Families in the United States are experiencing a housing market squeeze
caused by historically low inventory and high prices. Many families are navigating this changing market by considering multi family living situations that might not have been on the radar just a few years ago. Whether it is family members moving in to provide
financial relief and support, or families creating rental income by adding or renovating spaces to host separate families, the trend of multi-family living is gaining ground in the mainstream consciousness like never before. Before you jump in and convert
that garage to an in-law suite there is much to consider.
An important first step is to consider whether you are creating an accessory
dwelling unit or a two-family property. In most municipalities an accessory dwelling unit is permitted for the purpose of providing housing for an additional family member. In some municipalities, renting this space in any way would be prohibited, while other
areas have more lax regulations. It's important to thoroughly research your area's regulations before moving forward with construction plans to avoid any expensive surprises. Often your local planning and zoning office can provide specific guidance in this
area. An accessory dwelling unit is more likely to have the following attributes according to a McKissock’s 2022
Alternately a two-family property is often created for the purpose of providing
additional income to the primary resident. There can be very specific regulations regarding two-family properties and whether they are permitted at all, whether short term rentals are allowed, how many occupants are permitted and how the utilities for the
property must be planned and monitored. According the same 2022 article
a property is likely to be considered a two-family property if:
It is correct to assume that adding additional living space to your property
will certainly raise the value of the property no matter what type of additional dwelling is created. However, the creation of a two-family property where it is legally permitted has much greater potential to both add value to the property and create revenue
for the primary property residents.
We are lucky to have Kris Enslen of Delaware Home Inspections with us this month for a timely guest blog post. Thanks to Kris for this important, money saving information!
Our clocks are set back, and the days are getting shorter. Soon there will be limited daylight after work and temperatures will be low enough for you to put that maintenance list off another day.
The biggest enemy to a home is water. Water is lazy and will find its way into any crack, crease, or crevasse. In winter, water can come in many forms, rain, ice, and snow. As the
temperatures hovers around 32 degrees, water freezes into ice and expands. This is known as the freeze-thaw cycle, and it can quickly turn a minor issue to an immediate concern.
Below are 5 things to check and take care of, prior to winter’s arrival, to protect your investment and ensure your family’s safety.
1) View Roof and Attic
Stand back for a few minutes and carefully look at your roof. Check for any anomalies such as damaged shingles, trees close to roof surface, or discolorations. Roof leaks are typically
not from the roofing surface. They happen at the penetrations because it is a hole in the roof. Carefully look at all penetrations and their flashings. Flashings that are damaged or lifting may allow water under it. For further evaluation get into the attic
and look for any signs of moisture intrusion. Address any issues immediately and, as always, hire a professional if you are not comfortable doing so yourself.
2) Clean Gutters and Extend Downspouts
Gutters filled with leaves and debris restrict water flow. During snow and freezing conditions these areas can accumulate a buildup of ice, also called an ice dam.
Melt water can get trapped behind the ice and your roof is not a place you want water to sit, so clear those gutters of all the leaves.
Proper water flow in gutters is just the first step to removing all the roof water away from the foundation.
The second step is extending the downspouts 4-6 feet away from the foundation. It is not enough to get all the roof’s water flowing through the gutters and into the downspouts if it
discharges right at the foundation. Send that water far away from the foundation with downspout extensions. These are cheap and easy to install.
3) Check Grading
How do you keep water out of your home? Don’t let it in! Easier said than done but the golden rule for proper water management is DOWN & AWAY. Take a close look at the pitch of the
ground surrounding your home. If it is flat or pitched towards the foundation, guess where the water will go? Hint: not where you want it. If your grading does need correction, get some fill dirt and a tamper, or find a qualified local landscaper.
4) Close Crawlspace Vents
Vents to a crawlspace are important for air flow in the hot, humid summer months. Again, moisture is the enemy. During the winter, the focus in a crawlspace should be on efficiency
and limiting heat loss. Closing your vents will keep those cold drafts from getting under your home. An additional step you can take is adding foam boards for added insulation at the vent openings. If you have window wells for vents or basement windows, clear
5) Service Your Furnace
I cannot stress this enough: hire a professional HVAC technician to service your unit before heating AND cooling season. The minor cost of the visit will extend the unit’s life expectancy
and could catch any potential safety issues. One thing you can do on your own is clear the outdoor AC unit of any debris and spray it down with a hose. Once it is dry put a cover over it for protection of the elements and shut off the breaker for the season.
