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!!

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%.

Appraisal Today newsletter

8 weird houses!!!

I have written about some of these in the past. CNN has compiled 8 of them, including some I have never heard of!!

Here’s the list:
Pickle Barrel House Museum in Grand Marais, Michigan
Gold Pyramid House in Wadsworth, Illinois
Shoe House in Hellam, Pennsylvania
Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California
Mary’s Gone Wild Glass House in New Brunswick, North Carolina
One Log House in Garberville, California
Beer Can House in Houston, Texas
House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin

Click here to read:

http://us.cnn.com/2014/08/11/travel/weird-houses/index.html?sr=fb081114weirdhouses6pStoryGalLink

Appraisal Today newsletter

Appraiser-AMC symbiosis?? Not!!!

An Evolving Symbiotic Relationship Between AMCs and Appraisers  ????
Monday, August 11, 2014, posted on Appraisal Buzz
Scott Pickell – vice president and chief appraiser at LRES

A few quotes:

“As a former appraiser with nearly 30 years of experience and now an executive working at an AMC, I have observed a true evolution in the way appraisers and AMCs work together. The relationship between AMCs and appraisers started off unsteadily but has improved over the years. It has now reached a point of mutual respect.“

“When working as an appraiser, I recall some AMCs treated me as though I was a rookie in the industry despite my 20 years in the field at the time. There was no reason for that. When AMCs treat appraisers with the respect they deserve, appraisers will return that respect and produce better work.“

My comments: Maybe Pickell’s AMC respects appraisers but the way appraisers are treated by most AMCs does not indicate any respect.

Appraising in the U.S. started during the Great Depression when lenders needed appraisals for foreclosures. Until the 1990s, when mortgage brokers took over, lenders somehow managed their appraisals without armies of telephone calls for updates, 10+ page engagement letters, sending broadcast emails trying to get the lowest fees, etc. etc.

Somehow, since HVCC, appraisers are managed as if they were children, who have to be prodded incessantly and corrected to do their appraisals “right” to ever increasing requirements.

Appraisers are seen as barely competent and unreliable, who have to be heavily managed. But, all of this costs a lot of money, as compared with the old lender management of appraisers. Of course, mortgage broker management cost very little, if anything. Who pays for it today? Appraisers and borrowers.

The same “barely competent” appraisers are increasing required to provide lots of time consuming information and analyses which often do not contribute to the accuracy or reliability of their opinions of value.

Residential appraisers are often required to “support” all their adjustments. That’s fine if you are doing a conforming tract home. If not, it all goes downhill fast. What’s my answer? Turn down as much as possible anything not a conforming tract home. Or, change your geographic area to one that has a lot of tract homes. Working for AMCs with less hassle can help, but scope creep seems to be affecting all lenders.

Few residential appraisers are willing to do non-lender work. Learn how to do it, including marketing. I have special reports that can tell you about how it differs from non-lender work, and how to get work. This will reduce some of your lender dependency. See my ad above.

FYI, I have a Certified General license. I do a lot of 5+ unit apartment properties. They are easier than 2-4 units and I get much, much higher fees. There are few appraisers who do them in my area. Cert residential are not licensed for it and local commercial appraisers don’t like to do them as they prefer commercial and industrial properties.

Very interesting comment posted on an appraiser chat group by Charles Baker, SRA: (editor addition: A more appropriate comment by Pickell would be) “It’s my job to maximize profits for the company. If you wish to participate as a contractor that’s your choice. But make no mistake, our job is to service the client, reduce costs, boost our bottom line and reward our principals and shareholders. You may wish to participate in those profits by contacting our investor relations department, but don’t expect to get rich as an appraiser. Thank you very much.” I really like this comment as it says what a corporate manager would view the situation.

Link to the full article. http://appraisalbuzz.com/buzz/features/an-evolving-symbiotic-relationship-between-amcs-and-appraisers#sthash.QH5TBFby.dpuf

Appraisal Today newsletter

Fannie looking at adjustment

From AppraisalPort’s monthly newsletter

Author: Steve Costello, who attended the recent Valuation Expo
Excerpts:

“Fannie Mae’s Murphy stated that over the past year, the GSE had been focusing on “quality” and “condition” ratings of comps used in multiple appraisals by the same appraiser and found many cases where the appraiser has changed the quality and/or condition ratings on the same comparable from appraisal to appraisal.  Now, based on the examination of the Uniform Appraisal Dataset (UAD) data, Fannie Mae’s focus for the next 12 months will be on adjustments.  The data indicates that many appraisers are not using proper methodology to make their adjustments.  Murphy stated that some appraisers are still using the old standard $20-$40 per square foot adjustment on properties that are easily valued at $500-$650 per square foot.”

