Appraisal News and Business Tips

square footage

6-7-18 Newz//Square footage, Novelty Architecture, Appraisal Fraud

It’s not all about square footage in real estate

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpt:
Myth: Extra square footage is always worth more.
Factors:
1) Single story vs two story
2) 55+ Community
3) Layout
4) Dangerous to always adjust

Worth reading, plus appraiser comments at:

Goofy Buildings: Revisiting the Heyday of California’s ‘Crazy’ Novelty Architecture – Giant hats, portly pigs, and drive-thru donuts.

Just For Fun!!

Excerpts: In the 1930s, a British traveler in Southern California wondered if the local architects had gone a little nuts. It was either that or he had stumbled into a fantasy universe. There was something trippy about the roadside shops he saw along the way…

The unusual businesses he saw weren’t on some Hollywood backlot, but were California’s classic coterie of mimetic architecture-that is, buildings shaped like, well, anything but buildings. According to Cristina Carbone, a professor of art and architectural history at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, the practice dates back to at least the Renaissance.

Fascinating!! Lots of photos and interesting comments at:

Read more!!

3-15-18 Newz//$2,358 PSF Small Tract House, Water Heaters, Affordable Beach Towns

$2,358 per sq.ft. for small home in Sunnyvale CA

Excerpt: This home on Plymouth Drive in Sunnyvale, Calif. recently set the highest price per square foot ever recorded by the Multiple Listing Service. The two bedroom, two bath home – 848 square feet in size – sold in two days for $2 million. It had been listed for $1.45 million. That means it sold for $2,358 per square foot, which is the highest price per square foot in Sunnyvale recorded by MLS Listings which has data going back to Jan. 1, 2000.

My comment: It did have new paint inside and outside plus refinished hardwood floors ;> Check out the fotos for a boring tract house. I got Mine. I am sooo glad I bought my house in 1985 for $145,000, worth about $900,000 now!! Mine is twice the size of this one, but not close to Google or Facebook (30 miles away, but could take the employee Google bus which comes here.)

The World’s Best Affordable Beach Towns

Just For Fun!!

Excerpt:
Here are two, not too far away:
3. Tulum (Mexico) Luxury condos in new developments and single-family houses under $100,000
9. Dominical Beach (Costa Rica)

Check out all of them at:

Read more!!

1/24/18 News//New USPAP Q&A-Hybrids .Dying Appraisal Profession? .Cat Urine & Big Data

Is the Appraisal Profession Dying?

By George Dell
Excerpts: Yes. Appraisal as we know it is dying.
Can it be saved?  No.
So what should I do?  What should “we” do?

To answer these questions, we need to look at causes and conditions. Some of these are obvious.
– Judgment is good; Analysis is better.
– Human generalization is excellent; Computation is fast…

So what can we do? If we cannot be saved. If computers are faster. If we have complete data. If we too have software.  If we too can provide results instead of opinions…  Leads to an obvious question: Can an experienced appraiser do these things as well as, or better than those others?

Worth reading at:

Read more!!

Fannie warning letters – GLA adjustments and lots more coming

Fannie warning letters-GLA adjustments

Fannie has been sending out warning letters to appraisers about variations in Q and C ratings. Now they are sending out letters about using low GLA adjustments. According to people who attended, or heard about a recent speech that Bob Parsons of Fannie Mae gave an appraisal conference, $25 per sq.ft. Seems to be used by lots of appraisers for lots of properties that vary widely in size, etc. I wasn’t at the speech and don’t know what was actually said, but $25 per sq.ft. Was used in a large number of appraisals.

A quote from a recent email I received: “A friend of mine just got a letter from Fannie Mae stating that they have been monitoring his reports for 6 months. In that time they said he used $35 Psf for gla adjustments 14 times. This is a warning. Further action may be required if this continues.” I haven’t seen any of the letters myself but have been hearing about them for a few months. This The last two sentences have been pretty common in the warning letters sent about Q and C adjustments, which are a lot more shakey to support and are much more controversial.

Hmm… In my area, the San Francisco Bay Area, with a median home price of $601,000 in October, 2014, slightly down from June as many markets have slowed down. San Franciso’s median home price is around $1,000,000. I hope no one there is using $25 per sq.ft.!! Except maybe in neighborhoods with relatively low home prices or some lower priced condos condos. In my small city of 75,000 population the median price in October 2014 was $690,000. Our prices are around the median for the area. Very few homes or condos under $300,000.