Get a head start on fall maintenance to prevent sudden, potentially costly repairs, by taking 30 minutes to review these 5 things. As a home inspector, 90% of issues I find could have
been avoided with routine maintenance. My goal is to not only inspect homes, but to educate homeowners so they can maximize their investment and keep their families safe.
For more information on Delaware Home Inspections or to contact Kris please visit DEinspections.com.
From the time a lender places an order
to the time right before you start researching the property 9 times out of 10 nobody will realize the history behind the home. This means you may have just accepted the appraisal for a home that is considered a stigmatized property. These homes come in a wide
variety, some being as simple as the environment to more sinister things like crime and murder.
these definitions may differ from state to state or city to city here is a list of ways stigmatized properties can be defined:
A property or properties that may already be contaminated or could potentially become contaminated due to close proximity to private or public facilities that
house hazardous materials
More than likely debt collectors will not know the person that is in debt has moved which means the new owners could be harassed.
Ghost sightings or hauntings have been seen there
The home is well known, a good example of this is the Amityville Horror property or the home where the
Savopoulos murders took place.
One or the other took place on the property. The law on disclosing this information will vary from state to state.
Illegal activity such as drug dealing took place there. The worry is that people who once visited the property for drugs or other illegal things will come back
thinking the old home owner is still there.
There is no tried and true way to account for all of these things and
the amount of information that can be given, will again, vary state by state. These appraisals can easily take longer than expected due to the unusual circumstances.
Did you know that there is an actual show dedicated to taking a home and remodeling it to help flip the script on its story? It’s called Murder
House Flip and it does exactly that. It aired in 2020 and from what I can see it has quite a few episodes so there must be something to it. Does a spooky past really hurt the price of the home? While I certainly cannot give a concrete answer here is what I
think we should all consider.
Time heals all wounds, at least to some degree. A home thats walls saw murder in 1901 is much different than a home that saw a murder that happened
yesterday, right? For me probably not but to some it can definitely make a difference. You also have to take into account that maybe the original home is gone and it is just the land that was there. There are many things that happen over decades of wear and
tear and you have to take them into consideration.
The home didn’t do it. Sure, that is very true but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. When someone says “a murder happened there” I think the majority
of us go to ghosts! But we have to remember it’s not just hauntings that could deter people. With a famous home comes neighbors and communities that have stories to tell. They may even have adoring crime fans who want to see the home and take pictures. There
is a lot to think about before moving into an (in)famous home.
Not everything is created equal. People will make judgements based on how and why things happened, where they happened or even just the general
location of the home. The higher the price of the home the more discerning the buyer tends to be.
Would you live in a murder house? I can say with certainty that I would not want to take the chance. I worry too much as it is and I don’t need
the idea of a ghost sharing a room with me.
Every appraiser must follow along with the guidelines of the USPAP. But
that’s it - your customers typically don’t have to. It’s a lot of pressure to make sure you aren’t letting clients get into your head and push you to make a certain number. Here are 6 ways to help you handle the pressure.
Know your clients. Are they local? Check in on them and see how they present themselves. If they aren’t local,
look into their reviews, check the BBB or take the time to review their work in other ways. If they have good reviews and it matches with how you felt about them when talking with them you should be safe. If you see red flags you can then choose to work with
them or not, and you can keep a watchful eye on them if the pressure starts to build.
Have an educational spiel. Not everyone you work with is going to know the ins and outs of your job, heck most
won’t. So if you can get ahead of it and explain straight out of the gate that you cannot guarantee certain things they won’t even have the chance to ask.
Require payment in advance when possible. It takes away the risk of a client withholding payment and in turn
putting you in a tight spot.
Diversify your clients. Never put all your eggs in one basket. If you get all of your clients from one or two
AMC’s or law firms, etc, you risk having nowhere to go if you have to start saying no to them. If you are getting clients from multiple different places it makes losing one client a little easier.
Check with your state enforcement agency. Not every state takes pressure placed on an appraiser as seriously
as others but it is worth a try. Some may even prosecute, but either way it is worth giving them a heads up.
Fire the client. If you have done your due diligence and tried everything you could there is no reason not to.
We don’t like losing clients and firing them is typically hard for a list of reasons but nothing is worth taking your credibility and potentially throwing it away. Fire them and feel confident in the fact that you did the right thing.
