Fannie Mae Takes A Closer Look at Appraisals

Sins of the Past Are Back to Haunt Appraisers

Fannie Mae Takes A Closer Look at Appraisals

By Richard Hagar, SRA

 

 

Excerpts:

In the recent past, when appraisers were swamped

Even with the Collateral Underwriter program review, appraisers were overwhelmed. Every lender and AMC were seeking and hiring review appraisers in order to keep up with demand. Due to the shortage of review appraisers (exacerbated by low fees and time pressures), tens of thousands of poorly created appraisals were accepted without receiving adequate review.

Unfortunately, because many appraisals were rarely rejected or required corrections, appraisers developed the false notion that poorly crafted appraisals were okay to turn in. Many appraisers were bragging about their ability to fill out two or three appraisal forms a day and receive no call-backs from lenders.

However, time and time again we’d review appraisals, that were accepted by lenders, but had failures such as:

• No highest and best use analysis (as if vacant and improved).

• Failure to make appropriate time/market adjustments (positive or negative).

• Using only a single approach to value.

• Incorrect land values.

• Square footage costs and depreciation based more on opinion than reality.

• Unsupported adjustments (adjustments based on “my 30 years in the business” instead of facts).

• Failures to personally inspect and photograph comparables.

What’s happening now

FNMA indicates that their 2022 lending volume is down 47% from 2021 and is expected to drop by another 50% in 2023. So, it’s pretty safe to state that the “appraiser shortage” of yesteryear is over, and reviewers now have more time on their hands.

Which appraisers are going to survive when the loan volume is down 75-85% and the poor appraisals of the past are catching up with the appraiser today? Well, for the most part, it’s based on the quality of the appraisals delivered to lenders over the past five years.

Do you believe that the quality of your work ranks you as a tier 1 appraiser or do you have a little concern about your rating? Tier 1 appraisers have little to fear but tier 2 and 3 appraisers…

What you can do today

Today, you likely have more time on your hands, so slow down and take more time improving the quality of your work. Superior quality appraisals can set you free.

Learn how to accurately determine adjustments. Follow the ANSI standard when measuring the subject (even if you disagree with the method — it’s the requirement). Take more classes! Don’t stop taking classes just because you have enough CE credit to meet your next renewal; that mentality is for the bottom tier of appraisers.

I typically obtain double the CE credit hours necessary to renew my certificate…double! Why? Because I want to do things better, obtain higher fees, and survive the purge that is coming. Lenders have more choices, and you need a way to stand out from the bottom tier and low fee appraisers.

To read more, click here

My comments: Worth reading. Hagar is one of the best residential appraisal instructors. I have known him for over 30 years and have taken many of his classes. Richard can be a bit negative but states what is really happening and what you need to do. Many thanks to Ryan Lundquist’s 2020 blog post for the very appropriate image above!

I also think that now is the time to increase your appraisal skills by taking classes and seminars. I also have always had more CE hours than I need.

I am an appraiser because it is challenging and never boring. I quit working in labs because it was boring after 7 years but have never been bored appraising. I want to be the best appraiser I can be. (I have always been an over-achiever).

Consider doing non-lender appraisals. I have been doing them since 1986 and writing about them in my monthly newsletter since 1992. No CU, UAD, reviews, many pages of differing AMC requirements etc. Your requirements are in USPAP.

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Reliable MLS Data important for appraisals

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NAR Appraisal Survey 2022

NAR Appraisal Survey 2022

Excerpts from NAR Report (link below):

In May 2022, NAR Research conducted a survey of all 9,700 appraiser members and 50,000 randomly-selected non-appraiser members.

54% of appraisers report that appraisal management companies (AMCs) have been among the greatest challenges in their businesses in the past year; 30% cite expanding regulations.

The typical appraiser reports a 40-mile radius in which they conduct appraisals. 68% report practicing within a radius of 20–59 miles.

Virtually all appraiser respondents (97 percent) have conducted an in-person appraisal, and 79 percent have done so by desktop/drive-by appraisal. Eleven percent cite evaluations (non-appraisal opinions of value). The eight percent who cite other valuation methods most often explained that they use a hybrid approach or mostly an exterior appraisal.

Two-thirds of appraisers (66 percent) are asked monthly or more often to conduct appraisals outside of the geographic area or the property type in which they feel their expertise is. Close to one-third conduct an appraisal outside their area of expertise on a weekly basis. Twenty-three percent of appraisers report never having to conduct an appraisal outside of their geographic area or area of expertise.

Appraisers are significantly more likely than other members to say that the most competent are not being selected most of the time (22 percent vs. nine percent) or at all (16 percent vs. six percent) and much less likely to say they are being selected most of the time (12 percent vs. 23 percent).

