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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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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Appraising Luxury Homes

What Are the Top Luxury Markets in North America Right Now?

Excerpts: Where are the hottest high-end real estate markets? Whether you’re looking to specialize in luxury home appraisals or you’re simply reading up on the latest market trends, you may want to pay attention to areas where luxury homes are in high demand.

According to the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing’s February 2024 report¹, the single-family luxury home segment is showing promising signs of growth. Both inventory levels and new listings increased significantly in recent months, leading to an 18 percent increase in sales and a 1.6 percent increase in the median sold price. Even more telling, contract signings for homes priced at $1 million or more have increased by 11 percent over last year, and demand remains high among affluent buyers.

According to the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing’s February 2024 report¹, the single-family luxury home segment is showing promising signs of growth. Both inventory levels and new listings increased significantly in recent months, leading to an 18 percent increase in sales and a 1.6 percent increase in the median sold price. Even more telling, contract signings for homes priced at $1 million or more have increased by 11 percent over last year, and demand remains high among affluent buyers.

Top list of luxury home markets in 2024. You may be surprised!

To read more, Click Here

My comments: In this newsletter, I always know what are hot topics. Constant Contact gives me the number of clicks. Most popular is usually Claudia’s advice at the top of every email. Also popular are large luxury homes with a photo.

I have been thinking for a while about including appraising luxury homes, since my subscribers like to read about them. Maybe a possible specialization? There were not many where I worked, so I did not specialized in them But, I see my area, East Bay California is listed now! The median home price in the Bay Area is around $1,300,000.

Check out the list of areas in the article to see if any are close to you.

Lenders have always had special, very small lists of appraisers who can appraise these homes. I assume the AMCs have these types of lists. Some may not have them. You definitely must get a higher fee for them.

I know several appraisers who have been doing them in my area for a long time. To do them, it is best to work in an area with many luxury homes. You need to network with the brokers that sell them.

The post above is also a promo for McKissock’s Certified Luxury Home Appraiser Program. 14 hours of CE for $650. I have not taken it, but I don’t know of many other types of diversification with a certificate. Might be interesting even if you don’t know if you want to do them.

CubiCasa – Home Measurement From Inside A House

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How to Find Comps With Few Sales

The challenge of pulling comps in 2024

By Ryan Lundquist

February 14, 2024

Excerpts: Pulling comps in 2024 is tough. Think about it this way. If we have 40% fewer sales happening, that means there are 40% fewer comps. Yikes. Let’s talk about this. I also have some market recap visuals to unpack what’s been happening in 2024 so far.

GO BACK FURTHER IN TIME:

One of the things I’m doing more often today is looking at older comps in the immediate neighborhood. I find myself scouring 2021 onward especially. The truth is there are portions of 2021 and 2022 where prices are exactly the same as today too, so if I use an older comp, I don’t always need to adjust for the way the market has changed. But backing up, I can look at older stuff for the sake of research, but this doesn’t mean I’ll use a super old comp in a report. In short, it’s not enough today to go back 90-180 days because there just aren’t enough data points in so many cases…

WATCH THE MEDIAN TREND

The median price for the region doesn’t translate rigidly to neighborhoods, so be careful about saying stuff like, “The median is up 3% this year, so neighborhood prices are up 3%.” Maybe. Maybe not. Look to the comps most of all. In my experience, some people get really upset when I share median trends because the sentiment is the median isn’t a perfect metric (true)…

EXPAND TO OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS:

Looking up other nearby neighborhoods is something I’ve done much more of lately since sales volume has plummeted. The ideal is to compare areas with similar prices, but even if the price point is a bit different, it can be valuable to see what is happening in a different nearby neighborhood. I may or may not use comps from a different neighborhood. I’m just trying to understand what the market is doing…

To read more and see the graphs with excellent illustrations, Click Here

My comments: Very good tips from Ryan. Market conditions is the easiest adjustment to make. This is my first choice for any unusual homes without current data in any market. I quit making dollar adjustments on form appraisals many years ago, but I always do market conditions adjustments when needed. I appraise a lot of 2-4 units and regularly go to other neighborhoods for comps.

