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Archive for January, 2017

Appraising Under Water

January 24th, 2017

No, we’re not talking about the appraisal of underwater land or wetlands; nor are we discussing underwater homeowners: we are really under water right now!

AppraiserNews has written about the complications of appraising in markets impacted by storms such as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina. Appraisers working in the aftermath of tragic storms are faced with many problems in providing reasonable and supportable market value opinions when market activity has effectively been halted.

Our problem today, along with many other people impacted by the storms which passed through the South over the weekend before hitting the Northeast this morning, is that the office where this newsletter is produced was flooded this morning.  Normally, we enjoy our view of the water while we work here on Long Island, today the Great South Bay and its various tributaries reminded us of the downside to this location.  We are in the process of pumping out water, moving our various files and devices around, and trying to dry out.

We hope that our readers will give us a pass this week and allow us to recycle some articles from the past which still might be of interest today.  Here are two from a January 2013 issue of AppraiserNews.

Sandy’s Impact on the Northeast Housing Market

Writing in the New York Times last Friday, Sarah Maslin Nir reported that:
“The real estate market along the New York and New Jersey coastlines has been as upended by Hurricane Sandy as the houses tossed from their foundations.  In places where waterfront views once commanded substantial premiums, housing prices have tumbled amid uncertainty about the costs of rebuilding and the dangers of seaside living.”

Ms. Nir discussed the negative impact on the real estate market in communities such as the City of Long Beach on Long Island as well as waterside communities in Brooklyn, New York and in New Jersey.  She quotes Mitchell L. Moss, professor of urban policy and planning at New York University:
“The question is, How long will the experience of Hurricane Sandy be in the mind of homeowners and potential buyers?”

The answer just might be longer than we have previously experienced with the vivid images of destruction not dissipating along with a multitude of concerns including the costs associated with properties near the coast and the fear that storms such as Sandy may represent the new norm rather than a once every century aberration. has assembled some of our newest pictures of the damage to the barrier beach of Fire Island, a short ferry trip from our office.  Readers can view these pictures by clicking on the following link:

Appraiser News Pinterest – Fire Island Homes Post Sandy

Evaluation Solutions: Good Riddance

Jacksonville, Florida based Evaluation Solutions (aka ES Appraisal Services), one of the worst AMCs (appraisal management companies) finally announced that it had ceased operation on December 20, 2012.  This AMC boasted on its website that their “nationwide field network of 30,000 certified vendors includes experienced brokers and appraisers who are trained in our unique processes.”

The “unique processes” of this AMC apparently related to offering appraisal assignments for complex properties with fees typically in the $225 range.  While this firm’s mantra was “rush-rush” when it came to the completion of assignments, payments to appraisers were not made for many months after the completion of assignments and only after appraisers were forced to endlessly beseech the firm for their fees.

On June 18, 2012, published an issue (‘60 Minutes’ Exposes AMCs) which included a “spoof” in which Scott Pelley and associates investigate shoddy AMC practices.  Many of our newsletter readers emailed us about whether Evaluation Solutions was one of the thinly disguised AMCs in our piece.

JP Morgan Chase was one of Evaluation Solutions largest accounts. has expressed its bewilderment many times regarding how much banks such as Chase understood about the shoddy practices of the AMCs they engaged such as Evaluation Solutions.  We have also been baffled as to why regulatory agencies have delayed putting a quick end to these dangerous business practices.  We also wonder why so many appraisers continued to work with companies such as Evaluation Solutions with its abusive practices and imminent demise.  We have not yet heard estimates as to how much money is outstanding to appraisers but suspect it may dwarf that of the AppraiserLoft demise earlier in 2012.  Questions regarding the “clawback” of fees received by appraisers within the firms final months prior to the bankruptcy filing may also cause some appraisers to have sleepless nights.

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Rates & Dates

Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Brokers Association (MBA) reported mostly downward movement in mortgage interest rates again last week.

In their survey on January 19th, Freddie Mac reported that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.09% from 4.12% the previous week. They also noted that one year ago the 30-year rate was at 3.81%.

The MBA reported on January 18th (for the week ending January 13th) that 30-year rates with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) declined from 4.32% to 4.27%.   The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) also moved down, from 4.27% to 4.22%. Rates for FHA backed mortgages rose slightly, from 4.08% to 4.10%.

Mortgage applications increased by 0.8% from the previous period.  Refinance applications as a percentage of all applications rose from 51.2% to 53.0%. The FHA share of applications increased from 11.7% to 13.1% and the VA share declined from 12.8% to 12.1%.

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

Ask Angie

Angie is drying out.  She will be back next newsletter.

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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


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