A few comments:

  • “Appraisal Management Companies are destroying our profession.”
  • “Appraisers are the “truth tellers” in this process. While agents can “puff” we cannot! If a property is listed at $315k, with an offer of $345k, do not harass the appraiser when the appraisal comes in at list!! If it had a market value of $345k, it would have listed at $345k!”
  • “AMCs are a significant issue for not only appraisers but for the consumer. They bid out each appraisal to maximize their profit, usually harming turn times and passing on costs to the appraiser and to the borrower.”

To read the report, click here

My comments: Read the PDF report. Easy to read with good graphics, similar to the graphic above. Since it was done in May, it focuses on appraiser shortages and delays, mostly from the non-appraiser respondents.

It has both appraiser and non-appraiser survey questions, which is a bit tricky to read. Some of the questions are relevant today, such as AMCs. Other questions are not as relevant, such as fees, as the appraisal market in many areas is not as strong as in May when the survey was done.

How much appraisers travel was interesting. I only work in my island city, 1 mile by 3.5 miles. I hate leaving the Island! Island mentality, I guess ;> I used to work in a much larger area, of course.

What is the farthest you have traveled to complete an appraisal and still be considered geographically competent?

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Appraisers: How and Why To Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Killed by Carbon Monoxide: Appraiser Blamed

Read this article on how to check CO detectors. You may save someone’s life!!

by Kendra Budd, Associate Editor, WorkingRE

Excerpts: For decades, appraisers have been gently reminded to pay careful attention to smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors—especially noting when they are absent altogether. Many experts advise that the state and federal standards requiring these important systems exist for a reason.

A recent case in which a young couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning while they slept highlights the life and death importance of these simple alarms—and brings this issue front and center for the real estate appraiser community as a whole.

Lawsuit

As you might expect, it didn’t take long for both John and Suzy’s parents to hire a law firm and start going after all the real estate professionals involved.

As it turns out, both the appraiser and the home inspector had each independently inspected the home 18 months prior and both mistakenly reported a few of the smoke alarms present at the home, as CO detectors.

Consequently, both the appraiser and home inspector ended up on the receiving end of a “wrongful death” legal claim.

The legal team for the parents of the deceased young adults (plaintiffs) alleged that the appraiser, Darcy Doe (name changed for privacy), had negligently appraised the Smiths’ home and had reported the presence of a CO detector when in fact, none were present. Unfortunately for Doe, she labeled her photograph inaccurately in her own appraisal report to the lender.

CO Detector vs Smoke Alarm

One important lesson in these cases is that it can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between CO detectors and smoke alarms. This is a reminder to appraisers to take a second look at all CO detectors and smoke alarms—and to test them as well.

Rick Bunzel, home inspector and Washington firefighter was able to give us some tips on how to not only tell the difference between the two detectors, but offers additional safety tips on smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as well.

For starters, the difference between a smoke alarm and a CO detector is quite simple. “The item will be clearly labeled, written on the exterior shell of the device, so you’ll be able to see it easily,” advises Bunzel. However, this can be hard to read because the signage could be the same color as the shell, so it’s incredibly important for you to get close enough to the alarm or CO detector to read it clearly (and test it!).

Bunzel was also able to provide some helpful tips for appraisers as far as how to communicate with their clients about CO detectors. For example, Bunzel says that appraisers and home inspectors should make it clear to their clients that they do not warranty if the device is working, just that it is there. “The test button doesn’t test the workability of a device—only the alarm. Just because it squeaks doesn’t mean it works,” reports Bunzel. This disclaimer language should be included in the appraiser’s report.

Another tip is to check the date of a CO alarm and smoke detector

To read more, click here

My comments: Read this article, especially how to identify and check CO detectors. The disclaimers are useful. I have CO and smoke detectors in several locations in my house. CO is much riskier than smoke as you can’t smell it.

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Cost Approach – When to Use in Appraisals

Fannie Mae and the Cost Approach

Excerpt: We often receive questions from appraisers regarding Fannie Mae and the cost approach. For example: “I’m appraising a property and have been instructed to comply with Fannie Mae guidelines. I understand that Fannie Mae requires the sales comparison approach, but what if there aren’t enough good comps? Can I use the cost approach as the primary method of valuation?”

Answer: No!

In order to comply with Fannie Mae guidelines, the sales comparison approach must be the primary method used to determine the value. In fact, Fannie Mae will not purchase a mortgage on a property if the cost approach is the primary or only method of valuation used.

Quite simply, if there isn’t enough data for the appraiser to develop a reliable opinion of value by the sales comparison approach, the mortgage will not be marketable to Fannie Mae.

However…

To read more, click here

My comment: I included this article plus the one below, which both address the Cost Approach’s common appraisal questions.

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The Cost Approach: An Underutilized Approach to Value

Excerpt: In residential appraising, the cost approach and the income approach have in many cases become less utilized in favor of sole reliance on the sales comparison approach.

