Zoning in the Appraisal Process

Highest and Best Use – Residential Appraisers Need To Understand It!

Excerpt: There are many valuation products out there. CMA’s, BPO’s and AVM’s to name a few. What you will likely not see in those kinds of valuations, is the specific zoning class for the property being valued. Why? Zoning in the Appraisal Process is very important.

With these types of valuations, a highest & best use (HBU) analysis is generally not made. However, if you hire an appraiser to value your home, we will perform this analysis. What is a highest & best use analysis? Why is it important in the development of an opinion of value? How is zoning involved?

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My comments: My Most Frequent Residential Appraisal Rant!! I started at an assessor’s office in 1975. The First, and Most Important, Question was “What is the highest and best use?” In 1986 I started doing residential lender work. The form was just a check box for HBU. If you checked No, it was a big problem for the lender. Many residential appraisers don’t check the zoning, general plan, etc. One good way is to just drive around and see what is happening. For example, lots of small homes being torn down and McMansions being built. Or, lots of houses on a busy street converted to office uses. Or, a small house on a big lot with apartments all around it. A common residential issue is a possible lot split.

Don’t forget the General (Or Specific) Plan. It tells you what the city wants today and in the future for land use, which is not discussed in this article.

I have appraised a lot of older commercial properties for lenders, which often had a HBU different than the current use. I discussed it in my appraisals.

When there is a big difference in value between two appraisals, it is often due to a difference in opinion of HBU. Don’t get into trouble. Be sure to think about HBU!! If you’re not sure, contact an experienced appraiser, particularly one who does a lot of non-lender work and/or commercial appraisals.

In the Feb. 2017 issue there is an excellent article written for residential appraisers by Denis Desaix, “Residential Highest and Best Use Analysis: more than Just a “Check box” available to paid subscribers. See below.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

Appraisal Process Challenges

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Real Estate Appraisers Self Employment Humor

9 Very Funny Quotes for the Self-Employed Appraiser

Just For Fun!!

Some great, very funny, animated gifs ;> We All Need Real Estate Appraisers Self Employment Humor!!

Here are a few comments:

“The crappy thing about being self-employed is I never believe myself when I call in sick.”

“Things people say: ‘It’s Friday!’ Things self-employed people say: ‘It’s Friday?’”

To read more, click here

My comment: We all need some appraiser humor! Something for everyone in this blog post!! Unfortunately, animated gifs usually don’t work well in these email newsletters. You Just Gotta See Them!!

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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Neighborhood Names and Appraisals

How much is a neighborhood name worth?

Excerpt: Despite some anecdotal examples, there’s little statistical evidence supporting the notion that a neighborhood’s brand or name contributes to a higher sales volume or a premium on price, according to Jonathan Miller, chief executive of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

“You’ll see buildings trying to hook into adjacent, better-known neighborhoods as a marketing ploy, but we don’t see that translate into a premium or more sales for doing that,” Mr. Miller said.

To read more, click here

My comment: Some interesting stories. I’m not sure if “renaming” works, but I do know that in some older established neighborhoods in the Bay Area, including my city, the name does make a difference in value.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

Appraisal Neighborhood Analysis

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Zillow uses home photos for “appraisals”

Zillow – the past and the future

Zillow’s new photo algorithm

Zillow’s New algorithm uses photos of your home to check quality and curb appeal plus a look back at when Zillow started, and info on their ibuyer service

Excerpt: “We’ve taught the Zestimate to discern quality by training convolutional neural networks with millions of photos of homes on Zillow, and asking them to learn the visual cues that signal a home feature’s quality,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief analytics officer & chief economist, said in a Medium post announcing the new algorithm. “For instance, if a kitchen has granite countertops, the Zestimate now knows — based on the granite countertop’s pixels in the home photo — that the home is likely going to sell for a little more.”

To read more, click here

My comment: I am trying not to think about this…… Maybe North Dakota can try using Zillow on their rural properties….

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Zillow – tales from when it started plus ibuyer

Excerpt: Every night for five months before the launch of Zillow’s website in February 2006, employees gathered their Dell desktops on Ping-Pong tables, connected them to harness their combined processing power, and strung together extension cords to get them all running. To avoid overloading the circuits, they unplugged the office refrigerator and banned Christmas lights. Then, while most of them slept, this jury-rigged supercomputer analyzed a decade of property records and American housing market data in order to spit out price estimates for 43 million homes.

To read more, click here

My comment: Published in Forbes. Well written and researched. I liked Zillow’s history plus a good analysis of their ibuyer service – the new wave of purchasing homes and selling them later.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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Practical real estate appraisal writing tips for AMC questions

Write Like A Professional – Very Practical Writing Tips for AMC/underwriter questions

By Tim Andersen

Excerpt: QUESTION: I like to use the term, “in my professional opinion” as part of my reports. After all, I am a professional paid to express opinions. Recently, the reviewer for an AMC requested I remove that term from my report since, in her words, “…it has nothing to do with value”. Is the reviewer overreaching on this? The reviewer has the right to tell me if there is an error in my report, but not to criticize the language I use in my report. What should I do?

ANSWER: As Gertrude Stein was supposed to have said upon seeing Oakland, California for the first time: “There’s no there there!” For good or ill, the same may be said about many real estate appraisal reports and the convoluted language they insist on using…..

Excellent and practical. To read more click here

My comment: this is the best article I have ever seen for practical tips on how to reply to AMC/underwriter questions with lots of examples.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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Residential Appraisal Changes Coming

How is Appraisal Gonna Change?

