Appraisal View

January 3rd, 2019 8:43 AM

I keep hearing people complain about how interest rates have gone up and the general consensus seems to be if you didn't buy, refinance, or get an equity line in 2017 then you missed the boat. However, while it may be true that if you didn't BUY in 2011 or 2012 you missed the low point of the housing market, and if you didn't REFINANCE in July of 2016 you missed the historically low interest rate, if you click on the chart link below you will see the facts are TODAY'S MORTGAGE RATES ARE A FULL PERCENTAGE POINT LOWER THAN THEY WERE IN 2003-2006 (The years of explosive real estate values leading up to the real estate bust). 

So yes, while rates may have creeped up, they are still historically low, and significantly better than the rate I received when I purchased my first home (8.6%)  

http://www.freddiemac.com/pmms/pmms30.html


Posted by Jeff Pickerel on January 3rd, 2019 8:43 AMLeave a Comment

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December 28th, 2018 9:31 AM

Whether you're a homeowner, loan officer, realtor, trustee, or appraiser, we've all thought it. "The weather report says it's going to be nasty, is the appraiser still coming?" For me the answer has always been "Yes". I have inspected properties in howling winds, pouring rain, and in the snow in near white out conditions. Maybe it's because I grew up on a ranch where the animals had to fed, fences repaired, and chores completed regardless of the weather, or how during my early years when I was working construction I wished I could work in the rain in order to keep food on the table during those lean winter months. For me, regardless of the weather, I don't cancel appointments, and neither should you. Here are four reasons why.

1. The homeowner/realtor's time is important. You had them commit to an appointment for which they have already taken time off from work, school, or did not accept another appointment. Canceling may cost them money, and even if it doesn't, it will cost them time, which is even more valuable.  

2. Your client relationship is impacted negatively when an appointment is canceled. Canceled mortgage appraisal appointments lead to canceled loans (and canceled appraisals) approximately 40% of the time. Sometimes this is due to a borrower changing their minds on obtaining a loan but the vast majority of canceled appraisals are due to the borrower seeking a loan elsewhere, and that number is on the increase due to the instant availability of data on borrowers applying for home loans. When you cancel an appointment your client holds his/her breath and hopes another loan officer doesn't convince their borrower to switch to different lender.

3. The weather forecast is rarely right. How many times have you shown up for an appointment and despite the gloomy forecast, there was no rain at all? Or how many times have you arrived at the subject property when it was forecast to be cloudy but not raining, yet it was pouring, but since you're there you inspect the property in the rain? Here's something to consider. The weather forecast will be equally wrong about whether it will be raining, or not, at the time of your appointment.

4. Technology has made it easier than ever to appraise in inclement weather. Gone are the days of jammed up tape measures, soggy sketches, and rain blurred notes that read like Marie's good-bye letter to Navin in "The Jerk". By using a high quality laser measuring device, a small tablet or large phone, a rain slicker, slip on boots, and a little patience, you can inspect the exterior of almost any structure without compromising the integrity the appraisal.

As a business owner I know you understand the need to keep your clients happy. But more importantly, before you cancel an appointment, consider how that may impact the appointee. Be considerate of their time, and treat them how you would like to be treated. For me that means being there when I say I am going to be. Even if sometimes it means I end up wet and cold.   

     


Posted by Jeff Pickerel on December 28th, 2018 9:31 AMLeave a Comment

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August 15th, 2018 9:48 AM

     How do you manage and grow a successful business and maintain a home life balance? Well first off you have to prioritize them. For me, and what my advice and insights are based on, my priority is my home life.  In fact, the reason I have grown my business to where it is today for the purpose of providing a successful home life.

     What does your successful home life look like to you?  Knowing what you want in life enables you to better understand what you need to do to enjoy it. Mine includes concerts, weekday  trips, camping, vacations, Disneyland, the beach, holiday dinners, working on the yard, spending time with my family, and the newest addition, Tuesday date nights. These all take two things, time and money. I tell you this not to boast about how awesome my home life is, but rather to demonstrate that you can have both a successful home life and a successful business. You just have to be smart with your time. Here is how I did it.

     In the beginning. All businesses have a starting point. Mine started on an old desk picked up for free off Craigslist in the corner of a small dining room, with a land telephone line, an old computer, scanner, printer, and digital camera. Yes, a digital camera. They were new to the industry, and the quality was poor (or maybe it was the photographer), but boy did I think I was cutting edge! As my business grew so did my investment in technology. My computer kept freezing due to its inability to run the software upgrades, so invested in a newer, faster computer. My printer was constantly running out of ink so I purchased an all in one printer/fax/scanner that used less than 1/4th the ink. My neighborhood only had dial up internet available due to antiquated phone wire, so I researched and talked with local internet providers, and was able to get DSL by installing new phone wire in my house, from my house to the phone box, and from the closest hub to the phone box by my house. All of these investments served the purpose of saving me time. Time I now had to spend with my family. The point is to always be looking into new technologies and don't let obstacles prevent you from using them. I have tried and failed at using several, pocket pc's and original tablets to name two. But my successes have far outperformed my failures. Yours will too.

