Appraisal News and Business Tips


Arizona house built into a cave

Excerpt from article:
If you’ve been shopping for a cave, the Chulo Canyon Cave House in the desert hills near Bisbee, Arizona may be just the right fit. What looks like a smallish cabin from outside turns into a sprawling cavern that dives straight into the depths of a mountain. The owner-built cave home is just shy of 3000 square feet and has all the amenities of a typical ranch house and while the interior is naturally cooled, a series of natural pools up the hillside makes this cave house a truly unique eco retreat for the right spelunker.
The main house itself is entered via a very modest, almost ramshackle entrance/sunroom. The cave is actually not naturally formed, and the yellow granite was blasted out by a specialist who supported the ceiling with steel rods. The result is surprisingly natural looking as the main living space is surrounded by roughly hewn undulating rock walls. The raw spaces have been carefully detailed with modern appliances, ample iron work and built in furniture and cabinets. Past the modern high end kitchen is the dining room, bedrooms and a full bath. Being in the desert the owner even wisely installed a dual flush toilet.

Read more:

Posted in: Strange homes

Texas AMC fee survey – disconnect between AMCs and appraisers

dollars floatingThe Texas AMC fee survey was taken in August, 2012. In the results, 10% of the appraisers said they received under $250 for 1004s and the AMCs said they paid no fees under $250.

No one really knows why there is such a disconnect. Survey requests were sent to all licensed AMCs and licensed appraisers. Not all responded or could be contacted. Only AMCs licensed in Texas were surveyed. The Texas licensing started in March, 2012.

In this month’s issue of the paid Appraisal Today newsletter I wrote an article “What are AMCs paying now? Fees a

re going up, but some appraisers are still working for low fees” and used various fee surveys.

The Texas Appraisers and Appraisal Management Company Survey is by far the most rigorous and was done by three universities, and was requested by a committee of the Texas State Senate. The survey was done in 8/12 and the report was available in 11/12.
Link to survey:

This is the first in a series of articles about AMCs that I am working on.

Here are the other AMC articles I have written rece


– November, 2012: Who’s on your “approved AMC” list and why? Dump your bad AMCs! AMC rating grid
– October, 2012: AMC and appraiser liability -claims, blacklisting, lawsuits, etc.
– September 2012: this issue focused on AMC collection – how to collect from deadbeats and get all your billings paid!
– August 2012: AMC fees are going up! Many appraisers are swamped with work! You CAN get higher fees!!Win-win AMC fee negotiation for appraisers
– April 2012: 8 reasons why AMCs ask dumb questions – written by an industry insider

FYI, my first article on AMCs was written in 1994.

Appraisal Today newsletter

Posted in: AMCs

AMC asks appraiser to remove photos of black cat

black pantherHow the AMC  (maybe) saw the cat


Fair lending violations per AMC.

This first circulated on the Internet in September. I finally found the original source!!

This was from the famous/infamous real estate and mortgage news and commentary videos with Frank Garay and Brian Stevens.

I love the “Frank and Brian” video show!! It is mostly about mortgage lending but is sometimes about appraisers. They used to have an appraiser version, but one of the two appraisers went to work for the CA state regulator, so it was discontinued.

Foto of the The Two Guys

Here’s link to the video to see them in action!!!

Posted in: AMCs, lender appraisals

New York Castle – only $1,000,000!!

Built in 1894 by the state of New York for the National Guard, Amsterdam Castle is a 36,000 square foot private residence listed on the National Register of Historic Places New York originally built 100 of these armories, of which nearly 50 are still in use by the National Guard. Other “sister” armories uses include a military museum (Saratoga), art gallery (Manhattan East Side), and a concert hall (Albany). This armory was decommissioned in 1995 and is the only armory converted into a home.

Excerpts from article:

This magnificent building has 2 suites (featuring King sized beds in each turret) for overnight guests in addition to a 10,000 sq ft gymnasium, a rifle range, a fallout shelter and billiard room. The current owners bought the building in 2005 and embarked on an extensive renovation and redecoration. In addition to returning the building to its lush Victorian decor, the renovation featured environmentally friendly building materials such as low VOC paints and repurposed wood. The castle has Wi-Fi, cable TV and high speed internet, onsite parking for 40 and ample street parking. The gymnasium can hold 1000+ (and 500 seated), making us the largest event and reception facility in the county. The 18” brick walls hold the temperature at a surprisingly ambient level, making it pleasant in summer and heat-effective in winter.

Link with fotos:

Posted in: Strange homes

Beach Rock Treehouse: Okinawa, Japan

Excerpt from original article:

This treehouse by Japanese builder Kobayahsi Takashi was constructed with the express purpose of communicating with outer space. “A sparkling beacon among treetops, it is easy to imagine the dome succeeding at its mission to make contact with alien life,”

…. You can reach the house by a wood ladder and at halfway of your climbing you can stop on a terrace and have a view on the nature.
Link to original article

My comment: There are lots and lots of treehouses online, from very small to very large. Takahashi has built many treehouses. This one is my favorite – high off the ground, small, and elegant!!

Posted in: Strange homes

AMCs and confusion about Chase and 30 mile limit

One of my readers contacted Chase after reading my email sent yesterday. The reader said that Chase question mark why?does not have any 30 mile limit. Per the email from an account executive at JPMorgan Chase in Florida: “No we do not have any such guideline or requirement like that.
Sounds suspect!”
My original source for the info was Doug Smith in Montana, who received an official letter with a letterhead from Equifax stating that Chase has a 30 miles limit. Here is the emailed letter he received on 11/16/12:

“Attention all Chase Appraisers:

Effective orders assigned tomorrow, Friday November 16th, 2012, all Appraisers completing orders for J.P. Morgan Chase Bank must be within 30 miles of the subject property.“

“You will be asked during the assignment call from Equifax Settlement Services to confirm that the appraiser completing the order is within 30 miles.  Any assignment exceptions to this requirement will be noted in the Equifax order notes.“

“Please note, for both Equifax and Chase audit purposes it is IMPERATIVE that the appraiser’s address stated on the report is within 30 miles of the subject property address.“

“We thank you for your compliance with this new Chase requirement.“
Afer inquiring about an order for an appraisal 100 miles from his office (not unusual in Montana), Doug also received an email from Servicelink saying that their contract with Chase did not have that requirement.