We have finally found some sustainable
insulations to help us get rid of that nasty fiberglass insulation. You know the kind I’m talking about right? It’s itchy if it touches your skin and can create problems if it gets into your nose and mouth and is swallowed. And, did you see the best part in
what I said? They are sustainable! That means we will be able to keep up with the amount of new homes being built, along with using natural products.
we have a soy based foam insulation. It is sprayed and will easily expand up to 100 times it's size. It does take time to expand and then harden which means that it will fill up the cracks. It does resist mold, fungus and rodents. Now, with all these pros
it does come with a bit of a hike in pricing but in the end it will save you on your energy bills.
next we have wool, probably the most sustainable of all. Wool comes from sheep and they can be sheared and have a new coat ready to go in about six months. Wool is able to absorb water without compromising thermal efficiency. Basically, the wool can get wet
and the fibers inside wool will warm up. This will help keep condensation down in the places the wool is inside your home. It is also safe to touch, non combustible and can even put itself out if there is a fire - just a few reasons this insulation is cool!
we have cotton, like the sheeps wool, it is incredibly sustainable. You can plant cotton, pick it and have a new crop pretty quickly. The big thing here is that it is healthy and doesn’t need warning labels. It also does not need a lot of energy to be produced.
with time and attention these types of insulations can become more widely used and the science we have can be combined to make them even better.
Are you looking into the appraisal field and wondering how your days might
be spent? Where you will be on a daily basis? What will you be doing? Well we are here to tell you we probably have a 70/30 split between the office and the field work.
the amount of time spent in the office and out in the car or looking at homes will be different for every appraiser you speak with, it is also good to know that this is pretty typical. It’s all in how you do your appraisals and the amount of work you want
to be doing.
time spent away from the office is typically what people see or call the “fun stuff”. You get to meet new people, see some really cool homes and break free of the four walls you look at each day. But once you get it down to a science it typically won’t take
you too long to do.
time in the office is usually where you do the brunt of the work. You will have to pull information, make calls and send emails, do a ton of research and finish the appraisal report - just to name a few things. It is definitely more tedious than the actual
in all the appraisal business is fun and while the basic schedule is the same there is always room for surprises in the homes and people you meet.
There is no doubt that one of the
(only) good things to come out of the covid pandemic is that we have all learned we need to find a balance between work and home. We are constantly pushing and hoping to get better and do more, but at what cost? Having a better work-life balance not only allows
us to do better at our jobs, it allows us to be healthier mentally and physically. It’s not always easy but here are a variety of ways to give yourself a break.
a break. If you worked in a regular office or at a store you would get at least one break typically. 5, 10 maybe 15 minutes to yourself to go for a quick walk, get a drink, recenter yourself. It’s still important to do this even if you work alone. Your mind
will thank you, you will be able to focus better and it will help you lower the stress you may have been collecting throughout the day.
out a flow that works for you. Do you enjoy getting emails out of the way first? Do you like having everything in all the files you are working on before moving onto contacting borrowers or beginning the report? What makes the most sense to you in getting
work done. It will probably take some tweaking as you try new ways of doing work but eventually each piece will flow together in a way that works for you.
help. If you have the ability to do so, find help. Hiring a part time or full time receptionist or office manager will help remove the small things off your list so you can put your time and attention on the big things. This means that you have more control
over what your schedule looks like and can free up some time in your schedule.
something for you. Having a hobby outside of work can make you happier, more creative and healthier. When you are doing well at work your home life blossoms and when you are doing well at home you are the best you that you can be at work. It is a cycle that
continues to benefit the other side when you are doing what you love and find ways to create a balance.
is not an exhaustive list of every way to find balance between home and work, and to be honest it will look different for everyone. These are just here as ways to get the creative juices flowing and help you come up with what it will look like for you. What
do you think? How do you find balance?
REO (Real Estate Owned) inspections
can be dangerous simply for the fact that the home has been vacant for a given amount of time. They are typically not checked on regularly and this gives time for squatters and/or other critters to move into the home. Appraisers have seen everything from bugs,
raccoons, robbers among other things happening in vacant homes and the appraisers safety is first priority. Here are some tips to make sure you are safe when you go to inspect.
Take someone with you if at all possible. Having a second party come with you directly or waiting for someone
who is working with the home to meet you is always the best idea. If this is not possible for some reason you can always make sure that you are giving your schedule to an employee, friend or family member. This should include addresses and times as well as
a way for you to confirm that the inspection is completed and you are safe.
