Why Appraisal Workfiles Are Important

Why an Organized Workfile is Your Best Defense

By Craig Capilla

Excerpts: We all know that the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) set the baseline for what must be included in a workfile. We’ve all also heard ad nauseum that USPAP is a minimum standard. Still, all too many appraisers seek only to meet that minimum standard and little more. That’s where the trouble begins. Particularly when speaking about the workfile, for my money, the most dangerous words in USPAP are “or references to the location(s) of such other data, information, and documentation.” There it is, right there in plain English: USPAP permits appraisers to maintain a reference to the data, information, and documentation considered as a part of the assignment, and the appraiser is NOT obligated to keep a contemporaneous copy of those items.

That minimum standard is all well and fine until one day many months later, when an enforcement agency demands that the appraiser produce that information, usually on a tight timeline, and the information is no longer available or the source now shows different information than what was available at the time of the assignment.

Believe me when I tell you that it is not a good feeling when a regulator asks you to explain why you didn’t consider a particular piece of information, and you cannot summon an answer. Similarly, there are few things more liberating than producing a document that shows the information you are being asked about was not available to you at the time you performed the assignment. I’ve seen this happen. Systems fail. MLS aggregators have software glitches. Public record updates at its own pace. And sometimes, that one crucial piece of information isn’t there anymore when you need it.

To read more, Click Here

My comments: The article also discusses bias. Capilla is an attorney who defends appraisers. Newer appraisers are lucky. Scanning work files is easy. I started appraising before the Internet and easy scanning and filing. My office and home garage are filled up with paper files! I have PDF copies of all the appraisals I have done as a fee appraiser on my main computer, except those done before PDFs were available.

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How To Appraise Rural Properties

How To Appraise Rural Properties

Excerpts: Appraising residential properties in rural areas can be both challenging and rewarding. Unlike the standardized expectations of urban and suburban properties, rural properties often present unique characteristics that require a nuanced approach to valuation. Whether you’re a seasoned appraiser or new to the field, having a better understanding of rural properties is essential for providing credible appraisals. In this guide, we’ll explore what defines a rural property, the challenges appraisers face, reasons for conducting rural appraisals, strategies for finding comparables, and tips for writing a compliant appraisal report.

  • Defining rural properties – USDA and GSEs
  • Challenges of appraising rural properties
  • Appraising rural properties presents unique challenges due to their diverse characteristics and market dynamics.

Topics include:

  • Diverse property types and uses
  • Unique property characteristics
  • Limited market activity and more
  • Writing your rural property appraisal report – good ideas

To read more, click here

My comments: Worth reading, if only to find out about rural appraising. Well written. There are relatively few residential lender appraisals available now. This is an excellent diversification opportunity, with little competition from other appraisers or the GSEs use of other ways to get a value without human appraisers.

What if there are few rural areas near you?

You can expand your area to include rural appraisals to get more business.

When I worked for a northern California assessor’s office with rural areas I learned a lot about almond growing (the main crop) and other ag topics. It is not hard to learn the valuation factors. I had niece who had several horses for many years where she lived. There are equestrian facilities within 5 miles from my house in Oakland hills and in farther out Bay Area cities with larger lots. You may have some similar rural experience now!

The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers www.asfmra.org has a specialty in Rural Appraising, but it requires a Certified General. There may be seminars available. Another reason for upgrading!

Urban, Suburban, Rural in Appraisals

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on USPAP and Personal Inspection, GSE Appraisal Modernization, Transaction costs and values including real estate commissions, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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What level appraiser are you?

How to Level Up as an Appraiser

By Conrad Meertins Jr.

Excerpts: The key is not the letters but the competency or skill. For example, are you competent to prepare an entire appraisal from start to finish? You might answer, “Absolutely!” But what if the appraisal form was completely blank with no boilerplate text? Do you still feel the same level of assuredness? What if you could not use the URAR form at all, but still had to produce an appraisal report that could stand up in court? Are your legs shaking? These questions help us to start to gauge our current level.

The three levels that we are going to discuss are “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” and “Pro.” Now, we could go deep and say that there are levels within the levels, but for now we will keep it simple and explore these three main levels. Some view each level as a stepping stone, and some view each level as a permanent parking space. It’s your choice which level you choose to pursue. The goal here is for us to evaluate which level we are at and determine which level we want to achieve.

Level 1 – Beginner

This is where we all start. There is no shame in this level. Depending on how you were trained, at the beginner level you typically view appraisals as forms — forms with checkboxes to be checked or left blank. If all the right boxes are checked and your report is signed with a value, mission accomplished!

