Fannie Mae Takes A Closer Look at Appraisals

Sins of the Past Are Back to Haunt Appraisers

Fannie Mae Takes A Closer Look at Appraisals

By Richard Hagar, SRA

 

 

Excerpts:

In the recent past, when appraisers were swamped

Even with the Collateral Underwriter program review, appraisers were overwhelmed. Every lender and AMC were seeking and hiring review appraisers in order to keep up with demand. Due to the shortage of review appraisers (exacerbated by low fees and time pressures), tens of thousands of poorly created appraisals were accepted without receiving adequate review.

Unfortunately, because many appraisals were rarely rejected or required corrections, appraisers developed the false notion that poorly crafted appraisals were okay to turn in. Many appraisers were bragging about their ability to fill out two or three appraisal forms a day and receive no call-backs from lenders.

However, time and time again we’d review appraisals, that were accepted by lenders, but had failures such as:

• No highest and best use analysis (as if vacant and improved).

• Failure to make appropriate time/market adjustments (positive or negative).

• Using only a single approach to value.

• Incorrect land values.

• Square footage costs and depreciation based more on opinion than reality.

• Unsupported adjustments (adjustments based on “my 30 years in the business” instead of facts).

• Failures to personally inspect and photograph comparables.

What’s happening now

FNMA indicates that their 2022 lending volume is down 47% from 2021 and is expected to drop by another 50% in 2023. So, it’s pretty safe to state that the “appraiser shortage” of yesteryear is over, and reviewers now have more time on their hands.

Which appraisers are going to survive when the loan volume is down 75-85% and the poor appraisals of the past are catching up with the appraiser today? Well, for the most part, it’s based on the quality of the appraisals delivered to lenders over the past five years.

Do you believe that the quality of your work ranks you as a tier 1 appraiser or do you have a little concern about your rating? Tier 1 appraisers have little to fear but tier 2 and 3 appraisers…

What you can do today

Today, you likely have more time on your hands, so slow down and take more time improving the quality of your work. Superior quality appraisals can set you free.

Learn how to accurately determine adjustments. Follow the ANSI standard when measuring the subject (even if you disagree with the method — it’s the requirement). Take more classes! Don’t stop taking classes just because you have enough CE credit to meet your next renewal; that mentality is for the bottom tier of appraisers.

I typically obtain double the CE credit hours necessary to renew my certificate…double! Why? Because I want to do things better, obtain higher fees, and survive the purge that is coming. Lenders have more choices, and you need a way to stand out from the bottom tier and low fee appraisers.

To read more, click here

My comments: Worth reading. Hagar is one of the best residential appraisal instructors. I have known him for over 30 years and have taken many of his classes. Richard can be a bit negative but states what is really happening and what you need to do. Many thanks to Ryan Lundquist’s 2020 blog post for the very appropriate image above!

I also think that now is the time to increase your appraisal skills by taking classes and seminars. I also have always had more CE hours than I need.

I am an appraiser because it is challenging and never boring. I quit working in labs because it was boring after 7 years but have never been bored appraising. I want to be the best appraiser I can be. (I have always been an over-achiever).

Consider doing non-lender appraisals. I have been doing them since 1986 and writing about them in my monthly newsletter since 1992. No CU, UAD, reviews, many pages of differing AMC requirements etc. Your requirements are in USPAP.

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Reliable MLS Data important for appraisals

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Appraisers and Local Market Analysis

Appraisers and Local Market Analysis

By Woody Fincham, SRA, AI-RRS, ASA

Excerpts: Social media and the mainstream media make a mess of these markets even in the best of times. They do not have the bandwidth to cover local markets. When you are in a metropolitan statistical area like Charlottesville and Waynesboro/Staunton you get some reporting from the local news. Still, if it is not driven to get online clicks from hyperbole it usually is not worth reporting. National data simply does not apply to the local real estate market and the closest large markets are Richmond and Washington DC. Neither are not great metrics for what our local markets are doing.

