Location, Location, Location In Appraisals

What’s Location Got to Do with It?

By Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpts: We’ve all heard the old mantra that real estate is all about “location, location, location.” A perfect example of the importance of location in appraising can be found in The Villages in central Florida.

The development called “The Villages” has seventy-eight communities, each called a “village,” ranging in size from 100 to around 1,500 homes in each. In total, there are somewhere around 140,000 residents, and the home prices in these individual villages range from the low one-hundred thousand up to a couple million. In some cases, villages located near and/or adjacent to each other can vary significantly in price….

An appraiser not familiar with The Villages could easily over-or under-value a property by mixing villages. For example, let’s say the subject is a 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 2,000 square foot home with a two-car garage on a typical sized lot. It would not be hard to find hundreds of homes with similar physical characteristics nearby; however, some might be located in the “wrong” village…

Can we apply this “village” concept to other areas? Are there typically many villages or neighborhoods in and around most major cities? Do the same principles apply in comparable selection and resultant values? Of course, they do!

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My comments: Very interesting “case study.” Tim Andersen soon will have two articles on neighborhoods and what USPAP says in Appraisal Today monthly newsletters.

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What is an Appraisal “Inspection”?

Appraisal Inspection Vs. Home Inspection

Excerpts: Why are these roles often confused? What is an Appraisal “Inspection”?

The root of many misconceptions about the appraisal inspection is the word “inspection” itself. It is true that as part of the appraisal process, the appraiser might perform some sort of onsite quality, condition, and functional utility survey of the property to determine its relevant characteristics and if it meets certain standards. For example, to the general public, the FHA requirements that an appraiser must operate certain systems in the home (plumbing, electrical, HVAC) seems similar to what a licensed home inspector does.

The Oxford Online Dictionary defines inspection as: “Careful examination or scrutiny”

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines inspection as:

“The act of looking at something closely in order to learn more about it, to find problems, etc.; the act of inspecting something”

It’s somewhat of a benign definition, is it not? There’s nothing really scary there, yet many appraisers attempt to avoid confusion, and (potentially) limit their liability, by avoiding use of the word “inspection” entirely. Many appraisers use euphemisms for this term in their appraisal reports, such as “property visit” or “viewing.”

Even FHA got into the euphemism game with the publication of Handbook 4000.1, which went into effect in 2015. The words “inspect” or “inspection” generally do not appear in reference to an appraiser’s obligations. Instead, the words “observe” and “observation” are used.

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My comments: USPAP has never required an inspection. USPAP defines “Personal Inspection” as the following: a physical observation performed to assist in identifying relevant property characteristics in a valuation service.”

The word “inspection” is used in various locations, such as Advisory opinion A02, including Minimal level of Inspection.

The fourth exposure draft for the 2023 version has Section 1: “Review of Requirements about Disclosing a Personal Inspection.” Final comments deadline is today, July 23, 2021.

Revised FHA Handbook 4000.1 effective 9/14/15. Are you ready for the changes? Get the facts!!

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What AMCs Say to Appraisers and How to Respond

What AMCs say to appraisers and How to Respond

By Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpts: A student contacted me with the following dilemma concerning an Appraisal Management Company (AMC) request: “I told the Management Company that I cannot mark the Zoning Compliance as ‘Legal’ if the report is marked “as-is,” because this would not be true for the current “as-is” condition of the subject on the effective date of the appraisal. The AMC insists that as long as I disclose in the addendum that the zoning is currently ‘illegal,’ then I can mark on the first page as ‘Legal.’”

Taking the matter to the source can be accomplished by: 1) personal research of the appropriate documents, which is sometimes faster, or 2) emailing the controlling entity for their official answer. Notice I didn’t say to phone them. I want the answer in writing to pass on to the client/AMC.

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My comment: Some Most Excellent and practical tips!! My bottom-line advice: Fire the AMC! We all know there is always another AMC that is desperate for appraisers today. Now is a good time to shop for one that is easy to work for. You could check in appraisal online groups to see what they say. If they are not competitors, hopefully, you can get some good ideas. Be sure to post your location.