By George Dell

Excerpt: What new “appraisal methods and techniques” have we seen? As I speak to reviewers who see valuations from around the country, there seems to be a degradation of quality. Less analysis rather than more. Less explanation rather than clearer logic. More “trust me” and less “see my reasoning.”

What does the world really need? Trust my opinion-or see the result? Trust my comps-or see market parameters.

Competitors for valuation, risk, and investment needs want “better, faster, cheaper.” For now, lets just look at “better.” What is “better?”

“Better” is actually fairly simple. There are only three parts: 1) is the right question being asked; 2) is the result true (accurate); and 3) how sure (precise) is the result? So, let’s look briefly at each of these needs, and how each can be helped with today’s technology.

https://georgedell.com/how-is-appraisal-gonna-change/

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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Using home’s previous sales in appraisals

The problem of giving too much weight to previous sales (or not enough)

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpts: It must be worth more than it sold for in the past, right? In many cases, YES. But sometimes NO. Let’s talk through some things to consider when pulling comps and noticing a previous sale. I find many of these points coming up lately in conversation, so I hope this is helpful.

8 issues are discussed.
Here are a few
2) Unique property:
3) Unicorn buyer overpaid
8) Not penalizing because it sold too low

Closing advice: I recommend paying close attention to previous sales to get clues to understand how a property fits into the market. But don’t get so stuck that you don’t see the most important thing – current comps.

Good topic I have not seen discussed in detail before. Worth reading. Lots of comments!!

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at covidscienceblog.com

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Condo vs. Townhouse for appraisers

Is It a Condo, a Townhouse, a Site Condo or None of the Above?

Excerpt: When appraising townhouses, I always search the MLS for both single-family attached sales as well as condominium sales. Why? It’s because at times, there is confusion between the differences. Often I see real estate agents list townhouses as condos when they are not actually condos and visa versa.

I totally understand why. When it comes to townhouses, it is impossible to know from an outward appearance whether or not it is a condo, or not. Before we get into that, what is a condominium and what is a townhouse?

Well written article. Worth reading.

My comments: The first question in appraising is always “what are you appraising?”. Some appraisers just look at what structure is there. You are appraising the form of ownership, the land and what is attached to the land. With condominium form of ownership, you own the airspace. It does affect what you can do with a home. Some people don’t like HOAs and dues. I sold my house on the water in 2008. There was a large rear yard that was on a “tidelands lease” with an annual payment to the city. It was recently re-listed and only included the original 4,000 sq.ft. lot, not the leased land. Both showed up on plat maps. I wonder what the appraiser for the sale will say about it?

About 20 years ago I appraised a detached home in a project built in the 1980s with both attached (stacked condo style,  duets – sets of 2 semi-detached homes, and townhome (attached) style) plus detached homes. The owner, the HOA president was surprised to learn that they were all condos. I had a title report I showed to him. (The detached homes are now called site condos.) Another nearby small development of sets of two homes (duet or semi-detached) built in the 1960s did not have any common ownership or dues. I have seen these in other nearby cities also.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at covidscienceblog.com

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Appraisals and Altered Listing Photos

Digitally-doctored listing photos are on the rise

Excerpts: It will cost $2.40 for a paint job, $24 to replace flooring, and $40 to remove a wall or add a swimming pool.

Digital photo manipulation has become so widespread and cheap that home sellers are increasingly using the technology to spruce up their listings, the Wall Street Journal reported. This has the potential to create new headaches for end users, investors, appraisers and brokers…

Furthermore, with federal regulators pushing for automated appraisals that will make use of online listings, the hazards of doctored images could be spread to the general public.

My comments: How do AVMs and CU deal with this? Appraisers can always contact the agent to confirm what the home looked like. CU robo emails/calls to agents and somehow integrate this into the data?

Lenders and AVMs are now using agent MLS comments. I recently spoke with an appraiser where the lender disputed one of her comps because the MLS mentioned it was “close to shopping” and she did not. Yes, it was very close to a historic shopping street, but there was little to no off street parking on this street, as it was taken up by employees in the stores. The comp had 9 off street parking places for 2 units and sold for a premium price. Typically there is 1 or 0 parking spaces per unit in the historic apartments on the comp’s street. I recently tried to go to an open house on the street. The closest parking space was 3 blocks away. I skipped the open house. The agents often mentioned “close to shopping” to say something positive about their listing’s location.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at covidscienceblog.com

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Bolwoningen Ball Houses – difficult appraisals!

Bolwoningen Ball Houses

 Excerpt: Bolwoningen consists of 50 sphere houses. The balls are made of cement, reinforced with fiberglass. They are mounted on the base in the form of a cylinder. Each sphere’s diameter is 18 feet and each has 11 round windows. The layout of these structures is quite unusual. In the center of the sphere there is a bathroom and a tiny bedroom, and a living room and kitchen, are located on the second floor-level. The house can be completely disassembled and transported to any other place (the weight of this building is only about 2755 lbs). In addition, this building can be placed not only on the ground, but also on water, on a stationary platform. Bolwoningen Ball Houses – difficult appraisals!

Locals didn’t quite appreciate the vision of the architect, but there are plenty of tourists, who would love to visit or even experience living in these futuristic houses.

My comment: Fascinating!! It was built in 1984 and is surrounded by standard homes. Check out the 2 links above and/or google bolwoningen ball houses

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at covidscienceblog.com

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