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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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 VA appraisals, appraisal modernization, eliminate VA panel, unusual homes, mortgage origination stats, etc.


Who Moved My Appraisal Cheese?

By Mark Buhler

Excerpts: If you have ever read or heard about the book titled “Who Moved My Cheese,” you may know the story about the four characters in the book and what the cheese refers to. The cheese is a metaphor for what you want in life or business. The characters all love cheese but are caught in a maze. When the cheese disappears, the four characters are faced with adapting to change. Two of the characters in the book, Scurry and Sniff, are willing to do whatever it takes to find the cheese. The other two characters, Hem and Haw, commiserate and complain that the cheese is gone. The moral of the story is to be quick to adapt to change so that you can experience more success and joy in life.

As an appraiser, I cannot help but make the connection between the characters in the book and appraisers. Complainers like Hem and Haw are abundant in the appraisal world. They are the most vocal amongst us appraisers. Appraisers that are willing to swim upstream and are willing to adapt to change are the survivors of our industry. How many appraisers do you think started out as trainees in a big firm, or worked as a staff appraiser as a newbie, and went out on their own to create their own businesses? Most of the appraisers that identify with Scurry and Sniff, that’s who! This mindset can set an appraiser apart from the appraisers that identify more with Hem and Haw.

The book is a series of lessons that can help appraisers.

To read more, click here

My comments: This book is popular with appraisers, especially when business is slow. The market changing again with increasing interest rates, in the inevitable ups and downs of mortgage lending. Appraisers who adapt will do okay and, more important, be positive and satisfied with appraising. I have always been a glass half full person. For example, I see mistakes as an opportunity to learn how to do better next time. Read this article and the classic book. I have the book on my bookshelf.1960s


‘Prairie House’ in Oklahoma with Swirling Cedar Shingles

Excerpts: The 1960 ‘prairie house’ in Norman, Oklahoma is an important piece of American architecture history. The vision of architect Herb Greene, the abode references everything from primordial creatures to protective shelters and futurist objects, with its curved silhouettes and quirky, wood shingled surfaces.

A feeling of protection is expressed by the sense of an enveloping coat of a mother hen’s ‘hovering over,’ as well as by the cave like interior.

To read more, click here

My comment: Take a Break and Check out the very interesting photos and text!


Lenders See Considerable Value in Appraisal Modernization

By Lyle Radke, Senior Director, Single-Family Collateral Risk

And Justin Alexander

Short with good graphics and easy to read.

Excerpts: To better understand lenders’ views on appraisal modernization, including benefits, implementation challenges, and possible applications, Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group surveyed senior mortgage executives in February 2022 using its quarterly Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey®.

Our survey results reveal a near-consensus opinion that appraisal modernization will help lenders, appraisers, and risk investors assess and manage collateral risk more effectively, while also benefiting consumers via greater appraisal accuracy, lower costs, and increased velocity of loan decisioning. To achieve this vision, industry participants will need to work together to resolve implementation challenges through training and investment in the infrastructure needed to operationalize new solutions.

To read more, click here Short with good graphics and easy to read.

To read more Research details, click here

To see More infographics click here

My comments: Lenders have always wanted faster appraisals with fewer hassles to close their loans faster. Other factors such as consumer cost are much less important, as seen in the stats above.  Full appraisals take too long. Hopefully, there will be a new online “form” for all GSE appraisal reports in 2024. Trying to use the 2005 URAR form is sometimes like trying to put a square peg in a round hole!

The June issue of Appraisal Today (see below) is about what has changed since the 1980s and focuses on the past, present, and future of residential lender appraising.


June 2022 issue is the 30th Anniversary of This Newsletter

Lots of changes over the past 30 years!

What a wild ride it has been!!

Lots of changes over the years. Where are we going?

A look at the past, present, and future!


  • Residential appraisal forms from the 1960s to today
  • Revisiting the Green Hornet, the first appraisal form in the 1960s
  • Computers, Mobile Devices, and Digital Cameras
  • From EDI to UAD – appraisal data standards and data transmission
  • Mortgage lending from the 1870s to today
  • How the Internet changed appraising
  • Present and past appraisal forecasts


To purchase the paid Appraisal Today newsletter go to  or call 800-839-0227.

