Tools To Support Appraisal Adjustments

What Tools Do You Use to Support Your Appraisal Adjustments?

By McKissock

As part of our monthly survey series, we asked our community of real estate appraisers, “What tool(s) do you use to support your appraisal adjustments?” Respondents were allowed to make multiple selections and write in their own answers as well.

Popular tools include Synapse by Spark, Solomon Adjustment Calculator, and Redstone by Bradford Technologies. The majority of respondents said they use a combination of various tools and methods, such as paired sales analysis.

We’ve included “paired sales/matched pair analysis” in the list as well, even though it’s a method rather than a digital or appraisal software tool, because it was mentioned by so many appraisers.

A few sample appraiser comments:

“I am capable of determining the adjustments without any software. I look at the MLS data and am able to determine appropriate adjustments. I would need to know all of the assumptions the software takes into consideration before I would trust the adjustment with my signature.”

“I use Synapse by Spark for typical property adjustments and Solomon for more complex properties.”

In addition to the top answers, we received many other write-in responses. Sample responses:

Allocation method


Cost to build

Sample appraiser comments

“Due to rural location, there are no algorithmic tools to be utilized for adjustment data. I utilize paired and grouped data analysis and experience and knowledge.”

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Short, well written, and Very Interesting, especially the appraiser’s comments! I quit doing adjustments a while ago. I always do market conditions adjustments (or explain why not) and for views and other factors that significantly add to value.

I have never used any of the appraisal software listed above. I use Excel and MLS data. I often go back in time for comps with views, etc. I also interview agents to see what they say. Not for a number, but about marketability.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on Geographic Data and Comps, effect of renovation on value, very low foreclosures now, current real estate market, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.


Read more!!

Appraisers Riding the Waves of Up and Down Mortgage Rates 

The Surfing Appraiser

Riding the Waves of Up and Down Mortgage Rates 

By Mark Buhler

Excerpts: Riding the waves of the appraisal profession can result in a range of outcomes and emotions over time. Appraisers, and surfers, have varying levels of experience, and experiences. Most appraisers have been through some extremely busy seasons that have been very positive. Those same appraisers have gone through droughts, where appraisal orders dried up.

Appraisers have been blessed to have the independence and autonomy to create whatever they want for themselves. Most workers in America do not have the same opportunities for success and advancement that appraisers have. Look at this lull as a time of opportunity. A time to finally work on and execute a plan for your business.

During the refinance boom of the early 2020’s, the majority of appraisers did not have time to come up for air. The waves of work kept them down, and every time they got a chance-they grabbed the next order (or wave) and maximized the opportunity while it was there. Appraisers were busy cranking out appraisal reports. Now appraisers are not busy, but they should be. Do not get out of the water and put your surfboard away. Stay out there, splash around in the calm ocean, there are waves coming.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: Read the full article! This article uses surfing as an excellent illustration. In my 20s, I lived in my van for a few years and parked it near my surfer friends’ house in Santa Cruz, CA. They surfed every morning when the waves were good (Steamer Lane), cold or raining. When the waves were low, they stayed home or went over to see if there were any changes. I watched and listened to them talk about it and learned a lot. A very good analogy to appraising.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on , , VA changes, State Appraisal Board problems, gratitude for appraisers, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

Read more!!

NAR Member Survey on Appraisal Data Collectors

NAR  Member Survey on Data Collectors

Excerpts: In May 2023, NAR surveyed its members pertaining to data collectors in the appraisal process. Here are a few of the many survey results.

Survey respondents

Sales agents accounted for the largest proportion, with 45% of participants holding this license. Brokers followed with 24%, and appraisal-certified professionals comprised 14% of the respondents. Broker-Associates and Appraisal Licensees accounted for 13% and two percent, respectively, while the remaining two percent reported holding other types of real estate licenses.

According to the survey responses, the majority of participants (76%) perceive the quality of property data collected by data collectors to be lower than that collected by appraisers themselves. Conversely, 23% of respondents believe that the quality of data collected by data collectors is comparable to that of appraisers.

The survey findings indicate that 30% of respondents reported that a data collector had given them the impression that they were the appraiser or had a role other than merely collecting property data.

Fifty-one percent of respondents expressed safety concerns with the data collection process.

