Value of a Pool

What is a pool worth? It depends.

By Ryan Lundquist June 26, 2024

Excerpts: With and Without Pools (Big Difference)

There’s a huge difference in the stats when we compare homes with and without pools. The properties with pools are larger in square footage and lot size, higher in price, and they’ve taken slightly less time to sell too.

In short, the higher the price, the greater chance there is a pool. This likely has to do with the cost of building a pool, cost of maintaining a pool, and even larger parcels at higher ranges – not to mention buyers at higher price points expecting a pool more often.

The rhythm of pool sales basically follows the pattern we see in the entire market. More sales as the year unfolds, and they typically peak around June. Some smaller areas could be slightly different.

Seriously though, What is a pool worth?

It depends. Different price points and locations come with different expectations. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for the value of a pool. In other words, we can’t just apply one figure to a property because that number isn’t going to make sense everywhere. This is where we have to study the comps. With that said, my observation is pool adjustments have generally gone up since the pandemic as buyers are more in tune with the importance of a backyard. Have you seen that also?

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Check out Ryan’s tables to see his data analysis, which is not difficult to set up.

When I first started appraising in suburban Bay Area cities in the mid-1980s, homes with pools sold for more in some neighborhoods with higher-priced homes. MLS always said a pool was there, which is a good way to check it out. At that time, MLS data analysis was much more limited than it is today. I saw this in a particular neighborhood with very hot summers. This is still the same now.

In contrast, where I live, about 15 miles west, on an island on San Francisco Bay, pools have never been a plus or a minus. Weather is “Mediterranean” weather without hot summers. Often sellers said they would remove the pool, but the buyers never requested it.


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AVM Accuracy?

Bank AVMs Are As Wildly Inaccurate As A Zestimate – But Will Be Regulated As Legitimate Values

By Jonathan Miller

June 24, 2024


  •    AVMs are incredibly inaccurate and are being misused in property valuation
  •    AVMs don’t consider the condition of a home
  •    The mortgage industry’s push toward automation has reduced valuation accuracy

AVM or Automated Valuation Models have been incorrectly seen as the human-less way to value property. The technology has been drifting into mortgage lending reliance for more than a decade because it has been marketed as having the ease of “pushing a button.”

The Zestimate product by Zillow introduced the consumer to the concept nearly twenty years ago…

The recent ruling to regulate the credibility of AVMs by the OCC and FDIC essentially legitimized the use of AVMs in lending. The driver behind this final rule was to eliminate potential bias in valuations by replacing appraisers with AVMS. Yet the Urban Institute study Revisiting Automated Valuation Model Disparities in Majority-Black Neighborhoods said: But even with data improvement and artificial intelligence, we still find evidence that the percentage magnitude of AVM error is greater in majority-Black neighborhoods. This finding indicates that we cannot reject the role historic discrimination has played in the evaluation of home values.

AVM software is built by humans who have inherent biases. The void in representation by the appraisal industry over the past decade on the AVM issue, to talk about those 200 feral cats living in the house being valued, has enabled AVMs to be legitimized by the federal government.

During my career, I have observed that valuation accuracy has become weaker as technology has expanded in the mortgage process. The wiz-bang concept that the appraisal of a property can be completed at the push of a button is missing the realities of valuation.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Worth reading. Miller was involved in AVM history and, as usual, has some very interesting stories plus lots of Zillow comments.

For pro-AVM information from AV Metrics and to see how they test AVM accuracy, Click Here I have been following them for many years.

Miller used to send out a very long post once a week. I often just scrolled fast through most of it to get to the appraisal section, but I missed a lot that was worth reading. Now, he has divided it into daily posts.



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Low Appraisal Fees in 2024

CFPB Crackdown: Unfair Practices Hurting Consumers

This includes Appraisal payments to appraisers by AMCs

by Josh Tucker, June 5, 2024

Comments must be received on or before August 2, 2024

Excerpts: As we all know many AMCs are not paying Customary & Reasonable fee as required by TILA. They have consistently pushed down the pay of Appraisers while making undisclosed profit off consumers and prioritizing cheapest and fastest over quality and competency. The CFPB has been in communication with individuals behind the scenes and are concerned with what has been shown enough to include AMCs in their data collection process.

