FHA: Cosmetic vs. MPR Repairs

Cosmetic vs. MPR Repairs: Guidance for FHA Appraisers

By: McKissock

Excerpts: If you are appraising a property that needs some cosmetic repairs but meets FHA minimum property requirements (MPR) in its current condition, you should make the appraisal “as-is.” Here is some guidance on cosmetic repairs vs. MPR repairs.

Topics include:

  • When can an FHA appraisal be completed “as-is” vs. “subject to”?
  • Cosmetic repairs Examples
  • MPR repairs Examples
  • Conditions that require inspection Examples

To read more, click here

My comments: If you do FHA appraisals, read this blog post. Photos and lots of examples. I quit doing FHA appraisals in the mid-1980s because of the inspection requirements compared to conventional appraisals, that did not have the requirement.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on appraisal “modernization”, bias hearing, bad appraiser, USPAP, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.


Appraiser pleads guilty in $1.3B fraud scheme

Walter Roberts II of North Carolina faces five-year maximum sentence

Excerpts: An appraiser in North Carolina is set to face the music after conspiring in a massive $1.3 billion tax fraud scheme.

… Roberts faces a maximum of five years in prison and will be sentenced in six months.

The fraud started in 2008, one year after Roberts became a licensed appraiser, according to court documents and statements. In 2007, he started appraising conservation easements, which are specified areas of land earmarked for environmental conservation. Owners with conservation easements can claim an income tax deduction.

From 2008 to 2019, Roberts fraudulently inflated the value of at least 18 different easements by violating industry norms and making false statements. He also manipulated or used manipulated data to hit a target appraisal value communication by unnamed co-conspirators to achieve a certain tax deduction.

The impact of the fraud is staggering, especially since Roberts inflated the value of some appraisals by at least 70 percent…

To read more, click here

My comments: For more info, google his name and add appraiser. Conservation easement appraisals are a definite risk for appraisers. Over time, many have been significantly over-valued per the IRS. They are not easy to do. I decided not to do them many years ago. Best to do a lot of them and become an expert or none.


Glorious Gilded Age Mansion for $29.9M Is Washington DC’s Most Expensive Home

Excerpts: Completed in 1881, the 23,600-square-foot mansion is divided among commercial spaces on the first two floors. A residential penthouse is situated on the top two floors.

A three-year renovation, ending in 2009, converted the upper floors into the 7,000-square-foot penthouse. The space offers four bedrooms, five full bathrooms, and lots of living and entertaining space.

“There’s an atrium, multiple sitting rooms off of the atrium, a humongous dining room, and a humongous living room, so yes, I would say there’s plenty of entertaining space,” Heider (listing agent) says.

“There’s nothing [else] in this city that offers a private rooftop pool overlooking one of the most charming circles in the city,” Heider says, adding that the pool and accompanying outdoor kitchen are only for Blaine Mansion penthouse residents.

“Imagine yourself being able to go out on your rooftop and be in the pool, drinking a margarita and overlooking DuPont Circle. Right now, nothing compares to it.”

The property also comes with 14-vehicle parking capacity.

To read more and see lots of photos, click here 

My comment: Really stands out from the modernized buildings nearby! I lived in Washington, DC, until I was 9 years old. My mom used to take me regularly to Dupont Circle to play. I don’t remember much about what it was like there, but I remember Dupont Circle Park.


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Purchase and Sale Agreements

By Tim Andersen, MAI

Excerpt: Should appraisers get a copy of the purchase and sale agreement?

Some appraisers feel that lenders should not provide them with the purchase and sale contract. Then that contract does not serve to color, cloud, or otherwise bias a value opinion.

Let’s take a look at it from basically both sides. Appraisers analyze the purchase and sale contract to amass and verify data to have detailed data to use in the analytics of future assignments.

Purchase and sale agreements are also a great source of data relative to the subject, which might serve as a verified and personally inspected comp in a future assignment. Remember, we rarely get to inspect comparables.

Over time, a great deal of research has indicated that well over 90% of appraisals come in at or above the purchase and sale contract. This suggests that appraisers are indeed letting that contract price function as a target the lender expects the appraiser to reach and then support.

We all know this is true.

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Jonathan Miller testifies at ASC hearing on appraisal issues: bias and barriers to entry 

C-SPAN Video is approximately 3 hours with a 17-minute break

The Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) held a second hearing on challenges facing the appraisal industry, including barriers for entering the profession and racial bias in home appraisals. The panel’s first hearing on such topics occurred in January 2023.