Level 2 – Intermediate

At the intermediate level, you realize there is more to appraising real estate than checking boxes. Here is where you provide more explanations. If you say the market is stable, perhaps you add a sentence or two to expound on that. If you say that comp #1 was the best comp, you add a sentence explaining why. If you don’t adjust for the subject being on a busy road, you add a sentence about the neutral impact of the busy road and a comparable to support that conclusion—before being prompted to do so by the underwriter.

Level 3 – Pro

There is a subtle difference between Level 2 and Level 3. But one indicator that you have crossed the line from intermediate to pro is understanding how all the pieces fit together. For example, you understand that you do not need a form to produce an appraisal.

To read more, click here

My comments: Hybrid Appraisals are coming fast for lender appraisals, when any “human” appraisals are done. Full appraisals that Level 1 and most Level 2 appraisers cannot do will be done by Level 3 appraisers. I am writing two long articles for the November issue about Hybrid Desktops and Property Data Collectors. Both positive and negative sides for appraisers. If you want to continue to do AMC appraisals, this is an option.

What if you don’t want to do either one? If you have done AMC lender appraising only, you only appraise homes that conform to GSE requirements. You have a low skill level.

If I did lender work now, I would be in the “top tier” to be called when other appraisers said no. For as long as I have been appraising, lenders had special lists for the tough ones, or for a valuable bank client that borrows money from the bank and has large deposits.

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2024 USPAP For Appraisers

2024 USPAP

Source: Appraisal Foundation

The 2024 Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice is now available for purchase in physical and digital formats.

This year, for the first time, you can purchase just the book of USPAP standards for $35. This covers all Definitions, Rules, and Standards.

We also have a new product launching this year. All Advisory Opinions, Frequently Asked Questions and the recently launched Reference Manual will now be part of a standalone publication called the 2024 USPAP Guidance and Reference Manual.

This change reflects the maturation of USPAP, resulting in longer effective dates. The ASB will continue to review USPAP for changes when necessary but will shift much of its focus to providing more guidance to the marketplace. Appraisers can now buy one set of USPAP standards and keep that publication on their bookshelf for as long as that edition is effective and purchase just the Guidance and Reference Manual as needed for coursework and updates.

If you like having the USPAP standards and guidance material linked, we still have you covered. You can also purchase a linked digital version of the eUSPAP and Guidance and Reference Manual and get seamless access across both documents.

To read the full letter, click here

My comments: USPAP 2024 is effective January 1, 2024. I’ve been waiting for a very long time for longer than 2 years between effective dates. Also, there is no ending date for the 2024 version.

When USPAP started, it was very exciting as appraisers had to decide what needed to be changed or added. Lots of people wanted to be on the ASB. Over time, I quit following the updates as there were few significant changes.

2024-2025 USPAP 7-Hour Update Course is being approved or is approved, in the states. I assume a new class will be required every two years in the future. Gotta keep that money coming into the Appraisal Foundation, I guess…

I really hated the classes when there was not much to say except a rehash of the past. I taught USPAP before the ASB told you what to teach. It was my favorite class as we could focus on issues in our current market. Of course, now there is appraiser discrimination, the current hot topic. Personally, I think there is very, very little intentional discrimination by appraisers, compared with the intentional discrimination by lenders (and others). “Red Lining” still exists, some are in the same locations.

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The End of Lender Appraisals?

The End of Home Appraisals?

By Jeremy Bagott, MAI

Excerpts: In his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” the late British novelist, essayist and critic George Orwell examined the connection between political orthodoxies and the debasement of the English language. In a truly Orwellian move, mortgage giant Freddie Mac recently announced its intent to censor an arbitrary collection of words such as “desirable,” “safe,” “well-kept,” “student” and “crime” when they appear, in any context, in the hundreds of thousands of appraisal reports it relies on in mortgage underwriting. It would be hard to make this up.

As with all banned words, Freddie’s list will lead to the need to ban additional words over time as appraisers, expunging the word “desirable,” will find synonyms when analyzing market reaction to the views of two homes or to the cul-de-sac location of a home versus the midblock location of a comparable. When discussing how market participants view side-by-side school districts, appraisers will figure out they can use synonyms like “advantageous,” “preferable,” or “beneficial” instead. Soon, these words, too, will need to be banned. In a college town, the banned word “students” will become “matriculants,” a word that will likewise need to be banned.

The attack on the protected speech of independent appraisers erodes their ability to describe how the properties they appraise relate to the preferences of market participants. The censorship is part of a march toward what appraiser and podcaster Phil Crawford has coined “universal basic home value” – a utopian vision among idealogues in which government technocrats dictate the supposed value of a property using algorithms and machine learning. The censorship began with Fannie Mae, and has now predictably spread to Freddie Mac.

To read more plus appraiser comments, click here

My comment: Worth reading. Lots more AMC/lender appraisal correction requests. Last week’s email had a discussion of the “words” which got a lot of clicks by appraisers wanting more information.

