Appraisal News and Business Tips

Mortgage applications

8-23-19 Newz: Deminimus = $400,000 – Highest and Best Use – Fannie Cost Approach

Highest and Best Use – Residential Appraisers Need To Understand It!

Excerpt: There are many valuation products out there. CMA’s, BPO’s and AVM’s to name a few. What you will likely not see in those kinds of valuations, is the specific zoning class for the property being valued. Why?

With these types of valuations, a highest & best use (HBU) analysis is generally not made. However, if you hire an appraiser to value your home, we will perform this analysis. What is a highest & best use analysis? Why is it important in the development of an opinion of value? How is zoning involved?

To read more and see the fun animated gifs click here

My comments: My Most Frequent Residential Appraisal Rant!! I started at an assessor’s office in 1975. The First, and Most Important, Question was “What is the highest and best use?” In 1986 I started doing residential lender work. The form was just a check box for HBU. If you checked No, it was a big problem for the lender. Many residential appraisers don’t check the zoning, general plan, etc. One good way is to just drive around and see what is happening. For example, lots of small homes being torn down and McMansions being built. Or, lots of houses on a busy street converted to office uses. Or, a small house on a big lot with apartments all around it. A common residential issue is a possible lot split.

Don’t forget the General (Or Specific) Plan. It tells you what the city wants today and in the future for land use, which is not discussed in this article.

I have appraised a lot of older commercial properties for lenders, which often had a HBU different than the current use. I discussed it in my appraisals.

When there is a big difference in value between two appraisals, it is often due to a difference in opinion of HBU. Don’t get into trouble. Be sure to think about HBU!! If you’re not sure, contact an experienced appraiser, particularly one who does a lot of non-lender work and/or commercial appraisals.

In the Feb. 2017 issue there is an excellent article written for residential appraisers by Denis Desaix, “Residential Highest and Best Use Analysis: more than Just a “Check box” available to paid subscribers. See below.

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8-9-19 Newz: Evaluations and USPAP – Zoning Codes – Inspection Standards?

9 Very Funny Quotes for the Self-Employed Appraiser

Just For Fun!!

Some great, very funny, animated gifs ;>

Here are a few comments:

“The crappy thing about being self-employed is I never believe myself when I call in sick.”

“Things people say: ‘It’s Friday!’ Things self-employed people say: ‘It’s Friday?’”

To read more, click here

My comment: We all need some appraiser humor! Something for everyone in this blog post!! Unfortunately, animated gifs usually don’t work well in these email newsletters. You Just Gotta See Them!!

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8-2-19 Newz: Frank Lloyd Wright Fixer- Spreadsheet Shackles – Homes under $100,000

Spreadsheets: A Shackle to the Appraisal Profession? 

Excerpts: How can spreadsheet software hinder the profession? A Wall Street Journal article, and a presentation at the Appraisal Institute National Conference have similar stories. One addresses accountants, the other is about appraisers.

The 2015 AI meetings presentation: Will Appraisers Have to Learn to Use Real Analytics Software? was given by George Dell. The main point was that accountant’s software was primarily developed for record-keeping, mimicking paper columns and rows, with analysis a later goal. Other points are:

  • Validating and tracking data is difficult.
  • No built-in audit trails, nor tracking of changes.
  • Regulatory compliance is difficult to accomplish.
  • Susceptible to trivial human errors ETC.

To read more, click here

My comment: Read this article. I totally agree. I started using spreadsheets in 1981 for financial analysis. When I started my appraisal business in 1986, commercial appraisers were using spreadsheets for Discounted Cash Flow. I knew the many problems with spreadsheets’ reliability.

They are particularly unsuitable for statistics as they are not statistics programs. In my MBA program in 1979, I used SPSS for multiple regression analysis, connecting to a large computer.

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7-26-19 Newsletter 25th Anniversary! – Appraiser vs. Zillow – $11 Million View

25th Anniversary of These Weekly Free Email Newsletters!!