There are occasions when the income approach can be the primary indicator of value for residential properties, such as developments with a high percentage of homes owned by investors.

The fact that Fannie Mae won’t accept reports that rely solely on the cost approach, with a few rare exceptions, doesn’t mean that approach can’t be the primary indicator of value. It just means Fannie Mae won’t buy that loan.

To read more, click here 

My comments: I started with an assessor’s office in the 1970s. At that time, my county was changing from only using the Cost Approach for decades to a sales-based approach. I never liked to use only the Cost Approach when I started doing fee appraisals.

In my area, there are very few land sales. There has not been one for over 20 years in my city. Depreciation is always iffy when appraising Victorian homes built before 1915.

But, I always use the Cost Approach for new construction to determine the financial feasibility of custom homes. I use a few land sales from other cities. If the new proposed home is on a vacant parcel, I go back to when the parcel was purchased, sometimes many years ago, and do a market condition adjustment.

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So Many Appraisal Cost Approach Questions

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VA Approves Desktops and Exterior-Only Appraisals

VA Approves Desktops and Exterior-Only Appraisals

Excerpts from the Summary: On August 1, 2022, the Veterans Affairs released Circular 26-22-13 announcing new procedures for alternative valuation methods, effective immediately.

“The use of a Desktop Appraisal may allow an appraiser from outside the market area, but with appropriate credentials for the jurisdiction of the property, to complete the assignment when no local VA fee panel appraiser is available.”

“Appraisal Assignment Waterfall. With consideration for the high demand for appraisal services and limited availability of appraisers in certain local market areas, VA is providing lenders, servicers, and appraisers with a procedural waterfall that clarifies acceptable valuation methods when certain conditions exist. Lenders and appraisers can also refer to Exhibit A for more information. VA continues to explore opportunities for expanding the use of Exterior-only Appraisals and Desktop Appraisals and will update this procedural waterfall, as appropriate.”

To read the full blog post, click here

The summary and Circular are in the blog post.

To read more about the May 2022 proposal to eliminate the fee panel, click here 

I wrote about the VA in my July 8 email newsletter. To read it, click here

My comments: The big push to cut down on appraisal turn times because of the appraisal shortage is Very Old News since mortgage volume has plummeted. I always recommend VA as the best lender client for appraisers. I wrote about it in the past and interviewed VA employees, appraisers on the VA panel, and appraisers who did not want to do VA appraisals in my paid monthly newsletter.

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Where VA loans are soaring. Are you doing VA appraisals?

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Tips on appraising new construction homes

6 Tips for Appraising New Construction Homes

Excerpts: New construction is treated a little differently by lenders, FHA, and the GSEs. When appraising new construction homes, you must take into consideration certain features and attributes that don’t necessarily apply to re-sales. It requires more work, so you want to be sure that you are charging for your effort. However, perhaps more than that, you want to be sure you’re following the proper protocol. Stick to these best practices to ensure you cover all your bases.

3. Talk to multiple local builders You can gain valuable information from builders—as long as you talk to them now to evaluate current costs and value. Some of the best construction cost data is compiled by you as you complete new construction appraisal assignments. When appraising new proposed construction, the prior data can be reviewed for those construction projects that are most similar to the subject property in quality, size, and features and be used as cost data to support cost estimates for the current appraisal. As the cost of construction materials generally continue to spiral upwards, it may be necessary to adjust for time, depending on how old the cost data is.

To read more tips, click here

My comments: Well written and worth reading. New home construction appraisals can be tricky. I quit doing them a while ago – too many various hassles, but many appraisers like doing them. There are few new homes built in my area, except stacked condos. Land is too expensive.

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What is a “good” appraiser?

8 Characteristics of a Successful Real Estate Appraiser

Excerpt: Here are two:
Unbiased
The ability to form an unbiased, objective opinion of value is absolutely essential in this line of work. According to this survey, many appraisers agree that this is the single-most-important trait you need to have as a real estate appraiser. In order to provide trustworthy results and uphold the integrity of the appraisal profession, you must be unbiased. Otherwise, you risk losing your professional reputation.
Analytical
It’s important for appraisers to be analytical, as each appraisal assignment will require thorough analysis and critical thinking.
To read more, click here
My comments: I was hooked on science in my first science class: high school biology. I studied biology and chemistry in college. I learned to be objective and unbiased, analytical, and open to almost any possibility. I have used these skills in appraising. I have always been curious, which keeps me up on what is new and other ways of looking at appraising a property. As far as I know, relatively few appraisers have science degrees.

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Desktop appraisals – Lots of Info Available!

Desktop appraisals – Lots of Info Available
Fannie and Freddie started using Desktops on March 19, 2022

Both a floor plan and a building sketch with dimensions and GLA calculations are required. ANSI is not required.

