Appraisal News and Business Tips

Posts Tagged zillow

11-15-19 Newz: Adjustments – Angle Measurements – Zillow iBuying Problems

Accurate Measurements with Odd Angles

Excerpt: Imagine a 2,100 square foot, one and a half story house with an attached garage, porch, and deck. You probably imagined the typical bungalow. Now, imagine that house having 48 corners and only 4 of them are 90 degrees. I recently had an experience with just that house. Some architect, thinking they were Frank Lloyd Wright reincarnated, decided to build this house on a high bank cliff overlooking the Puget Sound. Don’t get me wrong, it was a pretty cool design, but I knew right away when I received the order for that appraisal that I was going to need some help.

To read more, click here Lots of reviews of the product, plus other similar products.

My comment: $19.95. An inexpensive product we all need!! They have been around for awhile, but most appraisers did not know about them. I appraise a lot of Victorians. Very useful!!

Read more!!

11-8-19 Newz: Zestimates – Fee Transparency – Science and Appraising

National Appraisers Forum

By Dave Towne

Excerpt: Appraisers, if you would like to learn from highly qualified peers (other than me! :), post questions, or offer your own comments, consider joining the FREE group, National Appraisers Forum (NAF). Use this link.

This is one of the best appraiser groups as all commentary is respectful. While not everyone always agrees with certain points, the discussions are not demeaning. There is a wealth of info participants share freely on a wide number of topics. The group has several moderators who monitor the posting activity.

One key point, NAF participants are not anonymous. You must use your name (at a bare minimum) when participating, which is required when signing up… Moderators are asking that anyone who wants to join should give their name as licensed, the state they are in, and their license number.

To read more, click here

My comments: This is my favorite appraiser online group! I get many emails from various sources for this newsletter and have been a member of many online communication places. Before the internet was widely available, I hosted live chats on aol and compuserve. Since then I have watched many online places. Unfortunately, just like any other topic, sometimes the groups end up doing lots of “flaming” (attacking another participants, etc.), negative comments, off topic, politics, etc. I quit going to these places.

Of all the groups I have subscribed to, National Appraisers Forum is the best for me. I have been a member since it started, or soon after. No complaining about AMCs, off topic, trolling and flaming, etc. The founder, Steve Smith, and the moderators keep it this way. Regular contributors are “high end” appraisers with many years of experience. Hot topics are often discussed.

There are well managed appraisal groups on Facebook, but it is too hard to for me to follow the threads, so I don’t go there very often. But, it may work for you.

Another major factor is that you must use your real name, so we know who is commenting. Allowing anonymous postings can easily decay into a mess.

I will be updating my article ” How to connect with other appraisers online. What’s the best group for you? ” in a future issue of the paid Appraisal Today discussing other email chat groups, how to find other groups or start your own, Facebook, etc.

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8-23-19 Newz: Deminimus = $400,000 – Highest and Best Use – Fannie Cost Approach

Highest and Best Use – Residential Appraisers Need To Understand It!

Excerpt: There are many valuation products out there. CMA’s, BPO’s and AVM’s to name a few. What you will likely not see in those kinds of valuations, is the specific zoning class for the property being valued. Why?

With these types of valuations, a highest & best use (HBU) analysis is generally not made. However, if you hire an appraiser to value your home, we will perform this analysis. What is a highest & best use analysis? Why is it important in the development of an opinion of value? How is zoning involved?

To read more and see the fun animated gifs click here

My comments: My Most Frequent Residential Appraisal Rant!! I started at an assessor’s office in 1975. The First, and Most Important, Question was “What is the highest and best use?” In 1986 I started doing residential lender work. The form was just a check box for HBU. If you checked No, it was a big problem for the lender. Many residential appraisers don’t check the zoning, general plan, etc. One good way is to just drive around and see what is happening. For example, lots of small homes being torn down and McMansions being built. Or, lots of houses on a busy street converted to office uses. Or, a small house on a big lot with apartments all around it. A common residential issue is a possible lot split.

Don’t forget the General (Or Specific) Plan. It tells you what the city wants today and in the future for land use, which is not discussed in this article.

