Drainage Problems Can Damage Foundations – Appraisers Check It

Watch out for drainage problems when doing your appraisals!! 

When I first heard about the collapse of the Florida condo tower, I immediately thought about a drainage problem. Previous engineering reports revealed the problems – pool leaks, water not draining properly, etc. The condo building was constructed before building codes were changed to help avoid their problem. No one knows why the building started collapsing. Drainage Problems Can Damage Foundations

Limestone is under all of Florida. In parts of South Florida, the porous limestone is not good for foundations as there is less soil covering the limestone. I have seen many videos of saltwater intrusion flooding streets. The water came up through the limestone, caused by sea-level rise.

—————————-

I always check for any drainage problems at homes. They are relatively easy to spot and can cause significant damage. I appraise many hillside homes, which can easily have problems. I look at where the gutter water drains and how it is moved away from the foundation. Sloping floors are another indication of possible foundation problems.

When I go into an unfinished basement, I look for water problems. One good indication is that everything is raised from the floor. Also, water stains on the lower part of the concrete. The water is coming through the foundation. A sump pump can help.

————————–

Properties I have appraised with obvious drainage problems:

– 2 story home on a hillside. Saw radiating cracks inside on both floors in the same corner. At the corner outside of the home was a small round drainage catchment about 1 ft. in diameter, without a way to drain it away from the house. The water came through the rear of the foundation because there was no drainage system.

– Home on a hillside that was moving down the hill. Standing water under the house. Unlevel floors. Big foundation cracks. Known area of problems. Relocation appraisal with two appraisers. The other appraiser did not mention anything.

Note: A good fix for hillside homes is a “french drain” in the ground that takes the water to the sides of the home, with plastic pipe to keep the water from the sides of the foundation.

– Duplex I own on a mostly level site. Tenants mentioned water coming inside the garage on one side. They had moved everything near that side of the garage off the floor. Both units were on level ground with raised foundations. The front garage was on a slight downslope. I replaced the gutters and drains so the water drained away from the foundation. I regularly check for any problems during the winter rains. No foundation damage, fortunately.

————————————–

To read an excellent article on how and why concrete fails, Click here.

Modern concrete lifespan is roughly 50-100 years. The Florida condo building is 40 years old. “Concrete is poured around steel rebar, which gives it tensile strength. But tiny cracks — found in all concrete — cause water to start rusting the steel, which then expands, cracking the concrete.”

Photos of the Surfside basement taken before the collapse show steel rebar breaking all the way through the concrete to the point at which it is fully exposed to the salty and humid Florida air.”

We definitely have a significant infrastructure problem. Replacing concrete is very expensive: building foundations, bridges, freeways, etc.

I have watched several documentaries about what happens if there are no humans to maintain buildings, roads, bridges, etc. The roofs fail first, and water comes inside. Concrete and steel are damaged by water. Roads break down. Bridges collapse. When doing appraisals, I always tell the owners to be sure their roof does not leak. When they see stains in the ceilings, the roof has already started leaking.

Read more!!

Appraiser Capacity During the Pandemic

Spotlight: Appraiser Capacity During the Pandemic

June 16, 2021 

By Danny Wiley, Senior Director of valuation for Single-Family Credit Risk Management

Excerpt: 2020 – and the early part of 2021 – have shone a bright light on a topic that’s been a growing concern – appraiser capacity. While the scope of that concern has been different throughout the country in recent years, it’s now been brought to the forefront for every state. The pandemic fueled regulation which lowered already-low interest rates and, for a portion of homeowners, home-improvement-related refinances combined with additional factors to create a perfect storm for record appraisal volume – without a corresponding increase in the number of licensed appraisers.

The majority of the states comprising the list of the top 10 highest average GSE appraisals per appraiser were often situated in the western part of the country – and also, not surprisingly, included some of the more populated states, including California, Texas, Michigan, Arizona and Colorado. This group ranged from Ohio (165 average appraisals per appraiser), Illinois (171) and New Jersey (174) at the low end to Utah (233) and Texas (207) at the top end. Overall, the appraisers on this list were averaging about 14-19 appraisal per month from 2012-2019.

As you can see, the workload quickly escalates at this end of the spectrum – and, as you’ll find out below, 2020 showed us that a perfect storm of factors can make the situation much worse.

To see more graphs and read more, click here

My comments: Maybe someday lenders will allow trainees to sign. The Very Best Way to solve the appraiser shortage. The significant AMC hassles mean appraisals take more time.

A subscriber called me recently. She got a request for an appraisal of a home with a subsidized purchase price (Low-moderate income). The AMC appraisal request did not disclose this. She left messages to 5 of the AMC reviewers and did not get a callback. I suggested telling the AMC to get another appraiser. The easiest reason is usually to say she is not competent as the reason.