To listen and read the hearing transcript click here

My comments on the video: Usually, on these long hearings, it is hard to stay awake waiting until the section you want to hear. This video is very easy to use, plus text is available. You can search for people and speakers. 6 video segments on specific topics.


Jonathan Miller on his experience at the hearing

Excerpts: On Friday morning, I was one of five expert witnesses (and the only as an appraiser) to testify on the topic of appraisal bias in front of the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC). The witnesses waited together in the green room, plus additional TAF staff. We had a delightful conversation – everyone was very friendly and a pleasure to be with, given the adversarial nature of our looming testimony.

It’s a three-hour hearing, but if you are connected to the appraisal industry in any way, I encourage you to listen. You can hear my opening statement at about the 26-minute mark. The text on the C-SPAN website was generated from unedited closed captions. Here was my formal statement, but since the timing was strictly limited to 5 minutes, I read this abbreviated version, which in hindsight, was better and more to the point. (Editor note: links are in the text


Morgan Williams, General Counsel, National Fair Housing Alliance – He was a compelling witness – he drove home that he wanted access to anonymized loan-level data to determine the potential valuation bias.

Angela G. Jemmott, Bureau Chief, California Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers, Member of the Association of Appraiser Regulatory Officials. She was a powerhouse of testimony, advocating practicum solutions in addition to PAREA.

To read a lot more of Jonathan Millers interesting comments, click here


Rocket Mortgage offers new 1% down home-loan program

Excerpts: Rocket Mortgage recently introduced ONE+, a new 1% down home loan program that will dramatically increase access to homeownership for millions of low-to-moderate-income earning Americans, the company has announced.

With ONE+, Rocket Mortgage stated that a homebuyer is only required to make a down payment of 1% of the purchase price and they will cover the remaining 2% needed to reach the required threshold for conventional loans. In addition to reducing upfront costs, Rocket Mortgage says ONE+ completely eliminates the expensive monthly mortgage insurance fee for the client —which is traditionally required if the buyer places less than 20% down on their purchase.

Designed to help everyday Americans achieve homeownership, Rocket Mortgage stated that ONE+ is available to homebuyers purchasing single-family homes—including manufactured homes—whose income is equal to or less than 80% of their area median income (AMI). With this expansive AMI eligibility, the company estimates that more than 90 million people can meet the income requirements for this program—based on publicly available income data.

To read more, click here

My comment: Hopefully, they will use full appraisals because of the increased risk!


The Next Generation of Appraisals: Revolutionizing Real Estate Valuation with Computer Vision

By Tony Pistilli

Excerpts: Before you get too worried and quit reading, let’s all agree computer vision is unlikely to replace appraisers. I believe it will only make them more accurate and more efficient. Think of computer vision as a calculator. Sure, you can use pencil and paper and divide 1,024 by 82 and come to the correct number, but there are calculators that allow us to do that much faster and with more consistent accuracy – that’s what computer vision will do for appraisers.

While computer vision holds tremendous potential for real estate appraisers, I believe several potential challenges need to be addressed. The need for standardized data formats is paramount, consistent taxonomies in MLS, and between inspection forms and appraisals. Additionally, ensuring the proper use of computer vision technologies and maintaining transparency in the valuation process are critical aspects that should be carefully addressed by state, federal and financial institution regulators and also addressed in USPAP.

To read more, plus the 20+ most negative appraiser comments, click here

My comments: The accuracy of any AI depends on the data.

As we all know, MLS, Public records, etc. are not always accurate for a property. AI has to be trained on good data.

MLS videos and photos taken by agents tend to leave out any defects or problems. They are sales persons, of course. They disclose them in the seller’s disclosure statement, hopefully! I wonder if the home would be overvalued?


HOW TO USE THE NUMBERS BELOW. Appraisals are ordered after the loan application. These numbers tell you the future for the next few weeks. For more information on how they are compiled, click here.  

Note: I publish a graph of this data every month in my paid monthly newsletter, Appraisal Today. For more information or get a FREE sample go to www.appraisaltoday.com/order Or call 510-865-8041, MTW, 7 AM to noon, Pacific time.

My comments: Rates are going up and down. Some appraisers are very busy, and others have little work. Varies widely around the country.


