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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!!

Fannie’s new Collateral Underwriter to check appraisals Using Fannie’s Big Data.

Fannie’s new Collateral Underwriter to check appraisals Using Fannie’s Big Data. 

Another great email from Dave Towne in Washington!!

10-14 FNMA Collateral Underwriter Flyer showing info about the FNMA Collateral Underwriter process they will make available to lenders (NOT APPRAISERS) in January 2015. You should review it. It has to do with their Enhancement of Risk Controls.

This is what we know as Appraisal Quality Monitoring (AQM) …. which was announced almost 2 years ago. FNMA has already been using the ‘scope’ on your reports, but will soon allow the lenders to have access to the software so that they can do pre-submittal exams prior to uploading the loan file, and your appraisal, to FNMA.

Virtually everything is digital now in our real estate appraisal world. That makes it incredibly easy for ‘big data’ to be analyzed very quickly and efficiently. Hiding relevant property info under a rock, your clipboard [tablet?], or just ignoring it, is no longer possible. Discrepancies will be found fast, and you will be asked for explanations or corrections.

Note the examples from the flyer:
– Chain of property ownership
– Inconsistency in reported property data from your info compared to your peers (subject & comps)
– Checking adjustments made (or not made) – primarily the math
– Testing for comps in terms of location, characteristics, sales prices, etc.

FNMA’s news release about their Collateral Underwriter:
Introducing Collateral Underwriter
Collateral Underwriter™ (CU™) is a proprietary appraisal risk assessment application developed by Fannie Mae to support proactive management of appraisal quality. CU will:
– Provide additional transparency and certainty by giving lenders access to the same appraisal analytics used in Fannie Mae’s quality control process.
– Perform an automated risk assessment of appraisals submitted to the Uniform
– Collateral Data Portal® (UCDP®) and return a CU risk score, flags, and messages to the submitting lender.
– Be available at no charge so lenders can take full advantage of the application for quality control and risk management purposes.

The CU risk scores, flags, and messages will be available to all UCDP users in real-time beginning on Jan. 26, 2015 through UCDP. Find more information on the CU web page at https://www.fanniemae.com/singlefamily/collateral-underwriter?cmpid=sln102114 .

Dave Towne, AGA, MAA Owner / Educator
360-708-1196
towneappraisals@clearwire.net
http://www.towneappraisals.com
Mount Vernon, WA

My comments: The PDF only has three pages of the document. The other pages were not available. Real estate is location, location, location. What about the 4th approach to value: Curbside Approach. That is where you sit on the curb across the street from the subject and ask yourself: “Does this value make any sense?”

There are many appraisal review programs in use and being developed. I knew that Fannie would be using their Big Data to automate underwriting reviews of appraisals as well as monitoring appraisers.

Does this mean appraisers focus even more on making sure their appraisals pass these automated reviews rather than focusing on what counts – the value? Is this another path along the way to not focusing on what appraisers provide – reliable and accurate values? Plus, disclosure of any problems with the property?

Appraisal Today newsletter

Where Did All the Good Appraisers Go?

Where Did All the Good Appraisers Go?

By Hamp Thomas, Institute of Housing Technologies

Excerpt:

As appraisal fees go downward, quality is going in the same direction. The best appraisers, who have invested years and years in building their careers don’t want to work for a company that they have to check in with every 12 hours, and get treated like a school kid in the principal’s office. An untrained and unlicensed person on the other end of the phone is making their schedule and deciding who gets paid what. And guess what – it’s going to get worse… The best appraisers are finding other types of appraisal work (that values their craft), and the appraisers that work on mortgage loans are often the newer licensees or trainees. If all this Reform we’re talking about is still hoping for higher quality appraisals for use in mortgage lending, we’re in deep trouble. The best appraisers are leaving mortgage appraising as fast as they can.

