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3-7-19 Newz: Digitally-Doctored Listing Photos – Mermaids and Camels at Open Houses – Manufactured Home Webinar

7 Women in the Building Business, Including an Appraiser

Excerpt: In 1986, when Dina Miller, her brother, Jonathan, and other family members founded the real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, “there were very few female appraisers,” said Ms. Miller, 56, whose specialty is specialty work – determining the value of a common hallway that a co-op shareholder wants to buy, for example, and handling stratospherically expensive property, including the top-floor apartment at 432 Park Avenue.

Scroll down the page to Dina Miller

My Sister, My Business Partner Gets Her New York Times Due By Jonathan Miller
Excerpt: The New York Times weekend real estate section has a cover story The Boss? You’re Looking at Her: 7 Women in the Building Business and my sister Dina was one of them. I’m very proud of her. She, myself and my wife are the principals of our firm Miller Samuel we co-founded with our parents in 1986. Dina is not a public person like I seem to be but has often said her brother (me) “never met a microphone he didn’t like” which I wear as a badge of honor. Congrats to my sister for her well-deserved recognition.

My comment: Not often an appraiser is featured in an article in a major national publication!! Hardly ever is it a female appraiser.

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Posted in: adjustments, appraisal business, appraisal how to, Fannie, mortgage loan volume, real estate market, Uncategorized, unusual home

2-28-19 Newz: Strange listing fotos – $400k deminimus – FHA violations

Strange and tricky listing fotos

A real estate photographer tells you how to spot staging tricks in listing photos

Excerpt: “If a photo is overly bright, over contrasted, or almost too perfect or synthetic, that should be a red flag,” Cato says.

Another is if the photo has the same level of lighting everywhere. “It’s weird,” he says. “If the brightness is the same throughout, that is just not natural. You have to show where natural light falls.”

My comment: Written about New York apartments and condos but relates to all listing fotos. We all use comp listing fotos. Tips on how to evaluate them, including digital alterations, is always good!!
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The Most Hilarious Pictures Taken By Real Estate Agents
Just For Fun!!

Excerpt: From horror movie-esque semi abandoned flats for rent to excessively unique home decor cases and very impractical architecture decisions, the real estate agents behind these funny ads didn’t even care to fix the places up before snapping the hilarious pictures. The caring levels were so low that there’s also a photo with a live bat in it, a huge pig laying around in the living room and feral horses relaxing in front yards. The most baffling part is that these funny photos were really used to advertise and show the good side of housings to possible tenants.

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Posted in: appraisal business, AVMS, deminimus, hybrid appraisals, mortgage loan volume, Strange homes, unusual home, USPAP

What’s the difference between the Appraisal Today free weekly email newsletters in this blog and the paid monthly newsletter?

What’s the difference between the Appraisal Today free weekly email newsletters in this blog and the paid monthly newsletter?

They are very different.
In the Free weekly emails, there is a very wide range of topics each week. They are links to online articles with brief excerpts. I write the short comments. I get lots of emails with information every day plus blog posts. I look for the most interesting topics and include them. I write the newsletter on Wednesday, to go out on Thursday. I do  not typically plan what is in the newsletters. It is very last minute, as I try to make the content as recent as possible, appropriate for a weekly newsletter. Weird homes and properties are typically the most popular topics. Plus business and appraisal “how to” tips. It  is advertiser supported.

The paid monthly newsletters are totally different. They are typically about a few appraisal and business topics. I sometimes work on an article idea for several years before finally writing up an article. I do the research and writing plus have guest authors. They are 1 to 10 pages long  and take a long time to write up. Since they are in PDF format, the newsletters can be any length. I have never taken ads.
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I started the free email newsletter in 1994 with 4 subscribers. Bruce Hahn still subscribes. It is advertiser supported.  One of my first advertisers was Liability Insurance Administrators, who runs an ad in every email.
The paid newsletter was started in June, 1992 with 250 subscribers, starting in print and shifting to PDF in 2008. There have never been any ads.

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Free Email Newsletter
This email newsletter is a digest of what other people have written, with excerpts, links, and my comments. I limit the length to about 5 topics. When it started it was short and text only with about 4,000 subscribers and an occasional ad. Getting often handwritten email addresses and managing the list was a hassle and took a lot of time. In 2008 I started using Constant Contact and it grew to over 17,000 subscribers.

Around 2013 I started taking paid ad emails on other days, separate from these emails. As number of ads expanded, I could spend more time on the email newsletters.

I subscribe to many news sources , get hundreds of emails and monitor online discussion groups. On Tuesday I spend 3-4 hours going through these emails looking for something interesting. Wednesday I write up the newsletter, which takes usually 5-7 hours. Plus, of course, lots of time reading blogs, facebook posts, email discussion groups, etc. It is sent out around 5AM Thursday and posted to this blog on Friday.

