Friday, January 25, 2013

Appraisers are not "derailing" home sales, Mary Cummins

This writer below feels that real estate appraisers are holding the market back. The writer states that we consider tax assessment values in our appraisals. No, we don't. That would not be legal or accurate. I clear up a few other misconceptions in the article. I do agree that a buyer should have an appraisal contingency clause. Generally they do in the form of loan contingency. The loan is contingent upon the appraisal. If they are paying cash, then they should have an appraisal contingency clause. I also agree that owners need to consider their improvements carefully. There are articles they can easily find which will tell an owner in different markets which improvements will give them the best return on investment. Slight kitchen remodel, good return. Full kitchen remodel, you won't get all your money back. Now if you really enjoy cooking and will enjoy your kitchen for years while you live there, then it's a good investment for you personally. Just don't expect to get every penny spent back in increased sales price.

The article is linked. My comment is beneath it.

I'm also a Certified Residential Appraiser with over 28 years of experience. I agree with Mark. We don't look at tax assessment values. They rarely reflect the true value. That's why we sometimes do appraisals for home owners so the tax assessor can adjust their tax value. It would not be legal for us to appraise a property based on its tax value.

In today's real estate sales, refinance market there are some issues with appraisals. The biggest issue is that the homes that are selling now which we use as our matched pairs comparables in our appraisals include short sales, Real Estate Owned (REO) by banks and some not so prime properties. Because the market is finally picking up, anyone who could hold onto their property for increased value would do that. People with very desirable homes are generally staying put and refinancing. They are not selling. This leaves us with few truly comparable sales.

Appraisers as per government mandate Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) and most Letters of Engagement (LOE) from Appraisal Management Companies (AMC) must use the following comparables, i.e. sales within last six months, +/- 15% difference in square footage, within one mile radius, similar age, lot size...range. We must include at least three sales and one listing. We must include a Comparative Market Analysis showing all comps we considered. We must include the range of values of all sales and listings within the last year. Our individual line item and gross adjustments can only vary by a small set percentage. We can deviate slightly from these standards only with a ton of explanation. Still, lenders frown upon it.

We also now must include form 1004MC which shows marketing conditions, i.e. absorption rates, inventory, marketing time, sale to list price ratios... All of my 1004MCs are showing very little inventory. I'm in Los Angeles, California by the way. With few properties on the market, you are getting at list if not above list sales with multiple offers. That's all fine and dandy but the property probably will not be able to appraise that high based on the rules we must follow. The resultant appraised value must fall between the range of our best matched comparables. The buyer will have to put a higher down or pay a higher rate because the loan to value ratio is higher. As things improve this will change but for now, that's the way it is.

A last note, quit blaming appraisers for the real estate booms and busts. It's human nature. Real estate is cyclical just like the stock market. I've been through three recessions. The charting is almost identical.

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.

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