I have appraised them before. They are complicated. Typical restrictions on price if sold, etc. I was working for a local lender and contacted the very experienced chief appraiser to see what they needed and if they want to lend on these types of properties. Many appraisers are giving up on working for AMCs and quitting or retiring.

 

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on unusual homes, marketing, appraisal bias,mortgage origination stats, etc.

Read more!!

Zoning and Appraisals

The Infamous History of Zoning in the Housing Industry (Video)

Excerpts: History of zoning in the housing industry and how past practices shape the problems we are currently experienced today.

What was the purpose of zoning in the very beginning? How exactly were these practices harmful to people of color? What are some of the problems we see today because of this? These questions and much more will be answered.

To watch the video, click here

My comment: A controversial topic. Today this often involves “downzoning,” allowing for properties to have more than one unit or more density – apartments, condos and townhomes.

Experts Say Zoning Changes Are Most Effective Path to Boost Housing Supply for a More-Balanced Market

Excerpt: A Zillow survey of economists and other real estate experts finds high costs are expected to slow construction and may lower homeownership among today’s 30-somethings. Relaxing zoning rules is what the panel says would be most productive to increase new housing supply.

Other ways include:

  • Ease the land subdivision process for landowners
  • Relax local review regulations for projects of a certain size
  • Accelerate adoption of new construction technologies (e.g., modular building, 3D printing of certain components)

To read more, including details and the full list of survey suggestions, click here

Zoning in the Appraisal Process

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on unusual homes, slowing market?, appraisal business, mortgage origination stats, etc.

Read more!!

Appraising vs. the Public Good?

Has Appraising Failed the Public Good?

by Steven R. Smith, MSREA, MAI, SRA

Excerpts: The term Public Good is in the opening paragraph of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). An appraiser friend once wrote that our regulations and guidelines are intentionally ambiguous—and that may be. But what is crystal clear to me is that the industry has put the interests of its clients before the public good.

The Public Trust statement and the Ethics Rule have been largely ignored over the years with loan production put first…

What can an individual appraiser do to support the public good, even before they start an assignment? For me, the answer always has been to appraise the client and the appraisal assignment. There are some clients and assignments that simply should be avoided because of the wants, needs and desires of the client, with respect to the assignment results.

To read more, click here

My comments: I have known Steve Smith for a long time. To read more comments from Steve and other savvy appraisers, join the National Appraisers Forum, an email discussion group. I have been a member since it started. It is my “go-to” resource for appraisal topics. Moderated. Very different from Facebook and other appraiser online discussion groups where filling out forms and dealing with AMCs are discussed.

The future of residential appraising

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on unusual homes, appraiser diversity, Cost Approach, liability, mortgage origination stats, etc.

Read more!!

What Types of Sales For Appraisals

Arm’s Length or Another Type of Sale? The 7 Sale Types Explained

What types of sales for appraisals

Excerpts: As a real estate appraiser, whether you’re considering the current terms of sale or analyzing previous sales of the subject property or comparable sales, it is imperative to know whether a sale is an arms-length transaction or a different type of sale. Sales due to a job relocation, estate settlement, foreclosure, or divorce may sell for less than the property’s market value.

By knowing the type of sale, you are better able to reconcile a current opinion of market value that falls above or below a current or recent transaction for the subject property.

Here are the seven valid sale types, explained in detail below:

  • REO sale
  • Short sale
  • Court ordered sale
  • Estate sale
  • Relocation sale
  • Non-arm’s length sale
  • Arm’s length sale

To read more, click here

My comment: Worth reviewing. Some good tips, especially for today’s crazy sales market!

Using home’s previous sales in appraisals

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on FHA regs, USPAP, State Boards, appraisal business, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.

Read more!!

Appraisal Waivers Almost 50% of Fannie/Freddie Loans

An explosion of appraisal waivers. Is that good or bad?

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpts: Appraisal waivers have really exploded in recent years – especially during the pandemic. But how many are there exactly? Let’s look at actual numbers to walk away with some perspective. These stats are from January 2021 from AEI.

  • 47.4% of all Freddie Mac loans had a waiver
  • 44.5% of all Fannie Mae loans had a waiver
  • Waivers are far more common during refinances
  • Only 10-12% of purchases had an appraisal waiver in January
  • Non cash-out refinances have the most waivers (67-69%)
  • The higher your loan-to-value, the lower your chance of a waiver
  • Waivers have seen a dramatic increase during the pandemic

2) Seeing numbers: What real estate professionals experience with appraisal waivers with their clients can really vary. For instance, if you work with FHA borrowers putting very little down, you probably don’t see many waivers, but if you work with conventional buyers putting 30-40% down, you’re going to see more. This is why seeing actual stats is so important.

Read more of Ryan’s comments, see graphs, plus over 25 appraiser comments: click here 

To read the AEI report, click here

My comments: I wrote about this in the February issue of the monthly Appraisal Today. Also included is data on which states are doing the most, and least, alternative appraisals. I spent a lot of time trying to get any statistics from Fannie without success. I knew waivers were going way up, especially for purchases. AEI reports have the analysis

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on unusual homes, Trip fees, waivers, solar, AVMs, mortgage origination stats, etc.

