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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SFR with ADU or Two Units?

How to Identify a Single-Family with ADU vs. Two-Family Property

By McKissock

Excerpts:

The presence of an additional living unit can complicate the appraisal process. It may make it difficult for you, the appraiser, to know how to classify the subject property. How do you know whether you’re dealing with an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or a second unit?

Topics include:

  • ADU meaning and types
  • What is a two-family property?
  • How to tell if it’s a single-family with ADU vs. two-family property
  • It’s more likely to be a two-family property vs. single-family with ADU if:
  • It’s more likely to be a single-family with ADU vs. two-family property if:

To read more, click here

My comments: ADUs have been a controversial topic for a long time in California as state and local governments kept changing their ADU requirements. Finally, what they are and where they can be built became standardized. Today, they are becoming popular to get extra rentals in markets low on housing. Most recently, there is a possible regulation to sell them separately from the main house. Another tricky HBU issue in California!

Check the regulations in your state, county, or city.

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NAR Appraiser Survey July, 2023

NAR Appraiser Survey July, 2023

In July 2023, NAR Research conducted a survey of all 9,800 appraiser members and 50,000 randomly-selected residential-focused non-appraiser members.

The survey results had a comparison of 2022 and 2023, which was very interesting.

  • Appraiser Topics
  • Greatest challenges in business
  • Lesser challenges with business
  • Valuations
  • Comfort with valuation tools
  • Radius in which appraisals are conducted
  • Radius by area type (rural, small town, urban, resort, suburban)
  • How often asked to conduct appraisals outside geographic area/Property type of expertise

Sample: Greatest challenges in business

(AMCs) in general among their greatest challenges. This year, this option was broken into three separate AMC-related issues. Forty-four percent cite at least one of these, with 28 percent specifically citing AMC requests for revisions.

This year, however, the single greatest challenge, cited by almost half (47 percent), is “fee pressures,” which, based on comments, is also related in many cases to pressure from AMCs. This is up sharply from 27 percent last year.

One-quarter (26 percent) cite technology fees (not an option in 2022). Appraisers are less likely this year to cite expanding regulations/interpretations of regulations, lender requirements, pressure from real estate agents/brokers, and liability concerns.

The 21 percent who cite other challenges are most likely to cite lack of business/slow market, rising interest rates, low fees, and to reiterate pressure from AMCs.

A very good graphic is included for each section.

To read the report, click here

My comments: Read the appraiser sections in the long report. Fortunately, appraiser results are in the first section. I read the full survey. Most of the questions were for all NAR members, both appraisers and non-appraiser members. Some may be of interest to you. Much of the appraiser results were what we already sort of suspected, but it is good to see actual survey results.

NAR Appraisal Survey 2022

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Appraising Unusual Properties

Appraising Odd Properties: What’s the Weirdest Property You’ve Appraised Recently?

McKissock Survey

Excerpts: As a professional appraiser, you’ll likely encounter some strange properties from time to time. Odd properties tend to be challenging yet rewarding in terms of the fee. To gain insight into these types of assignments, we asked our appraisal community, “What’s the weirdest property you’ve appraised recently?” Thank you to the many respondents who shared stories about the most unique and complex properties they’ve come across lately!

Most of them fall into these categories:

  • Challenging and complex properties
  • Unique property types
  • Properties with atypical characteristics
  • Historic properties
  • Rural properties
  • Non-compliant properties

“A yurt, a space dome, and a two-story single-wide mobile home. This was two single-wide mobile homes stacked on top of each other with a spiral staircase that was encased in semi tractor trailer chemlite panels. The stories behind them are lengthy.”

 

“It was a house on three lots. It has been added on to over the years. The GLA is 3200sf and there are two separate basements with a total 1100sf. There are funky angles, two kitchens next to each other divided by a wall. It was only 3 bedroom, but had 3.1 bathrooms. It had 3 family rooms on the GLA. Lots of weird spaces.”

