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50 castles in 50 states
The United States of America is not typically thought of as a land of castles, and with good reason-the uniting of the American states coincided, not coincidentally, with the beginning of the end of the era in which kings and queens ruled over everything, holing up in huge fortified houses so that the peasants and/or invading barbarians couldn’t kill them.
But in a way, that’s too bad, because the U.S.A. is a land of excess, and there’s nothing more excessive than a castle. And there are some castles in this country-maybe more than you’d expect-which range from (mostly) vanity projects, to mini golf courses, to even a few places that originally served some military purpose. Not only that, but many of them are currently for sale. If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a castle of your own, you could, for as little as a few hundred thousand dollars, or as much as a over ten million. (If you want to have your wedding in a castle, the options are even more vast.) In fact, we found a castle in every state in the U.S.A
Here are a few:
– This Illinois Castle Costs a Mere $795,000
– Majestic Castle in the Adirondacks Offers Turrets, Knights, and – Secret Passageways for $12.8M
– Ludicrous $4.9M Texas Castle Really Loves Turrets
My comment: Photos and links for more info for all 50 castles!!
Easy to view – scroll down the page, no excessive popup ads.
Check it out at:
Appraisal volume starts to lose momentum
Reverses last week’s rise
Posted January 26, 2016
Appraisal volume erased most of last week’s rise, falling 4.1% for the week of Jan. 17, the most recent report from a la mode, an appraisal forms software company that tracks appraisal volume throughout the country, showed.
A week ago, appraisal volume grew 5%, following a strong surge the week prior.
“While appraisal volume started the year with a strong recovery from the Christmas and New Year slump, it has not seen the energy that mortgage applications have shown. This is perplexing but could be because of lenders still getting used to the new TRID procedures and delaying ordering appraisals or just that the applications are falling out and not turning into mortgages,” he continued.
Click here to read other comments and see the data.
My comment: this report is posted every week. Please also see the MBA Weekly Mortgage Loan Origination volume report at the end of every weekly email newsletter, posted on Friday. Appraisal ordering follows originations, so MBA is slightly ahead of the a la mode report.
POLL: Do you check to see if permits were pulled on remodeling on subject properties?
Source: www.appraisalport.com Vote in their current poll:
Do you consider appraisal trade groups important to the industry?
My comment: A controversial topic. I’m not surprised at the results. However, if permits are online and free I don’t know why appraisers would not get them. In my city, free online records only go back to about 1970. Most of the homes were built before 1940. It costs $15.25 to get a full permit history and it can take up to a week to get it. The old records are a bit flakey, such as “remodeling” or something else very obscure. Lots and lots of unpermitted work in my city. But, in nearby cities with a lot of tract homes built since 1950, work without permits is not done very often. I was told by a lender’s chief appraiser many years ago not to pull permits so the borrower would “not get into trouble”.For quite awhile, I have been pulling the old permits when needed and run the online permits on all properties. In other cities, if something does not “look right”, such as an addition, I pull the permits.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS TOPIC? POST YOUR COMMENTS AT www.appraisaltodayblog.com !
Coming in the February 2015 Appraisal Today paid newsletter, available Monday, Feb. 1
Adjustments, Part 1 – Are you making too many adjustments
Huge change in supporting adjustments since Fannie’s CU started looking at them. State regulators also want to see adjustment support – don’t get sanctioned. Some reviewers want to see support. Etc.
Some of the topics:
– How are appraisers supporting adjustments?
– What are the most frequent adjustments?
– What are state appraisal boards looking for?
– What is CU looking for?
– Do adjustments really make a difference in the final value?
– Qualitative vs. Quantitative adjustments
– The best adjustment sources of information
Part 2 will be on types of adjustments.
NO ADJUSTMENT SUPPORT METHOD WILL WORK FOR ALL ADJUSTMENTS.