If you have any comments or info on any topics, please hit the reply button!! I’m always looking for something new ;>


Proposal to Eliminate the VA Fee Panel

Excerpt: On May 18, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a legislative hearing on the Discussion Draft of H.R. 7735, Improving Access to the VA Home Loan Act of 2022… It would require the VA to consider when an appraisal is unnecessary and when a desktop appraisal should be used and, a move from the VA Fee Panel to a lender select program. Mortgage Bankers Association advocated for the proposal while the Appraisal Institute opposed it.

To read more and watch (or scroll through) the recording of the hearing click here

My comments: One of the appraiser comments: “The VA process is without question the “GOLD STANDARD” of how appraisals should be completed from start to finish.”Don’t miss the 20+ appraiser comments plus the 2-hour video of the Subcommittee meeting. Because of the recent very strong purchase market, using VA for buyers has been more difficult in many areas as VA loans can take longer to close. As rates go up, VA will become more popular.

Of course, lenders want the VA to be the same as all the other mortgage options with waivers, desktops, etc. Then AMCs can take over VA appraisals and turn it into anti-appraiser scope creep, mass emailing of orders shopping for low fees, etc.

I wrote about doing VA appraisals in June 2014 in this newsletter, including how to get on the panel, pluses, and minuses, etc. VA is the best lender client. You are working for the veteran to be sure he or she does not overpay, finds out about problems, etc. You are not working for a lender who just wants to make the loan. Many appraisers told me they would never work for the VA for various reasons. Most really liked working for the VA. I wrote about these, and many other factors, this in my articles. The newsletter issue is posted on my paid subscriber-only web page – scroll down the page.


Rocky Mountain $3.5M Castle in Denver

6,448-square-foot stone castle with eight bedrooms and nine bathrooms. Built with local stone in 1886. “The exterior of the home is 22-inch-thick lava stone,” says Usaj. Local architect William Lang designed the home with a signature three-story. It was listed for $1,575,000 in 2019, Usaj says. The current owners bought it just before the COVID-19 pandemic and updated the kitchens and bathrooms plus critical infrastructure.

To read more and see lots of photos, click here


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


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, go to

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 issue go to or send an email to . Or call 800-839-0227, MTW 7AM to noon, Pacific time.My comments:

Rates are going up. Make money while the market is still good!!


Mortgage applications decreased 1.2 percent from one week earlier

Mortgage applications decreased 1.2 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 20, 2022.The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 1.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 4 percent from the previous week and was 75 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 0 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent compared with the previous week and was 16 percent lower than the same week one year ago.“

The 30-year fixed rate declined for the second straight week to 5.46 percent but remains well above what borrowers were used to over the past two years. Most refinance borrowers continue to remain on the sidelines as a result, and refinance applications have fallen in nine of the past 10 weeks. Compared to January 2022, refinance activity is down 66 percent,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Higher mortgage rates are also impacting purchase market conditions, as the purchase index remained close to lows last seen in the spring of 2020 when a significant portion of activity was put on hold due to the onset of the pandemic. Currently, higher rates, low inventory, and high prices are keeping prospective buyers out of the market.

”The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 32.3 percent of total applications from 33.0 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 9.4 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 11.3 percent from 11.1 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 10.4 percent from 10.5 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.5 percent from the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($647,200 or less) decreased to 5.46 percent from 5.49 percent, with points decreasing to 0.60 from 0.74 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $647,200) decreased to 5.02 percent from 5.03 percent, with points decreasing to 0.41 from 0.61 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to 5.36 percent from 5.32 percent, with points increasing to 0.82 from 0.71 (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 decreased to 4.72 percent from 4.73 percent, with points decreasing to 0.70 from 0.82 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 4.49 percent from 4.42 percent, with points increasing to 0.76 from 0.73 (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

Crazy Appraiser Stories

Crazy Appraiser Stories


You’ve all got them… The crazy car chases, the surprising living conditions, the exotic assignments, and the unique collectors….

What we all need… Here is one brief humorous escape!!

The photo above is the Crazee Appraiser writing up his appraisal!

Here is one story:

This was a beautiful 3,200 sq ft home with all the extras. After measuring, I was standing by the fireplace, taking an interior photo, being careful not to step on the expensive rug next to the hearth. The lady of the house looked a little alarmed, so I had to ask, “Is everything okay?” “Oh yes, it’s just that the camera will have a click.” I’ve heard weirder things, so after assuring her it was a very quiet click, the button went down, the picture was taken, and the excitement started.

