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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!!

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.

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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!!

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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!!

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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/

Help for appraisers who have been kicked off the FHA Roster

Help for appraisers who have been kicked off the FHA Roster

Awhile ago an appraiser who had been removed from the FHA Roster contacted me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any advice at that time except to google and see if anything turned up. I told him that when I was on the old FHA panel in 1986-1988 I heard about appraisers who went to court to be put back on the panel. Since I was new to FHA then many of my appraisals were reviewed by the local FHA regional office, so I knew if I was doing them correctly. VA still has a policy of reviewing.

I don’t know if FHA regularly reviews its appraisers now. There are many, many more appraisers since the Roster was set up, open to all licensed appraisers. Only certified appraisers are eligible now.

This is much more important now, as FHA will be suspending or removing appraisers from their roster.

Fortunately, the National Appraiser Association
http://www.naappraisers.org  contacted Ted Whitmer, a Texas MAI and attorney, who defends appraisers. On June 26, he filed an Amicus Curae brief for NAA in support of reversal of appraisers who had been removed from the panel. Link to the brief posted on the NAA web site: http://www.naappraisers.org/HUD-AMICUS-NAA-6-14.pdf

Here are some excerpts from the brief:

Our organization is (National Association of Fee Appraisers) concerned that The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), by its own admission, was removing appraisers from their roster from 2001 until 2012 with no “due process whatsoever. HUD only started “due process” of removing its appraisers after appellant filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in 2012

By HUD’s own admission they failed to provide any “Due Process” to appellant from January 2010 until April 2012 when he was simply deleted from HUD’s approved list of appraisers in January 2010. The District Court omitted from its opinion an explanation for the lack of any “Due Process” provided to
appellant from January 2010 until April 2012. Depriving an appraiser of his FHA license can be devastating to his livelihood.

What do you think? Post your comments below!!

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The First Appraisal – About 3,200 Years Ago

Excerpt:
The practice of real estate appraisal began about 3,200 years ago. We learn this from the Book of Numbers, Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen.

God commanded Moses to commission one person from each of the twelve tribes, “to make a reconnaissance” of the Land of Canaan, now Israel.

Each person chosen was a leader within his tribe. His selection was based on sincerity of purpose, integrity, honesty, wisdom, judgment, and knowledge. Each leader was capable of guiding the course of this important assignment. A Leader is “one who goes first.” These appraiser were to “scout” and then to make a report.

The objective for this appraisal was to determine the highest and best used of the subject property, the Land of Canaan. It required that these twelve leaders, whom we will now call appraisers, go and inspect this land. They also had to meet the people who lived on the land and to provide demographic data. The appraisal report was to be delivered to Moses.

http://appraisersblogs.com/appraisal/the-first-appraisal-began-about-3200-years-ago/

My comment: This was originally published in 1987 in a Society of Real Estate Appraiser publication. I have published several articles on the history of appraising in my paid newsletter, most recently in October 2011. In Europe, valuers were used for property taxes – tax collectors and collectors. Many were surveyors, including in this country. In 1834, the first professional organization of surveyors was organized, the predessor to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors was started in London. The first appraisal associations in the U.S. were started in the early 1930s.

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VA loans up and FHA loans down

VA loans up and FHA loans down because FHA increased its mortgage insurance cost
Excerpts:
Of the 16.4 million active-duty service members and military veterans with mortgages, less than 12% have a loan guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
A sharp increase in Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance premiums is making the VA more competitive, according to Megan Booth, senior policy representative at the National Association of Realtors.
“There is not a Realtor alive today that thinks FHA is a better deal” for veterans, Booth said. “That is helping the VA grow and it will continue to help the VA grow.”
VA lenders originated a record 629,300 single-family loans in fiscal 2013, which ended Sept. 30. The agency endorsed 90,820 single-family loans in the fiscal second quarter, totaling $20.1 billion, down 10.5% from the prior quarter. FHA endorsements declined at twice that rate over the same period. Sixty-three percent of VA loans are going to homebuyers rather than for refinancing, according to agency officials.
…..
Meanwhile, lenders continue to complain that there is a shortage of VA-approved appraisers and underwriters, which slows processing times. …
But the VA is becoming more responsive. “VA is trying to get more appraisers and weeding out the bad ones,” Booth said at the conference.”

http://www.nationalmortgagenews.com/news/origination/underused-va-mortgage-program-makes-inroads-as-fha-costs-rise-1041954-1.html

If you can’t access the full article without registering, there is a summary at: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2014/06/13/va-loans-gain-popularity-fha-costs-rise

The June 2014 issue of the paid Appraisal Today had an article on how to get on the VA panel. It is very different than applying for panels for AMCs, Lenders, or FHA. No AMCs, C&R fees, appraisers treated as professionals, etc. I spent a lot of time interviewing many appraisers and VA personnel to find out about reference letters, re-applying, etc.

To read this article, and many more, subscribe to the paid Appraisal Today!!
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VA wants fee appraisers!!

VA is A Most Excellent Appraisal Client!!
VA is one of the last lender clients that pays C/R fees with no bidding. Increasingly, even direct lenders are asking for bids, or just cutting appraisal fees.
What is most important to me is that, in direct contrast with most AMCs, VA considers its fee appraisers to be professionals.
You can apply for the VA panel without reading this article, but I have lots of “insider tips” that makes it much easier.
Applying for the VA panel is not like AMCs, other lender clients or FHA. There are specific requirements, such as three reference letters, two of them from appraisers.
There are lots of tips in this article such as:
- How long does it take to get on the panel?
- Sample phrases for reference letters (3 are required)
- Tips on getting on the panel
- Who does the reviews?
Published in the June 2014 issue of the paid Appraisal Today.
To read this article, and many more, subscribe to the paid Appraisal Today!!
Subscribers also get FREE 4 Special Reports and 18+ past issues of Appraisal Today!!
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Not sure about subscribing?
Try it out at $8.25 per month!
You can get a 100% refund, for any reason, at any time!!

Best price: Only $89 per year (credit card only)  

$8.25 per month, $24.75 per quarter (credit card only), or $99 per year

To purchase the paid Appraisal Today newsletter
or call 800-839-0227, M,Tu, Wed Pacific time, from 8am to noon.

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