Appraising Fixer-Uppers

What About Those Fixer-Uppers?

Insights from a Seasoned Appraiser
By Steven Vehmeier
Excerpt: We’re all familiar with the term “fixer-upper.” For many different reasons, properties can come on the market in less-than-par condition. The degree and cost to cure become an issue to buyers and sellers, and a challenge for appraisers. At some point, it’s no longer “normal market value minus cost to cure equals as-is value.”
The terms “entrepreneurial incentidddve” and “entrepreneurial profit” are typically discussed in terms of investment property, but the principles involved can also be applied to the many fixer-uppers—whether the buyer is a “purely investor type” or an “owner-occupied investor type.” Maybe a couple of new terms should be discussed: “sweat equity incentive” and “sweat equity profit.”
To read more, click here
My comments: Most of my appraisals are for estates (date of death). I have never appraised a home that was ready for sale when the person died: staged, new paint and floor coverings, yards cleaned up, etc. I very seldom have any repair estimates or structural pest control or home inspection report.
I always assume the home is empty of furniture and “broom clean,” which I learned doing lots of REOs in the past. If a home is cluttered with personal stuff, the price will be lower. But, it can be fixed easily and inexpensively. If it is a mess, I tell the executor to call me when it is cleaned out so I can see what the walls, floors, kitchen countertops, etc. look like.  If I can’t see, I disclose this in the appraisal and do my best to figure out a condition estimate.
Very few MLS listings here are not fixed up for sale. I look for “fixer”, “contractor”, “as is”, “handyman”, etc. in the description.

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 unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, Fannie and condos, real estate market, fixer uppers, etc

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Glass Pyramid House in Volcano, Hawaii for $120,000

Excerpt: Many of the neighbors are hobby farmers who grow bananas, tea, vegetables, citrus fruits, and bamboo. Tucked into the Royal Hawaiian Estates neighborhood, the area offers a side of Hawaii worlds apart from the tourist-heavy destinations of Waikiki or Lahaina. It is 35 minutes from Hilo.
The listing, outside the pyramid, is a covered dining area and an exterior rock enclosure with a sink, toilet, and bathroom. There’s also a system for off-grid power and dual catchment tanks for water. If you’re wondering about electricity, yes, this pyramid is equipped with LED lighting, so you can see after nightfall.
To read more and see the photos, click here
My comment: I want it! The town’s median price is $75,000. I have always wanted a Hawaiian getaway since I am only 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean ;>
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Direction Sign of Main Street and Wall Street

Tech companies & Wall Street targeting residential real estate

By Ryan Lundquist
Excerpts: Factors:
1) Huge rent growth is propelling big funds: Having lofty rent gains in recent years has caught the attention of big investors and is essentially allowing them to play the market these days. It’s wild to think investors can presumably make the numbers work after ten years of price growth…
3) Profit and Convenience: The iBuyer model is nowhere near a dominant force in the marketplace, but we’ve seen exponential growth over these past three quarters. A dissertation can be written on what these companies are doing, but I want to make a simple point…
To read more, plus a link to Ryan’s previous article and over 40 appraiser comments, click here
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Another Related News Item: Zillow buying homes and flipping. Are they making any money? Some are saying Zillow is paying too much for the homes. To read more, Click here
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How to get more appraisals done without working longer or harder!

  • Top 10 Appraiser Time Wasters And What to do About Them By Doug Smith, SRA
  • Practical tips you can use today for getting more appraisals done and make more money
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CFPB settles with nation’s largest reverse mortgage lender over “deceptive” home estimates

