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

Appraisal Business Tips 

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Appraisals and Water Frontage

Appraisals and Water Frontage

Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpts:

What about an off-site water view?

In a large townhouse-style condominium complex, there were only eight units that had water views. The view was of a section of the Intracoastal Waterway. It was from the second floor only, and over a six-foot high concrete block wall and across an open field. The builder charged more for those units because of the partial view.

My research discovered that the open field had just been purchased by a group that was building a four-level high-and-dry boat storage building. That bit of news made quite a few folks very unhappy and had a distinct impact on the value of those units. The moral of this story is that when you see open land between your subject property and the water, review ownership and the local building and zoning department’s comprehensive land use plan.

Water rights play a major role

With many water fronting properties, the topics of “riparian and/or littoral rights” (and the “prior appropriation doctrine” in the western states) come into play, along with several other issues. Those topics are fodder for other lengthy blog posts all by themselves. Appraisers should familiarize themselves with their state laws regarding water frontage and related rights, as they can vary from state to state.

Among the rights that come with real property ownership is the right to exclude others. When oceans, lakes, bayous, estuaries, rivers, streams, and ponds are involved, this right is a large part of what property purchasers are paying for.

To read more, click here

My comments: Worth reading, especially the last section “Final thoughts on the topic.”

I have lived in my island city for 42 years and had two waterfront homes, with docks, during the first 30 years. Both had many water related issues. One was on a tidal canal and built around 1943. Over time many homes along the waterfront, including mine, had non-permitted structures built over the water. The canal was owned by the state with an unclear easement for building beyond the rear lot line. The property owners asked me to do appraisals on the homes, including the rear structures but did not like my very high fee. It was so complicated the state and the city gave up trying to straighten it out.

The other home, built in 1946, faced a small bay off an outlet to a large part of San Francisco Bay. The large rear part of the lot was owned by the state and the city, which was leased to the homeowner. When the state said they were considering giving public waterfront access along the rear of all the homes unless we paid an annual lease fee, based on the extra lot square footage, we agreed to pay it.

I always wondered what other appraisers thought about these issues. They may not have even recognized or asked about them. Appraisers called very rarely.

I will never forget one of my first house appraisals here. The owner said it had a Bay view but did not mention you had to stand on the toilet to see through the window. After that, I told them the view had to be from a chair that you sat in!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 :<

Appraisal Business Tips 

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Fannie says appraisal “forms” are going away

Fannie Mae is Not Developing New Appraisal Forms

By Dustin Harris 

Excerpt: Some of my colleagues have asked me, “What will the new forms look like?” Again, and I know it is a bit nit-picky, but there are no new forms. Rather, the GSEs are developing a cloud-based electronic container that will be used to report our findings rather than filling out a form and sending it in. Weird, I know, but it has its positives.

Currently, an appraiser needs to determine the proper scope of work to know which form is best for the situation. If it is a condo, it is likely a 1073. Single family residence, a 1004 or 2055.

To read more, click here

My comments: Nothing much new, of course. I have been writing about Fannie Modernization in the monthly newsletter and this newsletter for a while. Last week’s weekly newsletter had a brief Fannie Update – mostly the new timeline to 2024.

I also hear that Fannie will require a lot more data with more time required to fill out the online “form.” I can’t wait until we don’t have to decide which form to use! Especially since some “reviewers” and AMCs don’t really understand this.

A good example is how Turbo Tax software works. Instead of looking at every part of your printed tax return, it only shows what is relevant. For example, if you are filing as a single person or married. A single person would not have to look at the single vs. married part of the return.

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 unusual homes, crazy market now, adjustments, what fannie wants, mortgage origination stats, etc.

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So Many Appraisal Cost Approach Questions

So Many Appraisal Cost Approach Questions!
So Few Answers! Such Low Fees!

By Tim Andersen, MAI

Excerpt: It is clear most appraisers do not like to do the Cost approach. Generally, we are not too familiar with it. So, it is clear that most appraisers, because of this, do not appreciate the deep analytical power the Cost approach really has. So Many Appraisal Cost Approach Questions!