Now is the time to send them everything we have. To drive legitimate change, we must encourage as many appraisers as possible to submit all relevant information to the contact details provided below.



Request for Information Regarding Fees Imposed in Residential Mortgage Transactions AGENCY: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by Docket No. CFPB-2024-0021, by any of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: . Follow the instructions for submitting comments. NOTE: THE SEARCH WAS NOT WORKING ON JUNE 6. MAY WORK LATER. CAN USE EMAIL.

Email: Include Docket No. CFPB-2024-0021 in the subject line of the message.

Mail / Hand Delivery / Courier: Comment Intake —Residential Mortgage Fees Assessment, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 1700 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20552.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: DO SOMETHING. YOUR VOICE MATTERS. Let CFPB know about the amount of AMC fees for appraisers, plus other problems. In my opinion, AMCs are ruining residential lender appraising. I have never worked for an AMC, but I’ve been appraising for almost 50 years and understand the problems.


Appraisal Fees & Value: Lessons from Picasso & Steinmetz

By “Apex Appraiser” June 3, 2024

The Appraisal Institute has been a source of frustration and criticism within the appraisal profession for quite some time. I must admit that I have also expressed my dissatisfaction with them. Nevertheless, I must acknowledge that the new CEO, Cindy Chance, appears to be a positive change and is making some valuable points about our profession from her new position. In particular, she recently discussed appraisal fees in a piece she wrote.

In this excerpt, she shares two stories that provide valuable insights. These stories, one involving art and the other science, highlight the fact that appraising is a combination of both.

First is the story about a young woman who encountered Pablo Picasso one spring day, in a park, sketching. She begged him to sketch her. He graciously agreed, and following a few moments of study and drawing, handed her a sketch of herself. When she asked what she owed him, Picasso answered “$5,000 madam.” “But it only took you five minutes.” “No, madam, it took me my whole life.”

To read more, plus many appraiser comments, Click Here

My comments: Worth reading, plus the appraisers comments. I have been following CEO Cyndi Chance since she started working for AI. It’s definitely a “breath of fresh air” for the AI!



Appraisers Riding the Waves of Up and Down Mortgage Rates

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ROV (Reconsideration of Value) Changes – FHA and GSEs

ROV (Reconsideration of Value) Changes – FHA and GSEs

GSE Effective date is August 29, 2024
HUD Effective date is September 2, 2024

Editor’s note: This long section includes, In order:

  • McKissock/Dave Bradley post with a good summary including links to HUD and GSE documents.
  • Appraisersblogs with Dave Towne’s opinions plus many appraiser comments.
  • George Dell – his usual very interesting comments.
  • VA’s Tidewater Initiative written in 2021 by McKissock (Similar idea as current ROV changes), effective in 2003.


Changes to ROVs: GSEs and HUD Announce New Reconsideration of Value Policies

By Dave Bradley, McKissock May 2, 2024

Excerpts: On May 1, 2024, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD announced new policies for appraisal reconsiderations of value (ROV). These policies were the result of a collaborative effort between the GSEs, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

These policies are intended to create a consistent framework for lenders to respond to a borrower-initiated reconsideration of value. Within this framework, the lender must include steps for the borrower to appeal an appraisal when they believe the value opinion:

  • is unsupported;
  • is deficient due to unacceptable appraisal practices; or
  • reflects discriminatory practices.

Freddie Mac’s Bulletin, announcing the new policy, states:

“Freddie Mac, in collaboration with Fannie Mae and HUD, is implementing requirements related to reconsideration of value (ROV) that promote consistency when a perceived appraisal issue and/or appraisal deficiency exists. These requirements also recognize the importance of the Borrower having the knowledge and opportunity to request an ROV.”

Several sections of HUD Handbook 4000.1 have been amended to reflect HUD’s new ROV policy.

For appraisers, Section II.D.2. of the Handbook creates new general requirements for appraisers. This section states, in part:

“In the event that the underwriter requests a Reconsideration of Value (ROV) and provides additional information material to the value of the Property, the Appraiser must: review all information and market data received from the underwriter;

and summarize the analysis of all information provided by the underwriter within a revised version of the appraisal report regardless of whether the Appraiser determines that changes are not needed to address the issues identified in the ROV.”

