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Appraising Summer; “Good” AMCs

September 11th, 2012 by Bill Collins Leave a reply »

Busy Summer For Appraisers

Most appraisers we speak to report that business was good this summer but the assignments are changing.

Of course, serial refinancing is propping up the workload of many appraisers.  New action forthcoming by the Federal Reserve to twist interest rates lower may keep these appraisals coming through the end of the year but watch out: when this changes, refi business will drop dramatically.  As always, diversification of your appraisal practice is mandatory for long term survival and success.

Some trends in appraisal assignments are disheartening.  On Long Island where I have my appraisal practice, local governments have become sellers rather than buyers.  After many years appraising for Suffolk County and various towns, assignments involving property acquisition for farmland and wetland preservation; historically significant properties; parklands and open space; and drinking water protection have become scarce.  Assignments this summer have included rush jobs of municipally owned properties as local governments face large budget deficits.  Many of these properties are surplus and no longer needed but other properties to be sold off (nursing homes, medical centers, senior recreational centers) will impact the lives of many. 

It has been my fortune to have participated in appraisal assignments that have helped to preserve some beautiful properties on eastern Long Island including bird sanctuaries now managed by the Audubon Society, pristine properties in the Pine Barrens and hundreds of acres of farmland (including several farm stands where I shop which would not exist if not for the preservation programs).  My children and grandchildren will have better lives because of these programs which have helped contain the suburban sprawl that most people think of when they hear “Long Island”.

The “dismantling” of preservation programs such as that in Suffolk County is troubling.  Suffolk County and several eastern Long Island towns were pioneers in the development of these programs decades ago and now the future is uncertain.  I feel badly for appraisers, friends, employed by the County who I worked with for many years who have been laid off and for the department head, who built an excellent department and is now basically going it alone.

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Recent Real Estate Reports

On September 4th, CoreLogic released its Home Price Index for July in which they reported a 3.8% increase year in real estate prices nationally compared with July of 2011, the biggest increase since August 2006.  On a month to month basis, July’s prices increased 1.3% from the previous month. The CoreLogic news release noted that this was the fifth consecutive month in which there were gains in both the year to year and month to month numbers.  These figures were inclusive of distressed sales, increases were also seen when these sales were included.

Mark Fleming, CoreLogic’s chief economist noted that “While the pace of growth is moderating as we transition to the off-season for home buying, we expect a positive gain in price levels for the full year.”

Including distressed sales the five states with the highest appreciation rates were Arizona, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota and Colorado; the five states with the greatest rates of price depreciation were Delaware, Alabama, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Illinois.

In a news release one week earlier, CoreLogic reported that there were 58,000 completed foreclosures in July, down from 62,000 one month earlier and 69,000 in July 2011.  CoreLogic also reported that approximately 1.3 million homes nationally were in the foreclosure inventory, approximately 3.2% of all homes with a mortgage.  This is unchanged from one month earlier but is down from the 1.5 million homes (3.5% of all homes with mortgages) reported in July of 2011.  In this news release, CoreLogic’s president and CEO Anand Nallathambi noted that “Alternative resolutions are helping to reduce foreclosures and often result in a more positive transition for the borrower and lower losses for investors and lenders”.

Additional information from CoreLogic can be found by going to: Corelogic

Following CoreLogic on September 5th, Clear Capital released their Home Data Index for August which showed a fourth consecutive month of gains in nationwide home prices compared with the same month last year.  Director of Research and Analytics at Clear Capital, Dr. Alex Villacorta, stated in the news release that:
“This month, three notable trends shifted: Growth in the fair market segment outpaced the REO segment over the last rolling quarter; through the first half of 2012, REO saturation was on the rise while August saw a drop to the lowest levels since 2008; and non-investor home buyers made up a larger chunk of the sales mix.”

Clear Capital reported that all four regions of the country “posted rolling quarterly gains” in price with the West showing 3.8% growth, the Midwest 2.0%, the South 1.5% and the Northeast 0.5%.