Read more!!

Age adjustments in appraisals

Age adjustments in appraisals

By Jamie Owen

Excerpts: Sometimes, two homes with wide age differences can have the same effective age. For instance, a thirty-year old home may have an effective age that is the same as a fifty-year old home, if the fifty-year old home has been renovated to a degree that is comparable to the younger home. If this is the case, while there is a relatively wide age gap, no age or condition adjustment may be supportable.

Once the home is lived in, it can never be considered “new” again. Subsequently, a new home typically has a higher market value than one that has already been lived in. The joyful homeowner makes these choices, the home is built, and they move in. Now starts the wear and tear. The degree of wear and tear depends much on the homeowner and how well they maintain their home. With new homes, typically homeowners go for a number of years without needing to do anything major to the property. However, at some point, they will need to.

To read more and see some fun animated gifs and a video, click here

My comment: Written for homeowners (an excellent marketing tool) but interesting comments for appraisers. I love Jamie’s blog posts!!

Humor for Appraisers

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at covidscienceblog.com

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on srange homes, adjustments, market changes, client pressure, mortgage origination stats, Covid tips for appraisers, etc.

Read more!!

Why Appraisers Love Appraising!

7 Reasons to Love Being an Appraiser

Excerpts: 1. Being your own boss

“After ‘working for the man’ for 20+ years, I changed careers to be an appraiser. Working for myself has been the biggest reward, offering flexibility and a healthy work-life balance.”

2. Having a flexible schedule

“Being able to set my own hours, as long as I get the job done.”

“Tackle the workflow when its heavy, and enjoy the reprieve when it lightens up!”

For 5 more reasons and lots more comments, click here

My comments: I worked in labs for 7 years and was bored. I saw an ad for a county assessor’s office in 1975 that said “work in the field.” I worked on the 1970 census and loved going out at looking at houses all day long. I read a book at the library about appraising and got hired. After 45 years I still love it! I am never bored. No two properties are the same. Plus, I love being self employed. I was always a bad employee with too many opinions of my own.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at covidscienceblog.com

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on , mortgage origination stats, Covid tips for appraisers, etc.

Read more!!

Appraisal highest and best use analysis

The Four Tests of Highest and Best Use

Excerpt:

  1. Legally permissible

You must consider whether any zoning issues or restrictions will prevent building on or improving the lot.

Some questions to answer:

  • Do you have a current survey of the property? (If not, obtain one, specifically covering boundaries to learn if easements or encroachments exist.)
  • Are there any deed restrictions?
  • Are there zoning issues, such as minimum lot size or maximum building height or size?

To read more, click here

My comments: Short and well written with good tips for the four tests. This is particularly important for vacant land and areas that are transitioning to other uses, such as changing from homes to conversion to commercial uses. Appraisal highest and best use analysis is critical.

Many residential appraisers miss these issues as most lender appraisals are for standard properties, such as subdivision homes. You can get into Very Big Trouble by just checking the check box, which is probably already checked on your form template…

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at covidscienceblog.com

Click here to subscribe to our FREE weekly appraiser email newsletter and get the latest appraisal news!!

To read more of this long blog post with many topics, click Read More Below!!

Read more!!

Time Management for Appraisers

Time Management – Appraisers Need This Skill

Excerpt: Results of a McKissock Survey

We recently asked our appraisal community, “What ONE business skill does every appraiser need to master?” By far, the most popular answer selection was “delegation and time management.” According to real-life appraisers, several business skills are important. But time management, in particular, is essential for building a successful career in real estate appraisal. Time Management for Appraisers is critical for success.

Delegation & time management (42%)

Others were Project management/Planning, Financial Management, Communication & Negotiation, Networking and Other.

Two of the comments on Time management

“I’ve watched my dad work for himself as an appraiser for the last 10+ years, and everything comes pretty easy to him except meeting deadlines. Organization and time management is key! Don’t let it be your downfall.”

“When researching a subject property, you’ve got to have a good feel for all the time involved—how long will it take to drive to the home, inspect it, research it and complete the report? You’ve got to use all of that information to appropriately plan your days so you meet your clients’ expectations.”

To get the full results and read more appraiser comments, click here

My comment: I have been writing about time management for appraisers since I started my monthly newsletter in 1992. Recently, I have been writing about it a lot as many appraisers are very busy with the refi boom. Every hour saved it an hour you can work on an appraisal and make more money. Or, take a short break!!

The October issue of the paid Appraisal Today newsletter had “Practical tips you can use today for getting more appraisals done and make more money.” The November issue has “Increase your productivity by managing your email”. See more below in my ad.

Appraisal Humor

Appraisal business tips

Click Read More below for the rest of this long blog post!!

Read more!!