Appraisers get together and discuss how “bass ackwards” all this “reform” is, and why something that is so logical has been stretched far enough that the government is biting; hook, line, and sinker… If you want a higher quality product, you have to pay more. Look around. Do the best doctors get paid more? How about the best mechanics? The best architects? The best teachers and speakers? The best attorneys? People seek out the best and they are in such great demand, they command higher fees. This is nothing new, it’s just the way the system is supposed to work. So why do we think that appraisals should be different? The lenders, and government officials, and AMC’s think appraisers can be paid less, be required to do more work in each report, and then the quality of appraisals will go up? Come on, this is not rocket science. In most cases, when you add a middleman to any process the price goes up and the quality goes down. Ask Walmart…

http://www.housemeasures.com/ArticlePages/Where-Did-All-the-Good-Appraisers-Go–.html

My comment: AMCs, and the lenders that hire them, see all appraisers as the same. Why not go for the lowest fee? Yes, there are direct lenders who care, and big lenders who have “special lists” of experienced and well trained appraisers, typically for high end homes or people who are top bank customers. Those appraisers are paid much more than the appraisers who compete on fee.
Appraisal Today newsletter

Lone wolf appraisers fighting everyone, including other appraisers

Jonathon Miller’s original recent article on Bloomberg and follow up article replying to very negative appraiser “trolls”. Most of the appraisers did not read the

Guess What’s Holding Back Housing? – Original article
Jonathon Miller’s Original posting was on Bloomberg and got lots of appraiser comments, many of them very negative and defensive

Excerpts:
During the U.S. housing boom, real-estate appraisers acted like deal-enablers rather than valuation experts. Indeed, inflated appraisals were a key ingredient in the erosion of mortgage-lending standards that led to the housing bust. Now we are seeing the opposite — low appraisals — with unwelcome consequences for the housing market.

A recent working paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia looked at the impact of the HVCC rules on the outcome of appraisals and mortgages, touted as the first empirical analysis undertaken since the agreement was enacted.

The study looked at the frequency of low appraisals, in which the appraised value was less than the contract price. A low appraisal doesn’t necessarily equate to low quality but it could be a concern. The highest percentage of low appraisals occurred around May 2009. This was not only the peak of the housing-market collapse, but also when the agreement first went into effect, easing the pressure on appraisers by mortgage brokers and banks to “hit the number.”

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-09-25/guess-what-s-holding-back-housing

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Lone Wolves: Appraisers Fighting Everyone, Including Appraisers
Follow up posting after lots of appraiser ranting

Excerpts:
There are many great people, incredible talents and solid organizations within the appraisal profession. But in my opinion only 20% of the industry are truly competent professionals and the remainder are merely varying degrees of form fillers.

I have been an appraiser for 28 years and it is apparent that the industry is dying a death of a thousand knives. One of the key reasons for this slow death is the lack of national leadership and the extreme fragmentation since most appraisal shops are comprised of a single or just a handful of professionals. I’d also like to offer that the majority of our profession seem very willing to make unsupported negative inferences on reviews of a colleague’s work such as appraisal field reviews or troll columns like mine.

To read the full article and the appraisers’ comments:
http://www.millersamuel.com/lone-wolves-appraisers-fighting-everyone-including-appraisers/

My comments:
I have been following Jonathon Miller for many years. He is very savvy and is widely quoted in the media – local and national. Plus, he has a Most Excellent blog.

I agree with Miller regarding the lack of competent appraisers. It is not the appraisers’ fault. The problem is the lack of adequate training and poor education after appraisal licensing. Fee appraisers were expected to train new appraisers. But, it takes a lot of time. Also, poorly trained recently licensed appraisers were allowed to train new appraisers. The recent change to AMCs and UAD have made residential lender appraisers focus on “filling out the form” to fit guidelines and criteria that do not have much to do with getting a credible and accurate value. In fact, the restrictions can result in being hassled if you try to use comps and analysis that are appropriate for the appraisal. Many appraisers just give up and give them what they want.