Safety products like mace, pepper spray, whistles or devices that can beep loudly in case of trouble. You can
also have a tracking device on your phone as well. It also wouldn’t be terrible to have bug spray for the smaller critters that may be lurking in the home.
Know your surroundings and what type of animals could potentially be in the home. It’s never a bad idea to be
fully prepared, especially if you live in an area with poisonous animals or larger animals that could be taking shelter in the home.
Leave immediately if you suspect anything is wrong. Call the authorities and once you are able you can update
the AMC to the issues at hand and look at making a different plan to check out the home if everything is cleared.
safety must come first and is worth much more than an appraisal fee. Most AMCs will be more than willing to work with you if you have done everything you can to make the appraisal happen within your boundaries or you went out and felt unsafe.
If you have dealt with the passing
of a loved one you have probably heard the term probate used at some point in time. The quick and easy definition of probate is the legal process that a will must go through before any of what it outlines can be given to its beneficiaries. What does an appraisal
have to do with any of this? Well if there is a home involved you are going to need to know the selling price of the home.
appraisal will help you figure out a few different things that may impact you or any of the other heirs. It can help know what the costs of the home would be if you need to sell or split up the money between more than one person. It can help you get ready
for taxes. What the price is, even if it is gifted to someone. It initially just eliminates any questions about the home and what it could be sold for.
appraisals are done per the date of death (DOD). The laws on how quickly a will must go to probate will vary from state to state, some will have as small as just a few weeks and some states may allow up to 5 or more years. The time that you send the will to
probate will not affect the effective date of the appraisal as it will always go back to the DOD.
thing to take into consideration though is that it may be tougher and in turn worth more money for the appraiser the longer you wait to get the appraisal done. The longer between DOD and the appraisal means there are things that could vary largely, from the
market to the condition of the home which means more searching and work for the appraiser.
are some of the things you can have prepared for your appraiser when the time comes for you to reach out for an appraisal.
The date of death
Information about the condition of the home at the time of death
Any updates or changes to the home since the date of death
The lawyers information for any questions and as a contact to send the appraisal to
Any legal documents that could help the appraiser out (deeds or surveys)
appraisers want to be as thorough as possible when doing these types of appraisals so that they can best help you. Try to do research and find appraisers that work with estate/probate appraisals regularly because they do have their own outlines and needs.
It will help you know that you are working with someone who knows their stuff. Anything you may have missed in collecting prior to reaching out for the appraisal will be something they can easily spot and help you out with.
Appraisers need to be able to work
with AMCs and have a good relationship with them if they want to keep working with them. Building the relationship can feel overwhelming at times but if you keep find a way to make the following tips a part of your workflow you can reach and keep a high rating
Stay on top of business changes/updates. Depending on how you have things laid out you will need to update your licensing and your insurance every
year, every other year or maybe it’s more time between. If for some reason you miss the update you will have a lull in receiving orders, the AMCs will have to send out reminder emails. It truly just adds more work to both you and the AMC. Also, if you decide
to add a new coverage area or take away from what you currently cover it is important to update the AMCs as soon as possible.
Appraisal updates are the bane of a lot of appraisers existence but it is helpful for the AMCs to get the information and know where they are in
terms of closing out the appraisal request. Make sure you are letting AMCs know that the inspection has been scheduled and completed, if there are any delays in setting up the inspection, along with any other issues or questions you may have. The more they
know the more they can help you with moving things forward.
Do your best to not accept an appraisal and then turn it back. Making sure you are reading through everything, reviewing the area and request and
being knowledgeable in the request is incredibly important. When you turn back an appraisal you have wasted not only your time but the time of the AMC as well. Don’t take this as a sign to never do this, because in all honesty there will be times you just
have to in order to have the best report given - just make sure this is saved for emergencies, and make sure that you are explaining the issues you are having.
When an AMC reaches out and knows they can expect a prompt response back it makes communication and trusting the appraiser that much easier. When
you get requests for revisions or questions about the status of an appraisal, do your best to respond quickly and thoroughly.
All relationships need communication, even ones in the workplace. If you have a good foundation of communication you can build everything else on
There are a lot of reasons one might
choose a site built home over a prefabricated home or vice versa. What we can tell you is that having a home pre built will have some pros that a site built home just cannot give to you.
