Appraisal News and Business Tips

real estate market

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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7-5-19 Newz: Zillow Past and Future – Coester- Lots More Info – North Dakota Waivers

Zillow – the past and the future

Zillow’s new photo algorithm

Zillow’s New algorithm uses photos of your home to check quality and curb appeal plus a look back at when Zillow started, and info on their ibuyer service

Excerpt: “We’ve taught the Zestimate to discern quality by training convolutional neural networks with millions of photos of homes on Zillow, and asking them to learn the visual cues that signal a home feature’s quality,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief analytics officer & chief economist, said in a Medium post announcing the new algorithm. “For instance, if a kitchen has granite countertops, the Zestimate now knows — based on the granite countertop’s pixels in the home photo — that the home is likely going to sell for a little more.”

To read more, click here

My comment: I am trying not to think about this…… Maybe North Dakota can try using Zillow on their rural properties….

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Zillow – tales from when it started plus ibuyer

Excerpt: Every night for five months before the launch of Zillow’s website in February 2006, employees gathered their Dell desktops on Ping-Pong tables, connected them to harness their combined processing power, and strung together extension cords to get them all running. To avoid overloading the circuits, they unplugged the office refrigerator and banned Christmas lights. Then, while most of them slept, this jury-rigged supercomputer analyzed a decade of property records and American housing market data in order to spit out price estimates for 43 million homes.

To read more, click here

My comment: Published in Forbes. Well written and researched. I liked Zillow’s history plus a good analysis of their ibuyer service – the new wave of purchasing homes and selling them later.

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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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6-14-19 Newz: Refis up 47% – Appraisal Hearing – Suburb Definition

Lender Overlays and FHA Appraisal Requirements

Excerpt: FHA requirements re: approaches to value

Regarding the approaches to value, the HUD Handbook states, “The Appraiser must consider and attempt all approaches to value and must develop and reconcile each approach that is relevant.”

Translation: If the appraiser determines an approach is necessary for credible assignment results, the appraiser must develop that approach. When appraising new construction or a dwelling that is one year old or less, it is likely that the appraiser will need to develop the cost approach. As in any appraisal, if the appraiser decides not to develop one or more of the approaches, he or she will need to support that decision.

For info on site requirements, etc click here

My comment: AMCs and lenders can have some strange requirements. It’s always good to know what FHA says.

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How Should We Define the Suburbs?

Excerpt: The problem (lack of a definition) stems from the fact that U.S. statistical agencies (the Census Bureau and Office of Management and Budget) do not provide a systematic definition for suburbs. They offer classifications for metropolitan areas and micropolitan areas, a classification of urban and rural areas, and a category of principal cities, but nothing of the sort for suburbs.

Very interesting with a good table To read more, click here

My comment: Appraisers have to identify on forms if a property is urban/suburban/rural. Also percent built up. Rural can affect loans sometimes. I have never seen any clear definitions. Now I know why!

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6-6-19 Newz: What’s Fannie Doing and Why – Shadow Banks – Photoshopping

Tracking the Economy Through New-Home Square Footage

Excerpt: The U.S. housing market may not be synonymous with the business cycle, as a famous 2007 paper proclaimed, but the ups and downs in housing, which represents a big part of the economy, usually do offer hints about what’s going on more broadly.

That’s why economists closely watch housing market indicators like sales volumes and home prices — as well as how Americans are accessing the market and managing their obligations to mortgages, rental costs, taxes, and so on.

To read more, click here

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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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5-17-19 Newz: Dancing and Crooked Houses – Will Appraisals Be Transformed??

Will Fintech Transform/Disrupt Appraisals?

Bifurcated appraisals is the “tip of the iceberg” in changes coming to lender appraisals

I recently attended Jeff Bradford’s excellent presentation on coming changes in the type of valuation used in the residential mortgage industry. I also attended a webinar “New Valuation Trends Disrupting the Industry” that focused on the lender side, especially loan originations. Both saw significant changes coming in the next 5-10 years, going from legacy to digital lending that will transformational.

Both used the term “Fintech” regularly.
Here are two definitions “computer programs and other technology used to support or enable banking and financial services” and “fintech is one of the fastest-growing areas for venture capitalists”. I have written about several VC funded appraisal companies in this newsletter, both residential and commercial, working on new ways to make appraisals more efficient.

Both presentations talked about many ways, such as using AI, photos and data to evaluate interior condition, estimating square footage without measuring, “real time” google earth, etc.

I will be writing about both presentations in the next month’s issue of the paid Appraisal Today.

For more info, google Fintech and mortgage lending and/or Fintech and mortgage lending appraisals. FYI, I did not know what fintech referred to and had to google it after the presentations;>
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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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