Mortgage applications decreased 4.6 percent from one week earlier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 24, 2023) — Mortgage applications decreased 4.6 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 19, 2023.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 4.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 5 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 5 percent from the previous week and was 44 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 4 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 5 percent compared with the previous week and was 30 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Mortgage applications declined almost five percent last week as borrowers remained sensitive to higher rates. The 30-year fixed rate increased to 6.69 percent, the highest level since March,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Since rates have been so volatile and for-sale inventory still scarce, we have yet to see sustained growth in purchase applications. Refinance activity remains limited, with the refinance index falling to its lowest level in two months and more than 40 percent below last year’s pace.”

Added Kan, “Investors remained attuned to the uncertainty around the U.S. debt ceiling and communication from several Federal Reserve officials last week, which sent Treasury yields higher, along with mortgage rates. Economic data released over the past week have also pointed to a still-resilient economy. The housing market received positive data on new residential construction – which is seen as a key solution to the lack of housing inventory.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity remained unchanged at 27.4 percent of total applications from the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 6.7 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 12.5 percent from 12.0 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 12.5 percent from 12.2 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications increased to 0.5 percent from 0.4 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($726,200 or less) increased to 6.69 percent from 6.57 percent, with points increasing to 0.66 from 0.61 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $726,200) increased to 6.57 percent from 6.46 percent, with points increasing to 0.57 from 0.38 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to 6.56 percent from 6.39 percent, with points increasing to 1.24 from 0.97 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 6.15 percent from 5.96 percent, with points increasing to 0.72 from 0.68 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 5.73 percent from 5.71 percent, with points increasing to 1.19 from 1.10 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The survey covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks, and thrifts. Base period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100.


Ann O’Rourke, MAI, SRA, MBA
Appraiser and Publisher Appraisal Today
1826 Clement Ave. Suite 203 Alameda, CA 94501
Phone 510-865-8041
Email  ann@appraisaltoday.com

Green Home Appraisals – Ideas for Appraisers

5 Tips for Appraising Green Homes

By McKissock


1. Consider each home on a case-by-case basis

You must independently determine whether there is sufficient information available to develop a reliable opinion of market value for each individual property. That will depend on the extent of the differences between the green home and other types of houses in the neighborhood. It will also depend on the number of such properties that have already been sold in the neighborhood.

5. Compare improvements to those in the neighborhood

Any improvements should conform to the neighborhood in terms of age, type, design, and materials used for their construction. If there is market resistance to a green home property because its improvements are not compatible with the neighborhood or with the requirements of the competitive market because of adequacy of plumbing, heating, or electrical services; design; quality; size; condition; or any other reason directly related to market demand, address the impact to the value and marketability of the subject property.

To read more, click here

My comments: I have “Mediterranean” (mild) weather, without much solar. If you live in an area with high summer and/or low winter temperatures, there are probably more solar installations. Many classes are offered by various appraisal CE providers. Check with education providers, such as McKissock, the Appraisal Institute, and local offerings.

What are Pass through Bedrooms for 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 desktops, nonbanks, alternative financing, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.


Read more!!

Neighborhood Boundaries for Appraisals

Gentrification, neighborhood boundaries, and bias

By Ryan Lundquist 

Excerpts: Photo used with permission (thanks, Vicky).

Sometimes, crossing the street can make all the difference for value. In short, if we don’t understand where a neighborhood starts and ends, we might choose the wrong comps.

Q&A #3 How do we know neighborhood boundaries?

Okay, this is a big question, and it could easily be a dissertation. For starters, let’s consider what Fannie Mae says about neighborhoods:

Fannie Mae: “The appraiser should provide an outline of the neighborhood boundaries, which should be clearly delineated using ‘North,’ ‘South’, ‘East,’ and ‘West’. These boundaries may include but are not limited to streets, legally recognized neighborhood boundaries, waterways, or other natural boundaries that define the separation of one neighborhood from another. Appraisers should not reference a map or other addendum as the only example of the neighborhood boundaries.”

Other thoughts (mine): I think sometimes we focus only on major streets, but let’s also consider school boundaries and even how neighborhood associations or city websites define areas. But also, where would residents themselves draw the lines? And where would buyers be hunting for a home before shopping somewhere else? All these things could be clues.

To read more and see lots of maps and graphs, click here

My comments: Excellent analysis of specific neighborhood boundaries with maps and graphs, of course. Worth reading. The Jan. and Feb issues of the monthly Appraisal Today has this article: Does my neighborhood really need to be analyzed? Parts I II By Tim Andersen, MAI. The best neighborhood explanations I have ever read!!

