4-21-16 Newz .Levitating houses .Murders in house .Unhappy appraisers

Levitating houses?


… One architect’s proposed solution for low-lying cities that have trouble with flooding. Inspired by amphibious houses, Lira Luis’ concept asks: what if buildings could avoid flooding simply by not touching the ground at all?

As sea levels rise, some low-lying cities have started experimenting with floating buildings and amphibious houses. But one architect has another unlikely sounding suggestion: What if buildings could avoid flooding simply by not touching the ground at all?

Architect Lira Luis thought of the concept as she was working on another installation that happened to be on water and required invisible, easily removable attachments. She started using magnets for the attachments, and when she accidentally held the magnets the wrong way, she noticed that they repelled each other even through a layer of water.

Click here to read. A bit “techie” but fascinating.


Thanks to Matt Cook for posting this Most Interesting Link!!

My comment: This is very relevant for predicted increases in sea levels. I live in a low-lying coastal city in San Francisco Bay. Recently, part of the city’s flood maps were revised to 100 year flood levels, requiring flood insurance if you have a federally insured loan. As usual, all the complaints from owners were about having to buy flood insurance. My house is about 5-6 feet above typical high tide now. When there are very high “King” tides (high tide plus heavy rains), it is closer to high tides. Flood maps for all coastal areas in the country are being revised.

Read more!!

4-14-16 Newz .Bad Banks .10 Very special homes .Future of appraising

Poll: Generally speaking, how accurate do you find MLS data in your area?


This week’s poll: “Now that we have been living for some time with all the new rules governing residential appraisal, do you still enjoy doing the actual appraisal work?” Go to www.appraisalport.com and vote!!

My comments: I have no idea why so many people think that MLS data is correct!! Of course, it does vary a lot among MLSs. In my area it is “reasonably accurate”, except public records data is often used (and the source disclosed). For example, on the weekly open house tour last week, an agent had 2 bedrooms in the listing, because “that is what public records says”. The second bedroom was tandem with another bedroom and very small. We all know how (inaccurate) public records are. Somehow, everyone, including some appraisers, think it is accurate. Or, worse, try to make their appraisals match public records to avoid callbacks.

To make a comment, scroll down to the post below and read other appraisers’ comments and post your own!!


10 homes that changed America (PBS – April, 2015)

Excerpt: In its 10 Homes That Changed America, a three-part series, PBS discusses the many ways that America has been shaped by its iconic and important architecture. According to series host Geoffrey Baer, narrowing the millions of houses across America down to ten examples was a challenge. The tv show tours the ten homes that have not only passed the test of time but also paved the way for those that followed.

Here are a few, with photos and brief descriptions at the link below:

– Taos Pueblo, New Mexico (circa 15th century)

– Glidehouse, Novato, California (2004)

– Mid-19th Century Tenement, New York City


My comment: Fascinating!! The first one of the 3-part series has already aired. Be sure not to miss the rest. I will let you know when the first one is available for viewing online.

Read more!!

3-24-16 NEWZ .What is a bedroom .GSE reform .Property taxes

 Shushtar (Iran) Historical Hydraulic System

This beautiful system of tunnels built into natural rock serves as a centuries old plumbing system.

Excerpt: The water streaming from the caves and tunnels of Iran’s Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System looks like it is flowing through ancient tunnels created by massive worms, but really, the elaborate system of waterworks was built by different civilizations over centuries of development.

Beautiful fotos. Very interesting!!



Most popular links from the past two weekly email newsletters:


Philadelphia’s original tiny houses


Repurchase Demands and Unacceptable Appraisal Practices by Rachel Massey


Read more!!

5-12-16 Newz – Geographic competency – Killing home values – Fair housing

The Most Insane Property Description Ever

Short descriptions, click here for some humor!! Reminds me of the times I am driving to the subject, hoping the house ahead is not the one I am appraising… Probably not the Most Insane, but definitely reality-based!!



These Neighborhood Amenities Can Kill Your Property Value

Excerpt: In real estate, the phrase “cash is king” is oft overused. However, if you’re struggling to sell a house in a bad ‘hood, then you already know that in reality, location is king. Purchasing a home in a great area, or an area that is up-and-coming, can help maximize the value of your home investment.

So what can tear your property value down faster than a tree through the roof? The following infographic from Realtor.com offers insight-and some will surprise you!

Link to original article:


My comment: Of course, the effect on value varies by location – cemeteries for example.

Read more!!

3-10-15 Newz – Pulling permits, Fannie FAQs, Refi revival etc.