I don’t know of any other trade, job, or career where participants constantly “bad mouth” each other. The only reason I can see is that their appraisals are reviewed. Appraisers are used to being criticized and look for “problems” in other appraisers’ work.

Appraisal Today newsletter

New Fannie Appraisal FAQs including 1004MC

New Fannie FAQs – Appraisal and Property Related Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) including 1004MC guidelines Published September 23, 2014

Fortunately, the document indicates which Q&As are new, as it is often hard to figure out what is new and what has already been sent out in other documents.

If you do lender work, read this document!!

Topics include:
– Comps with accessory units
– C&R ratings
– Comments on adjustments
– Sales over 12 months old and distance from subject – Ok to use
– Legal, non-conforming and proof of rebuilding – not required
And many more relevant and useful Q&As, including guidelines that have been around for a while, such as Net adjustments, etc.  Looks like Fannie has figured out many of the topics relevant to appraisers!!

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For many appraisers, the 1004MC comments will be very helpful:

Q16. What type of properties are to be analyzed for the data reported in the One-Unit Housing Trends portion of the Neighborhood section of the appraisal report form?

The data regarding trends to be reported in the One-Unit Housing Trends section must be reflective of those properties deemed to be competitive to the property being appraised. Additional commentary should be provided on the other segment(s) of the neighborhood when segmentation is present to aid in understanding the overall neighborhood dynamics.

Q17. Are the trends that are reported on the Market Conditions Addendum to the Appraisal Report (Form 1004MC) the same trends that are to be reported in the One-Unit Housing Trends section of the appraisal report (Form 1004)?

Yes. The conclusions regarding trends that are obtained from the Form 1004MC must be the same trends reported in the Neighborhood trends section of the Form 1004. The information reported on both forms must be consistent to provide the lender with a clear and accurate understanding of the market trends and conditions present in the subject neighborhood, based on properties that are considered competitive with the subject being appraised.

Read the additional 1004MC Q&As.

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Thanks to appraiser Dave Towne for some great comments on 1004MC:

Ever since the blasted MC Form was mandated in 2011, I’ve been saying the way appraisers have been ‘classically’ trained and used the Neighborhood check boxes on the primary forms did not mesh with the MC Form requirement.  (And in fact, I quit doing the ‘classic’ method then, and have been doing what Q16 & Q17 below say.)

I happen to believe one reason why the MC Form was instituted was that this ‘classic’ reporting methodology of reporting overall dissimilar neighborhood property trends (heterogeneous properties) did not (and does not) make sense when the assignment is to appraise a single property using comparable (or competitive) properties.

Dissimilar properties seldom have the same trend components that the comparable (competitive) properties have.  As such, they don’t need to be reported…..except as the last sentence of Q16 says …. ”Additional commentary should be provided on the other segment(s) of the neighborhood when segmentation is present to aid in understanding the overall neighborhood dynamics.”

An issue with the ‘classic’ methodology is the “predominate” value of an overall neighborhood with dissimilar properties can be much different than when only comparable (competitive) properties are used in the trend analysis.  So, when appraisers use the proper properties as outlined above, there should be no significant problems with that data point, because the “predominate” value will more than likely fall within the price range of the comparable (competitive) properties.

My comment: Finally some guidance on issues that have been driving appraisers crazy with lots of differing appraisal opinions. Now, we can use answers directly from Fannie!!

Hopefully, AMCs and lenders will use these Fannie guidelines instead of making up their own. Particulary, the guidelines that have been around for a long time that are repeated in these FAQs. You can refer them to this document.

Link to FAQs
https://www.fanniemae.com/content/faq/appraisal-property-report-faqs.pdf

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Appraisalport poll comments and results on 1004MC (from their Sept. 2 blog posting at www.appraisalportblog.com

“This month, I want to take a closer look at two recent polls – one related directly to the use of AppraisalPort and the other concerning a controversial form. Starting with the form, we asked: What do you think about the 1004MC form? This was a popular poll with a total of 5982 responses. The form doesn’t appear to be well thought of; with 66 percent of respondents selecting the answer “It really doesn’t work well and should be retired.”  Another 21 percent answered that “It is OK but in need of some updating or modifications.” It seems that the 1004MC form is going to have some trouble getting a date to the prom because only the remaining 13 percent of voters said “It still gives the client a good idea about current market conditions.”