A link to the Clear Capital news release which contains breakdowns by Metropolitan Statistical Areas is found here: Newsroom at Clear Capital

On September 7th, Lender Processing Services released their LPS Home Price Index based on June 2012 transactions which showed an increase in prices of 0.7% from the previous month and an increase of 0.9% from the same month one year earlier.  A link to this release which includes breakdowns by city and state is found here: LPS Home Price Index Report

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Real Estate Appraisers in Florida and Real Estate Licensees in Montana and Michigan: October 31st is the Deadline for License Renewal

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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!


The Big Question: Has The Real Estate Market Finally Stabilized?

The elephant (shadow inventory) is still in the room but the confidence of prospective purchasers seems to be improving in many parts of the country (nothing to do with the National Association of Realtors’ cheerleading, in our opinion).

Actions such as that proposed by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (see our past newsletter discussing his white paper “The 4% Mortgage: Rebuilding American Homeownership”) are still important but barring draconian measures proposed by some lawmakers (i.e. sudden withdrawal of government backing of mortgages) it seems as if an overall crash may have been averted.  Senator Merkley’s plan, however, is not only good policy for the many homeowners directly affected but will help to insure market stability for all.

Interesting thought: While no one governmental initiative prevented the total collapse of the real estate market, the combination of actions (low interest rates, programs to help distressed homeowners, actions preventing foreclosure abuses) prevented a surge of distressed properties reaching the market with a resulting crash.

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"Good" AMCs

Many people have asked us to name Appraisal Management Companies that we like and AMCs that we dislike.  We have resisted “naming names” until now, so here goes.

Residential appraisers: My appraisal company has worked with Finiti in Columbia, Maryland for some time. They engage us to appraise properties on Fire Island, Shelter Island and other islands accessible by ferry only.  We appreciate the fact that they listen to us in the winter when we tell them that the bay is frozen and no ferries are running.  It is a sad fact that many AMCs can’t even understand the obstacles that appraisers face, even ones as simple as a frozen bay!

Commercial appraisers: We recently have been engaged on several assignments by Elliott & Company Appraisers in Greensboro, North Carolina.  They have been courteous, knowledgeable and professional to work with.  (They also handle residential appraisal assignments.)

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Rates & Dates

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

On September 6th, Freddie Mac reported that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages declined from the previous week’s rate of 3.59% to 3.55%, the second straight week of declining rates after four straight weeks of increases.  They also noted that last year at this time the 30-year rate was at 4.12%. 

The MBA in its most recent Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey released September 5th for the week ending August 31st, reported that 30-year rates with conforming loan balances ($417,500 or less) declined to 3.78% from the previous week’s rate of 3.80%.  The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,500) also decreased from 4.06% to 4.05% and the average rates for FHA backed mortgages dropped to 3.54% from the previous week’s rate of 3.60%. 

In their press release of September 5th, the MBA reported a decline of 2.5% in mortgage applications.  Refinance applications represented 79% of all applications, the same as the previous week.

In an earlier press release on August 30th, the MBA reported a decline in commercial and multifamily mortgage delinquency rates during the second quarter; at the same time, they reported that delinquency rates rose for commercial mortgage backed securities.    

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 winner: Suzanne M. Fahien of Fahien Appraisal Services in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. Suzanne has won this contest in the past.  Her firm covers the counties of Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Sullivan and Union in central Pennsylvania.  She was the first to answer correctly that Douglas Adams was the author of the quote "A beach house isn’t just real estate. It’s a state of mind.”; Henry James said "Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”; and the quote "Never have children, only grandchildren." is attributed to Gore Vidal.

1. Who said: "Even Castles made of sand fall into the sea eventually."

a) Joni Mitchell
b) Donald Trump
c) Jimi Hendrix
d) Don McLean
e) None of the above

2. Who said: "I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?"

a) Rip Van Winkle
b) MacBeth
c) Ernest Hemingway
d) Shakespeare
e) None of the above

3. Who said: "My favourite poem is the one that starts ‘Thirty days hath September’ because it actually tells you something."

a) Julius Caesar
b) Julius Erving
c) Groucho Marx
d) Chico Marx
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 AppraiserHelp.com

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: bill@appraiserhelp.com 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 www.appraisernews.com

Regards,

Bill Collins, Appraiser Help Inc.

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