Therefore, I’m going to ask you 10 questions on the Cost approach (and stuff related to it). After you’ve finished reading them, you probably will still not like to tackle the Cost approach. Nevertheless, you just may have a better understanding of, and appreciation for, its powerful analytical capacities.

First Question: On the 1004 form is the indication that Fannie Mae does not require the Cost Approach to Value. Where does the form instruct the appraiser not to complete the analytics of the Cost approach?

To read the other questions and answers click here

My comment: Appraisers, including myself, seem to have a love/hate relationship with the Cost Approach. But, it can be useful. Tim’s much longer article “But Fannie Mae says I don’t have to do the Cost Approach!!” will be in the September issue of the paid Appraisal Today.

Appraisal Process Challenges(Opens in a new browser tab)

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

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Appraising the White House

18 Historic Homes that Would Be Fascinating to Appraise

Excerpt: Historic homes make for complex and interesting appraisal subjects. As one appraiser said, “I love unusual properties, and the challenge they present to appraise. I have always loved appraising large, older properties. They take us back to another world back in time.” We recently asked our appraisal community, “What famous historic home would you want to appraise?” Here’s what they said.
A few of the homes:
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater
The White House
Norman Bates “Psycho” House
Graceland
To read the full list plus many comments click here
My comment: For me, none of the above ;> Too difficult!

Appraising Weird Stuff is Challenging!

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Why do appraisers hit the sales price?

Why do appraisers hit the sales price?

By George Dell

Excerpt: A recent study includes a graph which shows that some 90% of appraisals hit the sale price exactly, or were higher, while only some 10% were below the sale price (when the sale price is known).

Is this a bias on the part of appraisers, or is the bias the cause of the system? What could possibly cause this strong upside skew?

First, ignore the ongoing pressures from the entire ‘loan industry’ to make the loan, make the commission, make the quota, make the bonus, and look successful. Ignore the claimed purpose of the public trust (of our quasi-governmental standards and licensing quagmire).

The goal of protecting the public trust failed, and will fail again— this time with different excuses and blaming— but it will fail again.

Let’s look at some underlying economic truths and social/governmental policy. What economics and public policies come into play here? Three come to mind immediately:

To read the full, very interesting post click here

My comment: When I started my appraisal business in 1986, I was told by local very experienced appraisers to appraise at the sales price or I may be kicked off a lender’s approved list. Of course, since I was trained at an assessor’s office, I was shocked and refused to do this… There was always another lender client I could get.

Dell’s blog has very short posts. My June paid newsletter will have a much longer article written by him: “Old Versus New: Conflict or Opportunity?” It has a brief look into the past, including a photo of an acoustic coupler for connecting to remote sites. Plus, of course, comments on the future! I remember 30 baud transmission rates in the early 1980s connecting from my home PC to my company’s servers;>

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

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

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Residential Appraisal Errors

25 Common Errors in Appraisal Reports

A compilation of the most common errors and deficiencies found in appraisal reports by reviewers, regulators, and appraisal boards. Residential Appraisal Errors

Here are a few:
– Not providing enough analysis for the intended user or reader to understand the report properly.
– Inconsistencies between the description of the subject property in the improvements section and the photographs, sketch, sales comparison grid, and other areas in the report.
– Inappropriate use of boilerplate commentary in the appraisal report to describe the neighborhood or to explain the reconciliation of the sales comparison approach.
– Failure to summarize the analysis and rational that supports the Highest and Best Use opinion.
– Not complying with the most current USPAP.
Read the full list here:

My comments: Reminders are always good. For unknown reasons, I don’t see much CE or writing on these problems. These apply to all appraisals because we are licensed, not just lender appraisals.
It was soooo nice in the “old days” before licensing ;> Two Rules: Tell the  truth and disclose what is bad. No USPAP changing every two years, overzealous appraisal boards, renewal fees, etc.. Of course, the reason we have licensing is the lender mess in 1989, resulting in FIRREA,  regarding bad commercial property development loans by S&Ls
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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

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