I have appraised a lot of older commercial properties for lenders, which often had a HBU different than the current use. I discussed it in my appraisals.

When there is a big difference in value between two appraisals, it is often due to a difference in opinion of HBU. Don’t get into trouble. Be sure to think about HBU!! If you’re not sure, contact an experienced appraiser, particularly one who does a lot of non-lender work and/or commercial appraisals.

In the Feb. 2017 issue there is an excellent article written for residential appraisers by Denis Desaix, “Residential Highest and Best Use Analysis: more than Just a “Check box” available to paid subscribers. See below.

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8-16-19 Newz: Refi Mania – Paper vs. Google Maps – GLA Split/Bi-level homes

Refis Way Up: Almost 20 Million Homeowners Could See A Mortgage Rate Drop

According to new data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, refinances have doubled since late. They’re now at their highest point since mid-2016.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said its Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage application volume, rose 21.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis during the week ended August 9.

Freddie Mac shows the average rate on a 30-year, fixed mortgage is just 3.6% — a 15-point decrease from one week prior.

To read more, click here

My comment: Don’t work for cheap fees! Make money while you can!!

See below for the full MBA report on the refi boom.

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7-26-19 Newsletter 25th Anniversary! – Appraiser vs. Zillow – $11 Million View

25th Anniversary of These Weekly Free Email Newsletters!!

On June 17, 1994, I sent out my first weekly email update to Tracy Taplin, Bruce Hahn, Tom Cryer, and John Warr. Bruce Hahn still subscribes. The topic was FIRREA/deminimus. I missed a few weeks (computer problems, traveling) but subscribers became “hooked” on their weekly news, jokes, rumors, and tidbits! The distribution list is over 17,000 appraisers now, and growing every day.

This newsletter started with my Compuserve account, then shifted to my personal email (Eudora) after the first web browser made the internet email much easier to use. I mostly had people write down their names and email addresses when I was teaching, speaking or doing my annual conference. It is very hard to figure out hand written email addresses!

I set up my website in 1998 and had an email form to fill out to subscribe. It took a lot of time to manually enter the names and email addresses. Keeping track of email changes was a nightmare. In 2003 I started using Sparklist to help manage the addresses but it was klunky to use and was getting very expensive. I got up to about 3,500 subscribers. In 2008 I started using Constant Contact, which is very affordable and easy to use. I put a signup form on my website home page. The number of subscribers increased rapidly and is now at over 17,000.

In the early years it had just a few paragraphs. By 2003 it was up to about 3-4 pages long. Since 2008 it has been about 4-5 pages, but was formatted to be much easier to read.

The topics have changed over the years, starting with FIRREA in 1994. Mortgage loans and appraisal orders have gone up and down significantly over the years. Significant mortgage broker pressures from about 1995 to the mortgage crash in 2008, AMC takover, Fannie’s CU in 2015, etc. etc.

I started my paid newsletter in June, 1992. In 2008, I switched to PDF-only and quit printing it. Lots more flexibility in length, plus a lot less expensive! Started with 12 pages. Now typically well over 12 pages, up to about 18 pages.

Note: I somehow forgot about it last month ;>

Read more!!

7-5-19 Newz: Zillow Past and Future – Coester- Lots More Info – North Dakota Waivers

Zillow – the past and the future

Zillow’s new photo algorithm

Zillow’s New algorithm uses photos of your home to check quality and curb appeal plus a look back at when Zillow started, and info on their ibuyer service

Excerpt: “We’ve taught the Zestimate to discern quality by training convolutional neural networks with millions of photos of homes on Zillow, and asking them to learn the visual cues that signal a home feature’s quality,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief analytics officer & chief economist, said in a Medium post announcing the new algorithm. “For instance, if a kitchen has granite countertops, the Zestimate now knows — based on the granite countertop’s pixels in the home photo — that the home is likely going to sell for a little more.”

To read more, click here

My comment: I am trying not to think about this…… Maybe North Dakota can try using Zillow on their rural properties….