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, ANSI, bias, smells, mortgage origination stats, etc.

Read more!!

Should Appraisers Pay to Be on AMC List

By Dustin Harris

Excerpt: Should appraisers pay to be on an AMC’s approved appraiser list? Is this one way to get new clients? If an AMC solicited you, would you check it out?

Now, I work for some AMCs that, frankly, you might not choose to work for. That’s fine. It’s a choice we all make. Understand that most of the areas I work are rural, so AMCs are generally willing to pay more because of this. Some AMC are very demanding. Yet, when I meet those demands, I get a lot of well-paying jobs from them.

To read more, plus lots of appraiser comments, and listen to the podcast, click here

My comment: A never-ending very controversial topic ever since AMCs took over residential lender appraisals after the mortgage crash around 2008!

Which Appraisal Clients are used the most?(Opens in a new browser tab)

Read more!!

What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review

Excerpts: Residential appraisers will often — if not just about always — have their work reviewed by another appraiser. Usually, this is a routine procedure that the original appraiser barely notices. Sometimes, the review appraiser will come back with requests for extra information, or doubts, that the original appraiser might find annoying. To be sure, the reviewer’s questions might sometimes seem nit-picky, and answering them can distract from other work. However, the issues the reviewer raises almost always turn out to be legitimate. What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review

We asked review appraiser Doug Nakashima (Glenview, Illinois) for advice on how to make reviews as painless as possible if you’re the one being reviewed.


  • Remember that reviewers are on your side
  • Look out for these common points of contention
  • Avoid future revision requests

To read more, click here

My comments: Sorry, no comments section for ranting, etc. ;>

If you’re doing AMC work, the tough appraisals tend to go to reviewers. The first “reviews” are from underwriters, clerks, computer software, etc.

I don’t know of any other profession where almost all reports are reviewed by clients. Personally, I think it has resulted in appraisers being overly critical of other appraisers’ work, state boards sometimes being too aggressive, etc. Worse, some appraisers try to send in reports with as as few “problems” as possible, to minimize call backs and doing whatever it takes.

Review appraiser liability(Opens in a new browser tab)

Appraisal Process Challenges(Opens in a new browser tab) Read more!!

Favorite parts of the appraisal process

What’s your favorite part of the appraisal process?


Number 1. Data collection and property description (38%)

“The best part is the property review. I enjoy seeing what people have done to their properties and talking to them about their homes.”

“I enjoy viewing/observing the subject home.”

“Detective work”

“Each dwelling is different, and not every appraiser takes the time to clarify the differences in the dwellings. The quality, the construction, the egresses, and especially the correct way to calculate GLA or measure a dwelling.”

Number 2. Data analysis (27%)…

To read more about favorites, click here

My comment: I love working in the field, so my choice is Number 1. But, my very best choice is getting paid ;>

Which Appraisal Clients are used the most?(Opens in a new browser tab)

What is the farthest you have traveled to complete an appraisal and still be considered geographically competent?(Opens in a new browser tab)

Appraisal Process Challenges(Opens in a new browser tab)

Read more!!

What’s the appraisal definition for suburban?

Excerpts: The U.S. hasn’t had a formal definition for what constitutes a suburb. A new data analysis comes closer to defining America’s most popular neighborhood type. (Suburban appraisal definition is tricky.) What’s the appraisal definition for suburban?

The United States is a land of suburbs, with just one problem: No one’s quite clear what a “suburb” is.

It’s a question of semantics with real-world implications, as government programs, political campaigns and developers try to spend money in the “suburbs,” where a majority of Americans say they live despite the category having no formal definition.

For some people, it’s obvious: A suburb is a smaller city on the periphery of a larger city. Or it’s a sprawling neighborhood filled with vast swathes of single-family homes. Still other more dated conceptions of suburbia in the popular mind involve the people who live there: allegedly white, middle class and socially homogenous.

Now a new team of researchers believe they’ve cracked the code…

To read more, click here

My comments: Of course, if you do residential lender appraisals this is a Very Big Issue due to lender “requirements” such as no rural properties. Lots and lots of online discussion about this for a long time. Post this topic on your favorite Internet chat site or email list… and wait for the wide variety of opinions!!