It is a lot of fun deciding what to put in the newsletter and finding out which topics are the most popular. Hint: weird houses are very popular. USPAP is not very popular, but I put it in so you know what is happening.

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Paid Monthly Newsletter

The paid newsletter started as a printed newsletter in 1992. The 12-18+ pages are print style PDFs with 3 columns and wordprocessing (1 column) formats. The articles are much longer than this email, from 1 to 8 (or more) pages for each topic.

Everything is original, not just a link. Most of the articles are written by myself, but I have always had contributors. I like to write about business topics, so there are lots of marketing, etc. articles. When there are hot topics, such as CU, AMCs, etc. I write about them. Plus other appraisal related topics, mostly done by contributors.

Ever since I got my MBA in 1980, I look at everything from a business point of view. I had been appraising for 5 years at that time, but never took even a basic economics class. I needed to learn more bout business to be a better appraiser. For unknown reasons I don’t like to write about appraisal topics, although I love discussing them with other appraisers!!

I never run out of topics to write about. I regularly get ideas by communicating with other appraisers by phone or email.
If there is a topic you would like to read about, send an email to ann@appraisaltoday.com

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If you want a free sample newsletter, send an email to info@appraisaltoday.com requesting it.
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Join Our Mailing List!!
Ann O’Rourke, MAI, SRA, MBA
Appraiser and Publisher Appraisal Today
2033 Clement Ave. Suite 105
Alameda, CA 94501 Phone 510-865-8041
Fax 510-523-1138
Email   ann@appraisaltoday.com
Posted in: appraisal, appraisal business

2-21-19 Zestimate Obsession – Sex Dungeon – Ugly Buildings

Obsessively Checking Zestimates

Excerpts: If you own a home, or want to own one, chances are you’ve spent some time with one of the many apps that estimate home values. As real estate prices have risen in recent years, watching one’s equity grow – at least on paper – has become something of a national pastime. Some would call it an obsession.

“I check my Zestimate way more than my 401(k),” said Bradley Reed, a homeowner in Cleveland, referring to Zillow’s proprietary tool.

“On a slow week, I might check it every other day,” said Krista Burns in Doylestown, Ohio.

Listen or read the story and twitter comments, see some fotos, etc. Add your comment at the bottom.

My comment: I listen to the marketplace podcast almost every day, listened to this one last week, and really liked it. Fortunately, with this link you can read the transcript or listen to it plus read some twitter comments. I know that real estate agents have lots of problems with it. I wonder how many appraisers look at Zestimates? You may be surprised!! Some even include it in their appraisal reports and explain why their value is different.
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Posted in: real estate market, Strange homes, weird properties, zillow

2-14-19 Newz: Coester Shuts Down; Beautiful Erosion; Facing Your State Board

17 of the World’s Most Beautifully Broken Places

Wind, rain, and retreating glaciers left this gorgeous destruction behind.

Here are two:
– Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area New Mexico
The land is full of geologic eye candy like otherworldly spires, mushroom-shaped hoodoos, and prehistoric fossils.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Iceland
Strange rock formations tower above the river that snakes through this enchanting Icelandic canyon.

See the incredible locations and read about them at:

My comment: Click The Link And Take A Break from Your Appraisals!!
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Posted in: Appraisal Standards Board, mortgage loan volume, state appraiser regulators, Uncategorized, USPAP, weird properties

2-7-19 Newz: Appraisal Dying?- Dangerous Roads- Wrong Algorithms

What If the Algorithms Are Wrong?

Excerpt: Algorithms are everywhere…
Mathematician and data scientist Cathy O’Neil coined a term for algorithms that are secret, important and harmful: “weapons of math destruction.” Learn more about the hidden agendas behind the formulas.”

“Algorithms are opinions embedded in code. It’s really different from what you think most people think of algorithms. They think algorithms are objective and true and scientific. That’s a marketing trick. It’s also a marketing trick to intimidate you with algorithms, to make you trust and fear algorithms because you trust and fear mathematics. A lot can go wrong when we put blind faith in big data…”

Check out the video of the Ted Talk: 15 minutes and well worth watching. “The Era of Blind Faith in Big Data Must End” I love Ted Talks and have subscribed to the Ted Radio Hour Podcast for a long time.

My comments: Remember the Recent Mortgage Crash The Data Did Not Predict? Why? They did not include data from the Great Depression, the last time real estate markets crashed all over the country.

Who was saying something was wrong? Whistleblower Appraisers. Appraiser Petitions fell on deaf ears. Some appraisers spoke the truth and lost their appraisal businesses and/or were blackballed by lenders.

