, government lenders have access to every recorded sale in most every county across the U.S. via information providers like CoreLogic. He believes appraisal adjustments should be cross-checked against sales metrics of the five million home sales that occur each year.
However, appraisers typically use Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for residential appraising. Data provided by MLS may vary from information shown by providers like CoreLogic. MLS has more detailed information that county records don’t contain. Oftentimes, though, MLS contains errors or missing data. In other words, both types of systems have errors, but not necessarily the same errors.
My comment: Controversial topic!! Fannie says that they want appraisers to be objective, not using Fannie’s data. For example, appraisers changing their building sketches to match public records sq.ft. to avoid underwriter/review hassles. I remember CMDC books (in california) back in the 1980s where appraisers submitted the first pages of their appraisals to go into a shared appraiser database. Before appraisers could get MLS access. Seems like that was okay…

Read more!!

Posted in: appraisal business, Collateral Underwriter, data, E&O, Fannie, mortgage loan volume, state appraiser regulators, Strange homes, unusual homes, weird homes, weird properties

7-13-17 Newz// FTC vs. NC Fees, Zillow misestimates,Turbo-Charged Appraiser

FTC targets North Carolina Fee Survey

North Carolina currently considering establishing set fees for appraisals
 
Excerpt: According to the FTC, North Carolina’s proposed legislation carries many of the same issues as the laws in Louisiana.
In its comment, the FTC states that the bill’s method for establishing appraisal fees “is not mandated by – and, in fact, may be inconsistent with – federal law.”
The FTC also suggests that the bill “may have the effect of displacing competition for the setting of appraisal fees and ultimately harming consumers in the form of higher prices.”
More info here, including text of the bill, etc. and where to file a complaint.
Louisiana’s reply to previous FTC hassles here:
My comment:I have no idea why the FTC is going after states setting AMC fees. Seems like there are a lot of much bigger problems…

The Next Job Humans Lose to Robots: Real Estate Appraiser

Advances in big data at Zillow and elsewhere are helping automation creep into knowledge-based professions.

 

Excerpt: Twenty-five years ago, Brian Weaver was told at a seminar that the real estate appraisal profession would be killed off by technology in five years. It didn’t happen. But he now thinks the forecast wasn’t exactly wrong-just early.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-11/the-next-job-humans-lose-to-robots-real-estate-appraiser 

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The Turbo Charged Appraiser – “Progress Slow on Robot Takeover” – A Blast From the Past by George Dell

Except: This is the headline from an article in the San Diego Union Tribune this morning.  The article went on to say, “Data complexities, trust issues, and the persistent need for human input restrain scaled-up automation.”
As a brand-new appraiser trainee, I was in awe of the office and the people.  And in particular, the backroom.  The backroom was the library and data room.  As large as some small homes.  It contained data.  Lots of data…
Read more at:
My comment: I love these two very different topics!! One is maybe the future and the other looks at data way back in the past from George Dell, stats and data guru!!

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Posted in: appraisal business, Appraisal fees, appraisal management company, mortgage loan volume, zillow

7-6-17 Newz: Tech Trends in 1776 .Arms-length transactions .Zillow vs. McMansions

8 Hottest Tech Trends in 1776

Just For Fun!! Take a break from writing up those darn reports. Is there any appraiser who likes writing reports. Not me ;>

Excerpt: At that time, the “best” technology available was the printing press and the “best” social network required the use of “word of mouth” in Public Houses… But while all this was going on, there were a bunch of entrepreneurs and a few startups that changed the world.
  1. Underwater warfare
  2. Telling accurate time
  3. Underwater exploration
  4. Indoor plumbing
  5. Kitchen stove
  6. Electricity
  7. Mechanical motion
  8. Multitasking
My comment: check out this great article!! It is only 2 days after July 4, so I decided to include this very interesting article by Shelly Palmer one of my favorite tech writers!

Arm’s-Length Transactions, Market Value and Related Parties, Part 2 By Richard Heyn, SRA

Excerpt: So while a non-arm’s length transaction may be a red flag that can point to an above or below market value transaction, the bottom line is that ALTs may or may not take place at market value.
Another area of misconception among appraisers regarding ALTs involves the application of the term “related parties.” Unfortunately, the term “related parties” is not defined in any authoritative appraisal-related literature that I am aware. The term is, however, defined in accounting standards and by the Internal Revenue Service, most notably in the IRS guidelines for exchanges of like-kind properties.

My comment: the excerpt above is from part 2, above is the link for part 1. I have read several long threads online about this topic. Lots of confusion. Rich’s articles are Most Excellent. Read These Articles!

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Posted in: appraisal, Strange homes, unusual homes

6-28-17 Newz// Octagon house craze, Reproducibility Crisis, AMC Technology Efficient?

Octagon House Craze in the 1800s

Excerpt: If you were a forward-thinking individualist in 1800s America, building an eight-sided abode was a great way to show it. The octagon house was a cutting-edge design at the time, believed to be a more efficient use of space, energy, and cost than the conventional square.

… Thousands of these geometric oddities were built by the time the trend hit its peak in the 1860s.

My comment: Wow!! I have never appraised an octagon house, but have seen a few from the outside. Have measured octagon turrets on Victorians.

Top cities where the number of million dollar homes is skyrocketing

Excerpt: In large swaths of the country, a cool million has mostly come to represent the new standard for good, upper-middle-class housing. “In more markets than ever before, the million-dollar mark is the new benchmark for that green lawn and white picket fence,” says Javier Vivas, manager of the realtor.com® economic research team.
  1. Denver CO
  2. Santa Rosa CA
  3. Boulder CO
  4. Truckee CA
Click here get the full list and read the comments on the cities – very interesting!!

My comment: In my small city in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a median price of around $850,000, many properties are listed just under $1,000,000 and sell over list. Starter homes are $750,000 to $800,000 (2 bedroom/1 bath, built before 1940, maybe updated kitchen and bath, 1000 sq.ft.) No, we did not get on the list. Already have too many over $1,000,000.. I am soo glad I bought my  house in 1985 for $135,000!!

Read more!!

Posted in: AMCs, appraisal, appraisal management company, Mortgage applications, Strange homes, unusual homes