“A custom-built art school built by artist named Solonevich that is used as a single-family dwelling. Every couple feet was a random angle. Nearly impossible to measure accurately.”

 

To see more examples, Click Here

 

My comments: I was inspired by this post and included two unusual homes in this newsletter. The one below with a jail is a good example! Down the page is a $1 listing.

If the appraisal is for lending purposes, be sure to find out if it is “lendable” before spending much time on it. Lenders and CU/AVMs, like nice newer tract homes.

 

Whenever two appraisers meet, there is never a lack of conversational topics! This one is very popular! Be sure to get a higher fee, of course. These properties are an excellent learning experience. If your business is slow, now is a good time to do the “tough ones.”

Highest and best use are often the issues that are the most tricky for me, especially if you have to consider non 1-4 unit uses. HBU is a regular issue for the older commercial and mixed-use properties I appraise.

Every unusual home has appraisal comps

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Value of a Pool for Homes?

The value of a pool for Homes?

July 18, 2023 By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpts:

Some areas have more pools than others

Real estate is about location. That’s what we always hear. And, it’s true. Homes in different locations and price points tend to have different amenities, and that includes pools. Keep in mind the presence of a pool could be about lot size also – not just the price range.

More pools at higher prices

Here’s a look at the percentage of homes sold with pools by price range in a few local counties. In short, the higher the price, the greater chance of having a pool. This likely has to do with the cost of building a pool, cost of maintaining a pool, and even larger parcels at higher ranges – not to mention buyers at higher price points expecting a pool more often.

NOTE: Does your market look similar?

Adjustments for pools

Last but not least, let’s remember there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all adjustment for a built-in pool because the value of a pool is going to depend on quality, condition, and even age. But it’s also about location because some price ranges and areas simply expect a pool to be present. In contrast, pools hardly exist in some locations, so it’s less of a factor because buyers don’t expect a pool. Ultimately, let’s look to the comps for the answers. What are buyers willing to pay? The ideal is to find similar homes with and without pools to help us understand that.

To read more and see Ryan’s tables and graphs on pools, click here

My comments: I live in an island city with a “Mediterranean” climate located on San Francisco Bay, which means some fog and moderate temperatures. This week, the highest temperature will be under 70 degrees. About 10-15 miles away, east of the hills, the climate is totally different, with very hot summers. The current high temperature there is about 100 degrees.

Where I live, very few homes have pools. After 35 years of appraising here, the value effect is none. Often, the MLS mentions that the sellers will fill in the pool, but I don’t know if that has ever happened. In dramatic contrast, when I first started appraising “over the hill”, 10-15 miles away where there are many subdivisions, I noticed that in certain neighborhoods, a pool was almost mandatory. I used comps with pools for any homes with and without pools to see any adjustment.

If you are not in an area where this is clear, making pool adjustments can be tough without adequate comps. I have appraised a few homes with pools in areas with few pools. It was tricky.

Pools can be a significant hazard, especially for children. Also, maintenance and heating is a hassle.

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Quality Adjustments for Appraisers

Quality Adjustment Research and Methodology: The Basics

By McKissock

Excerpt: Quality and condition are not the same. Quality refers to the quality of items, materials, and construction. When making appraisal adjustments, examine the quality of your data and remember that any quality ratings in your county records or MLS are not always reliable. Here are some basic things to consider regarding quality adjustment research and methodology.

Reliability of data

You need to consider: What is this data telling me? How reliable is that data? If you’re using county data, and you’re looking at quality ratings in there, how reliably do they rate properties? Should you even be using that data?

To read more, click here

My comments: The blog post has a link to Quality Ratings. Quality is sometimes difficult to determine on the subject and very tricky on the comps. Another appraisal challenge!