You can be in your home quicker. Site built homes can take 3+ months to build due to a checklist of paperwork,
designs, ordering the lumber and getting equipment, along with other things. A Prebuilt home can oftentimes take less than a month.
Quality control is typically better with prebuilt homes. This is because the home is being built in a controlled
environment with craftsmen that do this job every single day. Add in state of the art tools for measuring, tracking and precision of each part and it becomes easier to skip past mistakes.
There is less waste involved. Manufactured and modular home companies tend to buy materials in bulk which means
there is a promise of them coming back, which in turn means they tend to get the best product the material company has. Put this together with the controlled environment and you get less warped studs, damaged wood and in turn the cost to take care of waste
The cost is much less than a site built home. In some occurrences you can see almost a 50% decrease in pricing,
of course this is not always true but even a 20% savings can add up quickly. We have covered a big chunk of what goes into saving but you can also account for the fact that with site built homes materials are often left out in different types of weather, can
be stolen or vandalized and have multiple reasons for delays.
Probably the most important of all of the reasons is safety. Most prefabricated homes are designed for wind
safety and energy efficiency. Manufactured homes are subject to laws which make things such as smoke detectors and other safety protocols a must.
There are many reasons to love being an appraiser but here are some of
You can be your own boss
have the power to do things in a way that best suits you and it can be rewarding to know that you are in control. This probably flows the most into each of the following reasons more than any other.
can choose how and when you work. Are you more of an early bird or do you like to start your mornings off slow and work your way into your inspections? Do you want to have someone to help you do your emails and phone calls? How much do you want to work?
certifications you have will play a part in your income but if you are able to work longer hours and enjoy being on the go the ability to work will pay out handsomely.
your own schedule is a huge perk to having being an appraiser and owning your own business. In our office we tend to schedule inspection days and then office work days for our appraiser. We will make changes depending on the workload and market but typically
our appraiser has plenty of time to catch up on work or things she needs to do personally while also making sure she gets out to do her inspections.
are always finding new ways and new information for the appraisals you do. You will have some unique homes and you will also have varying markets to work with. The days are never quite the same and so you are always kept on your toes.
The amount of people you will work with and the types of homes is never ending. There are so many different avenues you can go down. You can always
find something new to do in the appraising world, the limits truly seem endless.
There are certain characteristics
that are needed in every job to really flourish, and being an appraiser is not an exception. There are certain things that you need that will put you above and beyond your competition. It is a mixture of brains, personality and the ability to want to know
more all the time. Lets take a deeper dive into them!
Curiosity - yes it killed the cat but it will absolutely be useful as an appraiser. It will help you be ready
to investigate, dig and find every bit of information possible for the appraisals you do. Lets be honest, it’s not always the easiest to find all the data you want or need and being able to dig deep will be what keeps you going on the hardest investigations
for as much information as possible.
Unbiased - It’s the baseline of all the work you do. In order to have integrity and uphold a trustworthy business
you must remain unbiased for each and every appraisal you conduct and write.
Organized - Your ability to organize runs through the entirety of your business and office, from time management
to delegating to keeping all of your work in an order that allows you to complete your work in a timely manner. If you aren’t organized the amount of time you will spend trying to remain organized will eat up your time for inspections and writing reports and
Tech-Savvy - It is no surprise that being good with computers, phones, tablets, apps and all of the other new
fangled technology out there will keep you on track, give you the best information right in the palm of your hand and will help you stay organized. It’s not the strongest requirement but as the years roll on you will see more and more of it so when possible
take time to learn something new.
Flexible - Things are ever changing in this field. You will have to be diligent in keeping up with the latest
information. Not to be outdone by your flexibility in schedule. We have busy times and we have slow times. Being flexible with your schedule, especially during the high highs is increasingly important to keep up with your local needs as well as AMC’s.
Patient - When it gets down to writing up the report you need to be able to be thorough and precise. There
is no rushing in this career, especially when it comes to making sure you are researching everything at your disposal as well as when you are transferring that information over.
Self Motivated - Most appraisers start off on their own and if you are not able or willing to push yourself
to look for work, keep up with the calls, emails and odds and ends, do the deep dive for information and keep up with the work schedule you place you will not succeed in the world of appraisals.