To read more, click here

My comments: Now we know what NAR members think about it. Not very positive. I was surprised at how negative they were. Read the full report. Very interesting. I am working on an article on Hybrid Appraisals for the November issue of Appraisal Today. To me, the big issue is who is doing the inspections. Only appraisers do the appraisals. I see very different levels of inspectors.

Before Covid, I talked with various AMC upper-level managers who were testing it. What they were doing about inspectors had a wide range. They included appraisers, real estate agents, and someone with a week, a month, or online video training. They should definitely not be paid the same. An AMC can offer different levels to their clients, depending on how much reliability their lender customers want or need.

On a more positive side, I have done thousands of drive by appraisals since 1986. I drove by the house and looked at what was nearby, etc. For example, I’m appraising a Victorian built before 1910. There is no way to know what the inside looks like or the foundation (many are brick). Using MLS photos is a joke, as real estate agents don’t take photos of defects. A buyer gets a seller’s disclosure statement for that information. I would be more comfortable if someone used an app that was set up to take specific photos, do floor plan, etc. At least I would have some independent photos.

Data Collectors: Appraisers vs. Uber Drivers

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on  Fannie and state regulators, appraiser inspection training, real estate market, unusual homes, mortgage origination

Read more!!

Appraiser Countersues Alleged Discrimination

Appraiser Countersues Black Plaintiffs Who Alleged Discrimination

by Isaac Peck, Publisher WorkingRE

There are now a number of lawsuits facing appraisers where the primary allegation is racial discrimination.

Tate-Austin v. Janette Miller, filed in California in Dec. 2021, was one of the first (and perhaps the most publicized). But since late 2021, a number of similar lawsuits have popped up—from North Carolina to Maryland.

Connolly & Mott v. Shane Lanham et al. is one highly publicized lawsuit covered at length by mainstream media–CBS News, The New York Times, NBC, CNN, ABC News, and more.

Filed in August 2022 in the U.S. District Court of Maryland, Connolly and Mott allege that Lanham discriminated against them and violated professional appraisal standards because of his allegedly “racist beliefs” (among other things).

Mr. Lanham is now countersuing Connolly and Mott for labeling him a racist, making false and defamatory accusations, and causing severe harm to his business, his reputation, and his well-being. Alongside his counterclaim, Lanham has also filed a Motion to Dismiss Connolly and Mott’s initial claim, arguing that they have failed to show any facts that support he discriminated against them.

“Plaintiffs cannot transform allegations of incompetence or a breach of appraisal industry standards into racial discrimination by baldly alleging that Mr. Lanham believed that Plaintiffs did not belong in their neighborhood and that their home was worth less than other homes because of their race. There are no facts alleged in the First Amended Complaint, and none can be alleged with good faith, that Mr. Lanham treated Plaintiffs any differently than homeowners of other races,” the motion reads.

To read more, click here

My comments: Long article and worth reading. Discusses many issues and lawsuits. I don’t write about this topic much. My opinion is that everyone is biased against something. I learned I was biased against young Black men when I was on a criminal jury many years ago.

When a young Black man, the defendant, walked into court, I immediately thought he was guilty. I sent a note to the judge who excused me publically in court. I was very, very embarrassed. But it would have been a lot worse to stay on the jury and vote to convict him. My parents raised us not to be prejudiced against anyone. But I grew up in Tulsa, OK, next to Greenwood, an area of successful Black residents prior to 1921. The Tulsa race massacre occurred on May 31, 1921. I never heard it mentioned by anyone. Older people, who knew about it, never spoke of it. Some newspaper issues were destroyed.

I assume that since I had been appraising in high crime neighborhoods, I became prejudiced. I work hard not to show it. I don’t cross the street when I see a young black man coming towards me, and I smile when we pass, but I do get a little nervous. What is most important is recognizing and not acting on your prejudice.

I have been tempted to lower a value when an owner’s large do dog jumps on me or tries to bite me. But I know I don’t like aggressive large dogs and don’t let it affect my value.

Of course, some appraisers could be biased. But, for residential lender appraisers, there is no advantage to coming in “low” on any residential lender appraisal. You may lose a client.

In the past, appraisers were trained by FHA to redline, with lower values in Black neighborhoods. Appraisal textbooks and classes included this. But, it all changed in the mid-1970s, when I started appraising and was no longer allowed. Hopefully, I would not have become an appraiser working for residential lenders before then because of the obvious bias.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on AirBnB, state board complaints, real estate market, non-lender appraisals, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.