“Murphy explained that Fannie Mae is planning to re-evaluate appraisers based on their adjustments and the GSE will expect appraisers to comment on all adjustments if necessary. And, ‘it will be necessary,’ he said, adding that Fannie has seen a lot of under adjusting. To be safe, appraisers should document their logic and reasoning for making any specific adjustments.”

My comment: The easiest adjustment is time. Fannie got that done by requiring 1004MC. The next easiest adjustment is sq.ft. – very easy and reliable using statistics. Of course, as we all know, unless you are appraising a conforming tract home, it is very, very difficult to “prove” all your adjustments. If you know the local market makes adjustments, they should to considered in your appraisal. State regulators are looking for support for adjustments. I am seriously thinking about not using dollar adjustments for 1-4 unit appraisals. Many years ago there was a Fannie form that just required plus and minus adjustments.

I seldom make any dollar adjustments on my apartment and commercial appraisals except for time adjustments, which are easy to support. I find it very strange that residential appraisals have such a high standard. I guess it is due to the lenders telling appraisers what they have to do. I am so glad I don’t do any residential lender appraisals any more. I never like them telling me how to do my appraisals.

I don’t know how Fannie will evaluate adjustments. I make many of my adjustments on a qualitative basis as I work in an area where most homes were built prior to 1920 and are very dissimilar. I know what my market wants, and doesn’t want. If I am not sure, I ask local real estate agents. Of course, they seldom know the dollar amount.

I wonder how well “bracketing” will work for adjustment support?

click here to read the full newsletter
http://www.appraisalport.com/news_events/newsletter.aspx?id=683bbe16-bc37-4573-a436-6a680b2882e0

Appraisal Today newsletter

Appraisers receiving warning letters from Fannie about discrepancies in Q and C ratings

I keep reading online about appraisers receiving warning letters from Fannie that they are using different Q or C ratings on the same property.

Of course we do change our opinions about a property. Sometimes we have new information or just re-think the property and change our opinion. Be sure to explain this in your appraisal.

You need to set up a way to use your comp database to check the Q and C ratings for any property you use in your appraisals. It should only take a few minutes. Hopefully software vendors will automate this for you. Bradford has software for this.

What happened to the appraisers who got the letters? Nothing that I heard of. But, Fannie may be putting them on a special list so their appraisals are scrutinized. Fannie has stated for awhile they would be sending warning letters.

Why is Fannie looking at Q and C ratings? Who knows why they picked these factors. Maybe because they are absolute. But, I suspect that other factors are being looked at or will be coming soon. I don’t think they would want to get into the very hot issue of GLA…

Remember, Q and C ratings are absolute, not relative. If you don’t agree with this, don’t do appraisals for Fannie Mae loans as that is in their Scope of Work.

Appraisal Today newsletter

Bracketing – lenders gone wild!!

Filling up an appraisal report with “comps” that “support” adjustments is a hassle for appraisers and often does not contribute to the accuracy and reliability of the subject’s value. Note that the “comps” are sales, but not necessarily comparable sales.

Sure, it often works fine when you are appraising a typical home in a conforming tract with few adjustments. But, what if you work where I do, where most homes were built prior to 1930 and many Victorians were modified over the years? I am hearing about appraisers being asked to use sales from 2-8 years ago for “bracketing”. What if you have an “oddball” home in a conforming tract, such as a home with a large addition or an “inlaw” space?

One of my first appraisal clients was a local lender who still has an appraisal department, is very savvy and treats their fee appraisers as professionals. They specialize in Fannie Mae loans. I recently spoke with an appraiser who does appraisals for them. She said they were asking for “bracketing”, including asking their appraisers to consider using very old sales if necessary.

Why are lenders asking for “bracketing” of adjustments? The same reason we have been hearing since 2008. They don’t want Fannie to require buybacks of the loans they sold to Fannie. They are also worried that Fannie will not buy a loan. I have noticed that lenders are often like sheep. When one does it, or says it should be done, they all do it.

Perhaps they are doing this in order to have some sort of “support” for adjustments. I guess they finally figured out that putting “adjustments done using matched paired sales” in an appraisal doesn’t mean much.

More important, state regulators want to see “support” for adjustments. I don’t know how to “support” all the adjustments in many of my appraisals. I know what buyers will pay more or less for. But, the exact dollar amount can be very difficult to determine. I don’t think it is right to conclude an incorrect value just because I cannot prove the exact dollar amount. Matched paired sales and statistical analysis doesn’t work for many adjustments. Matched paired sales can be manipulated and statistical analysis often does not work due to lack of data.

Market conditions is the easiest adjustment. Square footage and number of bedrooms, lot size, can often be supported statistically. If I spent many, many hours I might be able to “support” some of the other adjustments. But, would my appraisal be more accurate? Does my scope of work agreement with my client include spending 2 weeks or much more on a home appraisal for a loan?

Appraisers should consider what affects value. I worry about appraisers not making adjustments that are indicated by the market because “support” can be very difficult resulting in a less reliable, or inaccurate, value.

