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!!

Fannie’s Collateral Underwriter (CU) will make big changes in how we do appraisals starting January 26, 2015 !!

UAD is annoying and only relates to data consistency, not appraising real estate. Collateral Underwriter, which is regression based, uses UAD data to compare your appraisals to your “peers” and Fannie’s “model”, which is regression based. It also compares the appraisal with previous appraisals you have done where the same comp was used. It compares only what is coded by UAD. In other words, it does not address pools, patios, and other non-UAD data. For example, you use $40 per sq.ft. GLA adjustment. CU compares your adjustment to your peers and to the “model” adjustment and you are different than 4 out of 5 other appraisers and the “model” has a different number.

On the plus side, now underwriters are only getting messages based on “rules”, not actual data. With CU, they will have more information to decide if something needs to be changed. I am sure that a lot of “flakey” appraisers who are not very competent, rush through appraisals too fast to get them done, etc. will be identified. More important, the really bad appraisers who may be competent but choose to use “fake” comps, change comp sales prices to get a higher value, etc. will be found out.

I am working on an article for my January 2015 newsletter on CU and am studying all the Fannie documents plus interviewing industry insiders to see what it means for you. Reading all these Fannie documents is giving me a headache!!

Go to www.fanniemae.com/singlefamily/collateral-underwriter  and listen to Fannie’s two webinars for underwriters (listed under OnDemand eLearning Courses) – very good with excellent illustrations and explanations. You need to register, but it is very easy and you go directly to the webinar and can return at any time. There are lots of links on the web page for more information.

Also listen to Jeff Bradford’s recent webinar athttps://goto.webcasts.com/viewer/event.jsp?ei=1050667 . It starts with the Big Picture of Big Data and discusses CU. It also includes information on his new Redstone report which has adjustment support and other information. Redstone can be attached as an addendum to any forms software you use. You can skip this part, if you want. But, I found it very interesting. Projected pricing is $5-$15 per report, depending on what you need. Jeff is writing an article on the Big Picture of Big Data for the February issue of the paid Appraisal Today.

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Fees and getting C/R vary widely-per www.AppraisalPort.com polls

Fees and getting C/R vary widely – per www.AppraisalPort.com  polls

As you can see above, appraisers say that 60% or more of their  clients are paying C/R fees

As you can see above, only 9% of appraisers say C/R is under $350. Yet, I suspect that many are working for under $350 fees. Looking at the poll above,  60% or more of respondents say are working for C/R fees. Are most of them doing a lot of non-lender work, VA appraisals, AMCs who pay C/R, or direct lenders?

As you can see from the two polls, they show that 60% of residential appraisers say they are getting $400 or more per appraisal. If you’re not in the 60%, its time to change.

But, somehow the results seem strange to me. With AMCs at about 80% of the lender market and limited non-lender work available (as compared with commercial appraising) who are the 60% of the appraisers working for? If it is accurate, it means there are lots of clients paying C/R fees…

If you want to get higher AMC fees, you must:
1. Ask for higher fees and
2. Dump cheap AMCs
3. Only bid on jobs that won’t take much time and have few revision requests
Why don’t appraisers do this? Fear and Greed, just like all other businesses. Fear – afraid they will never get another appraisal job. Greed – want more money now. You have to overcome this to be successful in today’s very competitive AMC appraisal market. It is your choice to work for low fees and very demanding clients.

Next month’s paid Appraisal Today newsletter will have an article on how to overcome Fear and Greed and get higher fees.

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Fannie warning letters – GLA adjustments and lots more coming

Fannie warning letters-GLA adjustments

Fannie has been sending out warning letters to appraisers about variations in Q and C ratings. Now they are sending out letters about using low GLA adjustments. According to people who attended, or heard about a recent speech that Bob Parsons of Fannie Mae gave an appraisal conference, $25 per sq.ft. Seems to be used by lots of appraisers for lots of properties that vary widely in size, etc. I wasn’t at the speech and don’t know what was actually said, but $25 per sq.ft. Was used in a large number of appraisals.

A quote from a recent email I received: “A friend of mine just got a letter from Fannie Mae stating that they have been monitoring his reports for 6 months. In that time they said he used $35 Psf for gla adjustments 14 times. This is a warning. Further action may be required if this continues.” I haven’t seen any of the letters myself but have been hearing about them for a few months. This The last two sentences have been pretty common in the warning letters sent about Q and C adjustments, which are a lot more shakey to support and are much more controversial.

Hmm… In my area, the San Francisco Bay Area, with a median home price of $601,000 in October, 2014, slightly down from June as many markets have slowed down. San Franciso’s median home price is around $1,000,000. I hope no one there is using $25 per sq.ft.!! Except maybe in neighborhoods with relatively low home prices or some lower priced condos condos. In my small city of 75,000 population the median price in October 2014 was $690,000. Our prices are around the median for the area. Very few homes or condos under $300,000.