I have been doing this for many years. I do a lot of estate appraisals, which are not current value.

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Appraising Historical Homes

Historical Properties and Their Unique Appraisal Approaches

Excerpts: Appraising historical properties involves a complex interplay of factors, making it a specialized field within real estate valuation. This article provides an insight into the appraisal process of historical properties, emphasizing the role of market data, potential buyers, specialized databases, appraisal methods, and the significant impact of preservation restrictions.

The appraisal process begins with a thorough analysis of market data, focusing on sales of properties that share historical or antique characteristics. This comparative market analysis extends beyond standard parameters like size and location to include age, architectural style, and historical significance. The scarcity of historical properties often requires appraisers to expand their search to find comparable sales, both geographically and over longer time frames.

The distinction between a historic property with preservation restrictions and an old house without them is crucial in the appraisal process. Preservation restrictions, often governed by the National Register or local historical commissions, can add value by ensuring the property’s integrity. However, these restrictions may also limit modifications, potentially affecting the property’s market appeal.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: If you don’t want to appraise a historic property, be sure to check it out before accepting the assignment!

Worth reading. A good summary. I suspect that a company based in Boston, MA sees lots of historic homes!

For many years I appraised in the nearby city of Berkeley, CA. There were definitely adjustments for homes built by famous, widely known, architects. Fortunately, their names were listed in the MLS.

In my small city, there are a few homes by famous architects. One was sold about 20 years ago by a famous architect, Julia Morgan. She designed more than 700 buildings in California during a long and prolific career. She is best known for her work on Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. No effect on value. I was surprised. If it was in Berkeley, there would be a substantial adjustment.

Some cities have large historic buildings, such as the City Hall in my city, built in 1895, twenty years after the city charter in 1872. The Gold Rush in California started in 1848, which brought many people to Northern California.

But, in my city, there are many restrictions on what can be done with older homes, such as Victorians. For example, window replacements must replicate the original windows, plus some other restrictions on exterior modifications. Restrictions are from the city, the county, and the state. In my city of 78,000 population, there are over 10,000 buildings constructed prior to 1930, including many classic Victorians.

Many downtown mixed-use buildings (retail and apartments) are in my city. I appraised many of them, but never noticed any effect, plus or minus, for historic designation.

Knowing what modifications are allowed is very important for the appraiser. Many people don’t like them. You need to know the market. Sometimes buyers like them and sometimes not.

See how many historic homes and buildings are where you do appraisals and where you live. You may be surprised!

=================

 

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Appliances for FHA appraisals

How does the FHA define appliances?

By Daniel A. Bradley, SRA, CDEI

In September of 2015, FHA revised Handbook 4000.1 to provide a specific definition, which includes:

Refrigerators

Ranges/ovens

Dishwashers

Garbage disposals

Microwaves

Washers and dryers

It’s important to note this does not include garage door openers, swimming pool pumps, intercoms, sound systems, and security systems.

How do appraisers consider appliances?

FHA Handbook 4000.1 also clarifies when appliances are required to be operational by stating, “Appliances that are to remain and that contribute to the market value opinion must be operational,” and, “The Appraiser must note all appliances that remain and contribute to the Market Value.”

FHA requirements for appliances: Is a house required to have a stove?

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Worth reading if you do FHA appraisals. Short and understandable. I did FHA appraisals for a few years in the mid-80s. Too many requirements so I quit doing them, but they helped me get started in my appraisal business.

 

Appraisers Riding the Waves of Up and Down Mortgage Rates

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Appraiser Has Very Big Problems With Borrower

The Sopranos – Lupertazzi’s Rough Up Appraiser

To watch, click the video above. Opens in You Tube.

Members of the Lupertazzi Crime Family rough up an appraiser who is involved with Tony’s HUD scam.

I will never forget “I’m only the appraiser!” I use the phrase sometimes ;>

It’s one of the few times appraisers are in movies or TV series!

