Practical Tips for Working With AMCs

Appraisers Share Their Best Tips for Working with AMCs

By McKissock

Excerpts: In a nutshell, our survey respondents recommended that you should:

1) do your research and get to know the AMCs,

2) build a relationship with them,

3) treat the relationship as a partnership, and

4) prioritize communication.

Build a relationship

“Be personable so they remember you.”

“Make yourself known by being efficient as well as timely with your reports. Be friendly—even when you feel like the UW’s question may be redundant or was already answered in the report. I promise you that this will make you known in your area.”

“Have a very responsive credo. Keep them up to date in every step of the report so that they can keep the Lender (and the Buyer/Seller/Realtor/Closing Attorneys when applicable) all in the loop on the progress of the report. Remember when they look good and trust you—you look good

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

“Update the orders quickly.”

“Keep them informed.”

“Over communicate!”

“Always communicate—even if it feels like too much. Our office updates AMCs on every scheduling attempt with details, every inspection appointment set and completion, and any materials needed ASAP in the assignment. They really appreciate it, and it ensures you can complete assignments on time as you had planned (no one likes waiting for a legal description only to have it show up on your day of 4 inspections!). It’s truly a win-win.”

“Stay in communication. Appraisers tend to get annoyed with constant emails from the AMC about inspection date, completion, report submission, etc. I make it a point to update them and answer their emails ASAP. In my opinion, that’s good business. And if you do need more time, more info, they are more willing to oblige.”

To read more, click here

My comments: Read this blog post with practical tips from practicing appraisers. It can help you get more business from AMCs (and other lender clients). Savvy appraisers I know who mostly do non-lender work also have a limited number of carefully vetted AMCs they work for, plus a few local lenders and “private” lenders.

Advertising Disclaimer: McKissock is one of my regular email advertisers. I keep my advertising clients and this newsletter’s content separate. But, McKissock’s blog posts are short, well written, and popular with readers, so I include them regularly.

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Practical real estate appraisal writing tips for AMC questions

Reconsideration of value and Appraisers

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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VA Update for Appraisers

VA Update for Appraisers

Interview with VA’s Chief Appraiser

By Isaac Peck

Excerpts: …the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), is known throughout the valuation community for respecting the work of appraisers and maintaining reasonable fee schedules.

The questions:

  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are making desktop appraisals a permanent fixture in their valuation offerings. Is the VA looking at these types of valuations and what are some of the considerations?
  • There’s been a lot of buzz about measuring homes to ANSI standards in the appraisal industry–what can you tell us about the VA’s stance on ANSI? Do you anticipate requiring ANSI on VA appraisals in the future?
  • There is a lot of concern about discriminatory appraisals—what is the VA doing to protect Veterans from discrimination and what are your thoughts on the topic?
  • What’s new at the VA? Any final thoughts?

To read the answers and more, click here

My comments: I have always strongly recommended doing VA appraisals, especially since AMCs took over other lenders’ appraisal management. VA wants you to help veterans. Lenders want to make more money. I wrote a long article about VA in the past, available to paid subscribers. I interviewed VA appraisal employees, fee appraisers who liked VA, and other appraisers who did not want to work for VA.

Appraisers and local market analysis

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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Appraisal Risk, Reviews, and Revisions

Appraisal Risk, Reviews, and Revisions

By Ken Dicks

Excerpts: This is part three of a three part series on appraisal review – Read parts one and two. I am often posed with the following question “How do you know when you are looking at a “good” appraisal?” The reality is there is no universal acceptance of a single method of measurement to differentiate “good” from “bad.” After many years of reading appraisal reports, my response is “One that leaves the reader with few unanswered questions, allows the data to tell the story, keeps appraiser interventions to a minimum and is able to present a case for what a property is worth, as well as what it is not worth.”

Today, while there still remains some stickiness to the QC revision process, a recent survey completed by The STRATMOR Group commissioned by appraisal management technology company Reggora, indicates 25% of appraisal reports require some form of revision. While that number may seem high to some, in the context of lending and property complexities, that is a 54% improvement in performance cited earlier in this article (from 35% 10 years ago). Is there room for more improvement? Of course, there is always room for process improvement, but on the face of it, some process improvements appear to be yielding results.

Consistent application of both quality control and quality assurance processes for appraisal review may also be in part a reason for improvement, as appraisers have a better understanding of what is needed by their client. Additionally, the tools available to both appraisers and appraisal reviewers have undergone iterative process changes and users have advanced further up the learning curve. Lastly, many lenders have progressed beyond the initial risk identification stage, or the “gotcha stage” to a holistic and strategic approach that accepts risk into their business objectives. Today lenders and stakeholders have the ability to gain risk insight beyond the initial transaction stage and utilize pattern and trend identification.

To read more, click here

My comments: Links to Part 1 and 2 are in the first line of the post. View from the AMC/Lender side. Good that reviews and reconsideration requests have gone down. Appraisers and AMCs spend less time and have fewer hassles.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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Appraisals and Water Frontage

Appraisals and Water Frontage

Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpts:

What about an off-site water view?