Sq.ft. is one of the easiest adjustments to support, as compared with lots of other features. For many years, it has been one of the few almost always reliable adjustments when using regression analysis. You can sometimes even use matched pairs. I have no idea why appraisers don’t try to figure out an appropriate adjustment.

This is just a start. Read info on Fannie’s UCDP Fannie Mae Appraisal Messaging Change Notification” – link below, with a list of all of the appraisal data that Fannie is looking at below.

——————

Dave Towne on Collateral Underwriter
Thanks to appraiser Dave Towne (again) for his Most Interesting Comments:

Appraisers……..

Many know by now that the GSE’s…primarily FannieMae……..have instituted a new ‘appraisal scoring’ procedure based on an electronic read of your reports ……….. specifically on a SFR 1004 or the Condo 1073Those are the only forms currently being analyzed by the CU process.

On Nov. 18, 2014, FNMA released a document named “UCDP Fannie Mae Appraisal Messaging Change Notification” which you can find here:  https://www.fanniemae.com/content/release_notes/ucdp-change-notification-01262015.pdf

I encourage all appraisers to actually read this document … all 11 pages.

When you do read this document, you will learn that your reports are being compared to your peer’s reports, and to your other reports, and to some unidentified ‘model’ FNMA uses.

Some of the ‘checks’ being performed by the CU process include these:

The reported GLA is materially different than what has been reported by other appraisers.

The reported lot size is materially different than what has been reported by other appraisers.

The condition rating is significantly different than what has been reported by any other appraiser.

The quality rating is significantly different than what has been reported by any other appraiser.

Here are a few that can cause real concern among appraisers:

The GLA adjustment is larger than peer and model adjustments.

The GLA adjustment is smaller than peer and model adjustments.

The view adjustment is materially different from peer and model adjustments.

And I just love this one:

The appraiser-provided comparables are materially different than themodel-selected comparables.

It’s time for appraisers to get serious about meeting your peers in person, compare notes, and develop a regional adjustment chart for all variables … much like that yellow legal pad paper you were handed when you got in this business …. that paper with the ‘required’ adjustment amounts on it for almost all items.

Oh … and when you get that knuckle slapping letter from FNMA saying your adjustments or comparables don’t match the ‘model’ be sure to get the specifics and pass on ‘model info’ to your peers.

Yep, appraising real property and developing an opinio

My comment: Fannie, please send me all my adjustments. Then I won’t get questioned by my state regulator (hopefully), underwriters, reviewers, etc. I would really like to know what adjustment to be made for all the unusual features in the homes I typically appraise – most built before 1930 and many built before 1910 with all types of additions, remodeling, etc. Even tract homes have stuff like converted garages, original kitchen and baths, inlaw units in rear, views, etc. Of course, I have been using regression since the 1970s on homes and very few adjustments are very reliable. I wonder how Fannie is going to do it.

I remember commercial appraisers used to talk about getting cap rates from bottom of a stone monument ;> Maybe we are still looking for that darn piece of stone!!

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Dave Towne on Big Data, Hedonic Regression, etc.

Appraisers………

The new Collateral Underwriter electronic review process developed by FannieMae has many appraisers on edge. This will become the ‘ultimate authority’ or gold standard for reviewing appraisal reports as of January 26, 2015 …. at least as far as FNMA is concerned. Your reports will either ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, depending on many factors. Some of those factors are outside your immediate control.

“Big Data” is one giant pile of stuff that is being put into the CU pot, stirred together like a stew. Except there is no master chef involved that ‘we’ can interact with. Instead we have a bunch of secret sous chefs each contributing a chunk of meat, a bit of spice, some chopped carrots, and a few potatoes. None of them, or us, really knows the actual CU recipe, because part of what’s in the stew is a ‘model’ of something unknown. But some of that Big Data in the CU stew could be yours … or it might be data provided by your peer appraisers who work in your area – that your reports will be compared against. Not too tasty you say? Just add more pepper.

An aspect of this Big Data stew is Census Tract home price analysis, which is compared against your appraised property value. As an exercise, everyone reading this immediately write the neighborhood description using N, S, E & W directionals for the census tract in which your home residence is located. What? You don’t know the boundaries of your census tract? For shame! Some people using the CU stew might think you are deficient because you don’t know price trends in the exact census tract of the appraised property.

Then we have Hedonic Regression. It’s not a bad thing. But it’s becoming the buzz words of our appraisal adjustment process. It’s a ‘background component’ in the CU process, moving farther forward, faster than some might expect.