Read more!!

What Are Fannie’s New Appraisal Online Formats?

Fannie’s New Appraisal Online Formats

By Brent Owen


To Be Or Not To Be (a form), That Is The Question

The first thing to notice is that the ‘form’ isn’t really a form anymore. It is more of a complex decision tree or flow chart, where ‘yes/no’ questions trigger new sections and required data and supplements. For instance, answering ‘yes’ to a question about noted deficiencies will create a new section where details are needed regarding the deficiency which include further questions about whether or not repair is required and if so, the estimated costs of those repairs and section to provide a photo of the deficiency. All of that is integrated into the URAR itself. It is through the use of this decision tree model that the GSEs are able to use the same ‘form’ for almost any residential property type conceivable.

The Never-ending Story

It is also apparent that the report will be far longer than its predecessor. Appendix D-1 contains a sample URAR of a simple single family residence with no site value, cost approach, or income approach, with only 3 sales and very limited commentary and no additional addenda (with photos, maps, and graphs integrated into the URAR). The report was 21 pages, and would still be at least double the length of the current URAR without the integrated photos, map, and graphs.

That in and of itself isn’t necessarily a problem. After all, my typical reports are more than 40 pages long. It’s not the length of the report which is of ultimate importance, it is the time necessary to develop the appraisal that is key. My sense so far is that there will be some additional time necessary (beyond the expected additional time necessary to become proficient with the new format and associated technology).

To read more plus appraiser comments, click here

My comments: Read this article! A good analysis in one location. I have read lots of very short comments, but this one is much longer. Unfortunately, Fannie has not provided separate information for appraisers. The announcement included many pages as it was for everyone: appraisers, forms vendors, lenders, AMCs, etc., with lots of very detailed information.

Appraisers – The Past and The Future

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on Appraisal Institute President, non-lender appraisals, Changing state appraisal laws, Fannie modernization, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

Read more!!

State Appraisal Boards – What Do They Look For?

The State Appraisal Board Wants to Throw Me Under the Bus, Right?

by Barry Phillips and Tim Andersen

Excerpts: So, what do the investigator and the state board look for as part of their investigation? Again, simply put, the investigator and board look to see if the appraisal meets the requirements of USPAP’s Standard 1, and if the report meets the requirements of USPAP’s Standard 2. Everything else in such an investigation is merely an elaboration of the answers to these two questions.

Nevertheless, there is a warning due here. Increased numbers of state appraisal boards are looking at complaints against appraisers from the standpoint of the consumer, rather than that of the client and/or the intended user(s).

This, to a great extent, is a function of the current political climate. As all appraisers are aware, the consumer has no standing with the appraiser (assuming the consumer is not the named client or intended user). Nevertheless, state boards tend to favor the consumer (the complainant) over the appraiser (the respondent).

To read more, click here

My comments: Good analysis of how state boards work and what they look for. Tim Andersen, MAI, is definitely “The” USPAP Expert.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on Fannie Modernization, non-lender appraisals, liability, lender bias, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

Read more!!

Fannie Mae Takes A Closer Look at Appraisals

Sins of the Past Are Back to Haunt Appraisers

Fannie Mae Takes A Closer Look at Appraisals

By Richard Hagar, SRA




In the recent past, when appraisers were swamped

Even with the Collateral Underwriter program review, appraisers were overwhelmed. Every lender and AMC were seeking and hiring review appraisers in order to keep up with demand. Due to the shortage of review appraisers (exacerbated by low fees and time pressures), tens of thousands of poorly created appraisals were accepted without receiving adequate review.

Unfortunately, because many appraisals were rarely rejected or required corrections, appraisers developed the false notion that poorly crafted appraisals were okay to turn in. Many appraisers were bragging about their ability to fill out two or three appraisal forms a day and receive no call-backs from lenders.

However, time and time again we’d review appraisals, that were accepted by lenders, but had failures such as:

• No highest and best use analysis (as if vacant and improved).

• Failure to make appropriate time/market adjustments (positive or negative).

• Using only a single approach to value.

• Incorrect land values.

• Square footage costs and depreciation based more on opinion than reality.

• Unsupported adjustments (adjustments based on “my 30 years in the business” instead of facts).

