Appraisal News and Business Tips

zillow

7-5-19 Newz: Zillow Past and Future – Coester- Lots More Info – North Dakota Waivers

Zillow – the past and the future

Zillow’s new photo algorithm

Zillow’s New algorithm uses photos of your home to check quality and curb appeal plus a look back at when Zillow started, and info on their ibuyer service

Excerpt: “We’ve taught the Zestimate to discern quality by training convolutional neural networks with millions of photos of homes on Zillow, and asking them to learn the visual cues that signal a home feature’s quality,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief analytics officer & chief economist, said in a Medium post announcing the new algorithm. “For instance, if a kitchen has granite countertops, the Zestimate now knows — based on the granite countertop’s pixels in the home photo — that the home is likely going to sell for a little more.”

To read more, click here

My comment: I am trying not to think about this…… Maybe North Dakota can try using Zillow on their rural properties….

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Zillow – tales from when it started plus ibuyer

Excerpt: Every night for five months before the launch of Zillow’s website in February 2006, employees gathered their Dell desktops on Ping-Pong tables, connected them to harness their combined processing power, and strung together extension cords to get them all running. To avoid overloading the circuits, they unplugged the office refrigerator and banned Christmas lights. Then, while most of them slept, this jury-rigged supercomputer analyzed a decade of property records and American housing market data in order to spit out price estimates for 43 million homes.

To read more, click here

My comment: Published in Forbes. Well written and researched. I liked Zillow’s history plus a good analysis of their ibuyer service – the new wave of purchasing homes and selling them later.

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5-3-19 Newz: AMC Shockwave – Zillow Accuracy – 25 Appraisal Errors

25 Common Errors in Appraisal Reports

A compilation of the most common errors and deficiencies found in appraisal reports by reviewers, regulators, and appraisal boards.

Here are a few:
– Not providing enough analysis for the intended user or reader to understand the report properly.
– Inconsistencies between the description of the subject property in the improvements section and the photographs, sketch, sales comparison grid, and other areas in the report.
– Inappropriate use of boilerplate commentary in the appraisal report to describe the neighborhood or to explain the reconciliation of the sales comparison approach.
– Failure to summarize the analysis and rational that supports the Highest and Best Use opinion.
– Not complying with the most current USPAP.
Read the full list here:

My comments: Reminders are always good. For unknown reasons, I don’t see much CE or writing on these problems. These apply to all appraisals because we are licensed, not just lender appraisals.
It was soooo nice in the “old days” before licensing ;> Two Rules: Tell the  truth and disclose what is bad. No USPAP changing every two years, overzealous appraisal boards, renewal fees, etc.. Of course, the reason we have licensing is the lender mess in 1989, resulting in FIRREA,  regarding bad commercial property development loans by S&Ls
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3-14-19 Newz: Terrible RE Agent Fotos – Appraiser Article in Rolling Stone – Appraisers and Ipads/Tablets

The Property Valuation Reckoning is Imminent

How Technology is Highlighting Underwriting’s Shortcoming

Excerpt: some high-level aspects that can be used to get conversations started.

1. Increasing the availability of detailed, property-specific information, including both operational (ongoing) activities and transactions (sale, refinance, etc.).
2. The collection and analysis of macroeconomic, microeconomic, and capital markets influences that affect the real estate industry.
3. Using concepts such as systems thinking, systems engineering, and advanced technology such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning to design semi-automated models that capture and make sense of both property-specific and larger capital markets factors.

Very interesting ideas and analysis. Long, but worth reading. FYI PropTech is a newish acronym. See the next link.

What is PropTech?

My comment: The article gives commercial examples, but is relevant for residential. I have been watching commercial applications, such as AVMs, attempted since the 1990s. The biggest problem is the lack of data. Costar is the major source of data in many areas and has not allowed its data to be commercially used by AVM developers, as far as I know. For leased commercial properties you must have income and expenses, which is not always available. For some types of non-leased properties, such as owner occupied warehouses, AVMs could work well.

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2-21-19 Zestimate Obsession – Sex Dungeon – Ugly Buildings

Obsessively Checking Zestimates

Excerpts: If you own a home, or want to own one, chances are you’ve spent some time with one of the many apps that estimate home values. As real estate prices have risen in recent years, watching one’s equity grow – at least on paper – has become something of a national pastime. Some would call it an obsession.

“I check my Zestimate way more than my 401(k),” said Bradley Reed, a homeowner in Cleveland, referring to Zillow’s proprietary tool.

“On a slow week, I might check it every other day,” said Krista Burns in Doylestown, Ohio.

Listen or read the story and twitter comments, see some fotos, etc. Add your comment at the bottom.

My comment: I listen to the marketplace podcast almost every day, listened to this one last week, and really liked it. Fortunately, with this link you can read the transcript or listen to it plus read some twitter comments. I know that real estate agents have lots of problems with it. I wonder how many appraisers look at Zestimates? You may be surprised!! Some even include it in their appraisal reports and explain why their value is different.
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2-7-19 Newz: Appraisal Dying?- Dangerous Roads- Wrong Algorithms

What If the Algorithms Are Wrong?

Excerpt: Algorithms are everywhere…
Mathematician and data scientist Cathy O’Neil coined a term for algorithms that are secret, important and harmful: “weapons of math destruction.” Learn more about the hidden agendas behind the formulas.”

“Algorithms are opinions embedded in code. It’s really different from what you think most people think of algorithms. They think algorithms are objective and true and scientific. That’s a marketing trick. It’s also a marketing trick to intimidate you with algorithms, to make you trust and fear algorithms because you trust and fear mathematics. A lot can go wrong when we put blind faith in big data…”

Check out the video of the Ted Talk: 15 minutes and well worth watching. “The Era of Blind Faith in Big Data Must End” I love Ted Talks and have subscribed to the Ted Radio Hour Podcast for a long time.