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March 2022 Fannie Mae Appraiser Update: 

Link to March Appraiser Update, click here:

Link to “About Desktop Appraisals” PDF with 5 pages of information, click here Watch the Noble Appraiser explore the benefits of performing desktop appraisals:
The Desktop Appraisal Discovery Link to Noble Appraiser on desktops video, click here 

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McKissock: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Desktop Appraisals: Your Questions Answered

Excerpts: In January 2022, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced a desktop appraisal option that goes live in mid-March 2022. In various articles and opinion pieces, some claim that desktop appraisals will solve the appraiser shortage and modernize the appraisal process, while others claim that they will cause the demise of the appraisal profession.

Here are a few of the 16 questions answered

  • What is a desktop appraisal?
  • Does USPAP require me to complete an inspection?
  • What data sources are used for identifying the subject’s relevant characteristics?
  • Are there any state restrictions?
  • Must I be competent in the subject’s market area?
  • Are extraordinary assumptions allowed?
  • Does the limited scope of work mitigate my liability?
  • Won’t these types of valuations be risky for the lender

To read more, click here

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Bradford Software Webinar Floor Plans for Desktops – Discover Your Options with 7 Floor Plan Providers March 24, 2022 (1 hour, 34 minutes), with comments from Scott Reuter of Freddie Mac.

It was recorded and is available at https://vimeo.com/692030955

I did not have time to watch it yesterday.

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My comments on the above resources: What’s the best resource(s) for you?

Noble appraiser video is short (3 min. 34 seconds) understandable and very informative. Fannie Mae is “the source” for desktops. McKissock’s Q and A post is well written, understandable with short answers.

Bradford’s video has demos of 7 app providers for floor plans and sketches.

If lenders will use them much is very uncertain. The Covid desktops were never widely adopted. No one knows now which cell phone apps will be used, who will use them, and their accuracy (tested by an independent company). Minimum of an IPhone 12 Pro, with LIDAR camera. Appraisers who have tested them say the floor plans are good, but sketches with dimensions and floor plans may not be accurate on complicated home designs.

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Fannie’s New Desktop Appraisal FAQs

Fannie’s New Desktop FAQs

Timeline and 19 FAQs From an email received 3-8-22
“Desktop appraisals will be offered in Desktop Underwriter® (DU®) for eligible transactions starting March 19. Are you ready?
We’ve updated the About desktop appraisals fact sheet with an expanded frequently asked questions section.
Thanks to all the appraisers, AMCs, and lenders who submitted questions, and please continue to Contact us with your appraisal related comments and questions.”
To read the FAQs, click here
My comment: Reading the original Fannie document is good, such as a timeline list, additional verifications, inspections, CU, etc.
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McKissock has an excellent blog post answering many practical questions, including some in the Fannie FAQs and many other questions.
Topics include:
  • What data sources are used for identifying the subject’s relevant characteristics?
  • Are there any state restrictions?
  • Must I be competent in the subject’s market area?
  • Are extraordinary assumptions allowed?
  • Does the limited scope of work mitigate my liability?
  • What is the difference between a sketch and a floor plan?
  • How do I get a floor plan?
  • Does the floor plan need to be verified?
  • Does the property need to be measured per ANSI measurement standards per Fannie Mae’s requirements?
To read more, click here
My comment: Read both the Fannie FAQs and McKissock blog post. How often will desktops be used? It will take a while before they may be widely adopted. See last week’s newsletter. When are we going to get some ANSI FAQs????

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Fannie Wants Desktop Appraisals with Floor Plans

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to launch remote desktop appraisals in 2022

Desktop appraisals with floor plans

Excerpt:
Beginning March 19, 2022, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will accept remote desktop appraisals nationwide on eligible transactions without the appraiser ever stepping foot on the subject property, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced.
To read more, click here
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Link to FHFA announcement 10/18/21 with more information,click here
My comments: When they submit loan applications, lenders receive a list of appraisal types available for their loans, including waivers. Lenders did not widely choose the desktop Covid appraisals. They preferred full appraisals.
I ran an ad for Cubicasa (floor plan app) on Tuesday this week and got some appraiser complaints. I will be testing it soon and hopefully will be able to use it in my appraisals.
Many anticipate that lender adoption will be slow, including Lyle Radke from Fannie and a group email posting from an appraiser who recently attended a state Mortgage Bankers’ meeting. He said:
“I was on a 4 appraiser panel with +/-60 LO’s representing 20 different lenders. I asked for a show of hands-on how many would be offering Desktop or Hybrid appraisals on March 19… There was not a single hand raised. “
“When we discussed the Desktop and Hybrids, most had no idea about the differences in the two products… All 4 of us thought that the turn time “might” be reduced by 1-2 business days. So, based on a small sample, this may not be as much of a problem as some appraisers think. “

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