I think everyone has heard the old saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” And that is true. We are in the middle of a market transition and exactly how it is transitioning is extremely hard to predict. The best market analysis is always retrospective, as they say, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Until we get past this period over the next few months it may be hard to say definitively what is exactly happening. As an appraiser, it is super important to understand how to gather and analyze relative data.

So, what metrics are worth watching?

  • Inventory levels
  • Absorption rates and marketing times
  • Actual days on market (DOM)…

To read more and see the graphs, click here

My comments: Read this article, including the case study. See if there are data types and graphs you can use in your appraisals. Your clients count on you to let them know the market today, not in the past. Of course, I agree with this. Appraisers have the most valuable data and analyses in a changing market: listings, pendings, price changes, etc.

Appraisal Neighborhood Analysis

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NAR Appraisal Survey 2022

NAR Appraisal Survey 2022

Excerpts from NAR Report (link below):

In May 2022, NAR Research conducted a survey of all 9,700 appraiser members and 50,000 randomly-selected non-appraiser members.

54% of appraisers report that appraisal management companies (AMCs) have been among the greatest challenges in their businesses in the past year; 30% cite expanding regulations.

The typical appraiser reports a 40-mile radius in which they conduct appraisals. 68% report practicing within a radius of 20–59 miles.

Virtually all appraiser respondents (97 percent) have conducted an in-person appraisal, and 79 percent have done so by desktop/drive-by appraisal. Eleven percent cite evaluations (non-appraisal opinions of value). The eight percent who cite other valuation methods most often explained that they use a hybrid approach or mostly an exterior appraisal.

Two-thirds of appraisers (66 percent) are asked monthly or more often to conduct appraisals outside of the geographic area or the property type in which they feel their expertise is. Close to one-third conduct an appraisal outside their area of expertise on a weekly basis. Twenty-three percent of appraisers report never having to conduct an appraisal outside of their geographic area or area of expertise.

Appraisers are significantly more likely than other members to say that the most competent are not being selected most of the time (22 percent vs. nine percent) or at all (16 percent vs. six percent) and much less likely to say they are being selected most of the time (12 percent vs. 23 percent).

A few comments:

  • “Appraisal Management Companies are destroying our profession.”
  • “Appraisers are the “truth tellers” in this process. While agents can “puff” we cannot! If a property is listed at $315k, with an offer of $345k, do not harass the appraiser when the appraisal comes in at list!! If it had a market value of $345k, it would have listed at $345k!”
  • “AMCs are a significant issue for not only appraisers but for the consumer. They bid out each appraisal to maximize their profit, usually harming turn times and passing on costs to the appraiser and to the borrower.”

To read the report, click here

My comments: Read the PDF report. Easy to read with good graphics, similar to the graphic above. Since it was done in May, it focuses on appraiser shortages and delays, mostly from the non-appraiser respondents.

It has both appraiser and non-appraiser survey questions, which is a bit tricky to read. Some of the questions are relevant today, such as AMCs. Other questions are not as relevant, such as fees, as the appraisal market in many areas is not as strong as in May when the survey was done.

How much appraisers travel was interesting. I only work in my island city, 1 mile by 3.5 miles. I hate leaving the Island! Island mentality, I guess ;> I used to work in a much larger area, of course.

What is the farthest you have traveled to complete an appraisal and still be considered geographically competent?

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Appraisers: How and Why To Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Killed by Carbon Monoxide: Appraiser Blamed

Read this article on how to check CO detectors. You may save someone’s life!!

by Kendra Budd, Associate Editor, WorkingRE

Excerpts: For decades, appraisers have been gently reminded to pay careful attention to smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors—especially noting when they are absent altogether. Many experts advise that the state and federal standards requiring these important systems exist for a reason.

A recent case in which a young couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning while they slept highlights the life and death importance of these simple alarms—and brings this issue front and center for the real estate appraiser community as a whole.

