Fact Witness vs. Expert Witness Appraisers

Excerpts: When a real estate appraiser is called to testify in a court, it could be as one of two types of witnesses. If you are called to testify as an appraiser, it’s important to determine at the time of the request which of the two types you will be: fact witness or expert witness appraisers.

A fact witness is one who testifies only to that of which he or she has firsthand knowledge and who describes only facts (as opposed to expressing opinions). There is no formal definition of a fact witness….

As an expert witness appraiser, you are allowed to express opinions. In fact, your opinions are the very reason for your testimony. The opinions are to be based on the expertise afforded by “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge.”

Short and well written. Includes legal references. To read more, click here

My comments: This is a never-ending hot issue for many appraisers. They don’t understand the difference. The difference is you get paid a minimal fee as a fact witness (similar to a witness of an auto accident, for example). As an expert witness, you are paid very well for prep for expert witness testimony, depositions, waiting outside the courtroom, and testifying. I have written about this in my paid Appraisal Today newsletter.

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Strange Appraisal Terms

Excerpts: Since space is the only place that is pandemic free, I thought it would be fun to try to apply space and science fiction terms to real estate. Let’s take a little break from the stressful atmosphere we are experiencing here on earth and have a little fun. Perhaps you can think of more.

Here are two:

Orbit– The path homeowners take whilst following the appraiser around the home, trying not to follow too closely by maintaining at least six feet of distance. (Probably taking pictures of the appraiser in the PPE)

Blackhole – The place where Zestimates go after being debunked by reality.

To read and see lots more Strange Appraisal Terms, click here.

My comment: I love Jamie Owens’ blog posts! Unbelievably creative!! Plus, outstanding/strange videos, animated gifs, etc. etc. I have been a big SciFi fan since high school and used space videos in my experimental music band for many years.

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Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos for Appraisers

Just For Fun and Oddities!!

If M C Escher had tried interior design.

<< 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and extensive opportunities for open plan off-roading.


Inexplicably bad property photographs.

It’s that simple

Don’t miss the Very Funny Captions!!

 

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Appraisal Humor

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What is most often overlooked by appraisers?


 

 

 

 

Excerpt: We recently asked our appraisal community, “What’s the ONE thing that is most often overlooked by appraisers?” We received a wide variety of answers ranging from big-picture oversights to specific details. The most common answer we received was “Highest and Best Use.”…

Highest and Best Use (HBU)

This was the top answer, which was written in by about 8% of survey respondents “First question when doing an appraisal is the highest and best use. If there are two very different opinions of value on a property, different HBU is often the reason.”…

Obsolescence

Obsolescence is another item mentioned by multiple survey respondents. Appraisers cited both external obsolescence and functional obsolescence as being frequently overlooked.

External obsolescence for the subject property – When I’m reviewing appraisals, I see this more often than other oversights. When I was performing retrospective reviews for FNMA, their biggest complaint was that appraisers did not point out external obsolescence for the subject and/or its impact on marketability (if there was an impact).”

Functional obsolescence – Appraiser focus has changed over the years as subject functionality has changed.”

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Defiant vs. Compliant Appraisers?

Excerpt: Believe or don’t believe. Is there a parallel between appraisals and how people respond to pandemic warnings? Defiant vs. Compliant Appraisers?

Appraisal reviewers decide whether an appraisal is “worthy of belief” (“credible”) or not. Similarly, people decide whether to believe in the need for public health orders.

Steven Dinkin (president of the National Conflict Resolution Center) recently had some observations on the public’s response to the pandemic, dividing people into two groups: defiant or compliant. What is interesting is that each group has a belief that their thinking is the right thinking. Their opinion is the right opinion.

Let’s look first at the “defiants.” Some of these are defiant out of economic necessity – money. The need to eat can trump health risk. (Especially if the health risk is to other nameless strangers. “They have to take care of themselves.”) Guess what – food on the table comes first…

To read more, click here

My comment: I see a lot of appraiser comments online on both sides of controversial issues, including sometimes “sharp words”. Fortunately, almost all online appraisal places I go are moderated. Very negative or “flaming” posts are deleted. Sometimes appraisers are removed from the group after a few warnings.

The June issue of the monthly Paid Appraisal Today will have an article on this topic: “How to connect with appraisers online. What’s the best way for you?” I last wrote about this in January 2018. There have been a lot of changes since then!!

George Dell had a much longer article in the May issue of the Paid Appraisal Today.

Strange Appraisal Terms(Opens in a new browser tab)Humor

What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review(Opens in a new browser tab)

Which Appraisal Clients are used the most?(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Tax records and Square Footage in Appraisals

13516718 – white wood texture with natural patterns

Tax Records is not the definitive source for square footage!

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpt:

Why is the appraiser saying it’s only 1,400 sq ft? Tax Records shows the home is 600 sq ft larger. This issue comes up ALL the time, so let’s talk about it. Tax records and Square Footage in Appraisals is a hot topic.

The truth: The Assessor’s records are generally reliable, but I’m just saying sometimes they’re not. Why is this? At times it’s as simple as the original builder not turning in accurate information when a house was built. Or maybe an owner took out permits but official records were never updated. Of course we’ve all seen instances where the tax roll shows two units on one lot, but there’s really just one house nowadays. Let’s not forget sometimes owners do an addition without permits, so the Assessor might actually be correct even though the house is technically larger or has even sold on MLS as a larger home. For reference, here are ten reasons why an appraiser’s sketch might be different.