Bet you didn’t know that the adjustment grid is a form of Hedonic Regression! It’s a way a certain property’s components of value are itemized separately. By using Hedonic Regression, the individual value of the adjustable components can be calculated and plugged into the adjustment grid. In theory, this can lead to a more accurate property value.

The folks at Bradford Software were among the first to begin promoting use of regression techniques by appraisers. In other ways, the other appraisal software companies and some independent developers have been working on individual processes to make “Regression” more palatable and useful to appraisers. Bradford, and the independent developers, have either report software, or separate spreadsheets, that can help calculate property adjustable components, which in turn can lead to a more credible and supportable opinion of value for the appraised property.

The days of “I’ve been an appraiser for 27 years, so I know what this house is worth” are rapidly coming to an end. The Big Data CU stew is overtaking appraising like the snow avalanches that have closed State Highway 20 in north Washington State in the Cascade Mountain range, not far from where I sit in my cozy bathrobe and bunny slippers.

My observation in this process is that appraisers, as a group, are not statisticians by training and are somewhat scared of that term – even though ‘we’ deal with lots of statistics and data. Thus, appraisers don’t have a clear understanding of what “Regression” is, or does. As a result, ‘we’ have been reluctant to embrace this ‘actually old’ technology in modern appraisal reports. And ‘we’ certainly are skittish about FNMA’s soon to be released (to lenders only) Collateral Underwriter which will analyze reports using “Regression.”

Another perspective on this topic is from this blog: http://www.housingwire.com/blogs/1-rewired/post/32165-does-fannie-mae-support-appraisers  This one is written by one of the regression spreadsheet developers, currently available to appraisers.

And for info on Hedonic Regression: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonic_regression

My comment: When I first started doing residential lender appraisals in 1986, we used census tract maps to find the code. Later, the codes were available on computers and we did not use maps. However, I found that they were very good for defining neighborhoods. I guess we all forgot about them since few, if any, appraisers look at the maps. I still have my old census tract books.

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How much time should clients give appraisers to deliver a 1004 report on a typical (not unique) property?

http://www.Appraisalport.com  poll results



Take the current poll at www.appraisalport.com  on c/r fees -
What percentage of your clients offers what you would consider to be customary and reasonable fees for most assignments?

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Fannie Mae – buy backs, adjustments, MLS fotos, etc

By Steve Costello, www.appraisalport.com

Steve reports on an educational session he attended at The Appraisal Institute (AI) annual conference in Austin, Texas, on Aug. 4-6, 2014. He also includes information from an Appraisal Institute seminar – Unraveling the Mystery of Fannie Mae Appraisal Guidelines

If you work for lenders, it is highly recommended that you read a summary of these recent changes for yourself in Announcement SEL-2014-03, dated . It can be found at
https://www.fanniemae.com/content/announcement/sel1403.pdf

Lenders are still concerned with buy-backs, where Fannie makes them buy back loans that Fannie purchased. Yes, they are happening today, sometimes due to appraisal “problems”.

Excerpts:

The ongoing scrutiny and updating of the Guidelines, combined with all these recent problems, are the reasons your lender and AMC clients now have to take great care screening your appraisal for any type of error. These days, it isn’t uncommon for a lender to be forced to buy back a loan that is still performing because an issue was discovered with the appraisal after the loan was sold on the secondary market. Many of the common UAD errors that cause problems may not have a direct effect on your final value, but these types of errors can still cause the lender to have to buy back a loan.
….
Another area of close attention by Fannie Mae that Underwood mentioned is the proper supporting of adjustments. Fannie Mae has determined this to be a problem area based on the volumes of appraisal data they examine. Just saying you made an adjustment is not good enough. You now need to show how and why you are making the adjustment. They found a lot of appraisers using “standard” amounts for adjustments. Many of these are old and outdated or no longer apply to a particular neighborhood. Fannie Mae is now looking for the appraiser to completely document how they arrived at their adjustments for any given property.

Note: Fannie Mae has said that they are especially looking to see some support for the adjustments made for gross living area and those items on the adjustment grid above gross living area, which include such attributes as the room counts, location, site and so on. How did you decide how much to adjust?

You may find some of Fannie Mae’s requirements surprising, but remember your lender may have different, more stringent requirements. Be sure to meet the requirements of your client even if they are above and beyond the Fannie Mae requirements.

A few Fannie guidelines you may not be aware of:
– Acceptable photographs include original images or those from MLS or the appraiser’s files. (If you can’t get to the comp, for instance in a gated community, you can use the MLS photos from the sale but make sure to document what you did).
– The appraiser must identify items that require immediate repair and deferred maintenance items which may or may not require immediate repair.
– Market condition adjustments must reflect the difference in the market conditions between the contract date of the comparable and the effective date of appraisal for the subject. (The adjustment may be either positive or negative).