Analytical - Every appraisal you do will be different. You will have to search through tons of information,
especially in the early days of learning, and critical thinking will be an absolute need for everything you review and place in the reports.
is fun and it has a lot of benefits but, as with any job, you really need to think about who you are and if you fit into what is needed to become an appraiser. If you think you embody these characteristics or others like them maybe appraising is where you
need to be.
When describing neighborhoods it is
quite easy to use subjective language. The neighborhood is family friendly or maybe not so family friendly. The neighborhood is crime ridden. That neighborhood is rich or poor.
those statements may be true to some it is not always true to others, which means it’s subjective. This is a big no no in the appraising world because, as appraisers, we are supposed to offer an objective view of the home and location. There are actually some
specific verbages that we cannot use.
example “the community the home is in is luxurious”. The old saying is - one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and it rings true here. There will be some people who look at the community and say that's not good enough but there will be people who look
at it and say it’s the most beautiful community they have ever seen. This type of language isn’t helpful in explaining the home or the location.
to stay away from subjective language can start with reviewing the fair housing act. Also, sticking with facts such as the architecture, school ratings, unit styles, condition of the housing, location of schools, stores and other conveniences can help keep
you away from subjective language.
In our last blog we explained why
you need to keep work files for each appraisal you do. Now it is important to figure out exactly what needs to be put in them to help you pull out how you got to the final appraisal number for that specific appraisal.
these files will not only help you on the off chance you have a claim filed but having notes and information at the ready can also help with repeat appraisals, appraisals in the same area or if you had an appraisal that took more work due to unusual circumstances
you will have information to fall back on.
The engagement letter
Notes about any communication given to the borrower or the AMC for the appraisal (having emails available online
or printed out is ok)
Notes about the inspection - they should be clear, informative about the state of the home as you saw it the
day of inspection and if you have pictures available that is a good addition to the file
Comps - even if they were dismissed by you. If they were not used it is good practice to have a reason they
Records from MLS or local information that is pulled. This would include any information you may have taken
from other websites. If it is not a typical website you would use daily it may be a good idea to print it out or Pdf. it.
Notes of double checking information along the way
Dates on everything!
A note of where to find the full appraisal or a print out of it
While you may never have a need to go back for a lawsuit against you, having
the information handy and easily accessible is going to give you peace of mind and the ability to give a proper and full picture of how you made your final decision. It is better to be prepared and never need it than to need it and not be prepared.
The short answer is no. When you are
in the appraising business there is no way you can know exactly how much a home is worth. It is easy to argue with appraisers over the dollar amount they give, especially as the homeowner, because we see much more than just a house with four walls - we see
memories, love, hard work and our home. Yet it is much more complicated than that.
could request for 3 appraisers to come look at the home and they could all 3 come up with different numbers. Appraisers are just making educated opinions on the worth of a home. Now that's not to say they shouldn’t all be in the same range (typically within
5%) as each other. If there is one outlier in either direction it would be worth looking into.
the above situation were to play out, and all were within a reasonable percentage of the others you could easily take the average of the three appraisals to come up with a price.
At the end of the day though we must remember that we all see things a bit differently. There will be different ways of calculating the cost, reviewing
the numbers and comparables among other things.
Have you ever wondered what it would
look like to be an appraiser? Well lets just say that no day ever looks exactly the same. No two homes will ever be the exact same, whether that's the area the home is in, the improvements or something else. And depending on the scope of work an appraiser
could be in a small condo in the morning and large acreage farm in the afternoon.
our office we typically have office days and on site work days scheduled each week. On the office days it is mostly writing, researching, and editing the appraisal reports for our appraiser. She must also do research for comparables for the appraisals she
does. Then on the on site days our appraiser is running from home to home and doing inspections. We cover two counties and try to have at least 2-3 on site days a week, although sometimes we can have more when things are busy. At the appraisal inspections
our appraiser is doing a walk through typically, taking pictures, measuring and speaking with clients to get pertinent information.
the receptionist in the office I take care of the smaller things that are done every day and need to be managed a little bit more closely in order to keep things running smoothly for our appraiser. I will handle phone calls and emails, write blog posts, schedule
appointments, pull records and I am always looking for ways to keep things flowing smoothly. I am here to make things as easy as possible for the appraiser.
do our best to work together which is what keeps us on track. When things are busy they are super busy and when they are slow there is always work to be done, whether it’s refreshing the facebook or website or doing research to find clients to work with. Every
day is a bit different because the types of reports and the houses and the people we meet are all unique.
