Basement Issues and Values

Understanding Basement Contributory Value

By Jo Traut

Excerpts: Determining how a basement contributes to a residential property’s value requires an appraiser to determine what type of basement the home has, its level of finishing, and take into account common concerns, like evidence of mold or signs of structural concern.

By following best practices, including separating the basement from the above-grade finished area, understanding the intended use of the space, and completing comprehensive research, you can evaluate the basement’s contributory value more accurately.

Topics

  • Know your basic basement types
  • How is the basement finished? Determining levels
  • Best practices when appraising a basement
  • Know the intended use and client requirements
  • Common problems in basements
  • Environmental hazards: One of the most significant issues appraisers run into is mold.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: This is one of the best discussions of basements I have read. It is worth reading. In my area, there are few fully underground basements, as we have a mild climate. Most homes were built prior to 1930, and there are many types of “basements.” They are not easy to determine added value, if any. I research, check with agents, check permit histories, try to get comps with the same type of basement, etc. The type and level of finish are critical.

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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 www.asfmra.org 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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2024 USPAP For Appraisers

2024 USPAP

Source: Appraisal Foundation

The 2024 Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice is now available for purchase in physical and digital formats.

This year, for the first time, you can purchase just the book of USPAP standards for $35. This covers all Definitions, Rules, and Standards.

We also have a new product launching this year. All Advisory Opinions, Frequently Asked Questions and the recently launched Reference Manual will now be part of a standalone publication called the 2024 USPAP Guidance and Reference Manual.

This change reflects the maturation of USPAP, resulting in longer effective dates. The ASB will continue to review USPAP for changes when necessary but will shift much of its focus to providing more guidance to the marketplace. Appraisers can now buy one set of USPAP standards and keep that publication on their bookshelf for as long as that edition is effective and purchase just the Guidance and Reference Manual as needed for coursework and updates.

If you like having the USPAP standards and guidance material linked, we still have you covered. You can also purchase a linked digital version of the eUSPAP and Guidance and Reference Manual and get seamless access across both documents.

To read the full letter, click here

My comments: USPAP 2024 is effective January 1, 2024. I’ve been waiting for a very long time for longer than 2 years between effective dates. Also, there is no ending date for the 2024 version.

When USPAP started, it was very exciting as appraisers had to decide what needed to be changed or added. Lots of people wanted to be on the ASB. Over time, I quit following the updates as there were few significant changes.

2024-2025 USPAP 7-Hour Update Course is being approved or is approved, in the states. I assume a new class will be required every two years in the future. Gotta keep that money coming into the Appraisal Foundation, I guess…

I really hated the classes when there was not much to say except a rehash of the past. I taught USPAP before the ASB told you what to teach. It was my favorite class as we could focus on issues in our current market. Of course, now there is appraiser discrimination, the current hot topic. Personally, I think there is very, very little intentional discrimination by appraisers, compared with the intentional discrimination by lenders (and others). “Red Lining” still exists, some are in the same locations.

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NAR Member Survey on Appraisal Data Collectors

NAR  Member Survey on Data Collectors

Excerpts: In May 2023, NAR surveyed its members pertaining to data collectors in the appraisal process. Here are a few of the many survey results.

Survey respondents

Sales agents accounted for the largest proportion, with 45% of participants holding this license. Brokers followed with 24%, and appraisal-certified professionals comprised 14% of the respondents. Broker-Associates and Appraisal Licensees accounted for 13% and two percent, respectively, while the remaining two percent reported holding other types of real estate licenses.

According to the survey responses, the majority of participants (76%) perceive the quality of property data collected by data collectors to be lower than that collected by appraisers themselves. Conversely, 23% of respondents believe that the quality of data collected by data collectors is comparable to that of appraisers.

The survey findings indicate that 30% of respondents reported that a data collector had given them the impression that they were the appraiser or had a role other than merely collecting property data.

Fifty-one percent of respondents expressed safety concerns with the data collection process.

To read more, click here

My comments: Now we know what NAR members think about it. Not very positive. I was surprised at how negative they were. Read the full report. Very interesting. I am working on an article on Hybrid Appraisals for the November issue of Appraisal Today. To me, the big issue is who is doing the inspections. Only appraisers do the appraisals. I see very different levels of inspectors.

