The Power of Praise for Appraisers and Clients 3-24-23

The Power of Praise

By Rachel Massey, SRA, AI-RRS, CDEI

Excerpts: …I received a really nice compliment from a reviewer with the Farm Credit Bureau. I had completed a complex appraisal assignment and was expecting multiple revision requests, but instead, got a note saying how thorough my appraisal report was and thanking me for the work. A couple days later, I got a call from a relocation company reviewer on another mind-boggling relocation assignment. Again, I was expecting multiple questions about the report since it was complex and atypical for the area. Instead this reviewer proceeded to tell me that it was one of the most detailed and well-developed reports he had seen in all his years reviewing relocation work. Boy I wish I had that one in writing!

Granted, I tend to be a bit verbose because I like to write, and I believe that it is important that my work be understandable, and not just now but in the future. I tend to put a similar amount of effort into the communication side for all clients, and like to think that my work product is solid. This begs the question of why two reviewers went out of their way to compliment my work, when it seems that almost every mortgage assignment that I complete for a production group, comes back with stipulations.

Stipulations that I forgot to add a listing which was a requirement of the engagement agreement (yes, I missed that) or that I didn’t put a sketch of an unfinished basement in the report (yes, I missed that as well). No words of thank you for an otherwise job well done. I missed something, fix it.

To read more, click here

My comments: Rachel is one of my favorite appraisal authors. She has seen all sides of the residential appraisal profession. Rachel has shifted between lender staff appraiser and reviewer and fee appraisals. Currently, she is a reviewer for a large lender. You could send a link to this article to a Very Picky or Very Supportive reviewer.>

Why Appraisers Love Appraising!

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on non-lender appraisals and liability, sharing comps, Fannie Update, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.


Sculptural Home in Venice, CA, Hits the Market for $5.8M


Excerpts: The gated compound has four bedrooms and 3.5 baths, in 2,522 square feet of living space. Lot size is 2,701 sq.ft.

The unique, asymmetrical exterior is described as having “raw drama,” and that appraisal certainly fits. The home is built of concrete, glass, wood, and structural steel.

J. Stewart Burns, a TV writer and producer whose projects include “The Simpsons” and “Futurama,” purchased the wildly original Venice landmark in 2014 for $2,300,000, property records show. He recently listed the home for $5,800,000.

An outdoor bridge connects one wing of the home to another, allowing access to the spectacular rooftop deck. A bar, comfortable seating area, and expansive views make the deck one of the home’s many highlights.

The primary suite features remarkable wood built-ins, a closet, and a bath, where the windows and skylights are discreetly frosted.

To read more click here 

My comments: Fascinating interior photos!

To see the listing, click here


Dos and Don’ts of Sharing Comparable Sales

By: McKissock

Excerpts: When real estate agents provide relevant comparable sales to appraisers, it certainly benefits both parties. Agents can ensure that appraisers are reviewing comparables that match their properties and, hopefully, meet the seller’s desired price. Additionally, while appraisers still must verify the information, it can save them time. Here are some dos and don’ts to follow as agents and appraisers work together on establishing comps for appraisal properties.

Don’t use comps based on price

If the agent has a predetermined value in mind, they will find comparable sales to support that biased opinion.

Do consider neighborhood attributes

To read more, click here

My comments: Some good tips when dealing with agent-supplied comps.


Estate/trust appraisal liability advice from Peter Christensen

Here are some general pointers:

1. Never use a lending form (such as a 1004) for estate work. Yes, appraisers do this. While most of the time, appraisers get away with it (unless it’s an appraisal that goes to the IRS), it sometimes wreaks havoc for appraisers in discipline and claims.

2. Get the relevant date of value from the client or the client’s attorney. The date of value can be a legal issue, and the appraiser should not be the one accepting responsibility for whether the date of value is correct for whatever the use is (such as an estate tax return).

3. Keep the definition of intended users as narrow as possible. If an executor of an estate is hiring you, for example, just say the executor is your client and only intended user (add the IRS if it’s relevant). Do not say the intended users are all the beneficiaries of an estate or trust. Doing so potentially expands your liability to all those parties.

