About this blog

This blog has excerpts from my FREE appraiser email newsletter, sent out almost every week since June, 1994. I started with 6 subscribers on Compuserve. Now it is up to almost 14,000 subscribers!! To subscribe to the free email newsletters and get them them when they first come out,, go to www.appraisaltoday.com and sign up in the big Yellow Box!!

I have been publishing a paid Appraisal Today monthly newsletter since June, 1992 with in-depth articles on topics important to appraisers. Click below for more info!!

Amazon and AMCs

Amazon and AMCs
You may, or may not, have heard about Amazon’s attitude towards employees – expected to be available 24×7, including holidays, significant health and family problems, etc. I don’t know if this is a bad way to run a company, but they do pay well and it is not bureaucratic. Demanding a lot of employees is not unusual for a tech company also. I do know that many other companies expect their employees to be available on weekends and evenings for emails.
But, I keep hearing from fee appraisers working for AMCs that they are expected to be available 24×7, including holidays. Phones and emails are sent at all times of the day. A quick response is expected. Cell phones ring on weekends and all times of the day and night. Appraisers have difficulty shutting off their phones and/or refuse to buy another phone for personal calls so they can shut off their only cell phone.
But… AMCs don’t pay well and have increasing Scope Creep, as compared with other clients. Why do appraisers put up with this treatment? Low self-esteem (no one else will give them work) or fear of having no business (common with self employed people)?

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The Power of Social Media and Appraisers

A few months ago, an AMC sent out an email to all their appraisers saying it was requiring that they include a copy of their work file with the appraisal.
Within a very short period of time after it was sent, I saw the email posted to a Facebook group. There were 356 comments posted. It soon “went viral” spreading all over the Internet. The AMC backed down.
Within the past week, another AMC sent a very rude email response to an appraiser who declined applying for a staff position at the AMC. I saw it posted on a Facebook group. It also went somewhat viral, although not as widely distributed as the workfile email.
Read more, including the original email, in the very interesting Jonathon Miller’s Housing Notes – August 21 edition.
Click here – it is near the bottom of the page.
What does this mean? In the pre-Internet days, often it would take weeks, or months, for appraisers to find out about FHA and Fannie changes, for example. Now it is available within a few minutes.
What’s the downside for appraisers? Even if you post to a group that requires approval, your postings can be obtained by others. Group members can send them to anyone. This is a definite problem if do court testimony. A while ago an attorney asked me how many appraisals I had done in the past 6 months as I had a broken ankle. How did she know about my ankle? She did not subscribe to the email-only discussion group. She asked another appraiser to check online for anything that might help her case. Other appraisers have reported similar situations.
Remember the Primary Rule, which I learned when I first browser opened the Internet to us all. At that time you assumed it could be published on the front page of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc. Now, it is even worse – it can go all over the Internet. The only communication that I know of that is private is the inside of postal mail envelopes. Government agencies can track what is on the outside, but not the inside without a special court order.

Appraisal Today newsletter

Facing AMC License Denial, Coester Sues Virginia Board

 

Facing AMC License Denial, Coester Sues Virginia Board
by Isaac Peck, Editor, WorkingRE
Excerpt:
Facing denial of its license to operate an appraisal management company (AMC) in the state of Virginia, the AMC Coester VMS has filed a lawsuit against the Virginia Real Estate Appraiser Board alleging that the Board is engaged in “a conspiracy to restrain and monopolize trade” and is operating in violation of federal antitrust laws.
The suit follows Virginia’s recently passed AMC licensing laws, which set an August 18 deadline for applicants to obtain AMC licensure or cease operations in the state. The Board has issued dozens of AMC licenses but selected Coester for closer examination. On July 15, Coester attended an informal fact-finding conference and addressed several of the Board’s concerns, including Coester’s history of consent orders and settlement agreements in five other states, for alleged violations of state laws: Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Minnesota. The allegations against Coester in these states include: unlicensed AMC activity, false advertising, failure to pay appraisers on time, failure to pay customary and reasonable fees, failure to respond to requests within the time period specified, failure to submit biannual certification, as well as USPAP violations committed by Brian Coester himself.
Read lots more, and get links to the docouments at:
For lots more info on Coester, just google Coester AMC or brian coester appraiser
My comment: Looks like various state appraisal boards are looking closer at AMCs. Coester recently got into a tiff with the Louisiana State Board, which was resolved. I am so glad California has never had an appraisal board!! (Gov.  Schwartzenegger wanted to cut costs back then.) Too many possible conflicts of interest… The issues seems to be mostly about fees. I am also not comfortable about appraisal state boards regulating appraisal fees. They should focus on what is important – USPAP.

Appraisal Today newsletter

FHA new manual 9/15/15 – no changes or USPAP problems?

