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Archive for September, 2012

Appraiser News: Candidates Still Silent on Housing

September 24th, 2012

Recent Housing Reports

Last Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their existing home sales report for August which showed both month to month and year to year increases with a 7.8% increase from July and a 9.3% increase from August 2011.  The NAR reported that distressed home sales accounted for 22% of all sales (12% foreclosures, 10% short sales), down from 24% of sales in July and 31% of all sales in August 2011.  Housing inventory rose by 2.4% nationally which represents a 6.1 month supply at the current sales pace.  NAR President Moe Veissi, is quoted in the NAR release as saying:

"Total sales this year will be 8 to 10 percent above 2011, but some buyers are frustrated with mortgage availability. If most of the financially qualified buyers could obtain financing, home sales would be about 10 to 15 percent stronger, and the related economic activity would create several hundred thousand jobs over the period of a year."

On the same day, the Commerce Department reported that overall housing starts in August rose by 2.3% in August with single family housing starts increasing by 5.5%, the highest level in more than two years.  Even with this increase, housing starts are still just approximately 1/3 of the peak achieved in January of 2006.

On Thursday, the Federal Reserve reported that the value of Americans’ holdings in real estate rose by 2.9% during the second quarter to $400 billion, the highest level since the last quarter of 2008. 

Following these reports, many economists and housing analysts commented on the positive impact of gains in housing and household net worth, suggesting that there would be a significant positive impact on the overall economic outlook.

As we discussed in the last newsletter, the looming “shadow inventory” of homes (and commercial property) in many parts of the nation threaten not only those “distressed” property owners but the household net worth and confidence of millions of other Americans.  CoreLogic reported on September 12th that the number of Americans with mortgages who were “underwater” declined during the second quarter of this year.  They reported that 22.3% of all homeowners with mortgages (11.4 million properties) had “negative equity”, down from 23.7% (11.4 million) during the previous quarter.  Including those with mortgages near-negative equity, the percentage for the second quarter was 27% of homeowners, down from 28.5% at the end of the previous quarter.

Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, is quoted in the release as saying: “Nearly 2 million more borrowers in negative equity would be above water if house prices nationally increased by 5 percent. We currently expect home prices to continue to trend up in August. Were this trend to be sustained, we could see significant reductions in the number of borrowers in negative equity by next year.”

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The Candidates and Real Estate Issues: Mostly Silence

With millions of homeowners and commercial property owners in distress, unable to move, sell or refinance, it is shocking that so little is being said about real estate matters in the presidential election and other state and local campaigns.  In an election that supposedly is about the economy and jobs, real estate, a key component in creating jobs and fostering economic growth, has been almost ignored.  Let’s summarize what we see to date.

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AppraiserNews is a FREE publication, supported by advertising and sales of products designed to help appraisers support and grow their businesses. Please consider supporting us today by seeing what we and our sponsors have to offer.

Start saving up to 20% off of your continuing education course fees today with McKissock and Appraiser Help! 2012-2013 USPAP Courses Now Available!

Romney on Housing

An interview that Mitt Romney gave to the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on October 17, 2011 presents his views on the housing crisis in a more detailed manner than anything more recent as he has been largely silent on the issue during this campaign year.  Mr. Romney is quoted as telling the editors:

"As to what to do for the housing industry specifically, and are there things you can do to encourage housing? One is, don’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom. Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up, and let it turn around and come back up. The Obama administration has slow-walked the foreclosure processes that have long existed, and as a result we still have a foreclosure overhang. Number two, the credit (that) was given to first-time homebuyers was insufficient and inadequate to turn around the housing market. I think it was an ineffective idea. It was a little bit like the cash-for-clunkers program, throwing government money at something which was not market oriented, did not staunch the decline in home values anymore than it encouraged the auto industry to take off. I think the idea of helping people refinance homes to stay in them is one that’s worth further consideration. But I’m not signing on until I find out who’s going to pay and who’s going to get bailed out, and that’s not something which we know all the answers to."

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Obama on Housing

Many would disagree with Mr. Romney’s assessment of initiatives to help the housing market, especially the millions of homeowners who avoided foreclosure due to various programs and actions.  Looking back, a strong case can be made that initiatives such as the first-time homebuyers program helped avert a crash and other actions which prevented a flood of new inventory into the market helped to promote stability.

The Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics at Yale University has just released a discussion paper titled "What Have They Been Thinking? Home Buyer Behavior in Hot and Cold Markets". Written by Karl E. Case, Robert J. Schiller and Anne Thompson, the paper discusses the findings of questionnaire surveys sent to buyers on their reasons for buying during various years and some of the conclusions are striking.