4. Keep your definition of intended use as narrow as possible to describe how your appraisal will be used by your client. For example, you don’t want your appraisal for the executor being used by a beneficiary down the road to sell the property to someone. So, don’t say something open ended like: “the intended use is to provide a fair market value of the property.” Say, instead, “the intended use of this appraisal is for the executor’s use in administrating the estate of . . . The appraisal should not be used for any other purpose.”

5. For non-lending work like estate work, you can use a good, protective engagement agreement. Be sure to get it signed. An unsigned agreement is basically worthless. In the agreement consider including limitations of liability and time limitations on claims.

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Things to Love (and Hate) About Appraising

By David Hyman

Excerpts: Is there a career with more inherent paradoxes than real estate appraising? It’s a highly social profession – and yet it’s solitary. Every appraisal decision we come to requires lots of verified data – but also our intuition and opinions. Our calendar fills up with orders when the real estate market heats up. But when the market nosedives, lenders need to reassess their portfolios – so, again, our calendar fills up with orders.

To be a real estate appraiser is to live with these strange contradictions every day. And here’s another one: There are things you’ll love – and absolutely despise – about this profession. Here are a few examples of both, at least from my standpoint, starting with things I love.

Meeting new people

This is my favorite thing about being an appraiser. I love talking to people, learning about their homes, but also about their jobs and lives. I’ve appraised properties for a professional surfer, a jeweler, a mortgage executive, a famous rapper, single people living alone, married couples with five kids in the house—you name it. And most of these people are eager to chat.

How many other professions let you spend quality time with such a wide cross-section of humanity?

Changing rules

A few years ago, appraisers could work directly for mortgage companies without any issue. Then… well, you know what happened… and now we can’t. A few years ago, the standard 1004 residential appraisal form was a handful of pages. Now, if my math is correct, it’s about 10,780 pages (front and back).

The rules governing the appraisal industry can swing wildly and often. And that can be frustrating…

To read more, click here

My comments: Short. Worth reading. What do you like and dislike about appraising? Does it change over time? I have been appraising for over 45 years and still love it! Every appraisal is a challenge. I really like being in the field, out of my office. Of course, I gave up residential lender appraising in 2005, before AMCs took over but I liked lender appraising except for the huge ups and downs in business. I have always loved non-lender appraising.


25 Animal-Shaped Buildings from Around the World 0k 3-23

Just For Fun. We need it!!

A kindergarten shaped like a cat, a skyscraper shaped like an elephant, a hotel shaped like a crocodile — these are just a few of the forms that animal-shaped architecture has taken. Whether to reflect the role of the building, like a fisheries department shaped like a fish, or just for the sheer whimsy of it, like roadside attractions shaped like dinosaurs and whales, this “zoomorphic” style appears all over.

Here are a few:

Cat Kindergarden (Photo above)

Lucy the Elephant

Blue Whale

To read more, click here

My comments: Take a break and scroll through. Funny, strange, and sorta practical. And More. One of my favorite links!


Fannie Mae March 2023 Update

Email dated 3-21-23

Email excerpts: Welcome to our March 2023 Fannie Mae Appraiser Update. Our focus in this edition is on recent changes to Fannie Mae policies and programs, and how they may impact you.

In March we announced a new collateral option called value acceptance + property data. Here we share ideas on how property data collection (PDC) may be a business opportunity for you.

In some cases, PDC may lead to a hybrid appraisal assignment, so we also share baseline requirements for completing hybrid appraisals.

Keep reading for an update on three new types of Appraiser Quality Monitoring letters and learn what you can do to avoid those deficiencies in your reports.

We also cover recent changes to the MH Advantage® program, other manufactured home reminders, and tips on what must happen to decommission an accessory dwelling unit (ADU).

To read the full report (PDF), Click here

My comments: Mostly discussion on hybrids, but good appraiser information on Appraiser Quality Monitoring (AQM) new letters. Worth reading. Fannie has not said much about AQMs for appraisers. Fannie keeps trying to “sell” hybrids to appraisers. I would probably not do them as Iike field appraising, but it may work for some appraisers, especially since business is slow now for lender appraisals.


HOW TO USE THE NUMBERS BELOW. Appraisals are ordered after the loan application. These numbers tell you the future for the next few weeks. For more information on how they are compiled, click here.Note: I publish a graph of this data every month in my paid monthly newsletter, Appraisal Today. For more information or get a FREE sample go to Or call 510-865-8041, MTW, 7 AM to noon, Pacific time.