Something hit the back of my head, a soft, but very strong hit. The equivalent of a 10 mile an hour wind passed over my left shoulder, and a shadow landed on the other side of the sofa, which was 14’ in front of me. It seems that the fluffy 6’ rug was a once wild, African Savannah cat, stretching 6’ long as it napped on its belly. It looked like a leopard rug! With teeth longer than some fork tines, I was happy to let it hide in the bedroom, but she coaxed it out of hiding to demonstrate that it could easily jump 10’ high for a kitty treat.

– Carolyn S. Richards

For more stories, click here

My comment: We all need some appraiser fun to start the New Year!!


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Humor for appraisers

FREE appraisal business articles

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at

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!

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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!!

Strange Appraisal Terms

Excerpts: Since space is the only place that is pandemic free, I thought it would be fun to try to apply space and science fiction terms to real estate. Let’s take a little break from the stressful atmosphere we are experiencing here on earth and have a little fun. Perhaps you can think of more.

Here are two:

Orbit– The path homeowners take whilst following the appraiser around the home, trying not to follow too closely by maintaining at least six feet of distance. (Probably taking pictures of the appraiser in the PPE)

Blackhole – The place where Zestimates go after being debunked by reality.

To read and see lots more Strange Appraisal Terms, click here.

My comment: I love Jamie Owens’ blog posts! Unbelievably creative!! Plus, outstanding/strange videos, animated gifs, etc. etc. I have been a big SciFi fan since high school and used space videos in my experimental music band for many years.

More Appraisal Humor

Appraisal business tips

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Covid humor for appraisers

Fun video – Take a 3 minute break!

One Day More – A Quarantined Broadway LipSync

Fantastic!! Made me smile. Regular people.

Many thanks to John Regan, a long time subscriber and big opera fan!

To watch click here

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at

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

Read more!!

Covid-19 and appraisals. March 20 2020

March 20, 2020

There are many, many issues which seems to be changing on a daily basis. I wrote this yesterday. There have already been changes I am sure. I am including links to relevant information below

The big refi boom is causing lots of desperate lenders and AMCs trying to find appraisers.

You don’t need more info on keeping safe as it is available all over. What I discuss today is shift from interior inspections to drivebys, forms, what lenders are saying, what real estate agents are doing, the market changes (maybe), liability, etc.

What are lenders and AMCs doing?

Some direct lenders, such as Citibank, are sending out emails about what they recommend. On the other side AMCs are acting like nothing has happened and sending out email blast low fee appraisal request. FYI, it is a lot easier for one lender to change. AMCs work for many lenders.

Info on what Citibank is recommending from VaCAP:

Many are fearful exterior only appraisals will be the end of the traditional appraisal as we know it. Right or wrong, exterior only appraisals are a possibility that may be acceptable in certain situations. VaCAP does not believe it will end traditional appraisals with interior inspections. The profession has been down this road before. It will not fly long term, especially if the market turns downward.

Some lenders are establishing COVID-19 protocols to follow and some have remained quiet on the subject. There are rumors that one lender has instructed appraisers not to inquire as the health of the occupants of the home due to privacy laws. Others like Citibank have developed their own protocol on how appraisers should handle COVID-19 concerns. There is great flexibility to the appraiser. See Citibank’s protocol below:

Worth reading. To read more, click here

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at

Appraiser Recovers From COVID-19

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

Read more!!

7 Ways to Not to Choose Appraisal Comps

By Tom Horn

Excerpt: Here are three of the topics:

1) I’m taking what I think the home is worth based on the owners estimate and looking for sales in this price range

4) Using higher sales from another neighborhood when there are good sales within my own subdivision

6) Using price per square foot

To find out what Tom says and the other 4 ways, click here

My comment: written for real estate agents, Tom Horn’s primary referral clients, but useful for appraisers. Maybe it will help you explain about comps to agents, or why you did not use the comps they provided. I always take whatever sales and listings the agents have. Sometimes the MLS has it miscoded somehow and I miss it. Or, there is a “pocket” listing that sold but was never listed on the MLS. Also, I never want to miss a sale very close to the subject, if only to mention it and explain why I did not use it!! 7 ways to choose comps gives you some ideas.