     As I grew. Do you use technology to make you faster? Over the years the technology in my industry has changed. Computers are faster, my all in one printer/fax/scanner is obsolete, and digital camera's have been replaced with smart phone's. Of all the advances, the smart phone has been the greatest time saver of my career. But as with all technology, you have to learn how to use it before it will save you time. Spend the time needed to learn how to use it, the company you purchased it from should be able to demonstrate all the functions. Learn how to use all features of your software on it, and equally important, learn how not use it for non-essential functions as these will 'spend' the time you saved plus some. Stay away from the gaming and social media temptations and you will find you will have more time for home life and business growing. 

     Bill Gates once told Congress a business that wasn't trying to grow was going to eventually fail. But how to maintain balance? We've all experienced it, you have to grow the business before you hire people or invest in technology to maintain it. How on earth is it possible to take a day off, go the beach, or (gasp!) take a full weeks vacation when you're in the midst of growing your business?! Well, consider this. You should be in the midst of growing your business at all times, so you better figure out how to make time for your home life while doing it. In the early years I would get up at 4:00 am and use the hotel computer to respond to emails, schedule work for when we returned, and appease my clients needs. A few years later I was able to wait until 5:00 am and use my laptop (another great innovation) in the hotel room. Today I am able to handle most items with my smart phone, which I recommend planning a couple time slots each day to do this, which enables me to enjoy my vacations while still maintaining and growing my business.

    The future is made today. This applies to both business and home life. Don't wait until tomorrow to get started on your future. Spend some time researching and learning technology, get your thumb off the social media and gaming functions, and use your time to make today, and your future, amazing!  


Posted by Jeff Pickerel on August 15th, 2018 9:48 AMLeave a Comment

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Real estate values go up, real estate values go down. The old model of a typical year to year market went up a few months, stabilized or dropped slightly for a month or two (a lull), then continued on it's rise. The new normal, what we have been riding for the past 17 years, is a market that has gone up up up and away, fell crashing to earth "unexpectedly", then has once again gone up up up and away, with a few lulls along the way. Will it fall again? Well, the closest item I have to a crystal ball is my elder son's old Magic 8 Ball, which in the past has been right about the market about half the time (which puts it on par with most economists). However, I have studied market history, and one constant is it will eventually repeat itself. The answer to when lies in the data.

As a professional real estate appraiser there are two items I address on every appraisal, has the market been declining, stable, or increasing, and how long would the marketing time be if a property were listed for sale today? These items are important when we look back at data to help predict future values. Although I do not opine as to the future of the market on a typical appraisal, on occasion I have provided a prospective (future) value to a client. How I do this, magic 8 ball aside, is by relying on historical data for individual market areas and property types. The longer I have been appraising, the easier this has become because I can not only use the historical market data available through my subscribed data sources, I can also utilize my own historical data for specific areas.

Which brings me to the questions posed in the headline, "is the housing market declining?" Let's see what the data says. But first a little history on market data in my service area.  

Nearing the end of the last big real estate boom, in August of 2005, I noted on several appraisal reports that values were stabilizing after a four year period of significant value increases, in September of 2005 the market surged and I noted on most appraisal reports that values year to year had increased, and also had increased over the past 30 days. Then in mid October 2005 I reported declining values on a property located in a market area that had been experiencing explosive value increases for several years. This was followed by my reporting declining values in several other market area's in late October, and all areas by the end of November 2005. Meanwhile, the media, economists, local MLS, and state wide data sources did not report or recognize declining values until 2006 and in fact most still indicated values were increasing. (With a few exceptions)

Today the media and economists are talking about when a slowdown might come, and a few are suggesting declining values are on the horizon, but they may once again all be reporting the actual facts for your area a few months too late to help buyers avoid over paying for a property and sellers waiting too long to sell. This week's appraisal data looks eerily like August of 2005. For example, I appraised a property, coincidentally in the same area as I discussed above, and I discovered/reported stable values, and noted marketing times had doubled over the past three months. Deja vu anyone?

The facts are marketing times are increasing, sellers are lowering prices, and it seems buyers are starting to notice. Is this a sign that history is about to repeat itself or is it a just another lull in the market? My son's Magic 8 Ball says "Reply Hazy, ask again later"


Posted by Jeff Pickerel on August 9th, 2018 5:19 PMLeave a Comment

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