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Posted in: AMCs, AVMS, future, george dell, mortgage loan volume, statistics, USPAP, weird properties, zillow

1-31-18 Newz: Birdlike Buildings – Most Expensive Home $238M – 300 years of land use changes

AMCs and Respect for Appraisers??

By Rachel Massey, SRA
Excerpt: …an example of an AMC that is not paying attention to the comments from the declination. If an appraiser declines due to coverage area, then it should not be reassigned. But also, if appraisers decline because the fee is inadequate, is upping it a paltry $25 going to cut it? In the time between the initial order and the subsequent, ten days passed. Had the AMC picked up the phone and started calling appraisers, they may have had much better success at finding someone who first of all covers the area, and second of all, would tell them how much it would take for them to take on the assignment.

My comments: Worth reading plus the appraiser comments, of course!!
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Posted in: AMCs, george dell, real estate market, weird homes, weird properties

The Future of Residential Lender Appraisers

What if you don’t want to do desktop bifurcated appraisals or do the very tough appraisals that don’t work for AVMs? Or wait, once again, for the lender market to finally come back.

There are many forces trying to get field appraisers out of doing full valuations for mortgage loans. Automation and Artificial Intelligence will increase this trend, as it has done in other professions. For example, Quicken software dramatically decreased demand for manual bookkeepers. Once lenders can determine which properties will work well with an AVM, and they will, there will be fewer human appraisals.

Recently, several appraisers emailed and called me saying their non-lender work would go down due to fee competition from desperate lender appraisals. Yes, this does happen in downturns, especially when it first starts going down fast. Estate appraisals are easy, and this market is affected. Plus other non-lender markets.

What is the answer? The only answer I know is to do litigation support. In my area, there are very few residential appraisers who will testify in court. When they go up against an MAI who does 1-2, or fewer, residential appraisals per year, they win. Good demand, repeat business, fees much, much higher than any other type of appraisal business, respected as an expert. Almost the opposite of AMC appraisals.

Why are residential appraisers very reluctant to do Expert Witness court testimony? Fear of the unknown I guess. I did them in the past and had no problems with testifying as an expert in court or in a deposition.

Next month in my monthly paid newsletter, I will have an article on Litigation Support and Court Testimony.  I have been writing a lot about doing non-lender work. There are lots of options, but this is by far the most profitable with very little competition.

Posted in: AMCs, appraisal business, Appraisal fees, future

1-24-19 Newz: AVMs vs. Appraisers- New Fannie Formz?- Future of Res Appraising

AVMs vs. appraisers

Excerpt: Different AVMs are designed to deliver different types of valuations. And therein lies confusion.

Consumers don’t realize that there’s an AVM for nearly any purpose, which explains why different algorithms serve up different results, said Ann Regan, an executive product manager with real estate analytic firm CoreLogic. “The scores presented to consumers are not the same version that is being used by lenders to make decisions,” she said. “The consumer-facing AVMs are designed for consumer marketing purposes.”

Written for consumers, but very well written and worth reading.

My comment: How often does someone tell you what Zillow says their home is worth? What do you say? I say Zillow works well on tract homes built in the past 10 years. This article discusses AVMs, regulators, appraisers, etc.
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Posted in: AMCs, appraisal business, appraisal management company, AVMS, Fannie, forecast, hybrid appraisals, lender appraisals, mortgage loan volume, real estate market, UAD, USPAP, zillow

1-17-19 Newz: $2M deminimus? – $3M Funding for Res Appr Startup – Appeals Board Members Fall Asleep

Should we raise the deminimus to $2 million? Or $5 million?

By George Dell
Excerpt: To simplify this discussion, let’s note two facts:  Appraisers can perform ‘evaluations’, normally using the same scope of work as an unlicensed “evaluator”.  What’s the difference?  It appears to me that there is one key difference.  The question is then:  Which part of the service is not required?  Is it the integrity/ethics, or the performance (such as using the right data and analysis)?

It appears to me that since unlicensed persons can charge less, have less tax/fee burden (for licensing, education, and errors/omissions insurance- the less ethical, less responsible ‘evaluator’ can always outbid the licensed appraiser every time.

Read the full blog post and appraiser comments. What do you think? Add your comments.

My comments: Interesting analysis by George, of course!! Credit unions are proposing to raise the commercial deminimus to $1,000,000. I didn’t know they made commercial loans. Guess they forgot about the commercial crash in the late 1980s.
As long as Fannie and Freddie (and their investors) require res appraisals, it won’t have a big effect on residential. The FIRREA deminimus in 1989 was $200,000. No effect on much of anything, even though we thought the Sky Was Falling.

The usual Mortgage Cycle: Good Business = lower requirements. Bad Business = higher requirements.

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Posted in: appraisal business, Appraisal fees, deminimus, desktop appraisals, george dell, humor, lender appraisals, threshold