• Failures to personally inspect and photograph comparables.

What’s happening now

FNMA indicates that their 2022 lending volume is down 47% from 2021 and is expected to drop by another 50% in 2023. So, it’s pretty safe to state that the “appraiser shortage” of yesteryear is over, and reviewers now have more time on their hands.

Which appraisers are going to survive when the loan volume is down 75-85% and the poor appraisals of the past are catching up with the appraiser today? Well, for the most part, it’s based on the quality of the appraisals delivered to lenders over the past five years.

Do you believe that the quality of your work ranks you as a tier 1 appraiser or do you have a little concern about your rating? Tier 1 appraisers have little to fear but tier 2 and 3 appraisers…

What you can do today

Today, you likely have more time on your hands, so slow down and take more time improving the quality of your work. Superior quality appraisals can set you free.

Learn how to accurately determine adjustments. Follow the ANSI standard when measuring the subject (even if you disagree with the method — it’s the requirement). Take more classes! Don’t stop taking classes just because you have enough CE credit to meet your next renewal; that mentality is for the bottom tier of appraisers.

I typically obtain double the CE credit hours necessary to renew my certificate…double! Why? Because I want to do things better, obtain higher fees, and survive the purge that is coming. Lenders have more choices, and you need a way to stand out from the bottom tier and low fee appraisers.

To read more, click here

My comments: Worth reading. Hagar is one of the best residential appraisal instructors. I have known him for over 30 years and have taken many of his classes. Richard can be a bit negative but states what is really happening and what you need to do. Many thanks to Ryan Lundquist’s 2020 blog post for the very appropriate image above!

I also think that now is the time to increase your appraisal skills by taking classes and seminars. I also have always had more CE hours than I need.

I am an appraiser because it is challenging and never boring. I quit working in labs because it was boring after 7 years but have never been bored appraising. I want to be the best appraiser I can be. (I have always been an over-achiever).

Consider doing non-lender appraisals. I have been doing them since 1986 and writing about them in my monthly newsletter since 1992. No CU, UAD, reviews, many pages of differing AMC requirements etc. Your requirements are in USPAP.


Reliable MLS Data important for appraisals

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on State board complaints, non-lender appraisals, mortgage forecast, real estate market changes,  unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc

Read more!!

Appraisals and Water Frontage

Appraisals and Water Frontage

Steven W. Vehmeier


What about an off-site water view?

In a large townhouse-style condominium complex, there were only eight units that had water views. The view was of a section of the Intracoastal Waterway. It was from the second floor only, and over a six-foot high concrete block wall and across an open field. The builder charged more for those units because of the partial view.

My research discovered that the open field had just been purchased by a group that was building a four-level high-and-dry boat storage building. That bit of news made quite a few folks very unhappy and had a distinct impact on the value of those units. The moral of this story is that when you see open land between your subject property and the water, review ownership and the local building and zoning department’s comprehensive land use plan.

Water rights play a major role

With many water fronting properties, the topics of “riparian and/or littoral rights” (and the “prior appropriation doctrine” in the western states) come into play, along with several other issues. Those topics are fodder for other lengthy blog posts all by themselves. Appraisers should familiarize themselves with their state laws regarding water frontage and related rights, as they can vary from state to state.

Among the rights that come with real property ownership is the right to exclude others. When oceans, lakes, bayous, estuaries, rivers, streams, and ponds are involved, this right is a large part of what property purchasers are paying for.

To read more, click here

My comments: Worth reading, especially the last section “Final thoughts on the topic.”

I have lived in my island city for 42 years and had two waterfront homes, with docks, during the first 30 years. Both had many water related issues. One was on a tidal canal and built around 1943. Over time many homes along the waterfront, including mine, had non-permitted structures built over the water. The canal was owned by the state with an unclear easement for building beyond the rear lot line. The property owners asked me to do appraisals on the homes, including the rear structures but did not like my very high fee. It was so complicated the state and the city gave up trying to straighten it out.

The other home, built in 1946, faced a small bay off an outlet to a large part of San Francisco Bay. The large rear part of the lot was owned by the state and the city, which was leased to the homeowner. When the state said they were considering giving public waterfront access along the rear of all the homes unless we paid an annual lease fee, based on the extra lot square footage, we agreed to pay it.