Lawsuit

As you might expect, it didn’t take long for both John and Suzy’s parents to hire a law firm and start going after all the real estate professionals involved.

As it turns out, both the appraiser and the home inspector had each independently inspected the home 18 months prior and both mistakenly reported a few of the smoke alarms present at the home, as CO detectors.

Consequently, both the appraiser and home inspector ended up on the receiving end of a “wrongful death” legal claim.

The legal team for the parents of the deceased young adults (plaintiffs) alleged that the appraiser, Darcy Doe (name changed for privacy), had negligently appraised the Smiths’ home and had reported the presence of a CO detector when in fact, none were present. Unfortunately for Doe, she labeled her photograph inaccurately in her own appraisal report to the lender.

CO Detector vs Smoke Alarm

One important lesson in these cases is that it can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between CO detectors and smoke alarms. This is a reminder to appraisers to take a second look at all CO detectors and smoke alarms—and to test them as well.

Rick Bunzel, home inspector and Washington firefighter was able to give us some tips on how to not only tell the difference between the two detectors, but offers additional safety tips on smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as well.

For starters, the difference between a smoke alarm and a CO detector is quite simple. “The item will be clearly labeled, written on the exterior shell of the device, so you’ll be able to see it easily,” advises Bunzel. However, this can be hard to read because the signage could be the same color as the shell, so it’s incredibly important for you to get close enough to the alarm or CO detector to read it clearly (and test it!).

Bunzel was also able to provide some helpful tips for appraisers as far as how to communicate with their clients about CO detectors. For example, Bunzel says that appraisers and home inspectors should make it clear to their clients that they do not warranty if the device is working, just that it is there. “The test button doesn’t test the workability of a device—only the alarm. Just because it squeaks doesn’t mean it works,” reports Bunzel. This disclaimer language should be included in the appraiser’s report.

Another tip is to check the date of a CO alarm and smoke detector

To read more, click here

My comments: Read this article, especially how to identify and check CO detectors. The disclaimers are useful. I have CO and smoke detectors in several locations in my house. CO is much riskier than smoke as you can’t smell it.

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Cost Approach – When to Use in Appraisals

Fannie Mae and the Cost Approach

Excerpt: We often receive questions from appraisers regarding Fannie Mae and the cost approach. For example: “I’m appraising a property and have been instructed to comply with Fannie Mae guidelines. I understand that Fannie Mae requires the sales comparison approach, but what if there aren’t enough good comps? Can I use the cost approach as the primary method of valuation?”

Answer: No!

In order to comply with Fannie Mae guidelines, the sales comparison approach must be the primary method used to determine the value. In fact, Fannie Mae will not purchase a mortgage on a property if the cost approach is the primary or only method of valuation used.

Quite simply, if there isn’t enough data for the appraiser to develop a reliable opinion of value by the sales comparison approach, the mortgage will not be marketable to Fannie Mae.

However…

To read more, click here

My comment: I included this article plus the one below, which both address the Cost Approach’s common appraisal questions.

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The Cost Approach: An Underutilized Approach to Value

Excerpt: In residential appraising, the cost approach and the income approach have in many cases become less utilized in favor of sole reliance on the sales comparison approach.

There are occasions when the income approach can be the primary indicator of value for residential properties, such as developments with a high percentage of homes owned by investors.

The fact that Fannie Mae won’t accept reports that rely solely on the cost approach, with a few rare exceptions, doesn’t mean that approach can’t be the primary indicator of value. It just means Fannie Mae won’t buy that loan.

To read more, click here 

My comments: I started with an assessor’s office in the 1970s. At that time, my county was changing from only using the Cost Approach for decades to a sales-based approach. I never liked to use only the Cost Approach when I started doing fee appraisals.

In my area, there are very few land sales. There has not been one for over 20 years in my city. Depreciation is always iffy when appraising Victorian homes built before 1915.