Appraisal and Property Related Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

February 12, 2016

This FAQ document provides responses to common questions related to Fannie Mae’s property eligibility and appraisal policies. Following the FAQs, the Attachment on page 10 provides Guidelines for Using Market Conditions Addendum to the Appraisal Report (Form 1004MC).


My comments: This document does not have a lot of new material, but it is always good to read this so you can cut and paste some of Fannie’s comments into your reports as an explanation. In this month’s paid Appraisal Today I had two articles on the 1004mc form:

1004MC – the good, the bad, and what Fannie says

Statistical errors in the 1004MC by George Dell, MAI, SRA – He has been fighting with Fannie since the form was first required in April 2009

More articles are coming soon in the paid Appraisal Today on how to handle the issues.

Read more!!

Newz 2-25-16-True cost of low fees, FHA appraisals, Worst street names, Appraisers with guns

20 worst street names


I’m sure the folks on Cannibal Road are lovely people, I just won’t be attending any of their dinner parties. These are the streets that you don’t want to find yourself driving down – trust us, no good can come from a stroll on Buckets of Blood Street. Proceed with caution..


Thanks (again) to Jonathan Miller for this great link!!

What are the strangest street names you have seen?


My comment: Yes, there is an O’Rourke Street in a nearby city!!


How many appraisers are doing FHA appraisals now?

From www.appraisalport.com

My comment: I suspected that most appraisers will do them even with all the additional work required. Only 13% have given up FHA appraisals.

Read more!!

Newz: 2-18-16 No amcs – Banks fined – College degree

Toronto’s Half House

Willy Wonka would love this weird half-a-home


No, this isn’t a trick of Photoshop. Nor is it the world’s nastiest spite house; rather, this bonafide half-home shares more with its nail house brethren after witnessing a history of blight and zoning changes.

The lone row home at 54 1/2 Saint Patrick Street dates back to Toronto’s slums in the late 19th century. Built somewhere between 1890 and 1893, this bay-and-gable relic from a bygone era once was a one of six identical, structurally intertwined homes on what was then known as Dummer Street

This begs the question: how does half a building cleave away so cleanly only to leave the rest of it standing?

Read more at: Be sure to click on photo full screen to see it better


 More photos and info atClick here Link was too long to post…

Read more!!

Newz// 2-11-16 – Quicken Rocket Mortgage Super Bowl Ad-Tweet O Mania-Price per sq.ft.

Jonathan Miller’s Feb. 5 great comments on Miller-Samuel Housing NotesA few of the topics:

Repo Man Flipping Out In Housing’s Waves – 1 hour and 46 minutes recording of a Bloomberg interview with Miller. Appraisal related discussion starts at about 1 hour, 6 minutes.

Deja Vu All Over Again? Big meeting with lenders and borrowers. Credit issues, deceived borrowers, etc. Miller was the moderator.

Flint Water Crisis – includes Sacramento CA appraiser Ryan Lundquists blog interview with a Flint real estate agents – lenders don’t want to lend

My comment: I can’t wait to see what Miller says about the Superbowl ads!!

Check it out at:



New Trouble Knocks Flint as Mortgage Firms Require Proof of Safe Water

Lenders say they won’t give mortgages unless buyers offer proof of safe water


The severity of the Flint, Michigan, water crisis continues to plague residents, who now have to deal with the possibility that buyers won’t be able to secure home loans in the area, an article in The Wall Street Journal by Joe Light said.


My comment: I am hearing from appraisers that some lenders want proof of safe water in other places. More Scope Creep. Can’t tell by looking at it. Has to be tested.


FHA water quality notices

Thanks to James Shoe for these links!!


FHA with a notice about concerns they have for water contamination, especially in Genesse County (Flint Michigan).  They provided a link to their Knowledge Base FAQ http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/FHAFAQ


The article specifically addressing Flint is found at http://hudgov.prod.parature.com/link/portal/57345/57355/Article/8684/Does-FHA-have-any-policies-requiring-water-testing-in-Flint-Michigan-and-its-surrounding-areas


3 ways price per sq ft is valuable in real estate (even for appraisers) From Ryan Lundquist’s blog. He writes for real estate agents, but some of his posts apply to appraisers also.


My name is Ryan and I use price per sq ft in real estate. There it is. My confession. Are you surprised? I know you’ve heard me talk about how price per sq ft is one of the most abused metrics out there. I still believe that. Yet there are several ways price per sq ft is actually valuable and useful for real estate professionals (even appraisers). So let’s kick around some ideas together below.