What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review

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What Types of Sales For Appraisals

Arm’s Length or Another Type of Sale? The 7 Sale Types Explained

What types of sales for appraisals

Excerpts: As a real estate appraiser, whether you’re considering the current terms of sale or analyzing previous sales of the subject property or comparable sales, it is imperative to know whether a sale is an arms-length transaction or a different type of sale. Sales due to a job relocation, estate settlement, foreclosure, or divorce may sell for less than the property’s market value.

By knowing the type of sale, you are better able to reconcile a current opinion of market value that falls above or below a current or recent transaction for the subject property.

Here are the seven valid sale types, explained in detail below:

  • REO sale
  • Short sale
  • Court ordered sale
  • Estate sale
  • Relocation sale
  • Non-arm’s length sale
  • Arm’s length sale

To read more, click here

My comment: Worth reviewing. Some good tips, especially for today’s crazy sales market!

Using home’s previous sales in appraisals

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What Should Appraisers Wear?

What Should Appraisers Wear?

Excerpt:

Professional Dress

When we are observing properties, it is important that we dress professionally. If we are doing an appraisal for lending, we are a representative of our client. Although we are not an employee of the client, we do represent them. Often, we are the only person actually seen by participants in the transaction.

Photo above by BBH Singapore on Unsplash

Also, we represent ourselves, our business, so we want to dress professionally. We are professional licensed appraisers performing our work and should look as such. That said, what works for walking around properties, in between bushes, in the mud, etc.?

To read more and add your comments click here

My comments: Very interesting. From a female appraiser perspective, but applies to guys also.

Over my 45 years of appraising, I had differences in what I wear, from very professional (commercial) to casual for protection from bushes, dogs, etc. For residential appraisals, I prefer to keep my clothes from being damaged (heavy pants, strong jacket, collared polo shirts, and very sturdy shoes) from gravel, unknown stuff under weeds in the back yard, etc.). I live in a mild Mediterranean climate, so I don’t do much else except raincoats and a heavier jacket.  I don’t even want to think about snow, slush, and mud!!

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Wearing shoes in a house for appraisal(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Tips on doing appraisals for AMCs

Top 10 Tips for Working with AMCs

Excerpt: 6. Make appointments quickly

Schedule appraisal assignments as you receive them, within 24–48 hours. Many AMCs will score you on this task. If you’re working in a small area, and you get two assignments in one day that are close together, make the appointments. Get them on the books and schedule them as quickly as possible.

7. Update the AMC with any delays

Be sure to update the client if any delays or problems come up during the appraisal process. See item #2 above: Update your order statuses. This will preserve your SLAs with AMCs.

To read all the tips, click here

My comment: Nothing new, but some good reminders. Of course, you may not agree…

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What are Pass through Bedrooms for Appraisals

Pass-through Bedrooms

Excerpts: This may not be a major problem if the house has sufficient bedrooms to match what is typical and expected in the neighborhood. It can have a negative impact on the marketability of the home if this arrangement reduces the number of usable bedrooms from what is typical.
The floor plan layout of a home can have an impact on its market value: The impact on value is determined from market data and how buyers perceive it. Did the home sell for less because it has a different floor plan than what is typical and expected?
The cost to fix can vary: Depending on the current floor plan configuration and the location of the bedroom in relation to other rooms the cost can vary widely and this should be taken into consideration when comparing it to the value added by fixing the problem.
Written for home owners with a good discussion of cost to cure vs. value added.
To read more, click here
For more analysis by Ryan Lundquist (from 2016) of what I often see, click here The image above is from Ryan’s article.
My comments: I have had many discussions with real estate agents and home owners about this issue. The number of bedrooms in a house can be a significant factor in many markets. In my market most homes were built prior to 1940 and have modifications, such as additions, over time. The pass through bedrooms can seldom be fixed. I usually call them “dens”.

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Appraisal Waivers Almost 50% of Fannie/Freddie Loans

An explosion of appraisal waivers. Is that good or bad?