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Fannie: Words and Phrases in Appraisals

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on non lender appraisals, USPAP, Bias, real estate market, mortgage rates, unusual homes, mortgage origination

 

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FHA: Cosmetic vs. MPR Repairs

Cosmetic vs. MPR Repairs: Guidance for FHA Appraisers

By: McKissock

Excerpts: If you are appraising a property that needs some cosmetic repairs but meets FHA minimum property requirements (MPR) in its current condition, you should make the appraisal “as-is.” Here is some guidance on cosmetic repairs vs. MPR repairs.

Topics include:

  • When can an FHA appraisal be completed “as-is” vs. “subject to”?
  • Cosmetic repairs Examples
  • MPR repairs Examples
  • Conditions that require inspection Examples

To read more, click here

My comments: If you do FHA appraisals, read this blog post. Photos and lots of examples. I quit doing FHA appraisals in the mid-1980s because of the inspection requirements compared to conventional appraisals, that did not have the requirement.

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on appraisal “modernization”, bias hearing, bad appraiser, USPAP, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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Appraiser Professional Goals

1-6-23 NEWSLETTER

Appraisers Share Their Top Professional Goals for 2023

By: McKissock (Survey)

Excerpts:

  • Maintain my current business (26%)
  • Earn a designation or certification (16%)
  • Grow my business (15%)
  • Prepare for retirement (12%)

“I would like to turn over my appraisal business to my daughter, who is certified.”

Should have retired last year but put it off due to the high amount of requests!”

After 23 years in appraising, which was very beneficial for me and my customers, I’m preparing for retirement.”

  • Achieve a better work-life balance (10%)
  • Other (6%)

To read more, including personal comments from appraisers, click here.

My comments: The post has links to some topics above with many tips. I have recently been writing about many of these topics since the market changed.

I write about non-lender work, staying up when business is down, retirement planning, and more in my monthly newsletter. I will be writing soon about upgrading to Certified General. I have always done both commercial and residential. My business has been much more stable as I can shift between them when the appraisal markets change, especially fees.

What are you planning to do in 2023? Now is the time to learn all the features in your MLS and forms software, upgrade your skills by taking seminars and classes, and more.

The future of residential appraising

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on USPAP and non-traditional appraisals, Non-lender appraisals, reos, tear downs, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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Reconsideration of Value and Appraisers

How to Respond to ROV Requests: Updated Guidance

By Greg Stephens, SRA, AI-RRS

Excerpts: Suggested protocols for responding to Reconsideration of Value requests

When you receive an ROV request, some recommended steps to take include:

1. Maintain USPAP compliance – Confirm the ROV request came from your client, either directly or through the client’s AMC, acting as an agent for the client, or other party designated as an agent by the client. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Appraisers are still required to comply with USPAP when responding to an ROV request, including the confidential nature of assignment results.

2. Identify ROV content to determine next steps – take the time to analyze the content of the ROV to determine what specifically is being requested of you (the appraiser) and what level of information will be needed to respond to the requestor of the ROV. This is an opportune time to maintain a professional demeanor and not react to an ROV request as if it is an affront to your competency or experience. After receiving an ROV request, send an acknowledgement of receipt and advise the client that the ROV request will be analyzed and responded to in a timely manner.

To read more, click here

Click here to listen to Tim Andersen, MAI’s podcast, “Reconsiderations of Value: Satan’s Own Seed, Right?” (Podcast 9.5 minutes) on ROVs, included in a 12-21 issue of this newsletter, so it may look familiar to you.

My comments: ROVs are a PITA for many appraisers. Very well written and practical. Greg Stephens is a very experienced appraiser and reviewer. He worked in management positions for several large AMCs.

Reconsideration of Appraised Value

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on Value Reconciliation, non-lender appraisals, liabililty, USPAP, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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Weird Real Estate Agent Photos for Appraisers

 

57 Weird Real Estate Agent Photos

Excerpt: Yes, many great real estate photos really capture the house. This post though is a tribute to the other kind that we’ve all seen – hilariously terrible MLS photos.

From horror movie-esque semi-abandoned homes for rent to home decor that overshot “unique”, the owners and agents behind these funny ads thought things were perfect just as they were for their photos and open houses.

Caption for Photo Above: That way, you can still work on the garden even if it’s raining!

To read more, click here

My comment: We all love these photos! If used in the MLS on a comp, makes you wonder how it sold ;> Or an expired listing that didn’t sell. Data for those fixer homes (contractor specials).

More Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos for Appraisers

Appraising Weird Stuff is Challenging!

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on USPAP Update Mistakes on Bias, Real Estate Market analysis, the FED raises interest rates, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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Appraisals and Water Frontage

Appraisals and Water Frontage

Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpts:

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!

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