“I did receive some additional feedback on this poll. Some appraisers just don’t like to use the 1004MC because it’s just something else that has to be done; takes more time out of the day; and may not provide accurate results – especially in rural areas. Others think it really is the first step to a more modern style of computer-assisted appraising.“

Appraisal Today newsletter

FHA to require valuing green improvements?

Another great commentary from Dave Towne, the appraiser who keeps up on what is happening!! His comments are below this summary of a letter sent by the Appraisal Institute.

Excerpts from AI comments, contained in their Letter about the proposed letter:

Appraisal Institute Lauds FHA for Green Valuation Proposal
The Appraisal Institute and the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers on Sept. 2 lauded the Federal Housing Administration’s proposal to allow appraisers to utilize residual techniques – such as cost and income approaches – to analyze market reaction to green and energy-efficiency improvements in the absence of comparable sales.

Under the draft handbook, appraisers would be required to analyze and report the local market acceptance of special energy-related building components and equipment, including solar energy components, high-energy efficiency housing features and components such as geothermal systems and wind powered components. The draft explains that in the absence of sufficient data to perform a paired sales analysis, the appraiser must consider the cost or income approach to calculate an appropriate adjustment.

AI article
http://www.myappraisalinstitute.org/ano/DisplayArticle/PastIssue/Default.aspx?volume=15&numbr=17/18&id=22399

Direct link to original FHA document:
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=SFH_POLI_APPR_PROP.pdf  See page 68. Dated August 27, 2014.

NOTE: this is proposed, not final. If you read the full document, I could not tell what is existing and what is proposed. The comment period has closed.

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Dave Towne’s email comments, sent to those who subscribe to his emails.

On the surface, this appears to be fair … primarily for the property owner/borrower who has applied for a FHA mortgage loan guarantee.

This appraiser agrees that appraisers who do these kind of assignments must have the appropriate competency, training and experience.  Appraisers are going to have to take specialized ‘green home’ appraising CE courses as one aspect of increasing their knowledge.

But the back end unintended consequence of this proposal is how much in additional fee will the appraiser be allowed to charge for providing an ‘approach’ documentation that is Not Required to be completed by USPAP?  The ‘requirement’ to include a CA or IA becomes an additional assignment condition, added to an already more complicated FHA Scope of Work for FHA assignments.

Secondly, these ‘approaches’ rely on accurate documentation for various component costs and analysis of the income stream resulting from the use of various ‘energy efficient attachments’ to the dwelling … something the average home owner/purchaser/borrower may not have access to or knowledge of.  Yet this proposed REQUIREMENT places the appraiser squarely in the middle of the bulls eye.

Third, adding this level of detail extends the time requirement for report completion.  For these kinds of assignments, a cheap fee and the desire of a “48 hour turn time” after inspection probably won’t be realistic.  Everybody connected to this kind of assignment is going to have to realize that the appraiser will need to be properly compensated and is going to need many more hours or days between assignment acceptance and report submittal … and they are just going to have to live with that reality.  (Appraisers are also going to have to learn to say ‘NO’ and negotiate fees and DD’s when it is appropriate.)

If this just becomes another layer-upon-layer of Scope Creep with no ability to recoup time spent with an appropriate additional fee for the REQUIRED added reporting documentation, then FHA may find itself hurting for appraisers willing to commit to this kind of assignment.  (Re-read the sentence above.)

Dave Towne, AGA, MAA
towneappraisals@clearwire.net
http://www.towneappraisals.com

My comments: I have never seen any adjustment indicated in my market for energy saving residential improvements except maybe once for a new infill completely “green” home. Of course, I live in the “mild climate” San Francisco Bay Area ;> This has been going on for a long time, without requiring dollar adjustments. The old Fannie Mae URARs had grid adjustment lines for energy efficient improvements.