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Appraisal Institute falls victim to Twitter hack
Posted January 22, 2016, last Thursday
Instead of tweets about the appraisal industry, tweets emanating from the Appraisal Institute’s account for the last 18 hours or so have more to do with Playboy Magazine, Hooters, David Hasselhoff, links to “sexy” videos, and other inappropriate tweets.
Among other tweets, the hacked Appraisal Institute account tweeted out “to all staff and employees: because its so warm out today, you have to work an extra 2 hours pretending to do actual work” and “new company policy in effect: at social gatherings and events, having fun during such events is forbidden. Unless authorized.”
As of last Friday: “It appears that the Appraisal Institute Twitter hacking of 2016 is now over, but we’ll always have the screenshots.”
Very interesting. All the old tweets were lost, except for re-tweets. See lots more, including some of the tweets at:
Comments from the Appraisal Institute: ” The Appraisal Institute’s Twitter account and YouTube channel were compromised last week. Twitter has since been restored, temporarily using the handle: @RealAI_National. We’re in the process of restoring our YouTube channel.” Regarding who did it: “We are investigating the matter and have no further comment at this time.”
My comments: I knew I shoulda re-subscribed to the AI twitter feed!! I originally subscribed in 2010 but have not been getting any tweets. I have never had any twitter feed I subscribe to get hacked… I think that the AI will get a lot of new Twitter subscribers, including me!! Subscribe to @RealAI_National. Currently 3,936 followers.
At the bottom of the article is a comment post by Jason Constantine: “This was the work of one, former disgruntled employee with a shady criminal past. He was jaded because he was replaced with another programmer and wouldn’t take a background check. Can’t prove it but he’s hacked me several times in the past.” Makes sense to me. You don’t get much notoriety from hacking the AI. When you read the tweets in the article, it definitely sounds like an employee. Some are sorta funny ;
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AMC Fined Over C&R Fees
The Louisiana Real Estate Appraisal Board (LREAB) has again taken action to ensure that Customary and Reasonable (C&R) Fees are being paid by AMCs and lenders in the state.
On December 8, 2015, after a hearing that lasted over 12 hours and was closely watched and attended by appraisers, AMCs, and lenders alike, the Board ruled against iMortgage Services, LLC and issued a Final Order that included a fine of $10,000 and a six-month license suspension. The suspension was stayed, provided that iMortgage provides a C&R compliance plan to the Board no later than March 21, 2016
In contrast to Louisiana’s previous C&R enforcement action involving Coester VMS, where there was no admission of guilt by Coester, this is the first judgement against an AMC that leaves no question on the determination of guilt. The Board’s final order establishes that iMortgage failed to comply with Louisiana law and violated the C&R fee requirements set in place by the Board.
Demonstrating the glacial speed at which many state board investigations operate, the initial complaint against iMortgage was filed two years ago in January 2014 after iMortgage sent out an appraisal order for a full 1004MC FHA appraisal with a fee of $200. The investigation was not opened until May 2014, with the hearing taking place in December 2015.
My comment: Almost 300 postings at http://appraisersforum.com/ . Search for AMC Fined For Not Paying C&R Fees. Warning: lots of chit chat, etc, typical for AIforum Just wade through them to get to what you want. Comments also posted after the article.
Very interesting workingre article. Read more here:
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 printed newsletter, Appraisal Today. For more information or get a FREE sample issue go to www.appraisaltoday.com/products.htm or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Or call 800-839-0227, MTW 8AM to noon, Pacific time.
Mortgage applications increased 8.8 percent from one week earlier
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 27, 2015) – Mortgage applications increased 8.8 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 22, 2016. This week’s results include an adjustment to account for the Martin Luther King holiday.
The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 8.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 0.3 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 11 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 5 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 0.4 percent compared with the previous week and was 22 percent higher than the same week one year ago.
The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 59.0 percent of total applications from 59.1 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 6.9 percent of total applications.