One finding was that "…the home buyers tax credit was an important factor in the temporary turnaround in the housing market: not only were home buyers aware of it, they also bought hurriedly…"

Amongst their conclusions, the authors note how "…the data suggest that home buyers were very much aware of trends in house prices at the time they make a purchase…perceptions of where prices are headed turned more positive…in 2012…But, at the same time, long-term expectations continue to weaken…we do not see any unambiguous indication …of sharp upward turning point in demand for housing that some observers, and media accounts, have suggested."

“The Fateful History of Fannie Mae” by James R. Hagerty, released earlier this month, summarizes several options that the Obama Administration has offered for dealing with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac including:

~Limiting the government’s role to programs such as the FHA’s which would help targeted groups (i.e. those with lower incomes).
~Developing mechanisms to keep credit flowing during housing busts, possibly in the form of mortgage guarantees at a high price which would preclude use except for times when private capital was not available.

Mr. Hagerty noted earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal that Mitt Romney “…hasn’t yet provided details on how he might remake the housing-finance system.”

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Rates & Dates

Mortgage interest rates declined again in the weekly reports issued by Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

On September 20th, Freddie Mac reported that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell from the previous week’s rate of 3.55% to 3.49%. They also noted that last year at this time the 30-year rate was at 4.09%. 

Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist is quoted as saying in the release that: "Following the Federal Reserve’s announcement of a new bond purchase plan, yields on mortgage-backed securities fell bringing average fixed mortgage rates to their all-time record lows which should aid in the ongoing housing recovery. New construction on one-family homes rebounded in August, rising by 5.5 percent to the fastest pace since April 2010. In addition, existing home sales increased by 7.8 percent in August to its strongest pace since May 2010."

The MBA in its most recent Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey released September 19th for the week ending September 14th, reported that 30-year rates with conforming loan balances ($417,500 or less) declined to 3.72%, the lowest rate in this history of the survey, from the previous week’s rate of 3.75%.  The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,500) also decreased from 4.00% to 3.99% and the average rates for FHA backed mortgages remained unchanged at 3.50%, the lowest rate in the history of the survey. 

In their press release of September 19th, the MBA reported a decline of 0.2% in mortgage applications.  Refinance applications represented 81% of all applications, up from 80% the previous week.

Additional information from Freddie Mac can be found by going to: Primary Mortgage Market Survey PMMS – Freddie Mac

Additional information from the Mortgage Bankers Association can be found by going to their site at: Research and Forecasts – Mortgage Bankers Association

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AppraiserNews is a FREE publication, supported by advertising and sales of products designed to help appraisers build their practices. Please consider supporting us today by seeing what we have to offer.

The All New, Fully Revised Directory of AMCs and National Appraisal Companies is now available for download! Please visit our website to learn more. Current members of our Appraiser Directories are eligible to receive their copies FREE!

Ask Angie

We would first like to congratulate our most recent winners: Connecticut appraiser Renee Healion of Renee Healion Appraisals & CT Appraisal Review; and Georgia appraiser Cindy Day of Integrity Appraisal Management Co.  They were the first to answer correctly that Jimi Hendrix was the author of the quote " Even Castles made of sand fall into the sea eventually”; Ernest Hemingway said " I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”; and the quote "My favourite poem is the one that starts ‘Thirty days hath September’ because it actually tells you something" is attributed to Groucho Marx.

1. Who said: "Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not."

a) Oprah Winfrey
b) William Booth
c) Warren Buffett
d) Mother Theresa
e) None of the above

2. Who said: "Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due."

a) Robert Frost
b) William Ralph Inge
c) Dale Carnegie
d) Alfred E. Newman
e) None of the above

3. Who said: "The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude."

a) Norman Vincent Peale
b) Albert Einstein
c) Oprah Winfrey
d) Tony Robbins
e) None of the above

The first person to respond with the correct answers wins a choice of one of the following:

One Free Regular Listing on

A Free Copy of the 2012 Directory of AMCs and National Appraisal Companies!

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Tell us what you think!

We invite your responses to any of the issues raised in this newsletter. Please e-mail us at: with your thoughts!

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We really hope you find our newsletter to be informative!  If you have any input on future topics for discussion, please email me your questions and I will do my best to address them in the next issue.  If you want to look back at past issues you can see our archive at


Bill Collins, Appraiser Help Inc.

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