Fact Witness vs. Expert Witness Appraisers

Excerpts: When a real estate appraiser is called to testify in a court, it could be as one of two types of witnesses. If you are called to testify as an appraiser, it’s important to determine at the time of the request which of the two types you will be: fact witness or expert witness appraisers.

A fact witness is one who testifies only to that of which he or she has firsthand knowledge and who describes only facts (as opposed to expressing opinions). There is no formal definition of a fact witness….

As an expert witness appraiser, you are allowed to express opinions. In fact, your opinions are the very reason for your testimony. The opinions are to be based on the expertise afforded by “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge.”

Short and well written. Includes legal references. To read more, click here

My comments: This is a never-ending hot issue for many appraisers. They don’t understand the difference. The difference is you get paid a minimal fee as a fact witness (similar to a witness of an auto accident, for example). As an expert witness, you are paid very well for prep for expert witness testimony, depositions, waiting outside the courtroom, and testifying. I have written about this in my paid Appraisal Today newsletter.

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Common Appraiser Violations

Two of the common appraiser violations – Use of inappropriate sales and Use of unsupported site value

Excerpt: When it comes to common appraisal violations, certain minor violations are very common. In this article, I outline several examples of less serious breaches of development STANDARD 1 and reporting STANDARD 2—and a few other types of violations, too. I have compiled these based on many years of personal experience in appraisal regulation, as well as feedback I have received from other states’ enforcement agencies. Once you’re aware of these common mishaps, you should be able to avoid them more easily.

1. Use of inappropriate sales

One of the big problems is the use of inappropriate sales in a sales comparison approach….

2. Use of unsupported site value

Another common violation is the use of unsupported site value in the cost approach. That’s something that a lot of boards have cited as a prevalent deficiency or shortcoming in appraisal reports.

To read more click here

My comment: useful information. Nothing new, but good reminders. Don’t get the “violation letter” from your state board!!

Appraisal Process Challenges(Opens in a new browser tab)

Appraising Weird Stuff is Challenging!(Opens in a new browser tab)

What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Appraisal Process Challenges

The Most Challenging Part of the Appraisal Process

Appraisal Process Challenges
Excerpts: Number 1: Data analysis (34%)

“When comps are limited, or when sales prices vary by as much as 50% for what appear to be very similar properties in the same neighborhood (which seems to be more and more common in the Denver metro area), selecting the best comparable properties can be a very time consuming and stressful process.”

Number 2. Site value opinion (17%)

“I choose ‘Site Value Opinion’ as the most challenging since there are very few vacant land sales in the areas that I appraise in. With very few sales, it’s very difficult to provide an opinion of value for many sites.”

To read more comments from appraisers and the other 7 challenging parts of the appraisal process click here

My comment: Lots of good appraiser comments. Data Analysis is my number one choice also. Tract homes are sorta boring but can be a welcome break from all the non-tract homes I appraise. Also, with Covid, I don’t connect with real estate agents every week at open houses to find out what is happening (behind the data).

Appraising Weird Stuff is Challenging!(Opens in a new browser tab)

Common Appraiser Violations(Opens in a new browser tab)

What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Which Appraisal Clients are used the most?

Survey: Which Appraisal Clients Make Up the Majority of Your Client Base?

Excerpt: What types of clients do property appraisers serve? Do most of their assignments come from lenders vs. non-lenders? To help answer these questions, we recently asked our real estate appraisal community, “What type of appraisal client makes up the majority of your client base?” Or, which Appraisal Clients are used the most?

While most appraisers said that the majority of their work comes from lenders (most often through AMCs), some said the bulk of their client base is made up of other types of appraisal clients, such as attorneys or private individuals.

To read the results and appraiser comments click here

Marketing and Management Tips for Appraisers

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Defiant vs. Compliant Appraisers?

Excerpt: Believe or don’t believe. Is there a parallel between appraisals and how people respond to pandemic warnings? Defiant vs. Compliant Appraisers?

Appraisal reviewers decide whether an appraisal is “worthy of belief” (“credible”) or not. Similarly, people decide whether to believe in the need for public health orders.

Steven Dinkin (president of the National Conflict Resolution Center) recently had some observations on the public’s response to the pandemic, dividing people into two groups: defiant or compliant. What is interesting is that each group has a belief that their thinking is the right thinking. Their opinion is the right opinion.