 

Appraisal Today newsletter

How to stem appraiser “low tide”

By Alan Hummel, Chief Appraiser Forsythe Appraisal

Excerpt:

The topic may seem peculiar at a time when mortgage originations are down from the heyday of the early 2000s, but if the issue isn’t addressed now, a shortage of qualified residential appraisers could have a dampening effect on the mortgage market at precisely the moment when it is trying to regain its past vibrancy.

The decline in the numbers of appraisers entering the profession can be attributed to many factors including (but not limited to): qualifications and licensing requirements, the economics involved in training, and unwillingness on the part of some financial institutions to allow trainee appraisers to perform services. The most significant obstacle for many trainee appraisers is completing the 2,500 hours of required experience to achieve Certified Residential status, after the education component has been completed.

My comment: The only answer is for lenders to allow trainees to “sign on their own”.Hummel proposes a training program. But, I don’t see this happening on a large scale.  Since Fannie and Freddie started loan securitization in the 1970s, the volume of appraisals needed has been very, very cyclical. Before licensing, most appraisers were employees of lenders. Lenders solved the problem by hiring armies of trainees during boom times and then laying them off when volume dropped. Few appraisers are employees of lenders now. Fee appraisers have been expected to train new appraisers. Lenders paid them a salary and experienced salaried appraisers were the supervisors. But, fee appraisers are not set up for it – no time, minimal supervisor training, little economic incentive, etc.

Read the full article at:
http://www.housingwire.com/articles/31233-how-to-stem-appraiser-low-tide

Appraisal Today newsletter

$200 appraisal fees – appraisers removed for refusing low fees!!

Blacklisted for Refusing Low Fees
Source: WorkingRE

Excerpt:
Dawson (quoted under an alias because she fears retaliation), tells a story that many appraisers can relate to. She says she was blacklisted for requesting what should be protected under law-her right to customary and reasonable fees. Dawson is different because instead of being secretly blacklisted and left to wonder why she stopped receiving orders after requesting a fee increase on an assignment, she was formally removed from an AMC’s panel after insisting that the AMC’s fee was not customary and reasonable…

Recently, however, her client began using an AMC to manage the appraisal process. After an 18-year relationship with a quality client, Dawson found herself dealing with an AMC that wanted to pay her considerably less than her standard fee. Dawson says the AMC wanted to pay her $290 for an appraisal. “For five years my standard fee with my client was $375. They decide to go through an AMC and now I’m expected to accept a fee of $290 for the same work,” says Dawson.

She discussed her concerns multiple times via telephone with the AMC. “I told them that I would not accept a fee of $290 for the same appraisal that my client had previously paid me $375 for. Their fees are unprofessional and not in the spirit of Dodd-Frank. One girl just laughed at me on the phone because I wouldn’t take $290. She told me they didn’t need me because there are plenty of other appraisers who will do it,” says Dawson.

Dawson was removed from the fee panel for “Unprofessional Conduct – Derogatory responses to communication from Nationwide Appraisal Network,” according to a document supplied to Working RE . Dawson says it was her pushback on fees that led to her removal, which followed her sending the AMC an email pointing out that the C&R fee established between her and her client was $375, and that the fee offered by the AMC was neither customary nor reasonable. The return letter from the AMC concludes: “Due to the issues we have experienced with your conduct… you are hereby notified that you are being removed from our approved appraiser list.”

http://www.workingre.com/blacklisted-refusing-low-fees-2/

My comment: Appraisers are getting letters or emails that they are being removed from AMC lists because they are turning down low fees. I am also hearing about desperate AMCs who can’t find anyone to work for their low fees. This often happens in rural areas with few appraisers. Low fees can be ok in nearby conforming tracts but go rapidly go downhill from there. I have no idea who will be doing appraisals as more and more appraisers are turning down the low fees.