To read more plus get links to FHA/GSE documents, Click Here

My comments: If you do GSE or FHA appraisals, read this post, plus the links to the documents. Many appraisers will probably not like it, but will like to have a standardized ROV method. I have never done an “official” ROV for a lender, but I did not like any lender clients objecting to my values.


Low Value = Material Deficiencies? New FHA ROV Policy

By Dave Towne, May 3, 2024

Excerpts: Up until recently, there has never been a standardized policy for mortgage loan related Reconsideration of Value (ROV) requests after an appraisal has been submitted. Now there is, per the attached PDF HUD/FHA mortgage letter. The GSE’s have similar policies.

I’m not opposed to having a standardized ROV policy. However, these policies are in keeping with the new initiatives surrounding alleged and often unproved appraisal bias and discrimination claims.

But when one reads deeper into the reason for implementing these procedures, it is quickly evident that actually it’s focused on the perception that the appraised VALUE is wrong.

This is the statement in the HUD/FHA ML-2024-07: “This included guidance to improve the established process by which FHA program participants may request an ROV if the initial valuation is lower than expected.”

OK, so who exactly decided the value should be HIGHER than what the appraiser reported, before an appraisal was ordered? Was it the borrower? The mortgage loan officer handling the loan? A Zillow Zestimate? Maybe the underwriter at the lender?

The document also mentions many times the words “material deficiencies” in the appraisal report, which can trigger an ROV request.

My comments: I find this post’s appraiser comments most interesting, especially those from VA appraisers who have been required to use the VA’s Tidewater Initiative, which started in 2003. It was and is controversial. See the last article in this list for more info on Tidewater.

To read more, Click Here

Row, Row, Row, Part 1

By George Dell May 8, 2024

Excerpts: A better ROV! Please reconsider the direction of your boat. Try this this bigger oar. And use it only on the right side of the boat.

Appraisers have long been asked to “reconsider” their opinion. Now we have a more official “standardized process” which affects appraisers, lenders, AMCs, GSEs, and of course, the borrower.

On quick review, I see some unintended consequences, as well as some which have been anticipated. The anticipation includes the additional burden on lenders as well as appraisers. There is administrative time involved, as well as legal factors. Also, the burden on borrowers appears greater than before, including detail and reason.

First, the burden on borrowers. They start the row. Borrowers must believe the opinion of value is:

And regardless of the impact on borrowers and appraisers, the Fannie Mae Selling Guide is almost entirely focused on the responsibilities of the lender.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Short and worth reading.


The first “official” ROVs – VA’s Tidewater Initiative in 2003: What VA Appraisers Need to Know

By McKissock, January 8, 2021

Excerpts: The VA has a unique set of protocols, known as the Tidewater Initiative, that a VA appraiser must follow when he or she expects the appraised value of a property is going to be lower than its contract price.

This program, often known simply as “Tidewater,” initiated in—you guessed it—the Tidewater area of Virginia (i.e., the Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach areas). It initially began as a test program in the early 2000s and was expanded to all areas of the country in 2003, as a result of VA Circular 26-03-11. This initiative was subsequently reaffirmed in the issuance of VA Circular 26-17-18 in July 2017.

If it appears to a VA appraiser that the appraised value of a property is going to come in below the pending sales price, the appraiser must contact the designated point of contact (POC) party that is specified in the appraisal order.

The appraiser is not supposed to discuss the contents of the appraisal with the POC at this point, except to explain they are asking for whatever additional information the POC may be able to provide…

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Read this Tidewater post to see why the current changes are not new. There was a precedent. I never did VA appraisals, so can’t speak from Tidewater experience. But, I remember it was very controversial when it started. Many appraisers complained about it. I was contacted many years ago by the VA to get on their panel, but I declined as the property values were way above VA limits where I lived.



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Non-Arms Length Sales for Appraisers

What Does Arm’s Length Mean in Real Estate?

The 7 Sale Types Explained

Excerpts: An arm’s length sale – a sale in which the buyers and sellers act independently and in their own self-interest is the most common type of real estate transaction. However, there are six other types of real estate transactions that you need to know about so you can specify these sale types in your appraisal report as they can affect the market value of the property.

