6-28-17 Newz// Octagon house craze, Reproducibility Crisis, AMC Technology Efficient?

Octagon House Craze in the 1800s

Excerpt: If you were a forward-thinking individualist in 1800s America, building an eight-sided abode was a great way to show it. The octagon house was a cutting-edge design at the time, believed to be a more efficient use of space, energy, and cost than the conventional square.

… Thousands of these geometric oddities were built by the time the trend hit its peak in the 1860s.

My comment: Wow!! I have never appraised an octagon house, but have seen a few from the outside. Have measured octagon turrets on Victorians.

Top cities where the number of million dollar homes is skyrocketing

Excerpt: In large swaths of the country, a cool million has mostly come to represent the new standard for good, upper-middle-class housing. “In more markets than ever before, the million-dollar mark is the new benchmark for that green lawn and white picket fence,” says Javier Vivas, manager of the realtor.com® economic research team.
  1. Denver CO
  2. Santa Rosa CA
  3. Boulder CO
  4. Truckee CA
Click here get the full list and read the comments on the cities – very interesting!!

My comment: In my small city in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a median price of around $850,000, many properties are listed just under $1,000,000 and sell over list. Starter homes are $750,000 to $800,000 (2 bedroom/1 bath, built before 1940, maybe updated kitchen and bath, 1000 sq.ft.) No, we did not get on the list. Already have too many over $1,000,000.. I am soo glad I bought my  house in 1985 for $135,000!!

Read more!!

6-22-17 Newz//McMansions .Credit Risk Increasing .Freddie – No Appraisals

What If McMansions Ruled the World?

Excerpt: Whether on the gleefully snarky blog McMansion Hell or in haunting photos of cul-de-sacs abandoned during the recession, McMansions-those ersatz chateaux of modern suburbia-are frequent targets of urbanists’ ire, derided as symbols of the wastefulness and isolation of suburban sprawl.
But what if the McMansion could be put in the service of urbanism instead?
My comment: Fascinating!!
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Appraiserville

Housingwire Gave Appraisers A Long Overdue Win

By Jonathan Miller
Excerpt: After a snarky trying-to-be-coy blog post that tried to win on a technicality that there was an appraiser shortage, many appraisers, including myself, took to the streets (the comments section) to voice our outrage. It was based on an amazingly misinformed Urban Institute post that doesn’t understand the appraiser role in mortgage lending, which was even more infuriating.
Housing Wire’s editor reached out to Jonathan Miller for the appraisers’ side of the story – He handed our long besieged industry a rare “win, include” and I am grateful for his honesty and for the opportunity to voice my view on their platform.

Read more!!

6-8-17 Newz// Appraisal Waivers, Blue Bathrooms, Corelogic buys Mercury Network

 The Sunken World Hiding Under the Water’s Surface

27 drowned places that used to be above ground.
Excerpt: here is an entire submerged world hidden just below sea level, largely out of sight to terrestrial beings today. The Earth’s shores are lined with sunken cities, flooded crypts, drowned forests, and submerged structures that have been lost underwater over the millennia, overtaken by nature or human development.

Rising sea levels and flooding caused by earthquakes, landslides, changing tides, melting glaciers, or manmade dams have wiped entire villages off the map. And sometimes, when the water recedes, these submerged cities and landscapes reemerge from the depths, an eerie glimpse at the invisible sunken world.

http://www.atlasobscura.com/lists/sunken-cities-flooded-drowned 

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Appraiser shortage = appraisal waivers??

Excerpt:
Key government agencies finally addressed the critically growing appraisal shortage crisis that’s hampering the mortgage process, highlighting two alternative options to help areas that are facing a shortage.
Particularly, the alternative options are aimed at helping rural areas that are struggling with the availability of state certified and licensed appraisers.

Read more!!

