Why the Appraisal Engagement Letter Isn’t Enough

Posted by: McKissock Date: Nov 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Should you execute an appraisal engagement letter with your clients? Absolutely. Is the engagement letter enough to ensure that you remain compliant with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)? Not necessarily.

An appraisal engagement letter is a legally binding document that defines the terms and conditions of your arrangement with your client, addresses the scope of the assignment, and establishes your compensation, so you should execute one with each appraisal client to protect yourself.

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Topics: appraisal engagement letter

How Groundwater Emergencies Affect Home Values

Posted by: Roni Robbins Date: Nov 17, 2016 11:00:00 AM

It’s been a few months since the national state of emergency was lifted from Flint, Michigan. But the city’s housing market may be in a state of unrest for several years as water pipes are replaced and the real estate market continues to stabilize from its recent lead poisoning crisis, according to appraisers consulted for this story.

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Topics: Groundwater

Are You Ready to Hire a Virtual Assistant for Your Appraisal Business?

Posted by: Joseph Dobrian Date: Nov 10, 2016 3:13:05 PM

By Joseph Dobrian

Editor's Note: Our recently published blog post, Hiring a Remote or Virtual Assistant: Can It Really Increase Your Earnings?, received several comments and questions about hiring a virtual assistant for your appraisal business. This article is a follow-up to that post to show how two appraisers found success with their virtual assistant.  

Appraisers can save themselves astonishing amounts of time and money by hiring a virtual assistant, that is, an assistant who works from a remote location, with little or no face-to-face interaction with the employer. Intelligent, hard-working, English-speaking personnel can be found all over the world through online sources. By taking the least-profitable work off your shoulders, they’ll allow you more time for the tasks that only you can do or like best to do. And because wages are considerably lower in countries with large talent pools—such as the Philippines—hiring an overseas virtual assistant will make it easier to add professional-level employees closer to home.

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Topics: virtual assistants for appraisers

Ever Wondered How to Appraise an Abandoned Theme Park?

Posted by: Alexis Petersen Date: Nov 3, 2016 3:30:51 PM

Six Flags, New Orleans (formerly known as Jazzland), is a 227-acre, abandoned theme park that closed when Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the state in August 2005. The park grounds, situated on a low-lying section of Eastern New Orleans, created an artificial basin that was prime for flooding. Drainage pumps at the park failed during the storm, causing the berm to retain rainwater and seawater overflow from Lake Pontchartrain, and submerged the entire park grounds in four-to-seven- feet of water for over a month. Given the extensive damage, the park was closed indefinitely with no plans to reopen.

The site is now owned by the Industrial Development Board (IDB) of New Orleans, who continues to look for opportunities for redevelopment of the site. Peter McEnery, Founder and President of The McEnery Company, a real estate appraisal, brokerage and consulting company in New Orleans, took on the challenge of appraising the site for IDB.

Mr. McEnery shares valuable insights on this high-profile appraisal with us. You can also learn more about this appraisal assignment in our upcoming webinar, Commercial Case Study: Theme Park or Developed Site Value, on Wednesday, November 16 at 1:00 PM EST. 


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Topics: commerical appraisal, pre-series webinar

LinkedIn Profiles for Appraisers: What You Need to Know

Posted by: McKissock Date: Oct 27, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Social media has become more than just a way to communicate with your friends and family. In fact, 67 percent of adults now use social networking sites—a nearly tenfold jump over the past decade. For the savvy appraiser, the use of social media can help you grow and scale your business and career. From promoting your services to buyers and sellers on Facebook to growing your professional network with your LinkedIn profile, social media is essential.

Unlike other social media platforms—such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram—LinkedIn is more business-focused and allows professionals to connect in a more professional setting. Your LinkedIn profile serves as your online resume and offers a snapshot of your background, your professional recommendations, and more. LinkedIn is a management tool for your career.

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Topics: Professional Development, Tips & Tricks

Tapping Technology to Scale Your Appraisal Business

Posted by: McKissock Date: Oct 20, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Advances in technology have impacted nearly every single industry—some of which have changed drastically in the last decade. The real estate industry, and specifically the appraisal industry, are no different. Here are just a few ways that technology can help you scale your appraisal business.