Sq.ft. is one of the easiest adjustments to support, as compared with lots of other features. For many years, it has been one of the few almost always reliable adjustments when using regression analysis. You can sometimes even use matched pairs. I have no idea why appraisers don’t try to figure out an appropriate adjustment.

This is just a start. Read info on Fannie’s UCDP Fannie Mae Appraisal Messaging Change Notification” – link below, with a list of all of the appraisal data that Fannie is looking at below.

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Dave Towne on Collateral Underwriter
Thanks to appraiser Dave Towne (again) for his Most Interesting Comments:

Appraisers……..

Many know by now that the GSE’s…primarily FannieMae……..have instituted a new ‘appraisal scoring’ procedure based on an electronic read of your reports ……….. specifically on a SFR 1004 or the Condo 1073Those are the only forms currently being analyzed by the CU process.

On Nov. 18, 2014, FNMA released a document named “UCDP Fannie Mae Appraisal Messaging Change Notification” which you can find here:  https://www.fanniemae.com/content/release_notes/ucdp-change-notification-01262015.pdf

I encourage all appraisers to actually read this document … all 11 pages.

When you do read this document, you will learn that your reports are being compared to your peer’s reports, and to your other reports, and to some unidentified ‘model’ FNMA uses.

Some of the ‘checks’ being performed by the CU process include these:

The reported GLA is materially different than what has been reported by other appraisers.

The reported lot size is materially different than what has been reported by other appraisers.

The condition rating is significantly different than what has been reported by any other appraiser.

The quality rating is significantly different than what has been reported by any other appraiser.

Here are a few that can cause real concern among appraisers:

The GLA adjustment is larger than peer and model adjustments.

The GLA adjustment is smaller than peer and model adjustments.

The view adjustment is materially different from peer and model adjustments.

And I just love this one:

The appraiser-provided comparables are materially different than themodel-selected comparables.

It’s time for appraisers to get serious about meeting your peers in person, compare notes, and develop a regional adjustment chart for all variables … much like that yellow legal pad paper you were handed when you got in this business …. that paper with the ‘required’ adjustment amounts on it for almost all items.

Oh … and when you get that knuckle slapping letter from FNMA saying your adjustments or comparables don’t match the ‘model’ be sure to get the specifics and pass on ‘model info’ to your peers.

Yep, appraising real property and developing an opinio

My comment: Fannie, please send me all my adjustments. Then I won’t get questioned by my state regulator (hopefully), underwriters, reviewers, etc. I would really like to know what adjustment to be made for all the unusual features in the homes I typically appraise – most built before 1930 and many built before 1910 with all types of additions, remodeling, etc. Even tract homes have stuff like converted garages, original kitchen and baths, inlaw units in rear, views, etc. Of course, I have been using regression since the 1970s on homes and very few adjustments are very reliable. I wonder how Fannie is going to do it.

I remember commercial appraisers used to talk about getting cap rates from bottom of a stone monument ;> Maybe we are still looking for that darn piece of stone!!

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Dave Towne on Big Data, Hedonic Regression, etc.

Appraisers………

The new Collateral Underwriter electronic review process developed by FannieMae has many appraisers on edge. This will become the ‘ultimate authority’ or gold standard for reviewing appraisal reports as of January 26, 2015 …. at least as far as FNMA is concerned. Your reports will either ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, depending on many factors. Some of those factors are outside your immediate control.

“Big Data” is one giant pile of stuff that is being put into the CU pot, stirred together like a stew. Except there is no master chef involved that ‘we’ can interact with. Instead we have a bunch of secret sous chefs each contributing a chunk of meat, a bit of spice, some chopped carrots, and a few potatoes. None of them, or us, really knows the actual CU recipe, because part of what’s in the stew is a ‘model’ of something unknown. But some of that Big Data in the CU stew could be yours … or it might be data provided by your peer appraisers who work in your area – that your reports will be compared against. Not too tasty you say? Just add more pepper.

An aspect of this Big Data stew is Census Tract home price analysis, which is compared against your appraised property value. As an exercise, everyone reading this immediately write the neighborhood description using N, S, E & W directionals for the census tract in which your home residence is located. What? You don’t know the boundaries of your census tract? For shame! Some people using the CU stew might think you are deficient because you don’t know price trends in the exact census tract of the appraised property.

Then we have Hedonic Regression. It’s not a bad thing. But it’s becoming the buzz words of our appraisal adjustment process. It’s a ‘background component’ in the CU process, moving farther forward, faster than some might expect.