 

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Lender and AMC revision requests

Lender/AMC revision requests
By Steve Costello
Source: AppraisalPort monthly newsletter

My comment:  www.appraisalport.com  recently redid their web site and somehow their surveys got put on another page. Now, they are back. AppraisalPort has my Most Favorite Appraisal Surveys!! The current poll is about what measuring device appraisers use. Be sure to vote!! Their poll responses were typically very high, 4,000 to 6,000 responses.

——————-
Full article below:

First, I am glad to report that the poll is back up and running on the AppraisalPort homepage. It was down for a few weeks during the transition to the new version, but you can now find it by either scrolling down a bit or by just clicking on the button that says “Weekly Poll” on the right side of the screen.

This month, I want to discuss a couple of recent polls related to lender/AMC revision requests. First we asked: “Compared to a year ago, my lender/AMC revision requests have…?” Out of the 5019 responses, nearly 40 percent went with the answer “Stayed about the same.” Unfortunately the second most popular answer of “Increased significantly,” which took 21 percent of the vote and was followed closely by “Increased somewhat” with 19 percent. These were followed by the responses of “Decreased somewhat” pulling 13 percent of the vote and finally, “Decreased significantly” with a 7 percent share. There are two ways we can look at this data: Taking a negative view, 40 percent of the appraisers are experiencing some kind of increase in revision requests. That is a big number, but looking on the positive side that means that the other 60 percent have either stayed at the same level or have experienced a decrease in revision requests.

In the second poll we asked: “On average, how much time do you spend making and delivering requested revisions on any given appraisal?” We had a total of 4870 responses to this poll. Nearly half (48%) of those chose the response of “10-30 minutes.” This would seem about right for most minor to moderate revisions. Many must be making pretty minor revisions because the second most popular response with 24 percent of the vote was “Under 10 minutes”. Another 18 percent are having to take a bit more time and went with the choice of “31-60 minutes.” A smaller group of 7 percent is having to invest some real time to make the revisions and picked the response of “Over an hour.” The final 3 percent selected the answer of “I don’t make revisions.” I’m not sure if that means they are doing an amazing job on every report and never get a request or if they just refuse to do any revisions!

My comment: these results are somewhat similar to the recent Valuation Review survey results. I keep hearing lots of complaints about revision request hassles. It is good that it seems to be stablizing. Interesting results. I hardly ever have revision requests from my estate clients, except when I have a typo on the address or client name ;> I really hate getting reviewed!! Well… maybe it would be okay if it is an experienced local appraiser who knows all about my market!! I have always wondered why lender appraisals have been regularly reviewed. I don’t know of any other profession where someone else reviews so many reports that are done. I really think this is why appraisers are so negative about other appraisers’ work. I can’t remember if I took the poll… I often don’t because I don’t do any lender work and it sorta skews the results…

What do you think? Post your comments below!!

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Standardizing adjustments?

Channeling Deep Blue Versus Garry Kasparov in Home Valuations – It’s time to standardize how real estate appraisers make their adjustments

Source: Corelogic blog

Excerpts:
It might be time to reengineer the process appraisers use to make adjustments to comparable homes. The current approach does not appear to be defensible.

To investigate this issue, we obtained a set of relocation appraisals from an appraisal management company and conducted our own analysis. (As background, for relocation deals, two or more appraisals are ordered at the same time; and the two appraisers often choose an identical comparable property).

For the experiment, we:
1) Obtained a set of relocation appraisals—two appraisals on each property prepared at roughly the same date for which the appraisers choose an identical comparable.
2) Looked at the adjustments made to that comparable and noted discrepancies in the amount of the adjustments, and even the direction (positive or negative).

It’s time that we re-engineer the process so that appraisers can focus on the things that may benefit from the human element, such as defining the neighborhood and selecting comparables. But for the pieces of the puzzle that need to be standardized, like adjustments to comparables, we should be harnessing the power of our machines. Too much is at stake to maintain the status quo. Appraisers would benefit by being allowed to focus on things they do well; loan applicants would benefit from a less-costly, streamlined process; and lenders would benefit from valuations that were standardized and more reliable.

Read the full article and see how they analyzed the data, with graphs etc. at:

http://www.corelogic.com/blog/authors/michael-g.-bradley/2014/10/channeling-deep-blue-versus-garry-kasparov-in-home-valuations.aspx?WT.mc_id=crlg_131016_0OGMz#.VFERojTF8zr

My comments: of course, it would be very helpful if appraisers had access to all the Big Data being compiled by Fannie and Others. Fannie will be looking at appraiser adjustments but don’t offer any help from their Big Data to appraisers making the adjustments.

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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?

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