On June 17, 1994, I sent out my first weekly email update to Tracy Taplin, Bruce Hahn, Tom Cryer, and John Warr. Bruce Hahn still subscribes. The topic was FIRREA/deminimus. I missed a few weeks (computer problems, traveling) but subscribers became “hooked” on their weekly news, jokes, rumors, and tidbits! The distribution list is over 17,000 appraisers now, and growing every day.

This newsletter started with my Compuserve account, then shifted to my personal email (Eudora) after the first web browser made the internet email much easier to use. I mostly had people write down their names and email addresses when I was teaching, speaking or doing my annual conference. It is very hard to figure out hand written email addresses!

I set up my website in 1998 and had an email form to fill out to subscribe. It took a lot of time to manually enter the names and email addresses. Keeping track of email changes was a nightmare. In 2003 I started using Sparklist to help manage the addresses but it was klunky to use and was getting very expensive. I got up to about 3,500 subscribers. In 2008 I started using Constant Contact, which is very affordable and easy to use. I put a signup form on my website home page. The number of subscribers increased rapidly and is now at over 17,000.

In the early years it had just a few paragraphs. By 2003 it was up to about 3-4 pages long. Since 2008 it has been about 4-5 pages, but was formatted to be much easier to read.

The topics have changed over the years, starting with FIRREA in 1994. Mortgage loans and appraisal orders have gone up and down significantly over the years. Significant mortgage broker pressures from about 1995 to the mortgage crash in 2008, AMC takover, Fannie’s CU in 2015, etc. etc.

I started my paid newsletter in June, 1992. In 2008, I switched to PDF-only and quit printing it. Lots more flexibility in length, plus a lot less expensive! Started with 12 pages. Now typically well over 12 pages, up to about 18 pages.

Note: I somehow forgot about it last month ;>

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7-19-19 Newz: Rates Going Down?- Appraiser Boards – AVMs Misunderstood?

AVMs Are Not Understood By A Large Swath of Non-Appraisers

Source: Jonathan Miller
Here are some recent survey results that show more than half of the respondents indicated, it is either NEVER appropriate or NOT SURE if it is appropriate for a non-appraiser to perform a valuation on a home.
So the jury is still out for a third of respondents but a third are absolutely sure it is inappropriate. One can infer that appraisers have an opportunity to convey what AVMs really are to the public.
Link to NAR AVM survey results click here
My comment: Good graphics and easy to read. Lots of topics including AVMs, desktops, bifurcated, etc. Results of a survey of NAR members. Lots of topics. Scroll down to AVMs, etc.
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6-28-19 Newz: Coester Loses Lawsuit – Fannie Appraiser Update – Secret Stairways

What I think about bifurcated appraisals

Have you ever done a comp check for a mortgage broker or lender in the past? They are appraisals. You only have public records and maybe MLS. You may have driven by the property, but probably not.

What about drivebys? You drove by the outside, but never saw the rear or interior.

With bifurcated appraisals, at least you have photos, measurements of the exterior, descriptions of what the exterior and interior rooms look like, etc.

What about having trainees do them, under your supervision? A great way to get new appraisers started. I spoke with one appraiser who is doing this.

All appraisers rely on public records, MLS photos and descriptions, etc. We don’t know how accurate this data is.

Check out the company doing bifurcated appraisals and their forms software data handling. Do not work for one that requires that you manually fill in a 1004P, for example. How long have they been in business? Are there appraisers in management?

Whether or not you do them is a business decision. They are less risky than comp checks and drivebys. You have more information, assuming they do not make up the photos, sketch, etc.

The Bottom Line: appraisers don’t like change, just like most people. Some adapt, some decide not to change.

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6-21-19 Newz: MLS Cyber Attack – McMansions – FHA and Risky Loans

Valuation Is Not A Guessing Game, It’s a Development Process

Excerpts: If you’ve ever had an appraisal of your home completed, perhaps you can relate to the following scenario: insert image

The appraiser arrives at your home. You know that they have probably done a little research on what potentially comparable sales in the neighborhood are selling for.

The appraiser views each room in your home, taking photos and notes as they go. The appraiser asks you about any improvements you have made to your home in recent years.