FHA says no significant changes from previous requirements
My comment: I have heard from knowledgeable appraisers and instructors that there are few changes from the old handbook.
Recent posting by Coleen Morrison on a Facebook group
I heard back from my contact at HUD, and here is what she said: “Ms. Conde [the author of the article] (Ed note: see below) and I have had multiple conversations. FHA has not changed any of its requirements regarding the items that she discusses. If an FHA appraiser was compliant prior to September 14, the appraiser is going to be compliant after. The language has changed a bit, mostly for clarity and format, but the requirements are the same.”
I have written back and asked specifically about their thoughts regarding the Competency Rule. I have been saying the same thing … that nothing has really changed… but I never thought about the Competency Rule. It seems very contradictory when the HUD manual states the appraisal is not to be considered a home inspection;
The handbook states: “FHA appraisals are not a guarantee that the property is free from defects. The appraisal establishes the value of the property for mortgage insurance purposes only. Buyers need to secure their own home inspections through the services of a qualified inspector and satisfy themselves about the condition of the property.”
Adding the statement from the manual into your appraisals, and referencing Assumption and Limiting Condition #5 are 2 steps you can take to help protect yourself. I don’t know how much of a fight we can have against HUD, so if you choose to do FHA appraisals, and you were not doing the extent of inspection which is very clear in the 4001 now, you will need to step it up; add what the HUD manual states above in big bold letters to your report; or choose not to do FHA appraisals. The ultimate choice is yours.
My comment: I quit doing FHA appraisals in 1988, after 2 years on the roster. Too many requirements as compared with conventional. Plus… our local property values had skyrocketed way above the FHA limits… not much work.
————————————–
FHA vs USPAP – Appraisers Caught in Catch 22
By Joanne Conde
Excerpts:
The new FHA Handbook will become effective on September 14, 2015. There has been much discussion of the implications of changing “should” to “must” in thousands of examples in the Handbook. As a Board member of the Arizona Association of Real Estate Appraisers as well as being on the FHA Roster, I have taken a good hard look at these requirements and then, it hit me as I was teaching the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) which is the basis of appraisal standards for every appraiser in the United States. The FHA assignment conditions, whether under “should” to “must” force appraisers into a Catch 22 or turn down the FHA appraisal assignments. FHA is essentially making it a condition of employment that appraisers violate the Competency Rule. Why did I not see this before? I guess because the two never converged in my mind at the same time and I expect that is what has also happened to other appraisers.
It is an FHA assignment condition that appraisers make the following statement within the report: “The utilities were on and functioning at the time of inspection and the home meets 4150.2 & 4905.1 HUD Requirements,” and “Other intended users[of the report] are HUD/FHA.”
Click here to read more and read appraisers’ comments

Are you or your firm planning on any hiring trainees within the next 5 years?

Are you or your firm planning on any hiring trainees within the next 5 years?

 

My comment: I wonder what the response would be if lenders allowed trainees to sign on their own… remember the mortgage broker days? I sure wish there was a survey on trainee commercial appraisers as I see lots of them where I am. I am hearing that it is back to the “old days” when fee appraisers only hired relatives (because most appraisers were staff appraisers at lenders).

 

Appraisal Today newsletter

21 Reasons Why Corner Lots Are For Suckers

 

 

Excerpt:

1. Noise, noise, noise. Double street and sidewalk frontage means double the noise from pedestrian and car traffic. Pull up a chair and crack open a cold one; I’m just gettin’ started.

2. Unconventional configurations. For example, the front yard of a home on a corner lot is usually bigger than the back, and the garage may be located around the corner.

My comment: I have always wondered why there was a checkbox on the 1004 for corner lot… a mystery to me;> Maybe it was a factor in the 1960s/1970s, when the first forms were developed and used. Maybe it has been taken off some of the forms…

Click here to see the other 19 reasons!!

http://time.com/money/3980951/corner-lots-are-for-suckers

 

Appraisal Today newsletter

Revised FHA Handbook 4000.1 effective 9/14/15. Are you ready for the changes? Get the facts!!

 What you need to know and which FHA documents you need to read!! 
Available in my paid August Appraisal Today August newsletter!!

Many appraisers say they will quit doing FHA appraisals. 
This means less competition for you!!

There is lots of confusion and mis-information about the changes. Some say there is too much required and others say there have not been many changes. What about attic, crawl space, and appliance inspections?

The author, Doug Smith, SRA, interviewed an FHA executive to find out what is really happening.

There are different FHA documents you need to read, not just Handbook 4000.1. It is very confusing, but Doug tells you what information you need and where to get it. He includes:

  • Which guide to use for what, and links to the reference material, including FAQs, Webinars, and SF Housing Appraisal Report and Data Delivery Guide
  • How to keep updated on changes
  • Attic, crawl space, and appliance inspections
  • Energy efficient items contributory value
  • Highest and best use – when all 4 criteria are required
  • FHA – UAD and Fannie guidelines

And lots more information.

Appraisal Today newsletter

FHA appraisal fees going up after 9/14/15?

Another great survey from www.appraisalport.com !!

7-9-15 fha fees poll.png

My comments: Whether or not there will be increased time (and possible liability issues) required is controversial. Some say there are more requirements, others say not much has changed. My favorite response to the poll is “What changes?” ;>

In the May 2015 paid Appraisal Today June newsletter, Doug Smith’s article discussed the changes: “What’s Up with FHA’s New Manual 4000.1? More Scope Creep? The pluses and minuses of the changes in the manual”. One of the hot topics is about inspecting attic and crawl spaces. For more info on the paid newsletter, click the banner ad below.

FHA Single Family Housing Policy
Handbook (HUD Handbook 4000.1
Information Page Link:
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/sfh/handbook_4000-1

New FHA Appraisal Report and Delivery Guide
It goes step-by-step through the URAR and states what is expected in each section
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=SFH_POLI_APPR_RPT_FIN.PDf
Be sure that any FHA classes you take include this new Guide!!

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