A non-arm’s length sale in real estate is a transaction between a seller and buyer who have a connection by marriage, family, work, etc. Because of their relationship, each party may not be acting in their own best interests. Therefore, the final price may not reflect the market value of the property.

The type of sale can provide some clarity into whether the transaction was (or currently is) an arm’s length transaction, whether a comparable sale should be used, or whether an adjustment is warranted for the terms of sale for a comparable. 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.

For appraisals required to be Uniform Appraisal Dataset (UAD) compliant, you must indicate the type of sale for the transaction. You may report any other relevant information regarding the sale type in the appraisal report, including whether more than one sale type applies.

Non-arms length sales include: REO, Foreclosure, short sale, court ordered sale, estate sale and relocation sale.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: We all see comps that seem to sell below market. This post’s information can be very helpful in explaining why. It’s a good discussion of this topic.

I have done a lot of estate appraisals. Some estate sales occur when the beneficiaries just want to get rid of the property and don’t want to fix it up for sale. I always tell them that the sales price will be reduced.

I have also done many relocation appraisals, done before the home is listed. You are “graded” on how close you come to the sales price. I sometimes see low sales for various reasons.

What should appraisers look for in a sales contract?

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Why Appraisal Workfiles Are Important

Why an Organized Workfile is Your Best Defense

By Craig Capilla

Excerpts: We all know that the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) set the baseline for what must be included in a workfile. We’ve all also heard ad nauseum that USPAP is a minimum standard. Still, all too many appraisers seek only to meet that minimum standard and little more. That’s where the trouble begins. Particularly when speaking about the workfile, for my money, the most dangerous words in USPAP are “or references to the location(s) of such other data, information, and documentation.” There it is, right there in plain English: USPAP permits appraisers to maintain a reference to the data, information, and documentation considered as a part of the assignment, and the appraiser is NOT obligated to keep a contemporaneous copy of those items.

That minimum standard is all well and fine until one day many months later, when an enforcement agency demands that the appraiser produce that information, usually on a tight timeline, and the information is no longer available or the source now shows different information than what was available at the time of the assignment.

Believe me when I tell you that it is not a good feeling when a regulator asks you to explain why you didn’t consider a particular piece of information, and you cannot summon an answer. Similarly, there are few things more liberating than producing a document that shows the information you are being asked about was not available to you at the time you performed the assignment. I’ve seen this happen. Systems fail. MLS aggregators have software glitches. Public record updates at its own pace. And sometimes, that one crucial piece of information isn’t there anymore when you need it.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: The article also discusses bias. Capilla is an attorney who defends appraisers. Newer appraisers are lucky. Scanning work files is easy. I started appraising before the Internet and easy scanning and filing. My office and home garage are filled up with paper files! I have PDF copies of all the appraisals I have done as a fee appraiser on my main computer, except those done before PDFs were available.

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Functional Obsolescence in Appraisals

Functional Obsolescence Can Be Challenging

By McKissock

Excerpts: For appraisers, functional obsolescence can be a challenging concept because the elements that influence property values may not be obvious or immediately apparent. To help you better understand what it means and how to pinpoint it, we’re exploring some examples, the different types of functional obsolescence, and how it can influence property values.

Additionally, we’re sharing insights from appraisers who answered our survey question, “When dealing with functional obsolescence in real property appraisal, what aspect do you find most challenging?”

Topics include:

  • Types of functional obsolescence
  • Curable obsolescence
  • Incurable obsolescence
  • Superadequacy

What aspects of functional obsolescence do appraisers find most challenging? We asked our appraisal community, “When dealing with functional obsolescence in real property appraisal, what aspect do you find most challenging?”

The top two answers were “supporting adjustments for it” and “finding comparable properties with similar obsolescence.” Here are the full survey results, followed by comments from appraisers who shared further insights into these two common challenges related to functional obsolescence:

Supporting adjustments: 46%

Finding comps: 33%

Sample appraiser comments:

“Functional obsolescence is not a searchable criterion in any MLS database I’ve found. The ability to find a credible impact on other homes repeatedly is an anomaly. So, I may be able to generate a factor or dollar difference but having only one comp to determine with leaves you deciding on credibility or making no deduction if you don’t feel it’s a credible adjustment.”