In a lawsuit filed October 8 in the U.S. District Court of California’s Central District, the CFPB alleged that Irvine, California-based American Advisors Group (AAG) sent borrowers deceptive consumers to take out a reverse mortgage. The direct mailers advertised a prominent “estimated home value,” per the court filing, which the CFPB claimed was inflated.
The agency does not explain how it determined the values were inflated, nor does it offer documentation to explain how it calculated the difference between the allegedly inflated values and the accurate values. Per the lawsuit, the midpoint of those values were inflated on average by 18%, while at the high end, the values were an average 28% higher.
To read more, click here
My comment: I guess the Primary Appraisal Rule is showing up again: if the appraisal is not the number you want, it is wrong – too high or too low. I just had to include something about high values, since all I hear about are low appraisals.
Their values came from AVMs, maybe with “proprietary” methodology to get higher values? Hmmm…
I did a few reverse mortgage loans for a major lender in low-income neighborhoods many years ago. I quit taking appraisals from them because it included equity splitting. The borrowers I spoke with did not understand what was happening. Reverse mortgages are complicated.
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Round Houses – What and Why

10 amazing round houses from around the world – Amazing!!
Birkedal, Isle of Møn, Denmark (PHOTO ABOVE)
Nine cylinders interlock to make up this retreat on the island of Møn in Demark. A wooden home that goes against the grain, architect Jan Henrick Jansen designed and built the property over the course of five years.
To see more photos and info on other very unique homes,click here
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Why our ancestors built round houses – and why it still makes sense to build round structures today – Fascinating!!
Excerpts: The oldest forms of indigenous shelter were often round in shape. (Think the Southwest USA Hogan, Mongolian Yurt, North American Teepee and the Greek Tenemos, among others.) Why did our ancestors choose to build round? Because the ovid shape — eggs, earth, tree trunks, and stones — is what they saw reflected in the surrounding natural environment. And, as usual, Mother Nature knows best. There is some nifty natural science that makes round buildings more comfortable, more energy-efficient and safer — especially if you combine the ancient shape with modern materials.
Wind and tsunami waves move naturally around a round building rather than getting caught at (and potentially ripping off) corners. A rounded roof avoids ‘air-planing’- a situation where a strong wind lifts the roof structure up and off of the building.
To read more and see lots of photos, click here
My comment: I did not know about the advantages, and history, of round houses. Mostly saw them as houses I would not want to appraise as there are very few here ;>
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Fannie News: Appraising and underwriting condo and co-op projects

Excerpt: Lenders and appraisers have interconnected duties when it comes to condo and co-op projects. For loans sold to us that are secured by units in condo and co-op projects, lenders are responsible for determining that the projects meet all applicable Fannie Mae eligibility requirements. Appraisers must document any special assessments or significant deferred maintenance that may impact the unit’s safety and soundness or marketability, or the financial stability or physical safety of the overall project and its amenities.
My comments: For appraisers, Fannie references special assessments, but also includes: “Significant deferred maintenance may be described as a part of the condition of the individual unit or may be a part of the overall project information (condition section) in the report.”
I was not surprised to hear about the recent collapse of part of a condo project in Florida that revealed significant problems that can occur. Homeowners not wanting to increase dues or do special assessments becomes a larger problem as they get older and need work. Florida does not require a reserve study but requires a reserve schedule for the repair and replacement of major components.
In the mid to late 80s, when I started doing lender and FHA appraisals, I was required to review condo documents, reserves, maintenance expenses, etc. In a nearby city, there were several large older townhome projects with significant problems: few reserves, deferred maintenance, etc. I reviewed all the documents and disclosed any problems in my appraisals.
Since then, I have always reviewed the reserves, expenses, etc. If I can get them, I read newsletters from the HOA. Fortunately, in California, reserve studies have been required for a while, every three years. The HOA is responsible. I always write about the reserves, maintenance issues, etc. in every condo appraisal.
Very similar condo projects can vary widely in dues and special assessments. I have seen significant value differences between the projects with different costs.
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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 paid monthly newsletter, Appraisal Today. I have been following this data since 1993. For more information or get a FREE sample issue go to https://www.appraisaltoday.com/products.htm or send an email to info@appraisaltoday.com . Or call 800-839-0227, MTW 7 AM to noon, Pacific time.