My comments: Rates are going up and down. Some appraisers are very busy, and others have little work. Varies widely around the country.


Mortgage applications increased 3.0 percent from one week earlier

Mortgage applications increased 3.0 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 17, 2023.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 3.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 3 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 5 percent from the previous week and was 68 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent compared with the previous week and was 36 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Treasury yields declined last week, driven by uncertainty over the health of the banking sector and worries about the broader impact on the economy. Mortgage rates declined for the second week in a row, with the 30-year fixed rate dropping to 6.48 percent, the lowest level in a month,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “However, mortgage rates have not dropped as much as Treasury rates due to increased MBS market volatility. The spread between the 30-year fixed and 10-year Treasury remained wide at around 300 basis points, compared to a more typical spread of 180 basis points.”

Added Kan, “Both purchase and refinance applications increased for the third week in a row as borrowers took the opportunity to act, even though overall application volume remains at relatively low levels.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 28.6 percent of total applications from 28.2 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 8.6 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 12.3 percent from 12.9 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 11.7 percent from 11.9 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.5 percent from the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($726,200 or less) decreased to 6.48 percent from 6.71 percent, with points decreasing to 0.66 from0.79 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $726,200)decreased to 6.30 percent from 6.39 percent, with points decreasing to 0.55 from 0.61 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 6.32 percent from 6.58 percent, with points decreasing to 1.07 from 1.20 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 6.02 percent from 6.14 percent, with points decreasing to 0.60 from 0.77 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 5.58 percent from 5.69 percent, with points decreasing to 0.75 from 0.87 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The survey covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks, and thrifts. Base period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100.


Ann O’Rourke, MAI, SRA, MBA
Appraiser and Publisher Appraisal Today
1826 Clement Ave. Suite 203 Alameda, CA 94501
Phone 510-865-8041


Fannie Mae: No Appraisals Required? 3-10-23

Fannie Mae: Appraisals are no longer the default option: Value Acceptance replaces Appraisal Waiver

Fannie Mae updated its Selling Guide on March 1 to include more options for property valuations, saying that they are “moving away from implying that an appraisal is a default requirement.”  Those options include value acceptance (formerly appraisal waivers), value acceptance plus property data and hybrid appraisals.


Fannie Mae – No Appraisals Required – The End of Appraisers?

Hamp Thomas 12 minute video – my favorite commentary on this issue!

Fannie Mae took a direct shot at appraisers today with the announcement of changes in their Selling Guide. Two options for the future, both of which do great harm to the appraisal industry.

First, “third party” inspections. Appraisal trainees aren’t good enough, so now we will have unlicensed inspectors going through the homes of unsuspecting homeowners. And, with this inspection a traditional appraisal is no longer a requirement for the mortgage loan.

Secondly, the 3rd party inspection is sent to a licensed appraiser. FNMA wants an appraiser’s signature so the appraiser can be held responsible if there’s any problem in the future. Both options say they are good for consumers and both options are filled with fabrications and misinformation. At the end of it all, it’s about control and profits. Why trainees can’t provide the data is simply because big banking and AMC’s don’t make profit from the inspection part of the process.

If appraisers don’t stand up and say no, right now, the running joke of the appraisal industry could be gone in five years; well, it just very well may come true. Ok appraisers, it’s time to speak out and stand together.

The only reason for these changes are about a piece of the 11 TRILLION dollar mortgage market. And that’s the way it is – March 1, 2023.

To watch the video, click here

My comments: Worth watching the video. Call to Action. Hamp is an excellent speaker and teacher.


Fannie Statement: “Value acceptance + property data has arrived”

“This new option reduces cycle times and may reduce borrower costs, promotes safety and soundness by obtaining a current observation of the subject property, and provides operational simplicity and certainty at time of loan application.“

To read what Fannie says, click here


Link to Fannie SEL-2023-02: Selling Guide Updates PDF

To read more, click here

My comments: Lenders Are Happeeee! Those darn appraisers and appraisals have always taken too much time. Fannie sells their loans to investors. The more loans, the more money Fannie makes. I did not include links to what the happy lenders say. You already know.Clear the Tracks!

