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Spring Selling Season Begins

March 24th, 2015

Reviewing Market Conditions as Spring Begins: The NAR "Existing Home Sales Report" Released

Yesterday, the NAR (National Association of Realtors) released their “Existing Home Sales” report for February which showed increasing sales (up 4.7% year over year) and prices (up 7.5% year over year) along with lower inventory (down 0.5% year over year).  Single family dwelling sales were up by 5.9% in number and 8.2% in price from February 2014; at the same time, condominium and co-op sales were down 3.6% in number and up 2.8% in price year to year.

All cash sales made up 26% of the total (down from 35% in February 2014) and individual investors were 14% of the total (down from 21% last February).  67% of investors paid all cash in February 2015.

Distressed sales (8% foreclosures, 3% short sales) constituted 11% of total transactions in February, down from 16% a year ago. The NAR reported that foreclosures transferred title at an average discount of 17% below market value while short sales traded at 15% below market. 

Overall marketing time was unchanged year to year (69 days) with short sales the longest (120 days), foreclosures the shortest (59 days) and non-distressed sales at 61 days.  34% of homes that transferred in February were on the market for less than a month.

The following regional breakdowns were reported by the NAR for February 2015 in relation to one year earlier:
~Northeast: number of sales up 3.6% with the median price up by 3.3% to $241,800.
~Midwest: existing home sales up 4.9% with the median price jumping by 8.8% to $152,900.
~South: sales up 6.0% with the median price rising by 8.5% to $177,900.
~West:  number of sales rose by 2.8% with an increase of 4.2% in the median price to $290,100.

The NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, commented on the report: “Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices to near unsuitable levels.  Stronger price growth is a boon for homeowners looking to build additional equity, but it continues to be an obstacle for current buyers looking to close before rates rise.”

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Other Real Estate Reports

Yesterday, Black Knight Financial Services’ “First Look” at February 2015 Mortgage Data reported that foreclosure inventory fell below 800,000 nationally for the first time since December 2007.  The delinquency rate fell to 5.36%, the lowest figure since August 2007.  Foreclosure starts declined by 15% from January.  Black Knight reported these five states to have the greatest “non-current percentages”: Mississippi (13.5%), New Jersey (11.7%), Louisiana (10.7%), New York (10.2%) and Rhode Island (10.0%).  At the same time, the five states with the lowest delinquency rates were Montana (3.7%), Minnesota (3.7%), South Dakota (3.6%), Colorado (3.5%) and North Dakota (2.4%).

On Friday, Zillow released their 4th Quarter 2014 Negative Equity Report which indicated that in 21 of the 50 markets studied negative equity was increasing despite rising overall home values (6.0% increase nationally in 2014).  The national negative equity rate was reported to be 16.9% with “low-end homes” more likely to be “underwater”.  Zillow reported that more than 25% of homes with a mortgage in some markets in Florida and the Midwest were underwater.   

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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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This is Worth Repeating: Appraisers Need Time to Think

Writing in the New York Times on Sunday, Matthew B. Crawford discussed the intrusions on our attention that we now face everywhere as we are inundated with messages from the supermarket checkout to the airport.  He notes how “…we’ve sacrificed silence — the condition of not being addressed. And just as clean air makes it possible to breathe, silence makes it possible to think”.  Mr. Crawford goes on to say that “The benefits of silence are off the books. They are not measured in the gross domestic product, yet the availability of silence surely contributes to creativity and innovation”.

Appraisers are faced with an overwhelming amount of “noise” as they try to conduct business with a never-ending flood of emails and phone calls.  Requests for additional information.  Clarification.  Additional comparable sales.  Support for adjustments.  Regression analysis.  New software designed to assist in providing support for our valuation conclusions and to help spot possible “red flags”.

Certainly, some of the new appraisal programs will be useful tools for appraisers.  But it is important that appraisers find that quiet time for both their mental health and the quality of their appraisal work.  Don’t forget to take time to think.

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Some Random Tweets To Make You Smile

1) The average person kisses someone every 34.6 hours.

2) I’m thankful for the three ounce Ziploc bag so that I have somewhere to put my savings.

3) Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering and doubting and just have faith that things will work out.

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Just Released! Appraiser Help’s 2015 Directory of AMCs and National Appraisal Companies is Now Available!

To help appraisers evaluate how AMCs will work for their appraisal practices, we have compiled this expanded directory of over 275 AMCs and National Appraisal Companies, listing complete, contact information and other details for each company.

If you’re looking to maintain or expand your mortgage appraisal practice, our Directory of Appraisal Management and National Appraisal Companies is a great place to start. Order it today for $79.99 and download it immediately!

Please visit our website now to make your purchase securely or contact us at (877) 434-2825 for more information on this comprehensive directory!

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Rates & Dates

Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Brokers Association (MBA) and HSH Market Trends all reported declining mortgage interest rates last week. 

In their survey on March 19th, Freddie Mac reported that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped from 3.86% to 3.78%. They also noted that last year at this time the 30-year rate was 4.32%.

Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist of Freddie Mac, noted in the release that: "The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell…following mixed housing data. Housing starts dropped 17 percent to a seasonally adjusted pace of 897,000 units, below market expectations. However, housing permits increased 3 percent in February. As we head into spring, home builders remain positive about home sales in the near future although the NAHB Housing Market Index dropped another 2 points to 53 in March."

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported on March18th (for the week ending March 13th) that 30-year rates with conforming loan balances ($417,500 or less) declined to 3.99% from 4.01%.  The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,500) fell from 4.02% to 3.94% while rates for FHA backed mortgages also moved downward, from 3.80% to 3.74%. 

Mortgage applications were down 3.9% from the previous week with the share of refinance applications as a percentage of all applications dropping to 59% from 60%, its lowest mark since last October.

FHA mortgage applications constituted 14.3% of all applications (up from 14.0% last week) while VA applications comprised 10.3% of applications (down from 10.8%).

On March 20th, Market Trends reported that 30-year mortgage rates fell to 3.88% from 3.96% the previous week.  Rates for FHA-backed mortgages also declined, from 3.74% to 3.68%. noted that “…traffic at open houses and showrooms continued slumping” and that “…we should probably have a ‘valley’ of sorts for interest rates, or a kind of plateau at least, which may run for the next few weeks. Once we pass into May, the June Fed meeting begins to loom larger…markets may start to exhibit more nervous behavior, and mortgage rates may rise”.

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 can be found by going to: HSH.Com

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Appraiser Help has Released its 2015 Directory of AMC’s and National Appraisal Companies. Click the link above to learn more and to download your copy today!

Ask Angie

Angie congratulates the following winners of her last contest: California appraiser Steve Hassoldt, South Carolina appraiser Dians Sharp, Virginia appraiser Grover T. Martin and Maryland/D.C. appraiser James J. Woodring.  They were the first to answer correctly that Leonard Nimoy was the answer to all of the questions in Angie’s last contest: “My folks came to U.S. as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien”; “Spock is definitely one of my best friends. When I put on those ears, it’s not like just another day. When I become Spock, that day becomes something special” and “Logic is just the beginning of wisdom, not the end”.

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 2015 Directory of Appraisal Management Companies (Available to Members of and FREE!)


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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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