The FHA share of total applications decreased to 12.7 percent from 13.7 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 11.1 percent from 10.8 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged from 0.7 percent the week prior.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to its lowest level since October 2015, 4.02 percent, from 4.06 percent, with points decreasing to 0.40 from 0.41 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) decreased to 3.89 percent from 3.93 percent, with points decreasing to 0.25 from 0.31 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 3.83 percent from 3.86 percent, with points increasing to 0.38 from 0.36 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.28 percent from 3.29 percent, with points decreasing to 0.37 from 0.39 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 3.09 percent from 3.20 percent, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.18 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
If you would like to purchase a subscription of MBA’s Weekly Applications Survey, please visit www.mba.org/WeeklyApps, contact email@example.com.
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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House for sale set to explode when light switch is turned on
Investigators in two Massachusetts cities were seeking the renters of a house for sale that was intricately wired to explode and cause “significant destruction” if someone had simply flipped a light switch, police said Tuesday night.
“It took some work to put it in there,” said Wells, who described the mechanism as involving wires meticulously snaking through several rooms from a gallon container of an incendiary substance, which was “secreted inside the house,” to a particular light switch.
“We believe the intention was that if someone had flipped the light switch on where it ended, the device would have exploded,” he said.
My comment: Wow!! Be careful out there… especially with disgruntled tenants on a sale!!
Thanks to Douglas R. Doudna for posting this online!!
I have written about some of these in the past. CNN has compiled 8 of them, including some I have never heard of!!
Here’s the list:
Pickle Barrel House Museum in Grand Marais, Michigan
Gold Pyramid House in Wadsworth, Illinois
Shoe House in Hellam, Pennsylvania
Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California
Mary’s Gone Wild Glass House in New Brunswick, North Carolina
One Log House in Garberville, California
Beer Can House in Houston, Texas
House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin
Click here to read:
Organic architecture is an attractive philosophy of architecture which promotes complete harmony between human habitation and the surrounding natural world through design approaches so sympathetic and well integrated with its site that buildings, furnishings, and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated composition.
The featured home has been designed for Steve Skilken in Columbus Ohio (owner of a Real Estate and a Health, Wellness and Fitness company). The curvilinear glass-and-copper-clad residence had to be beautiful from the air, since Steve comes in by helicopter. The home is therefor not only in harmony with the surroundings but also with the sky. Wouldn’t it be nice to live there?
My comment: check out the beautiful fotos. Don’t ask me to measure this house!!!
This unique piano house was built recently in An Hui Province, China. Inside of the violin is the escalator to the building. The building displays various city plans and development prospects in an effort to draw interest into the recently developed area.This unusual Piano and Violin shaped building built in 2007 serves as showroom for exhibiting the plans for newly created district of Shannan in Huainan City, China.The transparent Violin houses the escalators and the staircase for the main piano building which displays various plans and development prospects for newly developed area.
Very interesting. Check out the other fotos!!
Excerpt: With its drawbridge and various mechanically operated moving parts, this 6,100-square foot concrete cuboid compound in the country was designed by for clients whose “top priority was to gain the feeling of maximum security in their future house.” Either that or they wanted to live in what’s essentially an aboveground Batcave with a swimming pool.
The house is situated in a small village at the outskirts of Warsaw. The surroundings are dominated with usual „polish cubes” from the sixties and old wooden barns.
The Hobbit scenes from Lord of the Rings Movie Trilogy were filmed on a hillside lot in Matamata, New Zealand. Now the little Hobbit Homes have become a tourist attraction, but also they became homes for some of the sheep from a nearby farm. The interiors of these white structures were never finished because the scenes shot inside were actually filmed on a studio set.
Although the place where these Hobbit houses rest under the sun are not an intimidating fun Disneyland-like amusement park, one can visit the countryside and get a chance to learn more about the sheep raised here and even pet the lambs. From inside the little houses the scenery opens to a beautiful valley with trees scattered here and there. The panorama is almost untouched by humans and it gives one the feeling of being in the right place at the right time. Round entrances and windows blend beautifully with the green grass creating a surreal environment that could give Lord of the Rings fans an exquisite travel experience.