In a large townhouse-style condominium complex, there were only eight units that had water views. The view was of a section of the Intracoastal Waterway. It was from the second floor only, and over a six-foot high concrete block wall and across an open field. The builder charged more for those units because of the partial view.

My research discovered that the open field had just been purchased by a group that was building a four-level high-and-dry boat storage building. That bit of news made quite a few folks very unhappy and had a distinct impact on the value of those units. The moral of this story is that when you see open land between your subject property and the water, review ownership and the local building and zoning department’s comprehensive land use plan.

Water rights play a major role

With many water fronting properties, the topics of “riparian and/or littoral rights” (and the “prior appropriation doctrine” in the western states) come into play, along with several other issues. Those topics are fodder for other lengthy blog posts all by themselves. Appraisers should familiarize themselves with their state laws regarding water frontage and related rights, as they can vary from state to state.

Among the rights that come with real property ownership is the right to exclude others. When oceans, lakes, bayous, estuaries, rivers, streams, and ponds are involved, this right is a large part of what property purchasers are paying for.

To read more, click here

My comments: Worth reading, especially the last section “Final thoughts on the topic.”

I have lived in my island city for 42 years and had two waterfront homes, with docks, during the first 30 years. Both had many water related issues. One was on a tidal canal and built around 1943. Over time many homes along the waterfront, including mine, had non-permitted structures built over the water. The canal was owned by the state with an unclear easement for building beyond the rear lot line. The property owners asked me to do appraisals on the homes, including the rear structures but did not like my very high fee. It was so complicated the state and the city gave up trying to straighten it out.

The other home, built in 1946, faced a small bay off an outlet to a large part of San Francisco Bay. The large rear part of the lot was owned by the state and the city, which was leased to the homeowner. When the state said they were considering giving public waterfront access along the rear of all the homes unless we paid an annual lease fee, based on the extra lot square footage, we agreed to pay it.

I always wondered what other appraisers thought about these issues. They may not have even recognized or asked about them. Appraisers called very rarely.

I will never forget one of my first house appraisals here. The owner said it had a Bay view but did not mention you had to stand on the toilet to see through the window. After that, I told them the view had to be from a chair that you sat in!

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Green Home Appraisals – Ideas for Appraisers

5 Tips for Appraising Green Homes

By McKissock

Excerpts:

1. Consider each home on a case-by-case basis

You must independently determine whether there is sufficient information available to develop a reliable opinion of market value for each individual property. That will depend on the extent of the differences between the green home and other types of houses in the neighborhood. It will also depend on the number of such properties that have already been sold in the neighborhood.

5. Compare improvements to those in the neighborhood

Any improvements should conform to the neighborhood in terms of age, type, design, and materials used for their construction. If there is market resistance to a green home property because its improvements are not compatible with the neighborhood or with the requirements of the competitive market because of adequacy of plumbing, heating, or electrical services; design; quality; size; condition; or any other reason directly related to market demand, address the impact to the value and marketability of the subject property.

To read more, click here

My comments: I have “Mediterranean” (mild) weather, without much solar. If you live in an area with high summer and/or low winter temperatures, there are probably more solar installations. Many classes are offered by various appraisal CE providers. Check with education providers, such as McKissock, the Appraisal Institute, and local offerings.

What are Pass through Bedrooms for Appraisals

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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Does A “Crazy” Neighbor Lower Value?

Does A “Crazy” Neighbor Lower Value?

By Jamie Owen
Excerpts: It’s tax appeal season, and I’ve had several homeowners say that they feel their neighbors are negatively impacting the value of their homes for different reasons. Is that the case? Can that be the case?
The homeowners of one property stated that their neighbors are a nuisance. My clients said that one of their neighbors has people coming and going until late in the evening, most evenings. They also complained about there being noisy. Additionally, they claimed that the neighbor directly behind them is not a very nice person and is always causing neighborhood trouble.
Meanwhile, in a different neighborhood, a different homeowner claimed that their home was suffering a loss of value due to their neighbor’s home not being kept up and needing repairs and updates on the exterior. The neighbor’s property is an eye-sore.
The long-winded point I am trying to make is that the appraiser will need to find some evidence to support the claims that a neighboring property is really creating a loss in market value to its neighboring properties.
To read more, and see some fun animated gifs and videos, click here
My comments: As always, Jamie often writes about appraisal topics from a different “angle”! I have a crazy next-door neighbor also, who waits for me to come home to “attack” me with some perceived problem… since 1986 when I purchased the property.

Appraisal Business Tips 

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Neighborhood Boundaries for Appraisals

Gentrification, neighborhood boundaries, and bias

By Ryan Lundquist 

Excerpts: Photo used with permission (thanks, Vicky).

Sometimes, crossing the street can make all the difference for value. In short, if we don’t understand where a neighborhood starts and ends, we might choose the wrong comps.

Q&A #3 How do we know neighborhood boundaries?