I am also hearing some AMCs are raising fees. Maybe they have figured out that one fee for an entire state often does not work well!!

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$200 Appraisals – Poor Business Decisions for the Appraiser AND Lender
By Joanna Condé
Source Arizona Association of Real Estate Appraisers

Excerpt:
As many of us fight for customary and reasonable fees of $350 or more, some of our appraisal brothers and sisters are still taking the $200 appraisal and not only hurting the cause for the rest of us, but doing something that will eventually, if it hasn’t already, hurt themselves.

… there are many AMCs that pay customary and reasonable fees of $350 and more, that give five business days to do the report, and that will pay more if the properties are complex, in an area that requires more work and research, and will allow more time if there are reasons…

So why would anyone accept a fee below $300, let alone in the $200 range. I can only attribute it to not thinking it through.
Below are the reality checks as I see it.

Reality Check – $: The net from doing one $350 appraisal is about the same or even more than doing two $200 appraisals…

Reality Check – Time: There is twice as much time spent on two appraisals as there is on one. So, the appraiser taking the $200 appraisal spends twice as much time for the same money unless corners are cut. If an appraiser tells me he doesn’t do the same amount of work for the $200 appraisal as he would for the $350, then there is no other choice but to believe he is: a) cutting corners, or b) not doing a full report and providing the information necessary for a credible report, i.e. USPAP compliant. Not smart. The issue becomes not “if” you get reported, but “when” you get reported.

Reality Check – Liability: It seems apparent to me that the same lenders that have the highest foreclosure rates are also the lenders that work through AMCs that pay low appraisal fees and ask for short turn around times…

To Lenders: For those lenders that do not inquire of the AMCs they use what they pay their appraisers, and the time they give them to complete the report, shame on them. They are putting their own company at risk as well the borrower. Why?
The best appraisers won’t work for cut-rate fees. They know the quality of their work and they charge for it. Those appraisers who work for low fees usually produce low quality. “You get what you pay for.”

Low quality appraisals put the lender at a higher risk of making a bad loan.Isn’t it time ALL appraisers and lenders realized that!

Cheap is Expensive!

My comment: well written. Not just a lot of whining and complaining. Explains why it is important to the lender.

CLICK HERE TO READ WHAT OTHER APPRAISERS SAY ABOUT LOW FEES AND POST YOUR COMMENTS ON MY BLOG

Read the full commentary at:
http://appraisersblogs.com/appraisal/the-folly-of-the-200-dollar-appraisal/

 

Appraisal Today newsletter

AMCs – questions about value and revision requests – Poll

Appraiser Poll results
http://www.Appraisalport.com

How often, if ever, do your lender/AMC clients question your opinion of value? 8/4/14
Almost every report 108 votes 2%
1 out of 10 reports 327 votes 6%
1 out of 20 reports 247 votes 5%
1 out of 30 reports 333 votes 6%
Almost never 3,535 votes 68%
My opinion of value has never been questioned 635 votes 12%

Total Votes: 5,185

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Compared to a year ago, my lender/AMC revision requests have:
7/28/14

Increased significantly 1,053 votes 21%
Increased somewhat 971 votes 19%
Stayed about the same 1,981 votes 39%
Decreased somewhat 661 votes 13%
Decreased significantly 353 votes 7%

Total Votes: 5,019

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On average, how much time do you spend making and delivering requested revisions on any given appraisal? 8/14/14

Under 10 minutes 1,163 votes 24%
10 – 30 minutes 2,323 votes 48%
31 – 60 minutes 875 votes 18%
Over an hour 366 votes 8%
I don’t make revisions 141 votes 3%

Total Votes: 4,868

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My comment: Good to see that there are not many valuation hassles but, of course, there should be none since that is what AMCs are supposed to do – no valuation pressures!! Interesting revision results, since many appraisers complain they spend lots of time responding to them – 72% are 30 minutes or less. My favorite is No revisions, but only 3%.

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