Let’s look first at the “defiants.” Some of these are defiant out of economic necessity – money. The need to eat can trump health risk. (Especially if the health risk is to other nameless strangers. “They have to take care of themselves.”) Guess what – food on the table comes first…

To read more, click here

My comment: I see a lot of appraiser comments online on both sides of controversial issues, including sometimes “sharp words”. Fortunately, almost all online appraisal places I go are moderated. Very negative or “flaming” posts are deleted. Sometimes appraisers are removed from the group after a few warnings.

The June issue of the monthly Paid Appraisal Today will have an article on this topic: “How to connect with appraisers online. What’s the best way for you?” I last wrote about this in January 2018. There have been a lot of changes since then!!

George Dell had a much longer article in the May issue of the Paid Appraisal Today.

Strange Appraisal Terms(Opens in a new browser tab)Humor

What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review(Opens in a new browser tab)

Which Appraisal Clients are used the most?(Opens in a new browser tab)

To read lots more in this appraisal post, click read more below!!

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Urban, Suburban, Rural in Appraisals

Urban, Suburban, Rural?

By Tim Andersen, MAI

Excerpt: QUESTION: Can you help me to understand the differences between urban, suburban, and rural? Where I live and work, everything is essentially one big megalopolis for 30 miles in every direction. Therefore, in my reports, I tend to refer to everything as suburban. A reviewer called me on this, but I can’t figure out why. Please set me straight.

ANSWER: At one time, a location was urban if there were high-rise office buildings and no houses close by, suburban if there were merely low-rise office buildings and many houses nearby, and rural if there were no office buildings and lots of farms, ranches, and vacant land close by. However, that was back in the day, so we need new definitions….

To read more, click here

My comment: This is a tricky issue. This post has some good tips. Tim is a regular contributor to the paid Appraisal Today with much longer articles, focusing on USPAP, lender appraising, state board complaints, etc. He reviews lots of lender form appraisals and wants to help appraisers write better reports. More info at https://theappraisersadvocate.com/

10-20 UPDATE: For lots of Covid analysis and news, go to my new covidscienceblog.com

Appraisal Humor

Appraisal business tips

What’s the appraisal definition for suburban?(Opens in a new browser tab)

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6 Reasons Appraisers Are NOT Needed

Appraisers Are NOT Needed???

Excerpt: You can buy a car in little to no time so why not a house? Over the years I have heard that the home buying process is too long. There are too many headaches for buyers and the process should be easier.

We are in a microwave society and everybody wants things instantly. This should, of course, carry over to the home buying process, right?

A house is probably the most expensive purchase people will ever make but that doesn’t mean that the process needs to consume your entire life, right? The appraiser just adds to the stumbling block that most home buyers face in getting into the house of their dreams. Today I am going to discuss 6 reasons that appraisers are not needed (wink, wink) in the home buying process.

Written for home buyers but good explanations for appraisers to use.

To read more click here

My comment: I have appraised many apartment properties. 2-4 unit properties are more difficult to appraise than a 60 unit apartment building, which I appraised recently! Owner occupants, motivations, etc. are big issues. 4 units are the most difficult.

My city has had rent control, which keeps getting stricter, for 4 years. CA recently passed rent control for the state. Must use actual, not market, rents in appraisals. Very, very difficult to appraise. 3 weeks ago I decided not to do them any more.

But, last week a family was thinking about selling their 4 unit property. I pre-screened them. If it had low rents, I don’t know who would buy it. Fortunately the rents were around 80% of market. They wanted to know if it was good time to sell. I told them I would let them know, then do the appraisal. Not a good market now.

I met one of the owners this week at the inspection. He brought a copy of the 2005 date of death appraisal and asked for an “update” or an “evaluation”, for a lower fee, which his sisters requested. I told him I could not do it and did not know any licensed appraiser who would do it. And told him to use a local real estate agent for free. I doubt if they would recommend not listing now as I speak with them regularly at open houses.

Appraisal Humor

Appraisal business tips

Top Ten Reasons Why It Is Great to be an Appraiser Humor(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Tax records and Square Footage in Appraisals

13516718 – white wood texture with natural patterns

Tax Records is not the definitive source for square footage!