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Appraisers: Watch for Concessions and Kickbacks

Concessions, Kickbacks, and the Appraiser’s Nightmare

by Richard Hagar, SRA

Excerpts: What Appraisers Must Do

There are many steps appraisers must follow, more than I can list here. However, you should start off by listing and describing the concessions. Learn how to provide an accurate value conclusion that protects the appraiser from the potential ramifications of their bad acts.

On the first page of FNMA’s form, they ask this question:

“Is there any financial assistance [loan charges, sales concessions, gift or down payment assistance, etc.] to be paid by any party on behalf of the borrower?”

The appraiser has no choice when faced with this question, they must answer and if they get it wrong…then the appraiser is in trouble. After disclosing the information, the appraiser’s next task is to determine how the concessions have impacted the sales price. Federal law, FNMA/FHLMC guidelines and USPAP all point to a solution.

Solutions to Keep You Safe

  • Make sure you have a complete signed purchase contract.
  • In the appraisal, list how many pages of the contract you have in your possession (In case someone is hiding pages from you).
  • List the concessions on page 1 and in the final reconciliation.
  • In the sales grid, list any known concessions that were involved with the purchase of a comparable….

To read more click here 

My comments: Some good tips on how real estate agents try to deal with this. I have known Richard for many years. He is an expert and is a most excellent instructor. I have taken many of his seminars over the years.

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Appraising Solar Panels

Appraising Solar Panels

By Mark Buhler

Excerpts: You drive up to the property. There they are, on the roof: those shiny black rectangles that are just about to turn a simple assignment into a headache. What to do? Put the car in reverse and slowly back away? Call the client and have them re-assign the order?

Those are certainly options. But in today’s tight market, with orders as scarce as hens’ teeth, let’s explore some other approaches to solving this problem.

First: How do appraisers value any amenity of a property?

Appraisal 101 would suggest the matched pairs analysis. So our first task is to find a property with solar panels that’s similar to the subject.

That search quickly comes to a screeching halt. (I can almost smell the brake dust.) There are no comps with solar panels in the area. So when we type the report, a comment like this might slip past the reviewer and underwriter: “A thorough search of the subject’s marketing area revealed a scarcity of sales comparables with solar panels.”

So far, so good. Now let’s continue with that reasoning: “Due to a lack of comparables with solar panels, no contributory value can be extracted.”

This supports a zero (0) adjustment, right?

Well … maybe. A savvy underwriter or reviewer might wonder why the appraiser didn’t consider the cost and income approaches…

To read more click here

My comments: Good, practical advice. The article is worth reading. Solar for homes is everywhere now. I recently spoke with Mark. I asked some technical questions about financing solar and electric companies lowering what they pay to homeowners with solar. He knew everything! Taking a webinar or class from him is definitely worth the price. He has been teaching the classes for a long time.

Complex Residential Properties for Appraisers

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Appraising Fixer Uppers

Appraising Fixer Uppers

Excerpts: We’re all familiar with the term “fixer-upper.” For many different reasons, properties can come on the market in less-than-par condition. The degree and cost to cure becomes an issue to buyers and sellers, and a challenge for appraisers. At some point it’s no longer “normal market value minus cost to cure equals as-is value.”

The terms “entrepreneurial incentive” and “entrepreneurial profit” are typically discussed in terms of investment property, but the principles involved can also be applied to the many fixer-uppers—whether the buyer is a “purely investor type” or an “owner occupied investor type.” Maybe a couple new terms should be discussed: “sweat equity incentive” and “sweat equity profit.”

The rest of the post is a very good case study

To read more, click here

My comments: I have appraised many fixer-uppers. My overall ratings are: Unlivable with holes in wall or ceiling, kitchen, and bath not functional, not lendable, etc. ) In my MLS “contractor special” is often used.  Liveable: needs work but functional kitchen and bath.

Most of my appraisals are for estates, and fixers are relatively common. There are few comps as almost all homes are fixed up for sale. There are some good ideas in this post. Even if you have comps, there is often a very wide range of conditions.

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