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.

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Humor for Appraisers

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FHA appraisal problems

Common FHA Violations

Excerpt: I’ve been performing FHA appraisals since 2000. Believe it or not, on a regular basis, I have home owners and real estate agents who tell me that some of the things I point out as FHA violations, were never mentioned in other FHA appraisal inspections. So, I thought I would mention some relatively common FHA violations I see when making my FHA inspections.

My comment: Funny Fotos and Videos!! I have seen similar photos around but there are many here in one place. Written for home owners, but good reminders for appraisers.

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Common Appraiser Violations

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Will the last appraiser turn out the light?

Is the Appraisal Profession Dying?

By George Dell, MAI

Excerpts:
Yes. Appraisal as we know it is dying.
Can it be saved? No.
So what should I do? What should “we” do?

The data has already been gathered. The analytics software is free. The pictures have already been taken. “Let’s Make a Deal!”

Analysis requires judgment. Human generalization is enhanced by computation. Complete data can be enhanced/cleaned as well as “confirming a comp.” A point value is an inherent part of a predictive value distribution. A documented, reproducible result is the most credible, believable answer.

My comments: I believe that human appraisals will still be needed. There are times that a human appraiser is needed to interpret results, and “go beyond” the data for Highest and Best Use, Unusual properties, etc. Lenders will move to computerized risk management, once investors will accept this. Most residential lender valuations will not need humans as the value of an individual property in investors’ portfolios is not critical. Of course, when the market inevitably crashes, there will be no appraisers to sue to recover some of the lost money. Maybe our E&O premiums will go down.

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Geographic competency for appraisers

At What Point Does an Appraiser Need Geographic Competency?

Excerpt: It seems that some, and I emphasize some, agents are of the mindset that if the appraiser’s office is not in relatively close proximity to the property being appraised, or if the appraiser doesn’t live in a nearby area, that they do not possess geographic competency. And they may be right.

However, the appraiser’s office location or where they live, in relation to the property being appraised, has little if anything to do with geographic competency!

To be geographically competent simply means that the appraiser has the skills and resources needed in order to competently complete the assignment, in harmony with the Uniform Standard of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

My comments: Why has this become so important? Once again, Lenders Run Appraising. AMCs do what they say. They put restrictions on how far away appraisers could be from their offices. Similar to the restrictions on how far away, or recent, comps should be.

Before USPAP and lender meddling, I used to appraise a large geographic area. If you are an experienced appraiser it is not hard to figure out neighborhoods, positive and negative factors, and read MLS for clues. Plus, contact local real estate agents and appraisers if needed.

I have been doing appraisals only in my small city for the past 2-3 years. The longer I appraise, the more I realized what I don’t know. I can hardly keep up with my very local market. Maybe I should only appraise within 2 blocks of my office ;> I go on tour every week but sometimes I miss a house if there area lot to see. Of course, that is always my best comp!!

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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Agent square footage and sales prices for appraisers

Agent’s Source Of Square Footage May Affect Sale Price

Excerpts: If you use county tax assessor information as a square footage source in your listings you may want to rethink this. I recently did a study to see how homes sold based on where the agent got their information from and I have to say what I found was intriguing. Agent square footage and sales prices for appraisers is important.

The Greater Alabama MLS, of which I am a member, provides the source of square footage information that is included in the listing. The four sources include tax records, seller, building plans, and appraiser.

Below the article are links to some other good posts by the author on this topic.

My comment: Very interesting analysis and graphs. My MLS is the same, except “other” is included and tax records is the default. Tax records are iffy in California as Prop 13 passed in 1979 and records have not been updated since then, unless there is new construction. Also, what assessors include in GLA can differ from what the current market does. Some neighborhoods and properties are reasonably accurate and some are way off in my small city.

I have done a lot of relocation appraisals, where 2 or 3 appraisers appraise the same house. If we had the same square footage it was sorta suspicious… Some measure to the half foot, rounding up or down, some use decimals, etc. It is not exact.

I can really see a demand for using appraiser measurements. I will be writing an article in my paid newsletter soon about this topic. There are a few appraisers who do them, including discussing pricing and liability.

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Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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7-12-18 Newz// 3 Story Homes, Auction Prices, Portable Architecture

The Most Popular Article From Last Week’s Newsletter: Former Appraiser’s Hot Dog Stand!! FYI, unusual and weird stuff is very popular with appraisers ;>

Three-story Single-family Homes and Townhomes

Excerpt: Of the 729,000 single-family detached homes started in 2017, a little over 18,000 (2.5 percent) had three or more stories, according to National Association of Home Builder tabulation of recently released Census data.

In contrast, the 23,000 3-plus story townhomes represent 22.0 percent of single-family townhome starts.

More info here:

My comment: 3 story detached homes are not popular in very many areas. It is a long walk up to the 3rd floor. I have appraised them (attic conversions of a classic older home to a master bedroom, for example). I always look to see if an elevator can be added – usually has to be on the exterior of the home. Definitely a functional problem. I rarely see them on existing homes, except for attic conversions. Some newer detached homes have a small room on the 3rd story – family room, extra bedroom, etc.

For townhomes, I have seen a significant increase in 3 story new construction townhomes in my city (within the past few years) and other Bay Area cities. The first floor is a garage plus entry, second floor living room and kitchen, bedrooms on 3rd floor. Very profitable for home builders, especially in areas with high land prices and infill tracts. I have appraised them and the owners did not object to the 3 floors. There are sometimes a few townhomes that are 2 story.

My first apartment when I moved to San Francisco in my 20s was a third floor walkup. I vowed Never Again ;>

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8-24-17 Newz .Fannie Freddie appraisal waivers, AVMs and HELOCS, Passwords

The Traveling Apprentices of Germany

 And you thought appraiser trainees have it rough!!

Just For Fun ;>
Excerpts: They hitchhike across Europe, instantly recognizable in the wide-bottomed, corduroy trousers, white shirts and colored jackets that identify them as bricklayers, bakers, carpenters, stonemasons and roofers.
While on the road, journeymen are not supposed to pay for food or accommodations, and instead live by exchanging work for room and board. In warm weather, they sleep in parks and other public spaces. They generally carry only their tools, several changes of underwear, socks and a few shirts wrapped into small bundles that can be tied to their walking sticks – and that can also double as pillows.
In an adaptation of the old rules to modern times, journeymen do not carry devices like cellphones that allow them to be found. They carry digital cameras, if they like, and write emails from public computers.
My comment: Fascinating with great photos!! Yes, there are women travelers now…

Passwords: What if Everything You Know Is Wrong?

By Shelly Palmer
Excerpt:  According to the Wall Street Journal, Bill Burr (the man who wrote the NIST memo back in 2003 that recommended the cryptic craziness and frequent replacement guidelines) has had an epiphany. “Much of what I did I now regret,” said Mr. Burr, 72 years old, who is now retired. If the reporting is accurate, he had very little evidence upon which to base the NIST’s recommendations. (Sort of makes me think about the USDA Food Chart I grew up with. But that’s for another article.) Why were Mr. Burr’s assumptions wrong?…
Do what the experts are now telling you to do. Start using the longest passwords possible. I would not use correcthorsebatterystaple, but “passwordswedontneednostinkinpasswords” will absolutely do the job.

My comment: Very interesting article!! Plus the Fun Cartoons ;> Passwords are a Pain.. I think one of the most popular passwords is “password”. Looks like finally there is another way.

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