At the end of the inspection, you assume that the appraiser has to have some idea about what the value is likely to be. You ask the appraiser, “Well…What do ya think?” What you’re probably really wanting to know is what the appraiser thinks your home is worth. At this point the appraiser is likely to give an evasive reply that doesn’t answer your question. Why?

To read more and see the funny animated fotos and gifs click here

My comment: written for homeowners, but some good ideas for appraisers. You can use for ideas for speaking to real estate agents, for example. Or, can give (or send) the owner a link to this article.

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5-31-19 Newz: Hit the Sales Price – Hybrid Warning – Guitar shaped Hotel

Why do appraisers hit the sales price?

By George Dell

Excerpt: A recent study includes a graph which shows that some 90% of appraisals hit the sale price exactly, or were higher, while only some 10% were below the sale price (when the sale price is known).

Is this a bias on the part of appraisers, or is the bias the cause of the system? What could possibly cause this strong upside skew?

First, ignore the ongoing pressures from the entire ‘loan industry’ to make the loan, make the commission, make the quota, make the bonus, and look successful. Ignore the claimed purpose of the public trust (of our quasi-governmental standards and licensing quagmire).

The goal of protecting the public trust failed, and will fail again— this time with different excuses and blaming— but it will fail again.

Let’s look at some underlying economic truths and social/governmental policy. What economics and public policies come into play here? Three come to mind immediately:

To read the full, very interesting post click here

My comment: When I started my appraisal business in 1986, I was told by local very experienced appraisers to appraise at the sales price or I may be kicked off a lender’s approved list. Of course, since I was trained at an assessor’s office, I was shocked and refused to do this… There was always another lender client I could get.

Dell’s blog has very short posts. My June paid newsletter will have a much longer article written by him: “Old Versus New: Conflict or Opportunity?” It has a brief look into the past, including a photo of an acoustic coupler for connecting to remote sites. Plus, of course, comments on the future! I remember 30 baud transmission rates in the early 1980s connecting from my home PC to my company’s servers;>

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5-10-19 Newz: Fannie Changes – Appraisal Changes – Very Crooked House

How is Appraisal Gonna Change?

By George Dell

Excerpt: What new “appraisal methods and techniques” have we seen? As I speak to reviewers who see valuations from around the country, there seems to be a degradation of quality. Less analysis rather than more. Less explanation rather than clearer logic. More “trust me” and less “see my reasoning.”

What does the world really need? Trust my opinion-or see the result? Trust my comps-or see market parameters.

Competitors for valuation, risk, and investment needs want “better, faster, cheaper.” For now, lets just look at “better.” What is “better?”

“Better” is actually fairly simple. There are only three parts: 1) is the right question being asked; 2) is the result true (accurate); and 3) how sure (precise) is the result? So, let’s look briefly at each of these needs, and how each can be helped with today’s technology.

https://georgedell.com/how-is-appraisal-gonna-change/

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5-3-19 Newz: AMC Shockwave – Zillow Accuracy – 25 Appraisal Errors

25 Common Errors in Appraisal Reports

A compilation of the most common errors and deficiencies found in appraisal reports by reviewers, regulators, and appraisal boards.

Here are a few:
– Not providing enough analysis for the intended user or reader to understand the report properly.
– Inconsistencies between the description of the subject property in the improvements section and the photographs, sketch, sales comparison grid, and other areas in the report.
– Inappropriate use of boilerplate commentary in the appraisal report to describe the neighborhood or to explain the reconciliation of the sales comparison approach.
– Failure to summarize the analysis and rational that supports the Highest and Best Use opinion.
– Not complying with the most current USPAP.
Read the full list here:

My comments: Reminders are always good. For unknown reasons, I don’t see much CE or writing on these problems. These apply to all appraisals because we are licensed, not just lender appraisals.
It was soooo nice in the “old days” before licensing ;> Two Rules: Tell the  truth and disclose what is bad. No USPAP changing every two years, overzealous appraisal boards, renewal fees, etc.. Of course, the reason we have licensing is the lender mess in 1989, resulting in FIRREA,  regarding bad commercial property development loans by S&Ls
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