Before Covid, I talked with various AMC upper-level managers who were testing it. What they were doing about inspectors had a wide range. They included appraisers, real estate agents, and someone with a week, a month, or online video training. They should definitely not be paid the same. An AMC can offer different levels to their clients, depending on how much reliability their lender customers want or need.

On a more positive side, I have done thousands of drive by appraisals since 1986. I drove by the house and looked at what was nearby, etc. For example, I’m appraising a Victorian built before 1910. There is no way to know what the inside looks like or the foundation (many are brick). Using MLS photos is a joke, as real estate agents don’t take photos of defects. A buyer gets a seller’s disclosure statement for that information. I would be more comfortable if someone used an app that was set up to take specific photos, do floor plan, etc. At least I would have some independent photos.

Data Collectors: Appraisers vs. Uber Drivers

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NAR Appraiser Survey July, 2023

NAR Appraiser Survey July, 2023

In July 2023, NAR Research conducted a survey of all 9,800 appraiser members and 50,000 randomly-selected residential-focused non-appraiser members.

The survey results had a comparison of 2022 and 2023, which was very interesting.

  • Appraiser Topics
  • Greatest challenges in business
  • Lesser challenges with business
  • Valuations
  • Comfort with valuation tools
  • Radius in which appraisals are conducted
  • Radius by area type (rural, small town, urban, resort, suburban)
  • How often asked to conduct appraisals outside geographic area/Property type of expertise

Sample: Greatest challenges in business

(AMCs) in general among their greatest challenges. This year, this option was broken into three separate AMC-related issues. Forty-four percent cite at least one of these, with 28 percent specifically citing AMC requests for revisions.

This year, however, the single greatest challenge, cited by almost half (47 percent), is “fee pressures,” which, based on comments, is also related in many cases to pressure from AMCs. This is up sharply from 27 percent last year.

One-quarter (26 percent) cite technology fees (not an option in 2022). Appraisers are less likely this year to cite expanding regulations/interpretations of regulations, lender requirements, pressure from real estate agents/brokers, and liability concerns.

The 21 percent who cite other challenges are most likely to cite lack of business/slow market, rising interest rates, low fees, and to reiterate pressure from AMCs.

A very good graphic is included for each section.

To read the report, click here

My comments: Read the appraiser sections in the long report. Fortunately, appraiser results are in the first section. I read the full survey. Most of the questions were for all NAR members, both appraisers and non-appraiser members. Some may be of interest to you. Much of the appraiser results were what we already sort of suspected, but it is good to see actual survey results.

NAR Appraisal Survey 2022

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Appraising Airbnb Properties

Problems When Appraising Airbnb & VRBO Properties

by Richard Hagar, SRA

Excerpts: Residential appraisers are being asked to appraise these properties, along with their elevated income, as “typical” residential properties. These requests involve homes in numerous vacation spots ranging from Sedona, San Diego, Montana, Lake Tahoe, to Miami, New York, Seattle, New England, and every vacation spot in between.

Appraisers are being told by their AMC clients and loan officers to appraise these as residential properties. They are told it’s fine to use the total yearly income and “simply divide by 12” to produce a monthly income that can be used to value these places using a Gross Rent Multiplier (GRM). But is it really that simple? Short answer—no. Long answer—it’s complicated.

First of all, the value of an STR has three major components:

1) the real estate,

2) personal property, and

3) the business.

The business side includes replacing worn out or damaged furniture, window coverings, bedspreads, towels, the property’s internet listings, credit card processing, weekly cleaning, and daily management decisions involved with running the STR business. On top of that, what if the credit card is stolen and the last party animal damaged the house or fell off the deck and wants to sue the owner for a defective deck railing? STRs are far more than real estate; they include a business also known as a “growing concern” or intangible property.

To read more, click here

My comments: If you want to know more, before (or after) accepting an Airbnb appraisal, definitely read this article. The article is one of the best I have read, and includes many of the AMC, USPAP, GSE, etc. issues. The article has a link to Richard’s webinar on the topic. I have known Richard Hagar for many years. He is one of my go-to appraisers for these types of issues. He is an excellent teacher. Taking his classes is definitely worth the time.

Residential Appraisals and Airbnb Income?

