What should appraisers look for in a sales contract?

What should appraisers look for in a sales contract?

By Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpt: When should we analyze the contract?

Looking at the sales contract early on allows the appraiser to identify any “subject to” items or other conditions that could influence the value conclusion.

However, reviewing the contract early might also put the sales price in the back of the appraiser’s mind. And although it shouldn’t, it may unintentionally influence the appraiser’s comparable selection and eventually impact a direction in value.

Maybe looking at the sales contract only after developing the appraiser’s opinion of value would help avoid the above concern?

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My comment: Some interesting, and maybe controversial, ideas. Short and worth reading.

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on unusual homes, AMCs, appraiser survey on the future, real estate market, waivers, turn times,mortgage origination stats, etc.

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Appraisers and The Psycho Kitty

Favorite Crazy Appraisal Stories – The Psycho Kitty

Excerpt: Psycho Kitty

I had an appointment at a home in the country out in the woods. The access instructions said the cat MIGHT be caged. Got to the home and the cat was at the front door and hissed at me as I went in. I tried to make friends with the cat, but it didn’t work, so I ignored the cat and started my inspection.

As I came out of the first-floor master, he was waiting. He stood on his hind legs, teeth showing, hissing, and came at me. Once again, I used my clipboard and ran to the laundry room where I was able to shut the door. I was safe…

To read more strange and/or funny appraisal stories, click here

My comment: We all have appraisal stories, of course!! In my 45 years of appraising I have never been attacked by a cat. My creepiest cat encounter was appraising the home of a cat foster parent for a local animal shelter. Large outside cat enclosure full of cats, multiple cats on top of dressers and other places, looking at me (looked like they were hungry). I wish I could forget about all the cat eyes looking at me :<

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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

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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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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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What is “retirement” for appraisers?

Appraising in Retirement

by Isaac Peck

Excerpt: According to the Appraisal Institute’s latest Valuation Professional Factsheet (Dec. 2018), over 70 percent of all licensed or credentialed appraisers across the U.S. are over 50 years old, with over 20 percent being over 66 years old. As appraiser demographics continue to shift older and grayer, some within the industry have predicted sharp declines in the number of practicing appraisers as they begin to retire. However, as the numbers show, appraising appears to be an optimal career to continue part time, in retirement.

Melvyn Wolf, a Certified Residential appraiser, licensed in Illinois and Wisconsin, is one such appraiser. Born in 1942, Wolf is 77 years old and has been a real estate appraiser for 33 years. He says he will continue appraising as long as he is physically fit and in good health. Here’s his story.

To read more, click here

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My comments: The July 2018 issue of Appraisal Today had my article: “Retirement for fee appraisers: when, why, and lots of options”. I discussed when to take social security, fixed costs, burnout, spouse retirement, etc. Also, for self employed people what does retirement mean? For appraisers, including myself, often you gradually cut back on appraisals. I am 76 and started Social Security at age 70. It is currently $3,470 per month and 85% taxable. It goes on top of my business income and puts me in a high marginal tax rate. I can’t cut back easily on my newsletter business, so I do fewer appraisals. What is “retirement” for appraisers?

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What is “retirement” for appraisers??

An Appraiser’s Full Circle

By Mike Foil

Excerpt: A couple of years ago, I asked my brother who had just closed his business, “How do you know when you are done and it’s time to retire?” He answered, “When it is time, you will know.”

There are considerations: health, finances, what to do, and the passion you still have for appraising. I’m turning 70 in a few months and enjoy good health. We see a path financially without the need for appraisal fees; however, having just received payment for the last file in accounts receivable did put a stamp of finality on the decision. I have ‘projects’ to work on: thinning trees and brush on four acres I want to split into three building sites, writing a study on “The Salvation of the Soul,” and family time (wife, kids, and 16 grandkids). As for my passion for appraising, it is gone.

To read more, click here

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Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

Appraiser retirement plans?(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Statute of Limitations for Suing an Appraiser

What’s the Statute of Limitations for Suing a Real Estate Appraiser?

by Peter Christensen

Excerpt: This is a common question that I’m asked because many lawsuits against appraisers are filed years after the appraisal was performed by the appraiser, sometimes 10 or more years later.

The reason for this is that the plaintiff suing an appraiser may not have known there was a problem with the appraisal at the time it was received or may not have suffered any damages as a result of the alleged appraisal error until a loan default or other event has occurred years down the road.

This plaintiff might be a lender who recently foreclosed on a loan or might be a borrower who believes they paid too much or borrowed too much based on a deficient appraisal.

For more info, click here

My comment: Blog post includes a link to all 50 states for statues of limitation. Knowing about the Statute of Limitations for Suing an Appraiser can really help if you receive a letter from an attorney.

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Statute of limitations for appraisals

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Most difficult to appraise home features

Three Home Features Are the Most Challenging to Appraise

From McKissock appraiser survey

Excerpt: 1. Solar panels and “green” features (37%)

“Solar panels and green features are still new in my market and require more attention to the details of the benefit these items provide to the homeowner and how they impact the subject’s marketability.”

“There are so very few homes with solar panels in our markets. The limited data makes it very difficult to find enough data to determine the market reaction.”

The other two challenges include Accessory Dwelling Units and views. Plus info on more challenges.

To read more, click here

My comment: All 3 are tricky in my area!! Very interesting survey on which Home features: the most difficult to appraise

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When 1,000 square feet doesn’t count in an appraisal

When 1,000 square feet doesn’t count

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpts: One of the most interesting homes I’ve seen just sold. It was brand new, four stories, and a halfplex. Oh, and on paper it was 3,000 sq ft, but about 1,000 sq ft didn’t count in the square footage. This is definitely a conversation piece, so I’m thankful Realtor Brian McMartin agreed to do a Q&A. I hope this will be valuable and interesting. Any thoughts? This is an example of When 1,000 square feet doesn’t count in an appraisal

Quick points:

This house has 1,000 sq ft that is not permitted as square footage. The “non-conditioned” space looks just like square footage.

Understanding permits really does matter…

Interview with selling agent plus Ryan’s (and appraisers’) comments. Worth reading.

To read more, click here

My comment: I see non-permitted areas in homes a lot in my city, typically converted basements. Fortunately, I can get the permit info easily from the city and the property owner does not “get into trouble” because of my inquiry. I am lucky.

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What is Included in Appraisal Square Footage?

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Zillow uses home photos for “appraisals”

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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