Appraising a home that is new construction
varies throughout the different lenders, FHA and others. They are certainly more in depth than a typical appraisal - so make sure you are charging the correct amount for them! Your time is important. Outside of the time that it takes to do a new construction
there are a few things you can do to help make your appraisal as easy as possible.
Blueprints cannot be the only thing you rely on.
The blueprints that you receive can easily end up giving you a different square footage than might be true for the home.
Gather as much information about plans and specs as you possibly can.
Builders will keep the plans and specifications for a home, with the most diligent ones updating them as things change. This will give you a good
idea of what is being done, what the costs and materials are, among other pertinent information.
Review past new construction appraisals you have done.
There is a small important piece to this - remember to take into account the time between builds as materials will fluctuate on pricing. Otherwise,
if you have a home that was new construction that is similar to whatever appraisal you are working on now you can use it as a foundation for the new appraisal.
Know your requirements.
From FHA to HUD to USPAP each will require specific things from you. Make sure you read through and follow the instructions to a T.
Over time you will get better at knowing exactly who and what you are working with but if you use these tips you will be able to settle yourself
into knowing the baseline of getting these types of appraisals completed.
Let's start with the definition of the word
delegate (Verb): entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself. Often we don’t want to delegate because we want to make sure everything is perfect, especially when it is our business on
the line. But we don’t have to be greedy and hands on everything just to make things perfect. First of all we are all just humans - we will make mistakes. Second of all just because you delegate does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t take a second look at the
work already done. So let's get into it, shall we?
is always a debate about how much work and time it takes to complete an appraisal. If you were to ask the typical solo appraiser you would probably get an average answer of about 7-8 hours from start to finish. Which, depending on what you are charging can
still be quite profitable and doable. I am not knocking that at all - nor should anyone else.
think about the time you can save if you delegate the smaller tasks to someone else. You have your communication with clients/borrowers, this is included but not limited to emails, texts and phone calls. You more than likely have multiple offers coming in
a day that you need to do a quick research on and come up with a bid for. You have bids being accepted and files that need to be pulled together - organizing the file however works for you, pulling information about the home, doing your accounting on the file,
putting the information on the schedule, etc. Then you have your report that can be started and the data entry of simple things that can be done by your employees. Then the cycle of trying to contact borrowers or realtors starts so you can set up appointments,
you have to give updates daily to AMC’s and track all of this so you know where you stand. Then once the report is finished you have to update accounting and track all of that information.
pieces those things may not take more than 5, 10 or 20 minutes but when you want to be moving through 5+ appraisals a week and you are alone those small chunks of time can start adding up quickly. They are eating away at time you can be spent traveling to
the homes for inspections, doing the reports… the real meat and potatoes part of the job. Delegating these tasks can help you streamline and have the ability to say yes to more work which means your name is out there more often and you don’t have to sacrifice
more time and you can make more money!
Small changes can make a big difference in the overall picture but it’s not always easy to do. We, as humans, get stuck in our ways and can hinder
small, but important changes in how we work. We use excuses like “it only takes a second” or “I’ve always done it this way” to get out of simplifying things because we think it won’t make a difference.
When you work in an office that is sending out multiple emails a day small changes can save you a lot of time. Think of it this way - in our office
we tend to send out, I would guess about 20-30 emails a day. They all come from the same two or three templates typically with the occasional one that needs to be totally revamped for one reason or another. Prior to templates each and every email had to either
be copied and pasted after looking it up or typed out over and over. Right there, the template saves time. But even with templates things can be missed, spell check is wonderful but it does not catch everything.
I personally have spent plenty of time going in and fixing the mistakes that spell check has caught over and over. I have read the templates and
found issues with spelling or other things and just have a mental checklist to fix it each time. One day I decided to go in and fix all of the mistakes I found and do a thorough check. It may only save me a few seconds per email but when you look at the time
saved over a course of a month or a year it really does add up.
Of course there are plenty of other ways to save time - apps, having a set schedule or way to do things, finding a workflow that is good for you
and many more. I would recommend taking the time to just do it. Every few months review how you are working, see if there are easy changes to make and work smarter, not harder.