My comments: Remember the Recent Mortgage Crash The Data Did Not Predict? Why? They did not include data from the Great Depression, the last time real estate markets crashed all over the country.

Who was saying something was wrong? Whistleblower Appraisers. Appraiser Petitions fell on deaf ears. Some appraisers spoke the truth and lost their appraisal businesses and/or were blackballed by lenders.

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1-24-19 Newz: AVMs vs. Appraisers- New Fannie Formz?- Future of Res Appraising

AVMs vs. appraisers

Excerpt: Different AVMs are designed to deliver different types of valuations. And therein lies confusion.

Consumers don’t realize that there’s an AVM for nearly any purpose, which explains why different algorithms serve up different results, said Ann Regan, an executive product manager with real estate analytic firm CoreLogic. “The scores presented to consumers are not the same version that is being used by lenders to make decisions,” she said. “The consumer-facing AVMs are designed for consumer marketing purposes.”

Written for consumers, but very well written and worth reading.

My comment: How often does someone tell you what Zillow says their home is worth? What do you say? I say Zillow works well on tract homes built in the past 10 years. This article discusses AVMs, regulators, appraisers, etc.
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10-11-18 Newz://Dome Homes – Tandem Bedrooms – Competency

8 Dome Homes Ideal for Well-Rounded Buyers

Excerpt: Geodesic dome homes always strike a chord with buyers looking for a different type of house.

They’re also in favor these days thanks to their cosmic, forward-looking designs. Futurist and architect Buckminster Fuller conceived the geodesic dome in the belief that the shape of these rounded dwellings was the most efficient use of resources possible, and that the homes were ideal for mind, body, and spirit.

Here are a few:
– 37849 W Johnson Lake Ln, Marcell, MN Price: $129,000
– 35685 Lake Summit Dr, Temecula, CA Price: $775,000 – Two connected domes
– 5825 E Saguaro Rd, Cave Creek, AZPrice: $469,000 – Price includes a large maze

Check out the fotos and info at:

My comment: They all kinda look the same to me ;> I have never appraised one, but don’t miss it. Very few here. Just use other odd ball properties as comps I guess. There is one in a nearby city that I drive by regularly as a reminder of what I don’t want to appraise ;>

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Is the market tanking or softening?

Video by Ryan Lundquist
About the Sacramento CA market, but applies to all markets
21 minute video. Worth watching.
More articles by Ryan at http://sacramentoappraisalblog.com
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9-20-18 Newz// Zillow Addicts – Pyramid House – Favorite Podcasts

Unusual pyramid house in Malibu takes its cues from the sun and moon

Excerpt: This one-of-a-kind residence looks like it belongs in the swirling sands of Giza rather than on a hilltop in Malibu. The three-bedroom house was designed for two astronomy photographers and built to face the magnetic north like the needle of a compass. Sitting on one of the highest points in the Santa Monica Mountains, it has perfect vantage for observing the ocean as well as the movements of the sun and moon.

Read more and see the fotos plus video!! Currently listed for $2,999,000. Has been on the market for awhile.
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7-12-18 Newz// 3 Story Homes, Auction Prices, Portable Architecture

The Most Popular Article From Last Week’s Newsletter: Former Appraiser’s Hot Dog Stand!! FYI, unusual and weird stuff is very popular with appraisers ;>

Three-story Single-family Homes and Townhomes

Excerpt: Of the 729,000 single-family detached homes started in 2017, a little over 18,000 (2.5 percent) had three or more stories, according to National Association of Home Builder tabulation of recently released Census data.

In contrast, the 23,000 3-plus story townhomes represent 22.0 percent of single-family townhome starts.

More info here:

My comment: 3 story detached homes are not popular in very many areas. It is a long walk up to the 3rd floor. I have appraised them (attic conversions of a classic older home to a master bedroom, for example). I always look to see if an elevator can be added – usually has to be on the exterior of the home. Definitely a functional problem. I rarely see them on existing homes, except for attic conversions. Some newer detached homes have a small room on the 3rd story – family room, extra bedroom, etc.

For townhomes, I have seen a significant increase in 3 story new construction townhomes in my city (within the past few years) and other Bay Area cities. The first floor is a garage plus entry, second floor living room and kitchen, bedrooms on 3rd floor. Very profitable for home builders, especially in areas with high land prices and infill tracts. I have appraised them and the owners did not object to the 3 floors. There are sometimes a few townhomes that are 2 story.

My first apartment when I moved to San Francisco in my 20s was a third floor walkup. I vowed Never Again ;>

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3-1-18 Newz//”Just” a Residential Appraiser?, Turret Living, Price Fixing?

I Am Not “JUST” a Residential Appraiser

By Rachel Massey, SRA
Excerpt: There is no doubt that moving to obtaining a certified general appraisal license opens doors to varied and interesting work. If it is in one’s capacity to obtain this level, it is a great idea. That said, the idea of being “just” a residential appraiser has got to stop.

A good professional residential appraiser who studies the market, knows how to analyze and solve a problem, and can communicate effectively and succinctly, is a very valuable appraiser at that!

Worth reading, plus read the comments and post your opinion.
My comment: Rachel wrote a much longer, very interesting article for the paid Appraisal Today March issue: “What being designated means to me”
When I started appraising in the late 70s, residential was somehow considered “inferior”. I guess it has been going on for a very long time. I have always thought that residential appraisers are experts in one type of property: 1-4 units. If you are testifying in court on a single family home and the opposing attorney’s appraiser is an MAI who appraises a few times a year, you will blow them away!!

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