But, I always use the Cost Approach for new construction to determine the financial feasibility of custom homes. I use a few land sales from other cities. If the new proposed home is on a vacant parcel, I go back to when the parcel was purchased, sometimes many years ago, and do a market condition adjustment.

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So Many Appraisal Cost Approach Questions

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VA Approves Desktops and Exterior-Only Appraisals

VA Approves Desktops and Exterior-Only Appraisals

Excerpts from the Summary: On August 1, 2022, the Veterans Affairs released Circular 26-22-13 announcing new procedures for alternative valuation methods, effective immediately.

“The use of a Desktop Appraisal may allow an appraiser from outside the market area, but with appropriate credentials for the jurisdiction of the property, to complete the assignment when no local VA fee panel appraiser is available.”

“Appraisal Assignment Waterfall. With consideration for the high demand for appraisal services and limited availability of appraisers in certain local market areas, VA is providing lenders, servicers, and appraisers with a procedural waterfall that clarifies acceptable valuation methods when certain conditions exist. Lenders and appraisers can also refer to Exhibit A for more information. VA continues to explore opportunities for expanding the use of Exterior-only Appraisals and Desktop Appraisals and will update this procedural waterfall, as appropriate.”

To read the full blog post, click here

The summary and Circular are in the blog post.

To read more about the May 2022 proposal to eliminate the fee panel, click here 

I wrote about the VA in my July 8 email newsletter. To read it, click here

My comments: The big push to cut down on appraisal turn times because of the appraisal shortage is Very Old News since mortgage volume has plummeted. I always recommend VA as the best lender client for appraisers. I wrote about it in the past and interviewed VA employees, appraisers on the VA panel, and appraisers who did not want to do VA appraisals in my paid monthly newsletter.

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Where VA loans are soaring. Are you doing VA appraisals?

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Tips on appraising new construction homes

6 Tips for Appraising New Construction Homes

Excerpts: New construction is treated a little differently by lenders, FHA, and the GSEs. When appraising new construction homes, you must take into consideration certain features and attributes that don’t necessarily apply to re-sales. It requires more work, so you want to be sure that you are charging for your effort. However, perhaps more than that, you want to be sure you’re following the proper protocol. Stick to these best practices to ensure you cover all your bases.

3. Talk to multiple local builders You can gain valuable information from builders—as long as you talk to them now to evaluate current costs and value. Some of the best construction cost data is compiled by you as you complete new construction appraisal assignments. When appraising new proposed construction, the prior data can be reviewed for those construction projects that are most similar to the subject property in quality, size, and features and be used as cost data to support cost estimates for the current appraisal. As the cost of construction materials generally continue to spiral upwards, it may be necessary to adjust for time, depending on how old the cost data is.

To read more tips, click here

My comments: Well written and worth reading. New home construction appraisals can be tricky. I quit doing them a while ago – too many various hassles, but many appraisers like doing them. There are few new homes built in my area, except stacked condos. Land is too expensive.

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Crazy Appraisal Stories! We all have them!!

Crazy Appraisal Stories!

Excerpts: Not Just Measuring Homes and Taking Pictures
I went to appraise a home for a movie producer in Brentwood, California. I knocked on the door, and one of the producer’s boyfriends opened the door and invited me in. He was completely naked. He told me that whatever I do, don’t let the cat out. As I went room to room taking photos, I met another naked boyfriend. He also told me not to let the cat out. As I went to the second floor of the house, I met the producer who was also naked. He told me again, “don’t let the cat out.”
I’m approaching the rear patio door to take pics of the rear of the house. Outside I see a beautiful pure-bred Persian cat. I know I didn’t let the cat out but I sure as hell better get it back in the house. I started chasing the cat in the rear yard. Finally, I grabbed it, but not before it ripped my blouse and caused my hands to bleed. Huffing and puffing from the chase, I tossed the cat back into the house and closed the door. A few moments later one of the naked boyfriends came over and said “that’s the neighbor’s cat. Get him out of the house.” I then had to chase the cat again. Finally, I caught the cat and put him out of the house. I was left there panting with a torn blouse and bleeding hands, thinking appraising homes is definitely not just measuring homes, taking pics, and typing up forms.
-Mary Cummins
To read more, click here
My comments: Just For Fun! We’ve all got these stories!