I always wondered what other appraisers thought about these issues. They may not have even recognized or asked about them. Appraisers called very rarely.

I will never forget one of my first house appraisals here. The owner said it had a Bay view but did not mention you had to stand on the toilet to see through the window. After that, I told them the view had to be from a chair that you sat in!

Read more!!

Appraisal Time Killers To Avoid!

Time Killers: The Biggest Time Management Challenges for Appraisers

McKissock – Survey
Excerpt: What’s one thing you wish you could STOP doing to save time in your workday?
Answering phone calls (28%)
“Phone calls usually are from another client and slow down the task I am trying to accomplish.”
“Phone calls interrupt train of thought and emails aren’t any better. It’s hard to work when parties are micromanaging your work.”
Providing status emails (23%)
“Some clients are sending multiple emails daily on the same property with status update requests. I know some of these are automated, and they can really be annoying and are clogging my inbox.”
“Often, almost everyone involved in the transaction calls or emails for a status. That includes two agents, the processor and loan officer. That situation is very burdensome.”
To read all the challenges plus appraiser comments, click here
My comments: Worth reading. Good tips. I have always had an office assistant to handle these types of problems, since my third month in business in 1986. I had never had a clerical job and was ready to quit appraising. I hired someone to help me. My current assistant has been with me for 18 years.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on non-lender appraisals, home inspector strange thinks, appraisal license problems, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

Read more!!

Drainage Problems Can Damage Foundations – Appraisers Check It

Watch out for drainage problems when doing your appraisals!! 

When I first heard about the collapse of the Florida condo tower, I immediately thought about a drainage problem. Previous engineering reports revealed the problems – pool leaks, water not draining properly, etc. The condo building was constructed before building codes were changed to help avoid their problem. No one knows why the building started collapsing. Drainage Problems Can Damage Foundations

Limestone is under all of Florida. In parts of South Florida, the porous limestone is not good for foundations as there is less soil covering the limestone. I have seen many videos of saltwater intrusion flooding streets. The water came up through the limestone, caused by sea-level rise.


I always check for any drainage problems at homes. They are relatively easy to spot and can cause significant damage. I appraise many hillside homes, which can easily have problems. I look at where the gutter water drains and how it is moved away from the foundation. Sloping floors are another indication of possible foundation problems.

When I go into an unfinished basement, I look for water problems. One good indication is that everything is raised from the floor. Also, water stains on the lower part of the concrete. The water is coming through the foundation. A sump pump can help.


Properties I have appraised with obvious drainage problems:

– 2 story home on a hillside. Saw radiating cracks inside on both floors in the same corner. At the corner outside of the home was a small round drainage catchment about 1 ft. in diameter, without a way to drain it away from the house. The water came through the rear of the foundation because there was no drainage system.

– Home on a hillside that was moving down the hill. Standing water under the house. Unlevel floors. Big foundation cracks. Known area of problems. Relocation appraisal with two appraisers. The other appraiser did not mention anything.

Note: A good fix for hillside homes is a “french drain” in the ground that takes the water to the sides of the home, with plastic pipe to keep the water from the sides of the foundation.

– Duplex I own on a mostly level site. Tenants mentioned water coming inside the garage on one side. They had moved everything near that side of the garage off the floor. Both units were on level ground with raised foundations. The front garage was on a slight downslope. I replaced the gutters and drains so the water drained away from the foundation. I regularly check for any problems during the winter rains. No foundation damage, fortunately.


To read an excellent article on how and why concrete fails, Click here.

Modern concrete lifespan is roughly 50-100 years. The Florida condo building is 40 years old. “Concrete is poured around steel rebar, which gives it tensile strength. But tiny cracks — found in all concrete — cause water to start rusting the steel, which then expands, cracking the concrete.”

Photos of the Surfside basement taken before the collapse show steel rebar breaking all the way through the concrete to the point at which it is fully exposed to the salty and humid Florida air.”

We definitely have a significant infrastructure problem. Replacing concrete is very expensive: building foundations, bridges, freeways, etc.

I have watched several documentaries about what happens if there are no humans to maintain buildings, roads, bridges, etc. The roofs fail first, and water comes inside. Concrete and steel are damaged by water. Roads break down. Bridges collapse. When doing appraisals, I always tell the owners to be sure their roof does not leak. When they see stains in the ceilings, the roof has already started leaking.

Read more!!