6-1-17 Newz .Our 25th Anniversary! .Zillow Class Action Lawsuit, FTC Says No to LA Setting AMC Fees

FTC Challenges Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board Regulations that Restrict Competition

Restrictions on fee setting violate federal antitrust rules, agency alleges

Excerpt from FTC: The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against the Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board, alleging that the group is unreasonably restraining price competition for appraisal services in Louisiana, contrary to federal antitrust law. The complaint will be submitted to adjudication before an Administrative Law Judge, who will review it and render an initial decision.
In the administrative complaint, the FTC alleges that the Louisiana appraisers board limits the freedom of individual appraisers and their customers to engage in bona fide negotiations to set appraisal fees for real estate appraisals in Louisiana.
Excerpt from LA appraisal board comments:
In a statement, the Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board denies the FTC claims, adding that it is operating well within its rights and any accusations beyond that are “ludicrous” and without merit.
“Respectfully, the FTC is just plain wrong. By issuing this legally faulty and factually incorrect complaint, the FTC is seeking to punish a Louisiana state agency for following federal regulatory mandates,” Bruce Unangst, executive director of the Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board, said in a statement.
Read the details here from the FTC:
More info, including comments from LA appraisal board
My comment: Very interesting angle… I always wondered if it was ok for states to set AMC appraisal fees. I wondered who complained????
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When Stairs and Slides Are Hiding in Plain Sight

Play real-life Chutes and Ladders at these obscure thruways.

Read more!!

12-15-16 Newz// Unique Airports, Deregulation and Appraisers, Victorians Under $200k

Beautiful airports and Victorians under $200,000

Unique and Beautiful Airports Around the World

Architecture that redefines what it means to travel in style.

All I can say is WoW!! Take a break for a few minutes and look at these photos…

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/photos-of-the-worlds-most-unique-and-beautiful-airports

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Affordable homes from all over the country (Hint: No fixers)

Just scroll down the pages.

7 Victorians under $200,000 (No tiny homes)

http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/victorian-homes-under-200k/

8 homes under $100,000 (Hint: no fixers)

http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/black-friday-bargain-homes-under-100k/

My comment: Wow!! Those Victorians in my city would be way over $1,000,000 on lots under 5,000 sq.ft. !!!


Sadly, The Appraisal Institute is now working against its local chapters by Jonathan Miller, posted 12/9/16
Read more!!

11-10-16 Newz// CFPB and Dodd Frank Going Down?, Zillow, Man caves

How Man Caves Took Over America’s Basements

Excerpts:

A man cave usually develops in spare rooms, such as bedrooms, offices, finished basements, or recreation rooms. The garage, another traditionally masculine space, is more often a workshop or place to make repairs. Its connotation with work (often frustrating and unsavory as any viewer of Home Improvement can attest) as well as its thermal issues (it’s rarely cooled or heated like the rest of the house) demarcate it from the man cave, an interior space.

While men have always had their sacred spaces in the home such as the garage or study, the domesticity of the 19th and early 20th century overall implied that the home was, of course, the woman’s place. In the previous centuries, men sought refuge outside the home in establishments such as gentlemen’s clubs (think more country club than strip club), and male-only social clubs and establishments such as the Freemasons.

Very interesting, especially the history!!

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-the-man-cave-took-over-americas-basements

My comment: I live in California, where there are few basements. I do see garage “man caves”. But, they are not as fixed up as basements, mostly with a tv, beer fridge and some tools. Sometimes I see bedrooms set up as computer rooms.

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Collection and Verification of Residential Data in the Sales Comparison Approach APB Valuation Advisory #8

Voluntary Guidance on Recognized Valuation Methods and Techniques:

My comments: This is advisory and not part of USPAP. Finally the Appraisal Practices Board has 48 pages of practical advice for practicing residential appraisers, the vast majority of appraisers. It discusses what different types of clients want, such as Fannie, VA, Rels, relocation, data, data collection, CU, etc. Scope of work examples are included. The last 17 pages are about verification. Worth reading.

https://www.appraisalfoundation.org/imis/docs/Valuation-Advisory-8-Collection-and-Verification-of-Residential-Sales-101716.pdf

Read more!!

8-11-16 Newz//How to fix the appraiser shortage now, Photo blurring, Gold medal for town planning in 1936 Olympics

America’s First Medal at the Nazi Olympics Was For…Town Planning

Excerpt: Yes, from 1928 until 1948, town planning was an actual Olympic sport.