As appraisers we are constantly unsure
of what we might walk into when inspecting a home. We all have our own stories and lives to live and work through. We may be walking into the home of a deceased person while their children or spouse are trying to work through what they left behind. Or maybe
you are walking into the home of someone who hoards things. And while those are few and far between it happens, you just never know.
aren’t there to judge the circumstances they may be dealing with - you are there to make an assessment of the home as a structure and be “cold and calculated” in your inspection. That does not mean you must be cold and calculated to the person sharing their
home with you though.
it takes is 30 seconds and a few kind words and you can certainly still do your job and give them peace of mind and maybe even take away some of the heaviness they are trying so hard to handle. Kindness is easily the quickest way to brighten someones day.
One word, two letters and it can be a complete sentence in a conversation. It’s powerful for such a small thing, right? I mean, let’s be honest,
there aren’t many - if any, words out there that can pack that much heat and literally only take 2 letters to do it. But I’m not a Etymologist or linguistics instructor so that's not exactly what we are here to talk about. What I want to dive into is how “No”
can be a good thing and how letting people say no can get us exactly what we want.
We start when we are young, it’s one of the first things toddlers learn to say and use (very) regularly in speech - No. Our old, (not so) deeply
hidden lizard brain loves to be in control, even as youngsters. And to be honest it does not go away over time. In control is a nice place to be.
There is a book written by Chris Voss, who was a lead hostage negotiator for the FBI, and it talks about how phrasing for someone to say no but
in reality say yes can change the outcome for the person asking the question. One of the examples that comes to mind is if we are running early for our appraisals we could call and say “Can I come early to the client” - the only way to answer that is with
a “yes” if that's what we are hoping for and it feels a lot less powerful and in control than if we ask “would it be a problem if we came by early?”. This is where they can get that power of the no but they really mean yes.
It’s not an exact science but I do believe that there is a lot to be said about how we say things, both in the tone that is used but especially
in the words.
Communication is key in our daily
lives, it helps us move forward, get things done and conquer each day. Without communication we would be constantly running into our friends or families plans, misunderstanding them and generally having a difficult time.
see it all the time in the appraisal world, even when we have good communication the clients want to know everything. They want to know when appointments are scheduled, when the inspection is done, when you think you will be getting the report back among a
number of other things. And the emails ping in daily asking you about all of these things can get overwhelming, especially if you are working without an assistant.
they trust you to get the work done when you promised? Isn’t it annoying that they are constantly breathing down your neck? Sure! It would be a big fat lie if I said no. But the saying “one bad apple ruins the bunch” is true. We may be doing all we can to
get our work submitted in a timely manner and we may be updating as much as possible but even still the emails come in because at some point someone cut corners and now we must all be reminded.
while it can be difficult and sometimes angering to get an update email for the 4th or 5th time just grin and bear it. Communicate as openly as possible and keep doing the hard work you know you can do. Also, it doesn’t hurt to ask for more from the clients
who tend to make working for them a little more difficult. Ask for an extra $50 or $100 when you know that your time will be taken up by questions and revisions and emails that might not actually be needed. Your time is precious, get what you deserve.
In the appraising world these 3 words
come up often to say the least. We sometimes tend to use them interchangeably - more often than not because in the non appraising world they can be to an extent. It’s easy to get caught up in that cycle but when the lines need to be clear at work here is how
they break down.
(noun): the amount of money expected, required, or given in payment for something. This
is what the seller is asking for when selling a good or service - in our case the home that we are appraising.
Let’s say we have a motorhome we want to sell and we want to ask $30,000 for it. That does not mean it’s worth it and it does not mean that
is what we will get but that’s what we would like to ideally sell it for.
(noun): an amount that has to be paid or spent to buy or obtain something. This is what
the buyer is looking for/willing to pay for a good or service. Imagine you are out in the city on a hot day and you are thirsty and all you can think about is water. Then you come up on someone selling ice cold water out of a cooler for $2.00 a bottle. What
is that water worth to you? Probably much more than the $2.00 at that point but either way you buy it just to cool down.
(verb): estimate the monetary worth of (something). This is what the buyer and seller are willing to agree on as a fair price for the good or service. We make choices daily based on what we think the value of things are. Think about the bargain shoppers out
there who will visit two, three maybe even four stores to get their grocery shopping done for the best deals. Or the people who will drive an extra mile or two to get gas cheaper. We choose what we buy and where we buy it based on the value we place on these
like most things in the world these days this is not all just cut and dry but will hopefully help you keep things a little more clear in your mind when doing appraisals.