For lots of comments and more info, click here

My comment: This one of the main reasons that AVMs will never be very successful for all homes. Over and over again, statistical analysis shows GLA is the most important physical feature overall.

Also, how bedrooms are determined varies a lot, depending on the local market and can vary over time. The assessor number of bedrooms may not match the appraiser’s. For example, tandem rooms. Finished basements can vary also.

I started appraising at a CA assessor’s office in 1976. In CA, State Board of Equalization regulated county assessors offices, so the procedures and terminology are very similar all over the state. However, GLA from the assessor may have different requirements than other sources, such as ANSI.

Proposition 13 passed in 1979, which only allowed an annual 2% increase in assessment per year, unless there was a sale or improvements (determined by permits). Over time, the information has become more and more out of date.

Data is not available for smaller counties if the assessor says it is confidential. Until the 90s, my county did not release any data, so I had to “guesstimate” on square footage for sales and listings. We finally got it when an MAI was elected assessor.

In the early 90s, I researched assessors records around the country. In some small rural counties the records were kept at the assessor’s home. They were not digitized and available for purchase by data companies.

Appraisers need to know which areas are not accurate. Sometimes GLA is “political”. Within a city, accuracy can vary. In my city the least accurate records are in the “Gold Coast” with many of the city’s larger, historic homes. In other nearby cities, some properties have low GLAs to keep the property taxes lower.

Appraisal Humor

Appraisal business tips

What is Included in Appraisal Square Footage?(Opens in a new browser tab)

How accurate is the reported square footage from the tax records in your primary service area?(Opens in a new browser tab)

10 reasons why public records and the appraiser’s square footage can differ(Opens in a new browser tab)

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1-3-20 Newz: $65 Million Price Cut – No. of Bathrooms – Rate Forecast

Number of Bathrooms in New Homes

Excerpt: The Census Bureau’s latest Survey of Construction (SOC) shows changes in the number and shares of bathrooms and half-bathrooms of single-family homes started in the United States in 2018. The latest year’s data show that 3% of new single-family homes started had one bathroom or less, 64% had 2 bathrooms, 26% had 3 bathrooms, and 8% had 4 bathrooms or more. The term “bathroom” as used in this post refers to a full bathroom.
Interesting analysis, worth reading To read more, click here

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10-11-19 Newz: Appraisal Waiver Train – Multiple Offers – Secret Doors

Banks Are Driving the Appraisal Waiver Train

By Jonathan Miller

Excerpt: Look at the ASC members and their North Dakota waiver vote on July 9, 2019

Only FHFA and HUD voted against the North Dakota Waiver. Those specific agencies deal with appraisers first-hand and understand their role in the risk management process. The remainder are bank regulators or in the case of CFPD, represent consumer interests (and the agency has been gutted over the past several years to reduce its pro-consumer efforts).

In other words, banks are driving the waiver train. They want to remove a pain point from the mortgage process to grow more origination volume. The Federal government has already proved it will be willing to back up the banks if the economy collapses so why not keep pushing for removing of all pain points?

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My comment: Nothing new. Lenders have wanted to get rid of appraisals for decades. Impediments to The Deal.

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9-6-19 Newz: Bidding Wars – Dumb Mistakes – U.S. Abandoned Places

Can Smart Appraisers Make Dumb Mistakes?

By George Dell, ASA, MAI, SRA

Excerpt: I am a smart and educated, award-winning appraiser. It is not possible for me to be irrational. Of course not. You can see that. I can see that.

A high IQ and education won’t necessarily protect you from highly irrational behavior—and it may sometimes amplify your errors. David Robson, in an Excerpt from The Intelligence Trap

Oh No! Who is this guy!? Doesn’t he know how smart I am? Why, even my peers have said I am smart. I pride myself on my critical thinking. Even my kids say that! What more proof do you need? Let’s get this straight: I am rational, smart, of high IQ and extremely educated, especially in my chosen field!

Recently, scientists have started to measure what things go with irrationality. There is even a name for this field of study, this measure: dysrationalia. The studies roughly parallel the studies of dyslexia and dyscalculia (difficulty in dealing with number things).

Understandable, Well Written and Interesting!! To read more, click here

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8-2-19 Newz: Frank Lloyd Wright Fixer- Spreadsheet Shackles – Homes under $100,000

Spreadsheets: A Shackle to the Appraisal Profession? 

Excerpts: How can spreadsheet software hinder the profession? A Wall Street Journal article, and a presentation at the Appraisal Institute National Conference have similar stories. One addresses accountants, the other is about appraisers.

The 2015 AI meetings presentation: Will Appraisers Have to Learn to Use Real Analytics Software? was given by George Dell. The main point was that accountant’s software was primarily developed for record-keeping, mimicking paper columns and rows, with analysis a later goal. Other points are:

  • Validating and tracking data is difficult.
  • No built-in audit trails, nor tracking of changes.
  • Regulatory compliance is difficult to accomplish.
  • Susceptible to trivial human errors ETC.

To read more, click here

My comment: Read this article. I totally agree. I started using spreadsheets in 1981 for financial analysis. When I started my appraisal business in 1986, commercial appraisers were using spreadsheets for Discounted Cash Flow. I knew the many problems with spreadsheets’ reliability.

They are particularly unsuitable for statistics as they are not statistics programs. In my MBA program in 1979, I used SPSS for multiple regression analysis, connecting to a large computer.

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