My Favorite Definitions

(This has been floating around for many years…)

Rural  Suburban  Urban

  • If you stand naked on the front porch and the neighbors can’t see you… it’s rural.
  • If you stand naked on the front porch and the neighbors call the cops on you… it’s suburban.
  • If you stand naked on the front porch and the neighbors ignore you… it’s urban.

There are other variations, of course, that are not suitable for this newsletter ;>

Crazy Appraiser Stories!!(Opens in a new browser tab)

Read more!!

Fannie Update on Covid alternative appraisals

Fannie Update on Covid alternative appraisals. Excerpt: Through mid-May, about 15% of Uniform Collateral Data Portal® (UCDP®) appraisals completed after our announcement used the flexibilities, either desktop or exterior-only. As you know, circumstances vary widely across the country, and the uptake of the flexibilities reflects this. The highest percentages of appraisals using the flexibilities are around 40% in some northeastern states, while the lowest percentages are around 10% in some of the less impacted states…

We found that appraisers have used the flexibilities correctly about 90% of the time. Appraisers have done a great job identifying external obsolescence for desktops and exterior-only appraisals, as well as leveraging their local knowledge, maps, aerial photos, and other data sources. We’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that, although not required, about 35% of nontraditional reports include a sketch pulled from prior reports, assessors records, or other sources. Also, the supporting comments in the nontraditional reports have been even better on average than those in traditional reports.

Worth reading. 5 pages and well written. Also includes comments on “one mile rule” and flood zones. To read more, click here

My comments: There are very few of these done in the Bay Area. 10% sounds about right. However, now we are now in a major virus surge in some states – opened too soon and people in some areas did not do social distancing, hand washing and wear face coverings. Use of the alternative reports may increase in some states, and decrease in the northeast.

These appraisals are not easy to learn how to do, and are very different than doing full 1004 with interior inspections. In the June issue of the paid Appraisal Today I have lots of information on them, including useful references. See the ad below.

Covid-19 and Appraisers FREE Newsletter(Opens in a new browser tab)

Click the link below for a church converted to a home, Value Difference Between Streets, Avenues & Boulevards…?, Millions of American Homes at Greater Flood Risk Than Government Estimates, New Study Says, random thoughts of an appraiser, mortgage origination stats. 

Read more!!

Appraisal Neighborhood Analysis

What is so Important About the Damn Neighborhood Analysis that the Reviewer Nicked me for it?

By Tim Andersen, MAI

Excerpt: Question: in a recent review of one of my appraisal reports, the reviewer said my neighborhood analysis was poor. I asked what that meant and she indicated I should familiarize myself with Fannie Mae’s requirements for a NEIGHBORHOOD ANALYSIS. She also indicated what I had in my report was just a recitation of facts, but (a) lacked any analysis of neighborhood trends and (b) therefore I did not analyze the neighborhood sufficiently to reconcile my conclusions of the neighborhood trends and its effect on both my highest and best use conclusion and my final value opinion. I came in just over the contract price. What does the reviewer want from me? I did what I always do in an appraisal! Help me!

For the answer, click here

My comment: Tim always has great answers for appraiser questions! He is a regular contributor to the paid Appraisal Today, with articles on USPAP 2020-2021, state board problems, etc.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review(Opens in a new browser tab)

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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

Read more!!

Don’t pick appraisal comps the old way

Are you violating USPAP every day?

If you pick comps the old way, you may be violating USPAP every day!

Excerpts: (In the past) Data was hard to get. I was taught it was only necessary to use only three or four comps. And only a few comps were available. I did learn the importance of bracketing from my trainers (it was nowhere in my appraiser education). I was diligent, and of course, I picked my necessary and available comps carefully. Don’t pick appraisal comps the old way.

Then things changed. No one noticed. MLS came on line. Income properties came online. Public records came online.  All relevant sales became available. Instantly. Without thinking, I ignored the “as available” rule. But stuck to the ‘as necessary’ rule. And heck, everybody used just three comps. In fact, USPAP says I should do what my peers would do. And they all used just three or four.

So, what changed?

Today in most areas, all the sales are available. But are they necessary? Well no. All my peers use just three or four, so it is ok. But what if I want to do more than achieve credible results?

To read more, click here

My comment: I love George’s Most Excellent headlines plus his writings!! His blog posts are short, as they should be. But, sometimes we want to read more. The June issue of the paid Appraisal Today will have his 6-page article: “Old Versus New: Conflict or Opportunity?” about the past, current and future in appraisal analysis. Very interesting!!

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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

Read more!!