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpt:

Why is the appraiser saying it’s only 1,400 sq ft? Tax Records shows the home is 600 sq ft larger. This issue comes up ALL the time, so let’s talk about it. Tax records and Square Footage in Appraisals is a hot topic.

The truth: The Assessor’s records are generally reliable, but I’m just saying sometimes they’re not. Why is this? At times it’s as simple as the original builder not turning in accurate information when a house was built. Or maybe an owner took out permits but official records were never updated. Of course we’ve all seen instances where the tax roll shows two units on one lot, but there’s really just one house nowadays. Let’s not forget sometimes owners do an addition without permits, so the Assessor might actually be correct even though the house is technically larger or has even sold on MLS as a larger home. For reference, here are ten reasons why an appraiser’s sketch might be different.

For lots of comments and more info, click here

My comment: This one of the main reasons that AVMs will never be very successful for all homes. Over and over again, statistical analysis shows GLA is the most important physical feature overall.

Also, how bedrooms are determined varies a lot, depending on the local market and can vary over time. The assessor number of bedrooms may not match the appraiser’s. For example, tandem rooms. Finished basements can vary also.

I started appraising at a CA assessor’s office in 1976. In CA, State Board of Equalization regulated county assessors offices, so the procedures and terminology are very similar all over the state. However, GLA from the assessor may have different requirements than other sources, such as ANSI.

Proposition 13 passed in 1979, which only allowed an annual 2% increase in assessment per year, unless there was a sale or improvements (determined by permits). Over time, the information has become more and more out of date.

Data is not available for smaller counties if the assessor says it is confidential. Until the 90s, my county did not release any data, so I had to “guesstimate” on square footage for sales and listings. We finally got it when an MAI was elected assessor.

In the early 90s, I researched assessors records around the country. In some small rural counties the records were kept at the assessor’s home. They were not digitized and available for purchase by data companies.

Appraisers need to know which areas are not accurate. Sometimes GLA is “political”. Within a city, accuracy can vary. In my city the least accurate records are in the “Gold Coast” with many of the city’s larger, historic homes. In other nearby cities, some properties have low GLAs to keep the property taxes lower.

Appraisal Humor

Appraisal business tips

What is Included in Appraisal Square Footage?(Opens in a new browser tab)

How accurate is the reported square footage from the tax records in your primary service area?(Opens in a new browser tab)

10 reasons why public records and the appraiser’s square footage can differ(Opens in a new browser tab)

To read about lots more appraisal topics, continue reading below!

 

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Appraisal Neighborhood Analysis

What is so Important About the Damn Neighborhood Analysis that the Reviewer Nicked me for it?

By Tim Andersen, MAI

Excerpt: Question: in a recent review of one of my appraisal reports, the reviewer said my neighborhood analysis was poor. I asked what that meant and she indicated I should familiarize myself with Fannie Mae’s requirements for a NEIGHBORHOOD ANALYSIS. She also indicated what I had in my report was just a recitation of facts, but (a) lacked any analysis of neighborhood trends and (b) therefore I did not analyze the neighborhood sufficiently to reconcile my conclusions of the neighborhood trends and its effect on both my highest and best use conclusion and my final value opinion. I came in just over the contract price. What does the reviewer want from me? I did what I always do in an appraisal! Help me!

For the answer, click here

My comment: Tim always has great answers for appraiser questions! He is a regular contributor to the paid Appraisal Today, with articles on USPAP 2020-2021, state board problems, etc.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review(Opens in a new browser tab)

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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7 Ways to Not to Choose Appraisal Comps

By Tom Horn

Excerpt: Here are three of the topics:

1) I’m taking what I think the home is worth based on the owners estimate and looking for sales in this price range

4) Using higher sales from another neighborhood when there are good sales within my own subdivision

6) Using price per square foot

To find out what Tom says and the other 4 ways, click here

My comment: written for real estate agents, Tom Horn’s primary referral clients, but useful for appraisers. Maybe it will help you explain about comps to agents, or why you did not use the comps they provided. I always take whatever sales and listings the agents have. Sometimes the MLS has it miscoded somehow and I miss it. Or, there is a “pocket” listing that sold but was never listed on the MLS. Also, I never want to miss a sale very close to the subject, if only to mention it and explain why I did not use it!! 7 ways to choose comps gives you some ideas.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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