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!!

7-27-17 Newz// LA-FTC and AMC fee survey, Silent place, No Bubble?

One Square Inch of Silence

A tiny red pebble marks what may be the quietest outdoor spot in the United States.

Just For Fun!!
Excerpt: One Square Inch of Silence, an independent research project created by the author and Emmy Award-winning acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, aims to protect the space from human noise intrusions. The tiny quiet spot, accessible via a three-mile rainforest hike down the Hoh River Trail near Forks, WA was designated on April 22, 2005 (Earth Day) as a “noise control project” to ensure the decibel count at the square inch would never rise.
My comment: Our lives today are very noisy: cars, lawn mowers, refrigerators, air conditioners, fans, etc. etc. Plus, external noise can affect property values. There is quite a bit of noise “pollution” in most places. It is very hard to find a quiet place today, even in very remote locations. I keep reading articles on this topic.

Smoking pricing crack, era charm, & blaming appraisers

By Ryan Lundquist July 5, 2017
Excerpt: Smoking Pricing Crack: Did you see that listing in Waco Texas of the property that was rehabbed by Chip & JoAnna Gaines of the reality show Fixer Upper? It was purchased for $28,000 and now it’s listed for sale at $950,000. Would you pay more because Chip and Joanna rehabbed it?
My comment: Interesting blog post plus lots of comments!!

Read more!!

10-20-16 Newz// Appraisal oversight, VA wants fee appraisers, Amazing things disguised as Boring

9 Amazing Things Disguised as Boring Things

Look twice-these seemingly mundane objects are hiding something.


Narnia hid behind a wardrobe. Doctor Who’s Tardis was disguised as a blue police call box. With no signage and no flags, these out of the ordinary things are hidden away disguised as something utterly banal. In some cases, these things are camouflaged on accident; in others, they are secreted away so that only those in the know can find them.

Either way, the world is full of seemingly mundane places that are more than meets the eye. It reminds us to stay curious-one has to always be on the lookout for wonder. Here are nine places in the Atlas that may seem boring at first glance but are actually amazing once you take a closer look.

Here are a few:

1. Brooklyn Townhouse Secret Subway Exit

Brooklyn, NY

3. Mystery Soda Machine – insert 75 cents and see what you get

Seattle, WA

4. The Lonely Parking Meter

The only parking meter in Winters, CA

My comment: Just For Fun!! We all work in the field and discover strange things. This article will make me look closer at what I see ;>


Disciplinary Process-How It Works, Your Rights & Likely Outcomes

by Robert Weinstock, JD, MBA, CBA, CVA


While the number of licensed real estate appraisers nationwide has decreased, the number of complaints filed against appraisers has increased. For example, in my home state of California, complaints against appraisers have increased by 40% even though the number of appraisers has declined, according to the California Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers (BREA)….

The following is an actual 2015 disciplinary action against an appraiser in which the appraiser lost his license and was required to reimburse the state for its investigation and prosecution costs in the amount of $125,828. In addition, if the applicant should care to reapply for a new license, he shall be required to pay an additional $115,828.

Read more!!

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

With features including no required down payment or minimum credit score, the Department of Veterans Affairs mortgage guarantee program is a popular home finance choice for servicemembers and lenders alike. That trend continues in 2015, when 14 markets had more than $1 billion in VA mortgage lending during the first half of the year, compared to just five during the same time in 2014. From the Capitol region to Southern California – and many places in between – here’s a look at the top 10 markets for VA mortgage lending. The data, from RealtyTrac, is based on metropolitan statistical areas ranked by total VA originations during the first half of 2015, along with the year-over-year increase for that market.

My comment: Still not doing VA appraisals? They are the only client I know that has stated fees and no big hassles, scope creep, etc. I have an article on how to get on the VA panel, the plusses and minuses, etc. I spent a lot of time interviewing VA employees and fee appraisers. “VA is looking for fee appraisers! C/R fees and no AMCs!!” Read this article before applying for the panel or to find out why you can’t seem to get on the panel.It is in the June 2014 issue of Appraisal Today, available free to all paid subscribers.

From this week’s MBA loan volume report:

The FHA share of total applications is 13.7. The VA share of total applications is 10.8 percent . I have no idea why so many appraisers don’t want to work for VA but do FHA appraisals with the considerable inspection requirements!!

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