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USPAP Myths for Appraisers

Five USPAP Myths Dispelled in 2024 USPAP

By Daniel A. Bradley, SRA, CDEI, McKissock Learning

On May 5, 2023, the Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) voted to adopt changes to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), which will become effective January 1, 2024. These represent the first changes to USPAP in four years. Many of the changes will not have a significant impact on the way appraisers practice but are nevertheless important for public trust.

Appraisers and the public have traditionally held several misconceptions about USPAP, and these changes should help to dispel some of those myths. There are five myths and misconceptions that are addressed in the changes to the 2024 USPAP.

  • Myth 1: USPAP Allows Discrimination as Long as the Appraiser’s Conclusions are Supported
  • Myth 2: The Removal of the Definition of Misleading from USPAP Reduces Liability for Appraisers
  • Myth 3: An Inspection of the Subject Property by a Third Party is the Equivalent of a Personal Inspection by an Appraiser
  • Myth 4: Appraisers are not Required to Analyze Prior Non-Sale Transfers of the Subject Property
  • Myth 5: The USPAP Update Course Cycle is the Same as the USPAP Publication Cycle

To read more, Click Here

My comments: It’s worth reading, especially if you do residential lender appraisals. Lender issues are a significant factor in USPAP and Myths 1 to 4. I suppose it is because most appraisals are done (now) for residential lending purposes. Many thanks to Dan Bradley for writing about the 2024 USPAP changes.

2024 USPAP For Appraisers

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Functional Obsolescence for Appraisers

Understanding Functional Obsolescence in Appraisals

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.

Functional obsolescence may or may not be caused by trends in buyer or market preferences, outdated design, or even advances in technology. Let’s look at a few examples:

  1. A home has three bedrooms, but to reach the third bedroom, you have to walk through the other secondary bedroom. Buyers are likely to see this as a flaw in the floor plan regardless of trends.
  2. A home has a separate formal living room, an enclosed kitchen, and a separate dining room. Today’s buyer prefers a more open, casual layout and may find the separate rooms a flaw in the floor plan, though this may change with market trends.
  3. A home with radiator heat and window unit air conditioning may be seen as functionally obsolete, and thus less valuable, as more modern homes have forced air furnaces and central air conditioning.

Measuring functional obsolescence and its effect on a property’s value can be challenging for even experienced appraisers. To ensure accurate reports, it’s essential you stay up to date and aware of market trends, and even code and building updates, as these changes over time do determine both curable and incurable obsolescence.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: All appraisers see functional obsolescence. Making adjustments can be tough. You need to know the market reaction.

For example, there are many Victorians in my market. They were built without closets and used armoires (free standing closets). It is not considered functional obsolescence as it retains a classic feature in many Victorian homes. I always wonder about what appraisers from tract home areas think about Victorians. I assume (hope) they ask local agents. When I started appraising them, that’s what I did.

I regularly tell local agents that “tandem” rooms don’t count as bedrooms. I’m trying not to think about how many listings have an incorrect number of bedrooms!

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Superadequacy Adjustments for Appraisals

How to Account for a Superadequacy

By: McKissock

Excerpts: What is superadequacy?

Per The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal, 6th Ed., superadequacy is defined as “an excess in the capacity or quality of a structure or structural component; determined by market standards.” It’s a type of functional obsolescence in which the structure or one of its components is overly improved to a capacity or quality than a prudent buyer or owner would build or pay.

While we provide more detailed illustrations below, a simple example would be a 5,000 square foot luxury home built in a neighborhood comprised of two and three-bedroom mid-century ranch homes.

Example #1: Superadequate custom fireplace

Example #2: Superadequate 12-car garage

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Although the blog post references luxury homes, this can occur anywhere. Have you ever driven closer and closer to your subject and noticed that the homes are much smaller or have standard designs? You keep getting closer, hoping it is not your subject. It Is! This definitely has happened to me. Large unusual additions, two large kitchens, very extensive landscaping, etc.

Maybe you were busy and forgot to check it out in public records, MLS or speaking with the owner or agent (if a sale) when scheduling the appointment.

Market Your Appraisal Services: 59 Ways to Get More Business Now

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