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What is a “good” appraiser?

8 Characteristics of a Successful Real Estate Appraiser

Excerpt: Here are two:
Unbiased
The ability to form an unbiased, objective opinion of value is absolutely essential in this line of work. According to this survey, many appraisers agree that this is the single-most-important trait you need to have as a real estate appraiser. In order to provide trustworthy results and uphold the integrity of the appraisal profession, you must be unbiased. Otherwise, you risk losing your professional reputation.
Analytical
It’s important for appraisers to be analytical, as each appraisal assignment will require thorough analysis and critical thinking.
To read more, click here
My comments: I was hooked on science in my first science class: high school biology. I studied biology and chemistry in college. I learned to be objective and unbiased, analytical, and open to almost any possibility. I have used these skills in appraising. I have always been curious, which keeps me up on what is new and other ways of looking at appraising a property. As far as I know, relatively few appraisers have science degrees.

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PAVE Appraiser Bashing

PAVE Action Plan to Advance Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity

By McKissock, March 23, 2022
Two of the more controversial recommendations:
Excerpts:
Inform Federal Housing Administration (FHA) borrowers about the process to request a reconsideration of a valuation when the initial valuation is lower than expected.
Perhaps the most far-reaching recommendation for action is number 1.6, which states, “Develop a legislative proposal that modernizes the governance structure of the appraisal industry to improve transparency and public participation in the establishment of appraisal standards and appraiser qualification criteria, and to advance diversity in the profession.” Translation: Amend FIRREA to remove references to The Appraisal Foundation and transfer the Foundation’s authority to write appraisal standards and qualifications to the Appraisal Subcommittee or another federal government entity.
As of this writing, no proposed legislation related to the PAVE recommendations has been introduced. Because committees in both the Senate and the House are holding hearings, a bill (or, more likely, bills) can be expected very soon. Stay tuned.
Short and worth reading. To read more, including links to the full PAVE report and the summary, click here
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AEI’s Comments on PAVE Report
Excerpt: The Brookings and Freddie Mac studies are not based on rigorous data analysis. Most importantly, they conflate race with socio-economic status (SES), i.e. income, buying power, marriage rates, credit scores, etc. Race-based gaps found in the Brookings and Freddie Mac studies either entirely or substantially disappear when adjusting for differences in SES. Furthermore, our analyses show that similar gaps are present in majority White or White-only tracts across different SES levels, raising serious questions regarding a race-based explanation.
To read more, click here
My comment: American Enterprise Institute is a conservative “think tank” and has also supported the appraisers’ side on other issues.
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Congress Committee Meetings on Appraisal Bias

Strengthening Oversight and Equity in the Appraisal Process
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Appraiser Witness: James Park, Executive Director Appraisal Subcommittee
To watch, click here
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Devalued, Denied, and Disrespected: How Home Appraisal Bias and Discrimination Are Hurting Homeowners and Communities of Color Tuesday, March 29, 2022

House Financial Services Committee

Appraiser speakers:
  • Pledger M. Bishop, III, President, Appraisal Institute
  • David S. Bunton, President, The Appraisal Foundation
  • Dean Kelker, Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, SingleSource Property Solutions, on behalf of the Real Estate Valuation Advocacy Association
To watch, click here
My comments: I was not able to watch either of these meetings before writing this newsletter.
Jonathan Miller attended the virtual March 24 meeting and had comments on the March 24 and 29 hearings. To read his comments, click here Scroll down to “James Park”
His blog post for today (usually sent around 11 AM EST) may have comments on the March 29 meeting. To read his comments, click here. Search for “devalued” (Hopefully, this link works.)

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