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Archive for March, 2013

Spring Shoots

March 25th, 2013

Recent Real Estate Reports

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) issued two reports last week.  On March 22nd, the February existing home sale report indicated that sales increased 0.8% from the previous month and 10.2% over February of 2012.  They also reported that sale prices were up 11.6% over February 2012 and that existing inventory increased by 9.6% from the previous month.

25% of all sales in February were of distressed homes (15% foreclosures and 10% short sales), down from 34% one year ago but up from 23% one month ago. 

The February buyer demographic: 30% were first time buyers, unchanged from January, down from 32% in February 2012.  All cash sales comprised 32% of transactions last month, up from 28% the previous month but down from 33% one year ago.  22% of all sales in February were to investors, also up from January (19%) but down from February 2012 (23%).

One day earlier, the NAR reported that pending sales were up 4.5% from (a downwardly revised) January but up 9.5% from January of 2012.  Additional information on these reports, including regional breakdowns, can be found by going to: National Association of Realtors

Also on March 21st, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that their Home Price Index (HPI) for January was up 0.6% from the previous month and also up 6.5% from the previous year.  Their news release last Thursday indicated that the HPI was down 14.7% from its peak in April 2007and was at approximately the same level as it was in September 2004. 

One week earlier, RealtyTrac released its Foreclosure Market Report for February which showed an increase of 2% from the previous month but a year to year decline of 25%.  The report showed 154,281 foreclosure filings (default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions) on U.S. housing units last month.  The report cited foreclosure “hot spots” such as Washington and Maryland which reported respective increases for seven and eight consecutive months. Florida reported the highest foreclosure rate for the sixth consecutive month; Nevada and Illinois reported the second and third worst rates.  Overall U.S. foreclosure starts increased 10% and showed monthly increases in 32 states.  Bank repossessions (REOs) were down 11% from the previous month and 29% from February 2012.  Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac stated that:
“At a high level the U.S. foreclosure inferno has been effectively contained and should be reduced to a slow burn in the next two years.  But dangerous foreclosure flare-ups are still popping up in states where foreclosures have been delayed by a lengthy court process or by new legislation making it more difficult to foreclose outside of the court system. Foreclosure starts have been steadily building in those states over the last several months and likely will end up as bank repossessions or short sales later this year”.

Additional information, including statewide breakdowns, can be found by going to: RealtyTrac

On March 21st, Morningstar released their “Monthly CMBS Delinquency Report” which showed a decline in unpaid balances for commercial mortgage backed securities last month to $52.14 billion (7.23%).  This was the eighth straight month in which the index showed a drop.  A link to this report, including a graphical depiction, is found here: Morningstar CMBS Delinquency Report March 2013

Writing in the New York Times on March 20th, Catherine Rampell discussed the surging demand for homes in an article titled “Surprise Rise in Home Demand Takes Builders by Surprise” and a link to this article is found here: Sudden Rise in Home Demand Takes Builders by Surprise

One final report and link: on March 13th, Zillow’s Home Value Index calculated a 5.8% year to year gain to $158,100 and a link to their regional index is found here: Zillow Real Estate Market Reports: Home Value Index

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Introducing: Valbridge

On March 18th, 42 appraisal firms across the U. S. announced that they have combined to launch an entity known as Valbridge Property Advisors. Richard Armalavage, CEO and President of Valbridge stated in a news release that: "Client demand for a strong independent commercial appraisal services platform has driven the formation of Valbridge."

Each of the Valbridge offices is reportedly led by an appraiser with the Appraisal Institute’s MAI designation.  The firm would appear to be one of the largest national commercial appraisal firms based on the information currently available.

Our first impression: This is certainly an interesting business model, time will tell. Valbridge has large gaps in their coverage area (not unexpected in a start-up) with Pennsylvania appraisers responsible for appraisals in New York, for example.

Lesson for appraisers: Expect lots of changes during the next year as the demand for mortgage appraisals declines and appraisers have no choice but to build their private (non-lender) appraisal practices.

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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.

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Appraisers Approaching License Renewal: McKissock’s 7 Hour 2012-2013 USPAP Online Course is Now Available in Most States

McKissock Education, the official provider of the Appraisal Foundation’s online 2012-2013 USPAP courses, is now available in most states. Last year, the Appraisal Foundation and McKissock announced their partnership and the online course is now available in most states. See if courses are available in your area and save up to 20% on course fees by going to our Online McKissock Portal.

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Rates & Dates

On March 21st, Freddie Mac reported that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were down to 3.54% from the previous week’s rate of 3.63%. They also noted that last year at this time the 30-year rate was 4.08%.

A link to a graph depicting Freddie Mac’s survey of interest rates during the past year is found here: Freddie Mac: Weekly Commentary

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) in its most recent Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey released March 20th, for the week ending  March 15th, reported that 30-year rates with conforming loan balances ($417,500 or less) increased to 3.82% from the previous week’s rate of 3.81%.  The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,500) also increased, going from 3.90% last week to 3.95%.  Rates for FHA backed mortgages were unchanged from the prior week at 3.53%.

In their press release of March 20th, the MBA reported a decline of 7.1% in mortgage applications.  Refinance applications represented 75% of all applications, down from 76% the previous week.  The percentage share of refinance applications has declined for ten consecutive weeks and is now at its lowest level since May 2012.

On March 22nd, HSH Market Trends reported that the overall average rate for 30 year mortgages dropped to 3.83%, down from 3.88% the previous week.  FHA rates also declined from 3.45% to 3.40%. 

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

Additional information from HSH Market Trends can be found by going to their site at: HSH Market Trends

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Ask Angie

We would first like to congratulate our most recent winner: Iva Voorhees of Jay F. Miller Real Estate Appraisals in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  Iva was the first to answer correctly that Adrienne Cook was the author of the quote "St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time, a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic”; Winston Churchill said that “We have always found the Irish a bit odd.  They refuse to be English”; and John Lennon noted that "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans".

Today’s questions:

1. Who Said: "Spring is the time of plans and projects"

a) Leo Tolstoy; Anna Karenina
b) Tim Allen; Home Improvement
c) Bob Vila; This Old House
d) Martha Stewart; Martha Stewart Living
e) None of the above

2. Who said: "It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."

a) Al Roker; Today Show
b) Charles Dickens; Great Expectations
c) Mark Twain; The Weather Speech
d) All of the above
e) None of the above

3. Who said: "Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘let’s party!’"

a) Lindsay Lohan
b) Rachel Ray
c) Robin Williams
d) John Belushi
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 Directory of Appraisal Management Companies (Available to Members of and FREE!)

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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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