Town planning fell under an “architectural design” category at the Olympic art competition. The field that year was dominated by German entries. Yet the first U.S. medal of the Olympics went to Lay, a New York architect, for his ambitious blueprint to modernize Marine Park in Brooklyn.

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/americas-first-medal-at-the-nazi-olympics-was-fortown-planning

My comment: I love these Obscure Olympic Facts ;>

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Photo blurring gone waay overboard!!

Excerpt: At issue was the ubiquitous “client requirement” involving digital masking of people from images. While lenders and AMCs wave the Fair Housing penalty flag in order to assure compliance; there is NO such law. Never has been.

Lenders need to re-examine the reason for all of these pointless and invasive interior shots. They add nothing meaningful to the file. Nobody is laying out mortgages for Beanie Baby collections and bad drapes. So why are appraisers wasting megapixels on decorating images?

AMCs are on notice to cease demanding and insisting that appraisers do digital staging. That is clearly in violation of Illinois law.

Click here to read the full article plus the comments, of course…

http://appraisersblogs.com/digital-staging-amc-fair-housing-myth

My comment: Blurring interior pictures on walls, personal objects, etc. seems very excessive. Don’t know about rooms with strange devices and chains hanging from walls and ceilings, etc ;> Maybe appraisers will only be able to appraise vacant homes with nothing in them without getting requests for blurring. This applies only to AMCs doing business in Illinois, but maybe the AMCs will quit doing it in other states.

Read more!!

Newz 3-3-15 Abandoned places, Late appraisal, Cost vs value, Fees

Spam blockers are going wild!!! I have made some changes in subject line and some changes in newsletter content so more subscribers will get this newsletter. I can’t even mention some of the changes as using the words may send this email to spam!!!
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17 abandoned places around the world
Take a break from your appraisals with these Interesting Links!!
 
Here are a few:
1.  House of the Bulgarian Communist Party – Mount Buzludzha, Bulgaria
9. Michigan Central Station – Detroit, Michigan, United States
10. Sarajevo Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Good for taking an appraisal break!!
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Read more!!

AQB – possible changes to college degree, practicum, alternative experience, etc.

AQB wants comments on possible changes to college degree, practicum, alternative experience, etc.
Comments deadline March 31, 2016
College degree – alternative for licensed upgrade to certified
My comments: I keep hearing from appraisers that college graduates have lots of high paying opportunities. But, these types of jobs are only for engineering, computer science, etc. jobs. Some with business degrees from highly rated schools can get “Wall Street” jobs. Not for the vast majority of graduates with degrees in English, psychology, etc. I don’t know how realistic it is to offer a route from Licensed to Certified with no 4 year degree required since few lender clients will accept licensed appraisers and their numbers have dropped significantly.
Practicum – alternative experience up to 50%
My comment: I studied science in college and spent many afternoons in labs. When I graduated I was ready to go to work and needed no training. This is a significant problem for appraisers.
The only appraisal class I ever had with practical experience was a junior college appraisal class taught by a real estate agent. We all appraised his home using Fannie forms. A practicum was offered awhile ago by the AQB but was too difficult to set up and none were ever offered. Hopefully, these new requirements will be easier and, more important, include hands-on appraisal experience.
Click here to read the full document
My comments: Lender appraising has been a boom and bust business since Fannie and Freddie started securitizing loans in the 1960s, requiring armies of new appraisers during the booms with most laid off during the busts. Everyone seems to forget this. The current licensing system does not consider it.
Of course, the biggest problem today is lenders not allowing trainees to sign on their own. Lenders can solve this problem now. The draft recognizes this problem. But, AMCs (low fees and  Scope Creep) are the most significant reason for the “brain drain” of experienced residential appraisers leaving the profession since 2008. Retiring baby boomers is another factor.
Who is worried about an appraiser shortage? The Appraisal Foundation’s income will go down. AMCs will have fewer appraisers to broadcast cheap fees. Finding appraisers in rural areas will be more difficult, but this has always been a problem. Lenders are hoping maybe they can use AMCs or “alternative products” because of the shortage. Of course, not much of this applies to commercial appraising, only to residential AMC work.