The introduction of mobile devices

As an appraiser, your job may keep you away from your desk often. But with mobile devices like cell phones and tablets, you can maintain access to all the information you need to get the job done while on the go. In a data-driven industry, mobile devices also allow appraisers to take and upload photos on the fly, create reports while standing in the property for reference, and show and send their reports to related parties without having to go back to the office to print, fax, or email. These things just weren’t possible a decade ago.

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Topics: Tips & Tricks

The Growing Use of Drones in Appraisal

Posted by: McKissock Date: Oct 13, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Drones are increasingly becoming a more common sight. From adventurers documenting their epic journeys to commercial real estate—there’s a myriad of uses and enthusiasts. The real estate industry has been quick to dive into this new and innovative technology, and appraisers are no exception. What are the advantages to using drones in appraisal? Drones can provide different and unique perspectives on properties, and many believe they can give useful information for a credible appraisal.

A significant obstacle that drone users once faced in the United States was the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. In certain situations, FAA would grant businesses the right to fly drones commercially, but that went on a case-by-case basis with specific (and often difficult to meet) regulations the businesses had to abide by.

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Topics: Trends

HUD Issues September 2016 Revisions to Handbook 4000.1

Posted by: Dan Bradley Date: Oct 4, 2016 12:00:00 PM

The most recent revisions to Handbook 4000.1, issued by HUD on September 30, 2016, address three topics of importance to appraisers.

  1. Appliances
  2. Effective date
  3. Individual water purification systems

We covered the issue of appliances in a previous article. In this article, we will address the other two issues: effective date and water purification systems.

Section II D 1 A of the Handbook states that the effective date of the FHA appraisal cannot be prior to the FHA case number assignment date unless “the Mortgagee certifies that the appraisal was ordered for conventional lending or government-guaranteed loan purposes and was performed pursuant to FHA guidelines.” The Handbook further states that if the previous appraisal was completed for a conventional or government-guaranteed loan, the FHA appraisal request is considered a new assignment. The appraisal report must indicate that the intended use is “solely to assist FHA in assessing the risk of the Property securing the FHA-insured Mortgage.” FHA and the mortgagee (lender) must be indicated as the intended users of the appraisal report.

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Topics: fha

HUD Clarifies Appliance Requirement in Handbook 4000.1

Posted by: Dan Bradley Date: Oct 3, 2016 11:00:34 AM

HUD made good on its promise to issue revised guidance on how appraisers should handle appliances in FHA appraisals. The latest revisions to HUD Handbook 4000.1, issued September 30, 2016, provide some clarity about appliances.

First, the Handbook now states specifically what is considered an appliance. The list includes “refrigerators, ranges/ovens, dishwashers, disposals, microwaves, and washers/dryers.” This definition was previously unclear; some appraisers had thought “appliances” could include spas, trash compactors, sound systems, intercoms, security systems, automatic garage door openers, etc.

Second, the Handbook now clarifies when appliances are required to be operational. The revised Handbook states, “Appliances that are to remain and that contribute to the market value opinion must be operational.” The Handbook goes on to state, “The Appraiser must note all appliances that remain and contribute to the Market Value.”

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Topics: fha

Introduction to Ground Leases

Posted by: McKissock Date: Sep 29, 2016 9:00:00 AM

The types of land that are most frequently ground leased include retail pads in commercial centers, land within high-density urban centers, land along ports and harbors, and other areas where land availability is low and land prices are high and expected to escalate. Are you interested in tackling ground lease appraisal assignments for commercial clients? Read this post for a breakdown of the typical tenants, reasons for use, motivations of the lessor, and potential disadvantages of ground leases.

Plus, check out our upcoming Pro-Series webinar, Commercial Case Study: Theme Park or Developed Site Value, on Wednesday, October 5 at 1:00pm EST. And take our Appraisal of Land Subject to Ground Leases course to gain a thorough understanding of the multiple components of ground leases. This information will give you a helpful edge when it comes to valuing commercial real estate, as well as prepare you to work with a wide variety of clients.

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Topics: Commercial Appraisal