Mortgage applications increased 0.2 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 13, 2021) – Mortgage applications increased 0.2 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 8, 2021.
The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 0.4 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 1 percent from the previous week and was 16 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 2 percent compared with the previous week and was 10 percent lower than the same week one year ago.
“Mortgage rates reached their highest level since June 2021, but application activity changed little this week. An increase in home purchase applications offset a slight decline in refinances,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “The increase in purchase applications was welcome news, but was primarily driven by a 2 percent gain in conventional purchase applications, which kept the average loan size elevated.”
Added Kan, “The 30-year fixed rate reached 3.18 percent last week and has risen 15 basis points over the past month, resulting in an 11 percent drop in refinance applications during this time. Government refinance applications fell over 3 percent last week, driven by a decline in FHA refinances and an 8-basis-point increase in the average FHA mortgage rate. We continue to expect weakening refinance activity as rates move higher and borrowers see less of a rate incentive.”
The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 63.9 percent of total applications from 64.5 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity remained unchanged at 3.4 percent of total applications.
The FHA share of total applications decreased to 10.2 percent from 10.5 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 10.2 percent from 10.3 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications decreased to 0.4 percent from 0.5 percent the week prior.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($548,250 or less) increased to 3.18 percent from 3.14 percent, with points increasing to 0.37 from 0.35 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $548,250) increased to 3.22 percent from 3.20 percent, with points increasing to 0.29 from 0.27 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to 3.20 percent from 3.12 percent, with points remaining unchanged at (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 2.48 percent from 2.45 percent, with points increasing to 0.29 from 0.24 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 3.08 percent from 2.54 percent, with points increasing to 0.26 from 0.16 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased 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.
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Ann O’Rourke, MAI, SRA, MBA
Appraiser and Publisher Appraisal Today
1826 Clement Ave. Suite 203 Alameda, CA 94501
Phone 510-865-8041

What is Included in Appraisal GLA (sq.ft.)?

Stairway to Confusion – What is Included in GLA?

by C. Brett Bowen
Excerpt: There has been considerable discussion over the years about gross living area (GLA) measurement standards. The ANSI Z765 standard gets the lion’s share of the attention, and is the most widely referenced standard in the industry by far. It can also be the most difficult to interpret, particularly when it comes to stairs. Here’s why.
It is primarily important to recognize two very important facts:
 1) a standard is nothing more than the definition of a unit of comparison
 2) it is the appraiser’s responsibility to be consistent with that definition.
First, what do I mean when I say that a standard is nothing more than the definition of the unit of comparison? The unit of comparison for something is critical to the understanding of that thing.
Second, as an appraiser, consistency with the definition is actually more important than which definition is chosen.
To read more, click here
My comment: Worth reading. I have seldom used ANSI. The standards were developed for new home construction. I have appraised many homes on hillsides, with often only the garage at street level (or just a driveway). Many historic homes, on level streets, have different types of “basements” converted to living area: above grade, partly below grade, etc. If I worked in suburbia, ANSI would work better. I use what the local market tells me.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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Wholesale lender has AMC-free appraisals

