The mood in Washington, D.C. these days is to unwind regulation. So I guess we should not be surprised that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently said it is considering going commando, so to speak, on appraisals for residential real estate transactions under $400,000. The current rules in place now do not require appraisals for properties at $250,000 and below. That threshold is being inched up in the name of burden relief.

Instead of an appraisal, transactions below $400,000 would require an “evaluation”. (I’m guessing AVMs.) Ryan Lunquist, who started a petition against what real estate experts are calling a very dangerous move as well as job killer, says it will be individuals who have no appraisal licenses or certification, and are not subject to state regulatory oversight requirements that govern appraisers. The evaluators could even be an “independent bank employee” or unnamed “third part(ies).” They would, however, have to be “competent” and possess “knowledge of the market, location and type of real property being valued.””

What is a bit more disturbing to me, and probably most Realtors, is how the proposal, which is a joint agreement between the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, could put a greater emphasis on the property valuations given by real estate portals like Zillow and Redfin, which offer online “zestimates” that we know are not accurate, particularly in a non-disclosure state like Texas. Zillow and Redfin have been sued for vast valuation inaccuracies.

This could also be a real job-killer for the appraisal industry, coming in just as the crosswinds re changing in real estate.



Bryan Hagan

We all know Bryan Hagen, who worked for renown appraiser DW Skelton for almost 13 years, who helps us figure out this cray cray real estate market from time to time.

Bryan has left Skelton & Associates to fulfill a dream of starting his own appraisal firm. It’s Hagen Appraisal Services and he is (sometimes) operating out of his home office — he tells me 95% of appraisers work out of their homes, anyhow.

Of course Bryan hasn’t missed a beat at work. He tells me the Dallas market continues to see tons of multiple offers in the $500,000 to $600,000 home price range. Appraisers are still catching up on sales because comps that are even one month old can be, well, OLD in this market. (Forget 30/60 comps, way outdated). Appraisers are really having trouble getting to values.

“It’s the busiest summer we’ve seen in the last 2 to 3 years,” said Bryan. “Usually things slow down in July, and August is typically the slowest month of the year. July was not slow. Right now I don’t envision a slow August, either.”

The big homes are taking longer to sell, but sell they are, like that recent sale on Inwood Road. Lots are hot and trading in Park Cities. (more…)