What’s happening? I have no idea. The emailed letter sent to Doug from Equifax is very clear.

Appraisal Today newsletter

Posted in: AMCs, lender appraisals

Malibu Video Beach House

Excerpt from the original article:

This conceptual proposal for a weekend beach house would be constructed on a vacant lot sandwiched in-between two existing houses along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu California. Here the houses line up side by side along the road with only a thin sliver of the ocean and beach visible between them.

The facade of the Malibu video beach house facing the highway is covered with thin gas-plasma television screens that create a full-size video interface with the real world. These screens display images and sounds of the real beach that is obscured by the house itself. The beach can be shown in real or recorded time. Day recordings can be played back at night; sunny day recordings can be played on cloudy days; summer days can be shown in winter. Over scaled detailed images of the beach and ocean can be shown as well as digitally altered images.

Link to article with lots of fotos!!

Posted in: Strange homes

Chase has a new appraiser requirement – appraiser must be located within 30 miles of the subject

AppraisalPort Poll Results – 5/14/12Stop sign

In the past 6 months how many appraisals over 50 miles away from your office have you completed?
0 to 5, 3377 votes – 62%
6 to 10, 539 votes – 10%
11 to 15, 296 votes – 5%
16 to 20, 245 votes – 5%
More than 20, 985 votes – 18%

Total Votes: 5,442

My comments: Very interesting results!! Although the poll is for only over 50 miles, I would expect that more appraisers are traveling 30 miles or more. I guess Chase won’t be lending in rural areas or parts of large counties. I am 32 miles from the farthest city in my county. I am in the San Francisco Bay area, and most appraisers who work multiple counties travel over 30 miles one way regularly. Of course, the more time you spend driving, the less appraisals you can complete. Cutting driving time is the best way to increase productivity.

Appraisal Today newsletter

Posted in: AMCs, lender appraisals

Arc house

Excerpt from original article:

This amazing residence was built by Maziar Behrooz Architecture for a small family of two and their two big dogs. It’s located in East Hampton, NY, near the local airport and train track. The architects considered this fact and accentuated it in house’s exterior by making it look like an airplane hangar. Such structure does not only look extraordinary, but is also very cost-effective because it doesn?t require too many supporting walls or columns inside of the building. The arc contains just some of the facilities, such as living, dining rooms and the kitchen, whereas the rest of the house is very well integrated to the landscape, housing some of the more intimate areas.

The materials for the house were selected with energy saving in mind, making the power consuption of this house much lower than of the typical house of this size.

Click here to see lots of photos and more info!!

Posted in: Strange homes

Appraisal Institute – Evaluations for Lenders by appraisers

Appraisal Institute – Evaluations for Lenders by appraisers


The Appraisal Institute’s “Guide Note 13: Performing Evaluations of Real Property Collateral for Lenders” addresses how appraisers should prepare an evaluation for a lender and comply with the USPAP.

The Guide Note states, “For lending transactions involving real estate, a lender must obtain an appraisal from a state licensed or certified appraiser. There are 12 exemptions from this requirement. For three of these exemptions, in lieu of an appraisal by a licensed or certified appraiser the lender may obtain an evaluation.”

The Appraisal Institute’s Guide Note states that USPAP allows an appraiser to adjust the scope of work for a valuation assignment as long as the resultant value opinion is credible, given the intended use. When preparing an evaluation, the appraiser may consider narrowing the scope of work as appropriate.

According to the interagency guidelines, a lender may obtain an evaluation in lieu of an appraisal when the loan transaction:
– has a transaction value equal to or less than $250,000; …
– or involves an existing extension of credit at the lending institution, provided that: there has been no obvious and material change in market conditions or physical aspects of the property…
“The degree of property inspection, the extent of the data collection process, and the type and level of analysis can vary as needed, as long as the resulting opinions and conclusions are credible in light of the intended use.“

Click here to download the Appraisal Institute’s six-page “Guide Note 13: Performing Evaluations of Real Property Collateral for Lenders.”

My comment: This is an old issue, from the FIRREA days of over 20 years ago. There are some proposals for what appraisers can do, but there are not many details. A licensed appraiser is the “Gold Standard” but the appraisal methods used today are not always needed. For example, a tract home in a large conforming tract.

Lots of appraisers seem to forget about the $250,000 deminimus. The only reason licensed appraisers are used by Fannie Mae is that they still require them. Other purchasers and investors in mortgages also require them. I suspect that many commercial loans also require appraisals by licensed appraisers, but some use commercial BPOs.

Who can do the evaluations is not very clear. However, they must have specific requirements. A person with no related education or experience would not qualify. BPOs done by real estate agents are not allowed for loans, only for REOs.

For example: an appraiser uses an inspection prepared by someone else such as a real estate agent and uses an AVM which provides comps and other data. Or, a previous appraisal report is used.

Lenders want to use licensed appraisers for evaluations. Be sure to read this Guide Note, which is well written and useful, especially if you are requested to do evaluations. It includes a list of what is required in the report.

I will be writing about this evolving issue, and what is being proposed by lenders, in an upcoming Appraisal Today paid newsletter.

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Posted in: lender appraisals