UWM launches AMC-free appraisal program to coordinate appraisals in-house

Excerpt: The Pontiac, Michigan-based wholesale lender will instead coordinate appraisals in-house, contracting with appraisers directly, offering appraisers and brokers a way to bypass AMCs altogether, which UWM CEO Mat Ishbia characterizes as “middlemen.”
During a Facebook Live address, Ishbia proclaimed that while AMCs add value to the industry, appraisals have been a stumbling block for the mortgage industry.
“It’s going to be cheaper for consumers and more money for appraisers because there’s no longer going to be a middleman with UWM Appraisal Direct,” Ishbia said.
To read more, click here
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Comments from Rob Chrisman’s daily email mortgage newsletter 9-13-21
Critics wonder if appraisers will sign up for UWM’s program, or any program for that matter, given the amount of business licensed appraisers have already. AMCs take about $125-150, maybe as much as $200. If a company like UWM offers $150 more than AMCs to take their orders, does it come with a price, such as an appraiser saying they won’t do business with other AMCs? Stay tuned!
To read lots more, click here Search for appraisals.
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Comments from AppraisedValue (Housing Wire) email with comments. No link available.
The larger question is whether UWM’s direct-to-appraiser approach will be attractive enough to keep appraisers too busy to work with AMCs and whether other lenders will follow suit. As our story notes: Likely the strongest incentive for appraisers is that UWM will pass along the full appraisal fee paid by the borrower. And, while AMCs have been dogged with allegations of late pay, UWM will pay appraisers the next business day after a successful appraisal completion. 
Still, some AMCs, such as Class, have already instituted a process to pay appraisers within 24 hours. And some lenders don’t want the headache of bringing valuation in-house.
My comments: I like what UWM is doing, of course. As we all know, there are much more significant problems with AMCs than money, such as long lists of requirements, including everything from every lender they work for!

Appraisal Business Tips

Humor for Appraisers

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Market Decline Coming for Appraisals?

Is There a Market Correction on Its Way? 

by Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpt: When will the market correction arrive?

I have no idea, but there will be warning signs, and that’s what this blog article is about. Fluctuations in market activity are common, but unseasonal and ongoing changes of any of the signs listed below can often be red flags. Additional indicators can be some of the factors that led up to the last market bust; there are plenty of articles online with which to familiarize yourself.

What will be the early signs?

Some early warning signs of housing market correction are:

A) Listing inventory in MLS starts to climb steadily. Increasing inventory is generally a sign that buyers have stopped buying (due to prices being too high or a lack of consumer confidence), or there are just fewer ready, willing, and able buyers in the marketplace.

B) Days on Market for listings increase. This event is usually linked to item (A) above.

C) Listing prices begin to stabilize, and reductions in listing prices become more common, which is a sign the market is becoming saturated…

So many appraisers missed the early signs in the last boom’s bust that resulted in claims (valid or not) of over-valuations followed by lawsuits, E&O insurance claims, and regulatory disciplinary actions. Maybe this time, we should pay closer attention to the indicators…

To read lots more tips, click here

My comments: Most Excellent list of what to look for. Very comprehensive. I have been appraising during many up and down cycles in Northern California, starting in the late 1970s at 2%+ per month, followed by a crash in 1980 when interest rates went up to 15%+. Those were the days when lenders told appraisers not to make time adjustments!! Even though we don’t like the 1004mc, it forced lenders and appraisers to look at price changes.

No one knows when the increasing market peaks, but there are signs of a decline, listed in the blog post above. I sold my house in March 2008 and did not anticipate the market crash a few months later. I was very lucky. There had been some modest price declines for about 6 months previously.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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Location, Location, Location In Appraisals

What’s Location Got to Do with It?

By Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpts: We’ve all heard the old mantra that real estate is all about “location, location, location.” A perfect example of the importance of location in appraising can be found in The Villages in central Florida.

The development called “The Villages” has seventy-eight communities, each called a “village,” ranging in size from 100 to around 1,500 homes in each. In total, there are somewhere around 140,000 residents, and the home prices in these individual villages range from the low one-hundred thousand up to a couple million. In some cases, villages located near and/or adjacent to each other can vary significantly in price….

An appraiser not familiar with The Villages could easily over-or under-value a property by mixing villages. For example, let’s say the subject is a 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 2,000 square foot home with a two-car garage on a typical sized lot. It would not be hard to find hundreds of homes with similar physical characteristics nearby; however, some might be located in the “wrong” village…

Can we apply this “village” concept to other areas? Are there typically many villages or neighborhoods in and around most major cities? Do the same principles apply in comparable selection and resultant values? Of course, they do!

To read more, click here

My comments: Very interesting “case study.” Tim Andersen soon will have two articles on neighborhoods and what USPAP says in Appraisal Today monthly newsletters.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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What should appraisers look for in a sales contract?