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Fannie warning letters – GLA adjustments and lots more coming

Fannie warning letters-GLA adjustments

Fannie has been sending out warning letters to appraisers about variations in Q and C ratings. Now they are sending out letters about using low GLA adjustments. According to people who attended, or heard about a recent speech that Bob Parsons of Fannie Mae gave an appraisal conference, $25 per sq.ft. Seems to be used by lots of appraisers for lots of properties that vary widely in size, etc. I wasn’t at the speech and don’t know what was actually said, but $25 per sq.ft. Was used in a large number of appraisals.

A quote from a recent email I received: “A friend of mine just got a letter from Fannie Mae stating that they have been monitoring his reports for 6 months. In that time they said he used $35 Psf for gla adjustments 14 times. This is a warning. Further action may be required if this continues.” I haven’t seen any of the letters myself but have been hearing about them for a few months. This The last two sentences have been pretty common in the warning letters sent about Q and C adjustments, which are a lot more shakey to support and are much more controversial.

Hmm… In my area, the San Francisco Bay Area, with a median home price of $601,000 in October, 2014, slightly down from June as many markets have slowed down. San Franciso’s median home price is around $1,000,000. I hope no one there is using $25 per sq.ft.!! Except maybe in neighborhoods with relatively low home prices or some lower priced condos condos. In my small city of 75,000 population the median price in October 2014 was $690,000. Our prices are around the median for the area. Very few homes or condos under $300,000.

Sq.ft. is one of the easiest adjustments to support, as compared with lots of other features. For many years, it has been one of the few almost always reliable adjustments when using regression analysis. You can sometimes even use matched pairs. I have no idea why appraisers don’t try to figure out an appropriate adjustment.

This is just a start. Read info on Fannie’s UCDP Fannie Mae Appraisal Messaging Change Notification” – link below, with a list of all of the appraisal data that Fannie is looking at below.

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Dave Towne on Collateral Underwriter
Thanks to appraiser Dave Towne (again) for his Most Interesting Comments:

Appraisers……..

Many know by now that the GSE’s…primarily FannieMae……..have instituted a new ‘appraisal scoring’ procedure based on an electronic read of your reports ……….. specifically on a SFR 1004 or the Condo 1073Those are the only forms currently being analyzed by the CU process.

On Nov. 18, 2014, FNMA released a document named “UCDP Fannie Mae Appraisal Messaging Change Notification” which you can find here:  https://www.fanniemae.com/content/release_notes/ucdp-change-notification-01262015.pdf

I encourage all appraisers to actually read this document … all 11 pages.

When you do read this document, you will learn that your reports are being compared to your peer’s reports, and to your other reports, and to some unidentified ‘model’ FNMA uses.

Some of the ‘checks’ being performed by the CU process include these:

The reported GLA is materially different than what has been reported by other appraisers.

The reported lot size is materially different than what has been reported by other appraisers.

The condition rating is significantly different than what has been reported by any other appraiser.

The quality rating is significantly different than what has been reported by any other appraiser.

Here are a few that can cause real concern among appraisers:

The GLA adjustment is larger than peer and model adjustments.

The GLA adjustment is smaller than peer and model adjustments.

The view adjustment is materially different from peer and model adjustments.

And I just love this one:

The appraiser-provided comparables are materially different than themodel-selected comparables.

It’s time for appraisers to get serious about meeting your peers in person, compare notes, and develop a regional adjustment chart for all variables … much like that yellow legal pad paper you were handed when you got in this business …. that paper with the ‘required’ adjustment amounts on it for almost all items.

Oh … and when you get that knuckle slapping letter from FNMA saying your adjustments or comparables don’t match the ‘model’ be sure to get the specifics and pass on ‘model info’ to your peers.