1)  Price Per Sq Ft Helps Us See the Entire Market: What have buyers been willing to pay in a neighborhood? It’s valuable to see the price per sq ft spectrum to help answer this question. What is the high, the low, and the average? I ran a CMA of sales over the past 90 days in the Mather neighborhood in Sacramento County (a tract subdivision), and the price per sq ft range is $112 to $206

Appraiser application: Sometimes appraisers mock price per sq ft and treat it like a meaningless metric, but there is actually some real value in using it. Not only can we get a more detailed sense of the market, but we can also communicate well with clients. Consider paying close attention to competitive price per sq ft figures (I know, this may not work in rural markets). If you are coming in lower or higher than the competitive range in the neighborhood, just be sure you know why and can explain why. Also, consider using price per sq ft figures in your final reconciliation. For instance, along with statements about comps, I regularly find myself saying things like: “The final value is also supported by trend graphs as well as competitive price per sq ft figures in the neighborhood.”

Click here to read the other two reasons and the comments.



Adjustments – what to do or not to do?


New in the FEBRUARY 2016 issue of the paid Appraisal Today

Adjustments Part 1 – Are you making too many adjustments? Lots of ideas, research, etc.

– Support vs. proof for adjustments by Bob Keith. A very good explanation of Scope Creep on adjustments. He is the former Executive Director 

of the Oregon State Appraisal Board and is a consultant for appraisers with state board complaints

Identifying Residential Architectural Styles by Mark Nadeau,SRA, Book review. Read my review to decide if you want to buy the book.                        

Two good, practical residential books, with very good tips on adjustments  Book reviews. 

The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal, 6th Edition – Read my review to decide if you want to buy this book. 

Coming in the March 2016 issue:

– Adjustments Part 2 – what adjustment methods do you want to use. There are well over 20 methods.

– How to use your Web site to get non-lender work. The easiest marketing method, by far!! I get half of my non-lender work from my Web site.

Cancel at any time. For any reason!!

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Quicken loan Superbowl Rocket Mortgage ad – Tweet-O-Mania!!


Social media quickly blew up with comments from people convinced Quicken’s product will usher in a second housing crisis by lending to unqualified borrowers. And then the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau joined in.

The CFPB’s tweet – which was posted shortly after the Rocket Mortgage commercial aired, but doesn’t expressly refer to Quicken Loans or the Super Bowl – implicitly warns consumers to be wary of technology in the mortgage application process.

Given that the CFPB has been aggressively pushing a paperless agenda, the response highlights the cognitive dissonance in the messages it and other regulators send to the mortgage industry about how and when to use technology.

See the ad and some of the tweets here:


More commentary in this link:

Quicken Loans Super Bowl ad strikes wrong nerve with Twitteratti and journalists Why let the facts get in the way of fun?


My comment: I watched the Quicken loans ad. Seemed ok to me. For decades, lots of people have been saying “why does a mortgage loan take weeks or months and I can go to an auto dealership and drive out with an expensive car in an 1-2 hours?”


Super Bowl 50: A Housing Highlight Reel contrasts between 1966 and 2016 in Charlotte NC and Denver C 


Census number-crunchers rounded up a collection of facts comparing life back in 1967 to present-day. The play-by-play includes housing stats.

Here are a few stats:

In 1966, The U.S. population was 197.5 million.

The median sales price of a new, single-family home was just $22,700.

In 2016, The U.S. population is 322.8 million-up 63 percent from 1967.The median sales price of a new, single-family home is $282,800.

I shoulda bought something in 1966!! Check it all out and see stats for Charlotte, NC and Denver.

http://blog.rismedia.com/2016/super-bowl-50-a-housing-highlight-reel/ ok


10 Things to Know About Commercial Real Estate Appraisal

Comments by Douglas McKnight, a 22-year veteran commercial real estate appraiser. Written for small business owners.


Small business owners have a lot to digest when it comes to the subject of commercial real estate-especially these days. That goes double for the notion of obtaining an appraisal on a piece of commercial real estate, a process that can differ quite a bit from appraisals done for residential properties. “Commercial is very different from residential in the fact that appraisals are much more subjective in nature,” says Scott Everett, founder and president of Supreme Lending, a mortgage lender in Dallas. “Much of the value derived from a commercial building is based on the rental rates received relative to the expenses paid out. The underlying asset is important, but not even close to the same way that a residential properties value assets.”

Don’t miss the comments. Originally published in May, 2011. Not much has changed since then for small commercial properties except that loans are a bit easier to obtain. Dramatically different appraisal requirements from residential AMC Scope Creep mania!!



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, go to www.mbaa.org 

Note: I publish a graph of this data every month in my printed newsletter, Appraisal Today. For more information or get a FREE sample issue go to www.appraisaltoday.com/products.htm  or send an email to info@appraisaltoday.com . Or call 800-839-0227, MTW 8AM to noon, Pacific time.