I have been thinking about not using any adjustments in my non-lender residential appraisals. Instead I could just use plus or minus signs. Why? I can’t “prove” most of the adjustments for my state regulator. I worry about losing my appraisal license. My clients don’t care about dollar adjustments.

What’s the answer? The only answer I can think of is to carefully pre-screen appraisal requests so you only accept appraisals of conforming homes in conforming tracts.

Should you do bracketing when the sales you use are not comparable? Some appraisers refuse and others do it. In my business, when requested to include information that is not relevant to the value, I always put “Included at client request. Given no weight.” Only you can decide what works best for you.

I am writing an article for the August issue of the paid Appraisal Today about making more money increasing your hourly billing rate. Working in conforming tracts is Number 2 of my primary suggestions.

To subscribe, and increase your hourly billing rate, click on the ad below!!

Appraisal Today newsletter

Fannie’s Appraiser Quality Monitoring(AQM) FAQs July 2014

I did not compare these FAQs with the 2013 FAQs but they seem very similar.

The Q&As below may be new or revised:

- Will appraisers have the opportunity to appeal or offer a rebuttal?

- What should an appraiser do if he or she believes that the rebuttal would violate the Confidentiality section of the Ethics Rule as set forth in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)?

- What actions will Fannie Mae take with respect to specific appraisers?
Part of the reply: Fannie Mae will provide information directly to appraisers whose appraisal reports exhibit a pattern of minor inconsistencies, inaccuracies, or data anomalies. The intent and expectation of communicating these issues to appraisers is for training and educational purposes, and to provide them with an opportunity to improve their work. Future appraisal reports from those appraisers will be monitored to assess improvement.
https://www.fanniemae.com/content/faq/appraiser-quality-monitoring-faqs.pdf

Fannie posts a list of appraisers subject to 100% review of their appraisals or are not approved to do appraisals for Fannie Mae loans. The Appraisal Quality Management list is only accessible to lenders who sell loans to Fannie. The last list was posted in May.

My comment: Maybe a few of those appraisers hiring armies of people to do their inspections and drive comps will get caught. For example, completing 40 appraisals a week in urban areas or 10 appraisals a week in very rural areas. Of course, they can make lots of money working for very low AMC fees!!

Appraisal Today newsletter

Low appraisal fees

Appraisal Fee vs. the Cost of Gas

Excerpt:

Two decades ago, gas cost about a dollar per gallon.  Let’s face it – almost everything (milk, eggs, etc.) was cheaper, including obtaining and maintaining your appraisal license. But surprisingly, one thing that has pretty much stayed the same is the amount you charge for an appraisal. In 1994, the average appraisal fee for a residential property was $320. Today, the average appraisal fee is $350. This is a 9% increase over 20 years, far below the rate of inflation.  In inflationary terms, this means we are currently being paid less than we were 20 years ago.

Let’s compare the average appraisal fee to the cost of gas during the last 20 years. … Gas has increased 239% over 20 years while the amount appraisers collect on average over the last 20 years has increased only 9.375%. This is a pretty scary picture for appraisers.  After factoring in the AMC percentage (25-50%) and our overall higher operating costs, it’s amazing that any of us can survive in this business.

My comment: Interesting analysis. I have been setting my residential non-lender fees based on what borrowers are paying for loan appraisals. I am still slightly under those fees. But, if prospective clients call around, some appraisers are charging much lower fees, even close to typical AMC fees. Why? The same reason many appraisers have always worked for low fees, even prior to hvcc. Fear and Greed. Afraid they will never get another assignment (Fear) and don’t want to turn down any assignments (Greed). This applies to all types of businesses, not just appraising. Remember the Primary Rule of Business – There is Always Someone Cheaper. Sometimes competing on price works out, such as Walmart. But, for most businesses it is a death sprial to the bottom.

Click here to see the graph, read the full commentary and comments, and post your own comments!!
http://www.frea.com/blog/appraisal-fee-vs-cost-gas

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Why You’re Not Charging Enough For Your Work, And How To Change That
Source: Forbes magazine. It’s not just appraisers!!!

Excerpts:

“If you’re making $50,000 or less in your business, it’s not a business, it’s a job, and it’s not a good job either.” … If you were working for someone else, and had to toil for 18 hours a day to make ends meet and still generated less than $50,000, you’d say something would have to change, right?”

4.  Develop stronger boundaries. Start saying “no” to outlandish requests for your time and effort.  Know what your time is worth, and demand respect for that.

6.  Charge 20% more starting today. Just do it.  Then figure out what the right number is within the next few months, and start charging it. You can transition your existing clients to your higher fees in a more gradual way, but new customers and clients need to pay you more, starting now.

Worth reading. Thanks to appraiser John Carlson for posting this most interesting link!!
http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2014/06/28/why-youre-not-charging-enough-for-your-work-and-how-to-change-that/

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