Okay, this is a big question, and it could easily be a dissertation. For starters, let’s consider what Fannie Mae says about neighborhoods:

Fannie Mae: “The appraiser should provide an outline of the neighborhood boundaries, which should be clearly delineated using ‘North,’ ‘South’, ‘East,’ and ‘West’. These boundaries may include but are not limited to streets, legally recognized neighborhood boundaries, waterways, or other natural boundaries that define the separation of one neighborhood from another. Appraisers should not reference a map or other addendum as the only example of the neighborhood boundaries.”

Other thoughts (mine): I think sometimes we focus only on major streets, but let’s also consider school boundaries and even how neighborhood associations or city websites define areas. But also, where would residents themselves draw the lines? And where would buyers be hunting for a home before shopping somewhere else? All these things could be clues.

To read more and see lots of maps and graphs, click here

My comments: Excellent analysis of specific neighborhood boundaries with maps and graphs, of course. Worth reading. The Jan. and Feb issues of the monthly Appraisal Today has this article: Does my neighborhood really need to be analyzed? Parts I II By Tim Andersen, MAI. The best neighborhood explanations I have ever read!!

Appraisal Business Tips 

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How Do Driveways Affect Appraised Value?

What’s The Size of Your Driveway?

By Jamie Owen
Excerpt: It really depends on how the appraiser is looking at it. Are they reporting the width of the driveway, the depth, or how many cars can fit on the driveway?
Most appraisers reflect the width of the driveway. Why? For one thing, many lenders prefer the driveway size to be reported this way. This is likely because it is less subjective. For instance, if the appraiser reports the driveway size based upon the number of cars that can fit on it, what kind of automobile are they using for their measurement? After all, a driveway may be able to accommodate a larger number of smaller cars than bigger ones.
Does it affect value? As is the case with nearly every aspect of a home, the answer is, it depends.
For instance, in high-density neighborhoods where street parking is limited, the size of the driveway could make a difference in value. On the other hand, in other high-density neighborhoods, many homeowners may use public transportation. If this is the norm for the neighborhood, the size of the driveway may not have any impact on value.
To read more and see fun animated gif, click here
My comments: Worth reading. Lots of topics are covered. Check out the fun animated gifs, etc.
In San Francisco, for example, off-street parking is at a premium in many neighborhoods. My brother bought a house 25 years ago with no off-street parking (primarily single family homes). I warned him, but he really wanted the house. It was a hassle then, but now, it is very difficult to find parking as many neighbors rent rooms to tenants with cars.
A significant issue with ADUs is where will the car(s) park? Will they take up the neighbors’ on-street parking?
I moved to San Francisco in 1968 and worked in a lab 20 miles away. The closest parking was 2-3 long blocks away when I got home from work. I moved from Tulsa, OK, where there was lots of parking everywhere. I never lived in a place without off-street parking again!
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Humor for Appraisers

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Haunted House Appraisal Adjustments

Inspired by Italy, a Conical Home in Indiana

Excerpt: On the market for $424,900, the home consists of two main silolike buildings with shake conical roofs. Inside the round compound is a total of 3,111 square feet of living space.

The design was inspired by the trulli homes of the Itria Valley in Puglia, Italy. They were typically built from limestone and had conical roofs. The structures were chiefly designed as temporary shelters or storage areas in the 19th century. Today, they endure as charming residences in southern Italy. Back in Indiana, this home’s architect, Evans Woollen, combined details from trulli homes into his design.

“The house is a midcentury version of a 200-year-old village in Italy,” Landrigan says.

To read more and see lots of photos, click here

 

Top Ten Reasons Why It Is Great to be an Appraiser Humor

Appraisal Business Tips 

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Appraising Fixer-Uppers

What About Those Fixer-Uppers?

Insights from a Seasoned Appraiser
By Steven Vehmeier
Excerpt: We’re all familiar with the term “fixer-upper.” For many different reasons, properties can come on the market in less-than-par condition. The degree and cost to cure become an issue to buyers and sellers, and a challenge for appraisers. At some point, it’s no longer “normal market value minus cost to cure equals as-is value.”
The terms “entrepreneurial incentidddve” and “entrepreneurial profit” are typically discussed in terms of investment property, but the principles involved can also be applied to the many fixer-uppers—whether the buyer is a “purely investor type” or an “owner-occupied investor type.” Maybe a couple of new terms should be discussed: “sweat equity incentive” and “sweat equity profit.”
To read more, click here
My comments: Most of my appraisals are for estates (date of death). I have never appraised a home that was ready for sale when the person died: staged, new paint and floor coverings, yards cleaned up, etc. I very seldom have any repair estimates or structural pest control or home inspection report.
I always assume the home is empty of furniture and “broom clean,” which I learned doing lots of REOs in the past. If a home is cluttered with personal stuff, the price will be lower. But, it can be fixed easily and inexpensively. If it is a mess, I tell the executor to call me when it is cleaned out so I can see what the walls, floors, kitchen countertops, etc. look like.  If I can’t see, I disclose this in the appraisal and do my best to figure out a condition estimate.
Very few MLS listings here are not fixed up for sale. I look for “fixer”, “contractor”, “as is”, “handyman”, etc. in the description.

Appraisal Business Tips 

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