Yep, appraising real property and developing an opinio

My comment: Fannie, please send me all my adjustments. Then I won’t get questioned by my state regulator (hopefully), underwriters, reviewers, etc. I would really like to know what adjustment to be made for all the unusual features in the homes I typically appraise – most built before 1930 and many built before 1910 with all types of additions, remodeling, etc. Even tract homes have stuff like converted garages, original kitchen and baths, inlaw units in rear, views, etc. Of course, I have been using regression since the 1970s on homes and very few adjustments are very reliable. I wonder how Fannie is going to do it.

I remember commercial appraisers used to talk about getting cap rates from bottom of a stone monument ;> Maybe we are still looking for that darn piece of stone!!

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Dave Towne on Big Data, Hedonic Regression, etc.

Appraisers………

The new Collateral Underwriter electronic review process developed by FannieMae has many appraisers on edge. This will become the ‘ultimate authority’ or gold standard for reviewing appraisal reports as of January 26, 2015 …. at least as far as FNMA is concerned. Your reports will either ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, depending on many factors. Some of those factors are outside your immediate control.

“Big Data” is one giant pile of stuff that is being put into the CU pot, stirred together like a stew. Except there is no master chef involved that ‘we’ can interact with. Instead we have a bunch of secret sous chefs each contributing a chunk of meat, a bit of spice, some chopped carrots, and a few potatoes. None of them, or us, really knows the actual CU recipe, because part of what’s in the stew is a ‘model’ of something unknown. But some of that Big Data in the CU stew could be yours … or it might be data provided by your peer appraisers who work in your area – that your reports will be compared against. Not too tasty you say? Just add more pepper.

An aspect of this Big Data stew is Census Tract home price analysis, which is compared against your appraised property value. As an exercise, everyone reading this immediately write the neighborhood description using N, S, E & W directionals for the census tract in which your home residence is located. What? You don’t know the boundaries of your census tract? For shame! Some people using the CU stew might think you are deficient because you don’t know price trends in the exact census tract of the appraised property.

Then we have Hedonic Regression. It’s not a bad thing. But it’s becoming the buzz words of our appraisal adjustment process. It’s a ‘background component’ in the CU process, moving farther forward, faster than some might expect.

Bet you didn’t know that the adjustment grid is a form of Hedonic Regression! It’s a way a certain property’s components of value are itemized separately. By using Hedonic Regression, the individual value of the adjustable components can be calculated and plugged into the adjustment grid. In theory, this can lead to a more accurate property value.

The folks at Bradford Software were among the first to begin promoting use of regression techniques by appraisers. In other ways, the other appraisal software companies and some independent developers have been working on individual processes to make “Regression” more palatable and useful to appraisers. Bradford, and the independent developers, have either report software, or separate spreadsheets, that can help calculate property adjustable components, which in turn can lead to a more credible and supportable opinion of value for the appraised property.

The days of “I’ve been an appraiser for 27 years, so I know what this house is worth” are rapidly coming to an end. The Big Data CU stew is overtaking appraising like the snow avalanches that have closed State Highway 20 in north Washington State in the Cascade Mountain range, not far from where I sit in my cozy bathrobe and bunny slippers.

My observation in this process is that appraisers, as a group, are not statisticians by training and are somewhat scared of that term – even though ‘we’ deal with lots of statistics and data. Thus, appraisers don’t have a clear understanding of what “Regression” is, or does. As a result, ‘we’ have been reluctant to embrace this ‘actually old’ technology in modern appraisal reports. And ‘we’ certainly are skittish about FNMA’s soon to be released (to lenders only) Collateral Underwriter which will analyze reports using “Regression.”

Another perspective on this topic is from this blog: http://www.housingwire.com/blogs/1-rewired/post/32165-does-fannie-mae-support-appraisers  This one is written by one of the regression spreadsheet developers, currently available to appraisers.

And for info on Hedonic Regression: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonic_regression

My comment: When I first started doing residential lender appraisals in 1986, we used census tract maps to find the code. Later, the codes were available on computers and we did not use maps. However, I found that they were very good for defining neighborhoods. I guess we all forgot about them since few, if any, appraisers look at the maps. I still have my old census tract books.

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