To read more, Click Here

My comments: We all encounter Functional Obsolescence when appraising. The blog post is well-written and understandable. It is worth reading the full blog post and the appraisers’ comments. Plus, the explanations about functional obsolescence are good reminders.

Functional Obsolescence for Appraisers

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How to select appraisal comps

Dos and Don’ts of Selecting Appraisal Comps

Excerpts: Follow these dos and don’ts to help ensure that relevant comparable sales are established:

Here are a few topics

  • Do welcome relevant comparable sales from real estate agents
  • Don’t limit the number of comparable sales to three
  • Do consider objective characteristics when selecting competing neighborhoods

Don’t use appraisal comps based on price

As an appraiser, you must provide an unbiased opinion of value. Selecting comparable properties based on price may inadvertently favor properties within a predetermined price range, rather than those genuinely similar to the subject property in terms of location, size, condition, and other relevant characteristics. To maintain objectivity and credibility, you should evaluate sales based on criteria that most accurately reflect comparability, rather than focusing on price.

Do focus on characteristics of the property

Identify properties with comparable square footage (including finished basements), number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lot size, view (e.g., waterfront), and amenities. Prioritize features that are highly sought-after in the property type and market. For instance, in the subject’s market, a mountain view could significantly impact the demand and marketability of a vacation condominium home.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Worth reading. Good analysis of factors in comp selection.

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How To Appraise Rural Properties

How To Appraise Rural Properties

Excerpts: Appraising residential properties in rural areas can be both challenging and rewarding. Unlike the standardized expectations of urban and suburban properties, rural properties often present unique characteristics that require a nuanced approach to valuation. Whether you’re a seasoned appraiser or new to the field, having a better understanding of rural properties is essential for providing credible appraisals. In this guide, we’ll explore what defines a rural property, the challenges appraisers face, reasons for conducting rural appraisals, strategies for finding comparables, and tips for writing a compliant appraisal report.

  • Defining rural properties – USDA and GSEs
  • Challenges of appraising rural properties
  • Appraising rural properties presents unique challenges due to their diverse characteristics and market dynamics.

Topics include:

  • Diverse property types and uses
  • Unique property characteristics
  • Limited market activity and more
  • Writing your rural property appraisal report – good ideas

To read more, click here

My comments: Worth reading, if only to find out about rural appraising. Well written. There are relatively few residential lender appraisals available now. This is an excellent diversification opportunity, with little competition from other appraisers or the GSEs use of other ways to get a value without human appraisers.

What if there are few rural areas near you?

You can expand your area to include rural appraisals to get more business.

When I worked for a northern California assessor’s office with rural areas I learned a lot about almond growing (the main crop) and other ag topics. It is not hard to learn the valuation factors. I had niece who had several horses for many years where she lived. There are equestrian facilities within 5 miles from my house in Oakland hills and in farther out Bay Area cities with larger lots. You may have some similar rural experience now!

The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers has a specialty in Rural Appraising, but it requires a Certified General. There may be seminars available. Another reason for upgrading!

Urban, Suburban, Rural in Appraisals

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Remove all bathtubs from home?

Is it a problem to remove all bathtubs in a house?

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpts: I’ve been asked this question twice this week. Is it a problem to remove the tubs from each bathroom? People planning a remodel asked if it was a big deal or not to only have a walk-in shower in each bathroom. Here are my thoughts, and I really want to hear from you too. Anything to add?

It’s not a black and white answer: There’s not one black-and-white answer that applies to every house, price range, location, or market. Bottom line. But backing up, part of the fun of working in real estate is figuring out how to answer questions like this in a way that is balanced and hopefully reflective of the sentiment in the marketplace.

Other topics include:

  • It’s never just about resale value
  • 55+ communities
  • Splitting hairs to prove an adjustment

To read more, including Ryan’s many comments, fun images and graphics, his Twitter X and Instagram surveys, plus 50+ comments, Click Here

My comments: This is the only analysis I have ever seen about this appraisal topic and it is great! I started appraising in 1975 and this was an issue then, continuing today.

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