What should appraisers look for in a sales contract?

By Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpt: When should we analyze the contract?

Looking at the sales contract early on allows the appraiser to identify any “subject to” items or other conditions that could influence the value conclusion.

However, reviewing the contract early might also put the sales price in the back of the appraiser’s mind. And although it shouldn’t, it may unintentionally influence the appraiser’s comparable selection and eventually impact a direction in value.

Maybe looking at the sales contract only after developing the appraiser’s opinion of value would help avoid the above concern?

To read more, click here

My comment: Some interesting, and maybe controversial, ideas. Short and worth reading.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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Subjective Language in Appraisals

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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Why is the Appraisal Under Sales Price?

Top Ways to Defend Your Work When the Appraised Value Comes in Under Sales Price

Excerpt: As a real estate appraiser, you’ve likely encountered assignments in which the purchase price is not supported by the available comps. So, what are the best ways to address complaints and requests in these situations? To find out, we (McKissock) asked appraisers, “What’s your top tip for defending your work when the appraised value comes in under sales price?” Here’s what they said…
How to prevent and prepare for complaints and requests
Many survey respondents emphasized the importance of making sure your work is as detailed and well-supported as possible—by means of careful comparable selection and analysis, thorough documentation, and clear explanation of why the available comps do not support the contract price…
To read more, click here
My comments: Lots of good ideas. Worth reading

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Appraiser Client Relationships are Very Important

Relationships… The Lost Art

Mark Skapinetz

Excerpts: Relationships. It’s a lost art of business when it comes to the appraiser profession…

From 2009 to about 2019, I was doing Lender appraisals, and deep down, something was missing. I would only be talking to customer service reps, people overseas that the AMCs subcontracted out to review work, and I had no one to go to with my issues and ideas. I know nothing about these people, and they don’t know anything about me.

Building this referral or relationship business wasn’t going to be easy, and it most certainly wouldn’t include any lenders that used AMCs for their ordering process. I needed to look elsewhere for this to happen. Where did I go? I went to the Realtor Facebook groups, Investor groups, and recently, I went to the new platform called clubhouse.

To read more, click here

My comments: I started my business in 1986 and mostly worked for lenders, but also worked for a wide variety of other clients: relocation companies, attorneys, private sales, estates, title companies, etc.

I quit doing residential lender appraising in 2005, before the crash. I had personal relationships with all my local and non-local, lender clients. Very few revision requests (wrong address, missing value, etc.) and no competitive bidding, etc.

Most of my referrals have been from local real estate agents or my website. I went on our weekly broker open house tours almost every week since 1990 and was active in the local association of Realtors.

I have been writing about non-lender appraisals since I started my paid newsletter in 1992 and have spoken to appraisers all over the U.S. and Canada about appraisal marketing.

Appraisal Business Tips including Marketing 

Humor for Appraisers

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Zoning and Appraisals

The Infamous History of Zoning in the Housing Industry (Video)

Excerpts: History of zoning in the housing industry and how past practices shape the problems we are currently experienced today.

What was the purpose of zoning in the very beginning? How exactly were these practices harmful to people of color? What are some of the problems we see today because of this? These questions and much more will be answered.

To watch the video, click here

My comment: A controversial topic. Today this often involves “downzoning,” allowing for properties to have more than one unit or more density – apartments, condos and townhomes.

Experts Say Zoning Changes Are Most Effective Path to Boost Housing Supply for a More-Balanced Market

Excerpt: A Zillow survey of economists and other real estate experts finds high costs are expected to slow construction and may lower homeownership among today’s 30-somethings. Relaxing zoning rules is what the panel says would be most productive to increase new housing supply.

Other ways include:

  • Ease the land subdivision process for landowners
  • Relax local review regulations for projects of a certain size
  • Accelerate adoption of new construction technologies (e.g., modular building, 3D printing of certain components)

To read more, including details and the full list of survey suggestions, click here

Zoning in the Appraisal Process

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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