Bet you didn’t know that the adjustment grid is a form of Hedonic Regression! It’s a way a certain property’s components of value are itemized separately. By using Hedonic Regression, the individual value of the adjustable components can be calculated and plugged into the adjustment grid. In theory, this can lead to a more accurate property value.

The folks at Bradford Software were among the first to begin promoting use of regression techniques by appraisers. In other ways, the other appraisal software companies and some independent developers have been working on individual processes to make “Regression” more palatable and useful to appraisers. Bradford, and the independent developers, have either report software, or separate spreadsheets, that can help calculate property adjustable components, which in turn can lead to a more credible and supportable opinion of value for the appraised property.

The days of “I’ve been an appraiser for 27 years, so I know what this house is worth” are rapidly coming to an end. The Big Data CU stew is overtaking appraising like the snow avalanches that have closed State Highway 20 in north Washington State in the Cascade Mountain range, not far from where I sit in my cozy bathrobe and bunny slippers.

My observation in this process is that appraisers, as a group, are not statisticians by training and are somewhat scared of that term – even though ‘we’ deal with lots of statistics and data. Thus, appraisers don’t have a clear understanding of what “Regression” is, or does. As a result, ‘we’ have been reluctant to embrace this ‘actually old’ technology in modern appraisal reports. And ‘we’ certainly are skittish about FNMA’s soon to be released (to lenders only) Collateral Underwriter which will analyze reports using “Regression.”

Another perspective on this topic is from this blog: http://www.housingwire.com/blogs/1-rewired/post/32165-does-fannie-mae-support-appraisers  This one is written by one of the regression spreadsheet developers, currently available to appraisers.

And for info on Hedonic Regression: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonic_regression

My comment: When I first started doing residential lender appraisals in 1986, we used census tract maps to find the code. Later, the codes were available on computers and we did not use maps. However, I found that they were very good for defining neighborhoods. I guess we all forgot about them since few, if any, appraisers look at the maps. I still have my old census tract books.

Appraisal Today newsletter

10 reasons why public records and the appraiser’s square footage can differ

My comment: Too many AMCs think that the assessor’s office square footages are correct, and the appraisers don’t know how to measure. Unfortunately, some appraisers just “fudge” the measurements to fit the assessor’s records. Big Mistake!!

From Ryan Lundquist’s Sacramento appraisal blog at www.sacramentoappraisalblog.com

I love this blog!!

Here are 2 of the 10 reasons:

5. Permitted but not updated: Sometimes a home owner will do an addition with a permit, but the Assessor’s office never updates the property’s profile.

8. Ceiling height: A ceiling has to be at least 7 ft tall, and have at least 50% of the ceiling at a height of 7 ft. Sometimes a converted attic won’t meet these requirements, so the appraiser cannot consider it as square footage. It might still add value, but it won’t be included in the living area.

Click here to go directly to this blog posting

http://sacramentoappraisalblog.com/2014/04/29/10-reasons-why-public-records-and-the-appraisers-square-footage-can-differ/

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How accurate is the reported square footage from the tax records in your primary service area?

How accurate is the reported square footage from the tax records in your primary service area?
3/10/14 poll – www.appraisalport.com
Poll Results
– Very accurate for most homes 869 votes – 16%
– Mostly accurate (about 75% of the time) 2495 votes – 55%
– Hit and miss (about 50% of the time). 1470 votes – 27%
– Not reliable (accurate less than 25% of the time). 475 votes – 9%
– The tax records do not usually show the square footage in my area. 127 votes – 2%
Total votes = 5,346
My comment: AMCs seem to be assuming that tax records are more reliable than appraisers’ measurements. WRONG!! I started appraising at an assessor’s office in 1975. We were no more accurate than any other appraisers and never thought that our square footages were exact.
I used to do a lot of relocation appraisals where 2 or 3 appraisers were hired to appraise the same property. Very, very seldom did the appraisers have the same square footage.
A few years ago, a local real estate agent asked me about an appraisal where the sketch did not match the house. Tax records sq.ft. was way off. The appraiser had “fudged” the dimensions to match public records.
Do many appraisers do this to avoid AMC hassles or they were taught to do this by their supervisors?
I have always looked at tax records sq.ft. as a cross check, but never assumed it was more accurate than my measured sq.ft. In some neighborhoods and cities they are accurate and are very unreliable in other areas as they often are not correct.

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