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpts: Appraisal waivers have really exploded in recent years – especially during the pandemic. But how many are there exactly? Let’s look at actual numbers to walk away with some perspective. These stats are from January 2021 from AEI.

  • 47.4% of all Freddie Mac loans had a waiver
  • 44.5% of all Fannie Mae loans had a waiver
  • Waivers are far more common during refinances
  • Only 10-12% of purchases had an appraisal waiver in January
  • Non cash-out refinances have the most waivers (67-69%)
  • The higher your loan-to-value, the lower your chance of a waiver
  • Waivers have seen a dramatic increase during the pandemic

2) Seeing numbers: What real estate professionals experience with appraisal waivers with their clients can really vary. For instance, if you work with FHA borrowers putting very little down, you probably don’t see many waivers, but if you work with conventional buyers putting 30-40% down, you’re going to see more. This is why seeing actual stats is so important.

Read more of Ryan’s comments, see graphs, plus over 25 appraiser comments: click here 

To read the AEI report, click here

My comments: I wrote about this in the February issue of the monthly Appraisal Today. Also included is data on which states are doing the most, and least, alternative appraisals. I spent a lot of time trying to get any statistics from Fannie without success. I knew waivers were going way up, especially for purchases. AEI reports have the analysis

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Fannie says appraisal “forms” are going away

Fannie Mae is Not Developing New Appraisal Forms

By Dustin Harris 

Excerpt: Some of my colleagues have asked me, “What will the new forms look like?” Again, and I know it is a bit nit-picky, but there are no new forms. Rather, the GSEs are developing a cloud-based electronic container that will be used to report our findings rather than filling out a form and sending it in. Weird, I know, but it has its positives.

Currently, an appraiser needs to determine the proper scope of work to know which form is best for the situation. If it is a condo, it is likely a 1073. Single family residence, a 1004 or 2055.

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My comments: Nothing much new, of course. I have been writing about Fannie Modernization in the monthly newsletter and this newsletter for a while. Last week’s weekly newsletter had a brief Fannie Update – mostly the new timeline to 2024.

I also hear that Fannie will require a lot more data with more time required to fill out the online “form.” I can’t wait until we don’t have to decide which form to use! Especially since some “reviewers” and AMCs don’t really understand this.

A good example is how Turbo Tax software works. Instead of looking at every part of your printed tax return, it only shows what is relevant. For example, if you are filing as a single person or married. A single person would not have to look at the single vs. married part of the return.

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Complex Residential Properties for Appraisers

How to Identify a Residential Complex Property

Excerpts: A complex one-to-four family residential property is defined as a property that meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • The property to be appraised is atypical
  • The form of ownership is atypical
  • The market conditions are atypical

“Below we dig a little deeper into each type of complex property outlined above, providing detailed descriptions and examples of properties that would fall under each of the three categories.”

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My comments: This is the best explanation I have read about this issue. All appraisers encounter complex properties. You may or may not decide to accept the assignment. Always check the info you have on the property before accepting the assignment. Or, you find out after starting on the appraisal that it is more complex than you thought. I regularly turn down assignments because it will require more time, or I don’t want to “reinvent the wheel,” as I may never do another like it, etc.

Mortgage lending appraisals are very, very cyclical. When you are very busy, I recommend turning down these assignments to make more money. You will have lots of time during the slow period to accept these assignments.

In ancient history, before AMCs, I often did the tough ones for loyal clients as a favor. AMCs will go down the list, sometimes for days, trying to find an appraiser. One called me yesterday about a mixed-use property that their lender client said was residential. From online information, it looked like commercial on first floor. The issue was highest and best use, of course. I told them I did not know any commercial appraisers who work for AMCs, plus the fee would be over $2,000. You have to know that city’s local zoning regulations, requiring local expertise to determine the highest and best use.

The Bottom Line: Don’t Risk Your Appraisal License if it is too complicated for you!! I get many calls from appraisers having problems. This is always my answer. I have returned fees up to $2,000 after spending lots of hours on the assignment.

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