Mortgage applications increased 9.3 percent from one week earlier 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 10, 2016) – Mortgage applications increased 9.3 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 5, 2016.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 9.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.  On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 12 percent compared with the previous week.  The Refinance Index increased 16 percent from the previous week.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 0.2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 7 percent compared with the previous week and was 25 percent higher than the same week one year ago 

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 61.2 percent of total applications from 59.2 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 6.4 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 remained unchanged from 11.1 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications decreased to 0.6 percent from 0.7 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to its lowest level since April 2015, 3.91 percent, from 3.97 percent, with points unchanged at  0.41 (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 $417,000) decreased to its lowest level since April 2013, 3.76 percent, from 3.84 percent, with points increasing to 0.30 from 0.26 (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 its lowest level since May 2015, 3.72 percent, from 3.80 percent, with points decreasing to 0.33 from 0.35 (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 its lowest level since April 2015, 3.18 percent, from 3.22 percent, with points increasing to 0.38 from 0.37 (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 its lowest level since October 2015, 2.96 percent, from 3.00 percent, with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.34 (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.


To purchase the paid Appraisal Today newsletter  go to

www.appraisaltoday.com/products.htm  or call 800-839-0227. 


FHA – Crawl space and attics

Crawl space and attics
Random Internet postings….
Man killed in crawlspace of Oklahoma City home, may have been electrocuted
Posted on facebook, reportedly from FHA employees:
– If you can fit through the crawlspace door you must crawl the crawl space and inspect it all.
– Must inspect all the attic if there is access, even if there is no flooring.
My comment: If you’re fat, don’t have to inspect all of the crawlspace? Lots of stories about snakes, rats, dead animals, etc etc in crawl spaces. Appraisers crawling along ceiling joists and going thru the ceiling. Hmm… maybe FHA appraising is for the young, agile and small ;>

Appraisal Today newsletter

FHA new manual 9/15/15 – no changes or USPAP problems?

FHA says no significant changes from previous requirements
My comment: I have heard from knowledgeable appraisers and instructors that there are few changes from the old handbook.
Recent posting by Coleen Morrison on a Facebook group
I heard back from my contact at HUD, and here is what she said: “Ms. Conde [the author of the article] (Ed note: see below) and I have had multiple conversations. FHA has not changed any of its requirements regarding the items that she discusses. If an FHA appraiser was compliant prior to September 14, the appraiser is going to be compliant after. The language has changed a bit, mostly for clarity and format, but the requirements are the same.”
I have written back and asked specifically about their thoughts regarding the Competency Rule. I have been saying the same thing … that nothing has really changed… but I never thought about the Competency Rule. It seems very contradictory when the HUD manual states the appraisal is not to be considered a home inspection;
The handbook states: “FHA appraisals are not a guarantee that the property is free from defects. The appraisal establishes the value of the property for mortgage insurance purposes only. Buyers need to secure their own home inspections through the services of a qualified inspector and satisfy themselves about the condition of the property.”
Adding the statement from the manual into your appraisals, and referencing Assumption and Limiting Condition #5 are 2 steps you can take to help protect yourself. I don’t know how much of a fight we can have against HUD, so if you choose to do FHA appraisals, and you were not doing the extent of inspection which is very clear in the 4001 now, you will need to step it up; add what the HUD manual states above in big bold letters to your report; or choose not to do FHA appraisals. The ultimate choice is yours.
My comment: I quit doing FHA appraisals in 1988, after 2 years on the roster. Too many requirements as compared with conventional. Plus… our local property values had skyrocketed way above the FHA limits… not much work.
FHA vs USPAP – Appraisers Caught in Catch 22
By Joanne Conde
The new FHA Handbook will become effective on September 14, 2015. There has been much discussion of the implications of changing “should” to “must” in thousands of examples in the Handbook. As a Board member of the Arizona Association of Real Estate Appraisers as well as being on the FHA Roster, I have taken a good hard look at these requirements and then, it hit me as I was teaching the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) which is the basis of appraisal standards for every appraiser in the United States. The FHA assignment conditions, whether under “should” to “must” force appraisers into a Catch 22 or turn down the FHA appraisal assignments. FHA is essentially making it a condition of employment that appraisers violate the Competency Rule. Why did I not see this before? I guess because the two never converged in my mind at the same time and I expect that is what has also happened to other appraisers.
It is an FHA assignment condition that appraisers make the following statement within the report: “The utilities were on and functioning at the time of inspection and the home meets 4150.2 & 4905.1 HUD Requirements,” and “Other intended users[of the report] are HUD/FHA.”
Click here to read more and read appraisers’ comments