Bruce begins by asking if Joseph if he considers business nowadays to be usual or unusual. Joseph has seen similar conditions in the late 80s and early 90s, but for many people, this is a new experience.
Bruce asks Joseph to explain what is similar about our current market and the market of the late 80s. The declining prices of real estate but the cause of these declines is significantly different.
Something radically changed a few months ago in the appraisal business. The Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) agreement between the Attorney General Cuomo and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused this change. A few years before the HVCC came out, Joseph was lobbying with Congress about the pressure being put on appraisers to make inflated home appraisals. People were happy with many appraisers, because they received high appraisals, but this problem put ethical appraisers out of business, because they would not cooperate with people who wanted their home values inflated. Some of the new people coming into the business may have given into the pressure to make bad appraisals because they did not have the established relationships with lenders that some of the well known appraisers had.
The goal number for an appraiser is market value. Bruce asks if that is still the goal that appraisers are shooting for. Joseph says that is what appraisers are trying to estimate but some of the values coming out are closer to distressed asset value rather than market value.
Bruce asks if something has changed in the appraising process or if the changes are coming in after the appraiser states a market value and someone attempts to correct them. The definition of market value has not changed since 1989. The methodology has not changed either. Joseph thinks that many appraisers have not experienced a distressed market such as the market we are currently in. The HVCC, and the lenders’ choice to move much of their business to appraisal management companies, have caused a lot of problems.
This is one of the first markets we have had in 10 years in which we have declining prices. It is legitimate to have a 90 day old comp that is worth less today than it was when you first got it. Bruce asks if the big problem is that we do not have enough fully repaired homes as comps in comparison to vacant REOs. Jospeh says it’s very localized. Joseph says this is a big problem in some parts of the country, but the real problem occurs when all the occurring sales are foreclosures and short sales.
The definition of market value is the meeting of the minds between a buyer and a seller, each equally motivated and knowledgeable, and without undue pressure. If you have a bank with many foreclosures, they are more motivated than a typical seller would be. They will often dispose of those assets at a lower price which makes none of those properties a valid comp. The motivation of the buyer and seller is important when evaluating market value.
TNG’s business is buying and fixing properties that need work. TNG typically puts $35,000 dollars into a repair job, and they typically end up with a property that is worth about $140,000. It is very hard to get $35 grand worth of credit. There seems to be a rule which only allows a ten percent credit limit for the kind of properties that TNG deals with. Bruce asks Joseph to explain this issue. Joseph explains that this issue relates back to a Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac guideline that says when you have an adjustment greater than 10 percent, you need to explain it. As the percent of adjustment increases, the sale becomes less comparable. There is no ten percent requirement. This is just a guideline, but unfortunately, some of the underwriters believe it to be a rule.
Bruce has had trouble with this guideline. For example, Bruce had 6 offers on a property being sold at 122,000, but then the appraisal came at 102,000, and then the review appraisal came in at 85,000. That is far from what 6 buyers thought the market value was. In the end, Bruce did not sell this property and he kept it as a rental home. If an appraiser is not able to honor the market decision of a buyer, then the market price in some areas will go down further for no good reason. Part of this problem goes back to the HVCC stating that there needs to be a firewall between people originating a loan and people doing appraisals. At this time, that firewall is the appraisal management company. One of the main complaints that Joseph is getting is that many appraisals are being done by appraisers who are not experienced enough in their geographic region.
Bruce asks how appraisers are assigned properties to appraise. Some companies broadcast assignments to everyone on their approved list, so the first person to sign up for the job gets it. The problem with the AMC is that they are not giving these jobs to experienced appraisers. The AMC is focused on getting these jobs done quickly rather than effectively. Better appraisers are missing out on jobs because they cost more. They are hiring people with not enough experience.
The Appraiser’s Institute company has 26,000 members. Each one of these members receives notifications saying that they need to have the proper experience necessary to get jobs done properly, otherwise the Appraisers Institute will take aggressive enforcement against any member who accepts a job that they are not qualified for. These members are also given information on how to turn in unqualified appraisers.
In July, the current president of the Appraisal Institute met with Congress to discuss this issue. He also reminded them a few years before that these problems were occurring, and they failed to act on those problems back then. These problems do not look like they will be dealt with until some time next year. A few bill are pending but nothing will be done until next year.
Bruce asks if the Appraisal Management Companies has to be run by someone with an appraisal background. This is a problem that the Appraisal Institute has been lobbying for as well. There are appraisers who have had their licenses revoked that are now supervising other appraisers. Joseph thinks it would be better if appraisers were required to be licensed within their state.
Bruce asks if communication is allowed between agents and appraisers who are working for Fannie or Freddie. Joseph says this is not forbidden. The loan officer is not allowed to communicate with the appraiser, but Realtors and management companies can communicate with appraisers. Appraisers have an obligation to verify information given to them about a sale. This is a misunderstood rule that Bruce has had difficulty with. Bruce has called appraisers who told him that he was not allowed to talk to them.
Bruce asks Joseph about what the fee was for an appraiser before HVCC and what that fee is now. This is one of the five biggest problems that the Appraisals Institute currently has. Not all appraisal management companies are the same. In Chicago, GAMCO uses Appraisal Institute members, and they give designated members 90 percent of the fee, and they give non designated members 80 percent of the fee. What Joseph has heard nowadays is that management companies are starting to take 50 to 60 percent of the fees. When that happens, the better appraisers refuse to work for those companies. That leaves the new appraisers with the ability to get into the business, and they may not be qualified. Joseph fears that these rules may cause some very knowledgeable people leaving the business. Another problem with management companies is that they require a 24 to 48 hour turn around time. This does not allow appraisers to get to know the market value of a specific market.
We now have the ability to use automated appraisals (AVM), but these automated appraisals are trumping appraisals made by actual appraisers. These automated appraisals are done on a statistical basis. The problem with these reports is that they do not use comparable sales. These automated appraisals essentially come up with a median value rather than a market value. These mechanical appraisers are not capable of looking next door to a certain property in order to obtain a better understanding of the value of the home being examined.
Joseph is can be seen September 11th at our I Survived Real Estate 2009 event.
Joseph C. Magdziarz, MAI, SRA is the 2009 vice president of the Appraisal Institute. He will become the president elect in 2010 and president of the Appraisal Institute in 2011.
Magdziarz has been an active member of the Appraisal Institute for 38 years. He has served in a variety of capacities at all levels of the organization.
At the regional level, Magdziarz has served two terms as Regional Vice Chair and two terms as Region III Chair. He has also been a regional representative for many years. On the national level, Magdziarz served two terms on the Appraisal Institute’s National Board of Directors. He has served as Chair of the Education Committee for five years and has also chaired the National Audit Committee, Instructor and Faculty Committees, and Education and Publications Committees. In addition, he has served on a number of project teams. Presently, he is serving on the ADAPT (MAI demonstration report alternative) project team and the International Education and Designation project team.
Magdziarz has been President of Appraisal Research, Inc. in Rockford, Illinois for 38 years. He resides in Rockford, Illinois with his wife Sandra of 41 years and his bulldog Bella.
Magdziarz is an approved Appraisal Institute instructor for 26 courses in the Appraisal Institute’s QE, AE, CE, and USPAP curriculums. He has also had international assignments in Naples, Italy; Istanbul, Turkey; Seoul, South Korea; and Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai, China.