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ChatGPT for Appraisers

ChatGPT: Valuable Tool or a Replacement for Real Estate Appraisers?

by Dustin Harris, The Appraiser Coach

Excerpts: ChatGPT: A Game-Changer for Appraisal Work

For those who have embraced it, ChatGPT has been transforming multiple aspects of appraisal work, such as:

Appraisal Work:

  • Writing narrative
  • Market analysis
  • Market-specific information
  • Descriptions of adjustments
  • Terminology
  • ResearchMarketing:
  • Creating lists
  •  Writing emails and messages to current and potential clients
  • Crafting blogs
  • Strategizing networking and relationship development
  • Writing presentations for ‘lunch and learn’ events with real estate agents
  • Crafting the perfect apology letter when you upset a key loan officer in your small town
  • To read lots more, click here
  • My comments: Many thanks to Dustin for writing this article! I have not had time to use it, but have been reading and watching demos about how it can be used for appraisers for awhile. It definitely can be very useful, as Dustin explains. It can be tricky at first to use, but Dustin explains it.

I recently had to renew my California Driver’s license, as I am over 70 and had to do a written exam and eye test. I had difficulty setting up an appointment and clicked on “Chatbot”. It was much friendlier than any other Chat support I have used. I recognized the use of software similar to ChatGPT.

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Appraiser Liability Risks

This Is Where Appraisal Liability Risks Lie (Plus Tips on How to Avoid Them)

By: McKissock

Excerpts: While it’s difficult for a litigant to win a judgment against an appraiser, that doesn’t spare appraisers the inconvenience of being sued, which can be costly, time-consuming, and harmful to one’s reputation even if the suit fails.

Attorney Peter Christensen, general counsel at the Christensen Law Firm in Bozeman, Montana, notes that lawsuits against individual residential appraisers, or small residential AMCs, are fairly rare, and successful suits rarer still. However, it’s a good idea to know where the risks lie—and how to avoid them.

Topics include:

  • USPAP and state laws
  • Types of lawsuits brought to appraisers
  • Disclosures and disclaimers to reduce appraisal liability risks

To read more, click here

My comments: Peter Christensen is very knowledgeable. Well written, short, and worth reading. As we all (should) know, any person or company. can sue you for any reason at any time.!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on AVMs and AI, good appraisal book,  Real estate market, Fannie, non-lender appraisals, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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Appraising Solar Panels

Appraising Solar Panels

By Mark Buhler

Excerpts: You drive up to the property. There they are, on the roof: those shiny black rectangles that are just about to turn a simple assignment into a headache. What to do? Put the car in reverse and slowly back away? Call the client and have them re-assign the order?

Those are certainly options. But in today’s tight market, with orders as scarce as hens’ teeth, let’s explore some other approaches to solving this problem.

First: How do appraisers value any amenity of a property?

Appraisal 101 would suggest the matched pairs analysis. So our first task is to find a property with solar panels that’s similar to the subject.

That search quickly comes to a screeching halt. (I can almost smell the brake dust.) There are no comps with solar panels in the area. So when we type the report, a comment like this might slip past the reviewer and underwriter: “A thorough search of the subject’s marketing area revealed a scarcity of sales comparables with solar panels.”

So far, so good. Now let’s continue with that reasoning: “Due to a lack of comparables with solar panels, no contributory value can be extracted.”

This supports a zero (0) adjustment, right?

Well … maybe. A savvy underwriter or reviewer might wonder why the appraiser didn’t consider the cost and income approaches…

To read more click here

My comments: Good, practical advice. The article is worth reading. Solar for homes is everywhere now. I recently spoke with Mark. I asked some technical questions about financing solar and electric companies lowering what they pay to homeowners with solar. He knew everything! Taking a webinar or class from him is definitely worth the price. He has been teaching the classes for a long time.

Complex Residential Properties for Appraisers

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Appraising Fixer Uppers

Appraising Fixer Uppers

Excerpts: 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 becomes 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 incentive” 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 new terms should be discussed: “sweat equity incentive” and “sweat equity profit.”

The rest of the post is a very good case study

To read more, click here

My comments: I have appraised many fixer-uppers. My overall ratings are: Unlivable with holes in wall or ceiling, kitchen, and bath not functional, not lendable, etc. ) In my MLS “contractor special” is often used.  Liveable: needs work but functional kitchen and bath.

Most of my appraisals are for estates, and fixers are relatively common. There are few comps as almost all homes are fixed up for sale. There are some good ideas in this post. Even if you have comps, there is often a very wide range of conditions.

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