Fannie Wants Desktop Appraisals

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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AMC Alleged Violations of Appraiser Independence Requirements

Fastapp AMC Alleged Violations of AIR (Appraiser Independence Requirements)

Excerpts: The following court documents in the case Naftali Horowitz v. xxx, Fastapp AMC founder v. Fastapp AMC president, confirm what appraisers have been saying all along, that if you want high-volume AMC work, you have to lower your fees to 1980’s level, have 24 hour turn times, and, above all, be a number hitter.

Horowitz claimed that Andrews engaged in conduct constituting potential violations of the Appraiser Independence Requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank Act”), including unlawfully seeking to influence an appraiser to encourage a targeted value to facilitate the making or pricing of the transaction in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1639e(b)(3).

… it began to become apparent to Andrews that Horowitz was not complying with appraisal independence standards. Instead, Horowitz would personally select one of a small number of his preferred appraisers for any given appraisal request… It thus became apparent to Andrews that Horowitz was engaged in a widespread scheme in violation of federal law by assigning appraisals to appraisers who would appraise values at requested values in exchange for order flow.

To read more plus over 50 appraiser comments, click here

My comment: Copies of the emails tell the story of “cooperative” appraisers getting most of the assignments. Very similar to the old mortgage broker days. A primary reason for Dodd-Frank.

AMC Fined for Appraisal Order Blast Violation

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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Appraiser Scam – Be Careful!

Appraiser Scam – Be Careful!

Posted Jan 5 on National Appraisers Forum. This was also posted in the 100% Appraisers group on FaceBook as happening to others.

“Last week, I received a text from “Master Chief Robert Roy” requesting an appraisal for a cash purchase. I thought it was odd that he was addressing himself by his rank as I do work for the VA and no service member has ever done that in my experience. Also my daughter’s boyfriend, a West Point graduate, was visiting at the time and he also thought it was odd too. I looked him up on line and saw that he was a Navy Seal and a public speaker. I addressed him as Sir in our texts out of respect.“

“He requested that I inspect the property 1/5/2023 as the inspector would be there at the same time. My fee was $775 however sent me a $1950 cashier’s check via Fed Ex the next day. He stated that his assistant mistakenly included the inspector’s fee and would I please pay the inspector the $1175 balance. (That seemed high for an inspector….) “

One of the responses:

“Sorry this happened to you. I posted about this about a month ago. Same guy. Because it seemed so odd, I didn’t respond to him and instead called the listing agent directly. He said I was the 4th female appraiser to call him about this in 24 hours. He had reported it all to the police. I never responded to the dude, as it is obviously a scam or worse. When I researched the name he was using, I found that person to be deceased. “

My comments: When appraisers are very slow, it is very hard to turn down an appraisal. Savvy scammers may know about this. Beware!!

1-12-17 Newz .New scam: owners pose as renters, 21 day turn times

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on all cash sales, bad bank, FHFA/Fannie, speaking at real estate agent meetings, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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Appraisal Risk and Modernization

Industry Insider Insight on Risk and Modernization

Excerpts: The Collateral Risk Network (CRN) met in Sarasota on December 6th to discuss a variety of issues ranging from appraisal turn times to Fannie Mae’s economic outlook for 2023. Bill Rayburn gave a rousing and lively explanation of exactly what quality means in valuation at a recent meeting. Lenders want a compliant document that allows the loan package to be sold as quickly as possible, while investors want an appraisal that allows for securitization or resale to another downstream buyer.

Appraisers were encouraged to provide convenience as one aspect of quality. His figures show there is a holding cost of $200 per day on an unclosed loan and this hinges on the appraisal which is the last thing in the critical path to closing. He suggested we redefine quality to include a time element.

Joe Minnich, a condo risk consultant, spoke on how loans secured by an individual unit in a condominium project have greater risk than found in typical SFR lending. Lenders must address the various layers of risk to ensure that the loan is of saleable quality and the likelihood the borrower can/will repay the loan.

To read more, click here

My comments: Bill Rayburn, Chairman, and CEO at mTrade, is an excellent speaker and very savvy. I have known him for many years. FYI, CRN (Collateral Risk Network) was set up for AMCs and lenders. It was “closed” to appraisers for a while but is open now. Worth attending.

Fannie New Appraisal Form Modernization

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on Fannie December newsletter, estate appraisals real estate market, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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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




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.


Reliable MLS Data important for appraisals

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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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?

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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