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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Appraisal Humor

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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FHA appraisal problems

Common FHA Violations

Excerpt: I’ve been performing FHA appraisals since 2000. Believe it or not, on a regular basis, I have home owners and real estate agents who tell me that some of the things I point out as FHA violations, were never mentioned in other FHA appraisal inspections. So, I thought I would mention some relatively common FHA violations I see when making my FHA inspections.

My comment: Funny Fotos and Videos!! I have seen similar photos around but there are many here in one place. Written for home owners, but good reminders for appraisers.

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Common Appraiser Violations

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

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City and building maps for appraisers

A Map of every building in America

Excerpts: Classic maps answer questions like: How do I get from Point A to Point B? These data images, instead, evoke questions – sometimes, simply: What’s that? City and building maps for appraisers

We found fascinating patterns in the arrangements of buildings. Traditional road maps highlight streets and highways; here they show up as a linear absence.

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In the August 8 2018 issue of this email newsletter, I published the link

Visualizing the Hidden ‘Logic’ of Cities

Excerpt: Some cities’ roads follow regimented grids. Others twist and turn. See it all on one chart.

Excerpt: In Chicago or Beijing, any given street is likely to take you north, south, east, or west. But good luck following the compass in Rome or Boston, where streets grew up organically and seemingly twist and turn at random.

Fascinating!! Check it out at:

Appraisal Business Tips 

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Appraising Cabins

 

Why We Love Cabins

Excerpt: Set against the chaos and complexity of contemporary life, the dream of eloping to the woods to live out a simple and unfettered existence is an increasingly tempting fantasy. The perfect wooden cabin plays a large part: appealing not just for their material honesty, attractive geometry, and breathtaking surroundings, cabins are, at least in popular imagination, a symbol of unity between man and nature, the humble abode of adventurous pioneers and poets-and, more recently still, the object of our wanderlust.
Great photos and info at:
My comment: When I first moved to the Bay Area in the late 1960s I rented a small cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was high in the mountains with a great view of the distant ocean. I had to learn to use a chain saw and an axe to split wood, be careful using water during the dry season so I didn’t run out of water in the water tank, etc. I drove up and down a very steep, long and narrow one lane road my cabin. When winter storms knocked down trees and blocked the road, I helped a neighbor cut and remove them. I will never forget lying on the ground staring up into a grove of redwood trees nearby. I still have a great fondness for redwood trees. Of course, now it is fully developed with a lot of big homes…

Appraisal Business Tips 

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