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Zillow – tales from when it started plus ibuyer

Excerpt: Every night for five months before the launch of Zillow’s website in February 2006, employees gathered their Dell desktops on Ping-Pong tables, connected them to harness their combined processing power, and strung together extension cords to get them all running. To avoid overloading the circuits, they unplugged the office refrigerator and banned Christmas lights. Then, while most of them slept, this jury-rigged supercomputer analyzed a decade of property records and American housing market data in order to spit out price estimates for 43 million homes.

To read more, click here

My comment: Published in Forbes. Well written and researched. I liked Zillow’s history plus a good analysis of their ibuyer service – the new wave of purchasing homes and selling them later.

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5-3-19 Newz: AMC Shockwave – Zillow Accuracy – 25 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.

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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2-21-19 Zestimate Obsession – Sex Dungeon – Ugly Buildings

Obsessively Checking Zestimates

Excerpts: If you own a home, or want to own one, chances are you’ve spent some time with one of the many apps that estimate home values. As real estate prices have risen in recent years, watching one’s equity grow – at least on paper – has become something of a national pastime. Some would call it an obsession.

“I check my Zestimate way more than my 401(k),” said Bradley Reed, a homeowner in Cleveland, referring to Zillow’s proprietary tool.

“On a slow week, I might check it every other day,” said Krista Burns in Doylestown, Ohio.

Listen or read the story and twitter comments, see some fotos, etc. Add your comment at the bottom.

My comment: I listen to the marketplace podcast almost every day, listened to this one last week, and really liked it. Fortunately, with this link you can read the transcript or listen to it plus read some twitter comments. I know that real estate agents have lots of problems with it. I wonder how many appraisers look at Zestimates? You may be surprised!! Some even include it in their appraisal reports and explain why their value is different.
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10-11-18 Newz://Dome Homes – Tandem Bedrooms – Competency

8 Dome Homes Ideal for Well-Rounded Buyers

Excerpt: Geodesic dome homes always strike a chord with buyers looking for a different type of house.

They’re also in favor these days thanks to their cosmic, forward-looking designs. Futurist and architect Buckminster Fuller conceived the geodesic dome in the belief that the shape of these rounded dwellings was the most efficient use of resources possible, and that the homes were ideal for mind, body, and spirit.

Here are a few:
– 37849 W Johnson Lake Ln, Marcell, MN Price: $129,000
– 35685 Lake Summit Dr, Temecula, CA Price: $775,000 – Two connected domes
– 5825 E Saguaro Rd, Cave Creek, AZPrice: $469,000 – Price includes a large maze

Check out the fotos and info at:

My comment: They all kinda look the same to me ;> I have never appraised one, but don’t miss it. Very few here. Just use other odd ball properties as comps I guess. There is one in a nearby city that I drive by regularly as a reminder of what I don’t want to appraise ;>

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Is the market tanking or softening?

Video by Ryan Lundquist
About the Sacramento CA market, but applies to all markets
21 minute video. Worth watching.
More articles by Ryan at http://sacramentoappraisalblog.com
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3-1-18 Newz//”Just” a Residential Appraiser?, Turret Living, Price Fixing?

I Am Not “JUST” a Residential Appraiser

By Rachel Massey, SRA
Excerpt: There is no doubt that moving to obtaining a certified general appraisal license opens doors to varied and interesting work. If it is in one’s capacity to obtain this level, it is a great idea. That said, the idea of being “just” a residential appraiser has got to stop.

A good professional residential appraiser who studies the market, knows how to analyze and solve a problem, and can communicate effectively and succinctly, is a very valuable appraiser at that!

Worth reading, plus read the comments and post your opinion.
My comment: Rachel wrote a much longer, very interesting article for the paid Appraisal Today March issue: “What being designated means to me”
When I started appraising in the late 70s, residential was somehow considered “inferior”. I guess it has been going on for a very long time. I have always thought that residential appraisers are experts in one type of property: 1-4 units. If you are testifying in court on a single family home and the opposing attorney’s appraiser is an MAI who appraises a few times a year, you will blow them away!!

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