Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Greatest Spectacle in Racing - UPDATED: Pre-Race Ceremony

This is reposting from last year.  This year, I am in Indianapolis for the race. We will be watchng from the infield, turn 3.

If there is one thing that captures my attention more than real estate valuation, it's racing. If it involves anything with four wheels and an internal combustion engine, I'm interested. Formula 1, American LeMans, NASCAR, NHRA, Grand-Am, Sports Car, Land Speed Record, you've got my attention.

It started when I was in 2nd grade when my Dad would pile the family into the Country Squire Station Wagon for a short drive up the road to the local 1/4 mile track, Sunshine Speedway. They ran jalopies, modifieds and stocks. It was LOUD. The cars were FAST. The action was AWESOME! We would be picking rubber off our arms and out of our hair all the way home.

I followed NASCAR religiously from the time I was 7 years old. My early favorite drivers included Fireball Roberts, Curtis Turner, Fred Lorenzen, David Pearson and Cale Yarborough. In 1963, I got hooked on the Indy 500. That was the first year Jimmy Clark ran the race in a rear engined, Ford Powered Lotus. I devoured the newspaper for stories about anything related to the race, particularly that rear engined Lotus.

Of course, Jimmy did not win in 1963, but he did finish the race. He took the pole in 1964, but didn't win until 1965. Although no driver has commanded my attention as much as Clark, the race continues to be a rite of spring for me and my family. So, isn't it amazing that my two oldest children ended up living and working in Indianapolis! I fulfilled a long time dream and attended my first 500 back in 2005; watched it from the infield! We were able to make it back to the rain shortened 2007 race, but missed 2008.

For this years' Indianapolis 500, we will be among several hundred thousand race fans, enjoying all the antics and activites of the infield. Look for us in Turn 3. Something special will happen just before the race.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

IT'S OFFICIAL! - IVPI is Vaporware

According to a story posted on RealEstateRama, in a letter from FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, now in conservatorship, will not be funding the Independent Valuation Protection Institute (IVPI).

Back in December, Appraiser Active said:

If you were inclined to give Freddie Mac (and Fannie Mae) the benefit of the doubt, our suggestion is to avoid holding your breath waiting for the IVPI. Why don't these folks come clean and admit wishful thinking will not make it happen?
Instead,we get this:

“As conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, our priority is to keep the Enterprises focused on the important role they play in supporting the mortgage market,” said DeMarco. “The need for a complaint process is being addressed in a way that we believe is more practical than with the Institute.”

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will deploy a complaint process to address suspected code violations including a mechanism for providing pertinent information to state and federal regulatory and enforcement departments. The process will be put in place within the next few weeks.
Press Release and Letter HERE.

In my opinion, it's LATE, it's LAME, not in compliance with the agreement signed among the New York Attorney General, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, fails to address the role of Appraisal Management Companies and DOES NOT provide a means for appraisers to complain about non-compliant tactics and actions by AMCs.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Appraiser Representation? Represent Yourself. Get Things Done!

One of the most common complaints heard from appraisers is their belief no association represents them or their interests in their state or in Washington, D.C. Of course, there is the Appraisal Institute, the National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers, and other Professional Appraiser Organizations. They do a great job, however these days, many appraisers cannot afford to pay dues to another organization.

Here's an opportunity to participate as an appraiser member of an organization(s) you may already belong to. Think about volunteering to serve as a member of the National Association of REALTORS® Appraisal Committee or the Florida Appraisal Council.

The purpose of the NAR Appraisal Committee is:

To serve the specialized needs of those members with an interest in real estate appraisal by:
1) monitoring, reviewing, examining, and analyzing appraisal-related issues for NAR;

2) referring appraisal-related issues to appropriate NAR committees for their consideration; and

3) providing recommendations on appraisal-related issues to the Board of Directors.
If you are a member of a local association of REALTORS, you may recommend yourself to serve as a member of the Appraisal Committee. The committee meets in person twice a year. In 2011, we will meet in Washington, D.C. (sometime between May 9 - 14, 2011), and in Anaheim, California (sometime between November 9 - 14, 2011)

Follow this LINK to recommend yourself. You will need a login. If you do not have one, just follow the prompts. It might help if you have a copy of the mailing label from your REALTOR® Magazine.

The Florida REALTORS® have the Florida Appraisal Council. The Council makes recommendations directly to the President of the Association. As an example of their accomplishments, last year the Council worked with the Florida REALTORS® to get HB 303 introduced and passed into law. HB 303 requires the regulation of Appraisal Management Companies.

Use this LINK to volunteer for the Florida Appraisal Council. Again, you will need a login, but if you are a member of a local Association of REALTORS in Florida, just follow the prompts to get yourself a login and password.

The application period for both NAR and Florida REALTORS® Committees is May 24, 2010, so act soon! Both of these groups have a history of representation and getting things done.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Governor Crist Signs - HB 303 - Regulation of Appraisal Management Companies

It was a busy week in Washington, D.C. NAR Appraisal Committee Leadership met with 2010 President Elect, Ron Phipps and Senior NAR Staff to discuss appraisal issues. We also met with Professional Standards Committee leadership on a number of issues. There were trips to Capitol Hill to meet with our US Representatives and Senators.

The most anticipated event, however, was playing out right here in the Sunshine State. Despite the fact HB 303 - Real Estate Appraisers/Appraisal Management Companies passed both the Florida House and Senate unanimously, the AMC crew was lobbying the Governor's Office to veto the bill. The Florida Realtors sent a Call to Action to their members late on Wednesday, the 12th. By 8:00 A.M the next morning, over 800 members had responded and contacted the Governor, urging him to sign the bill. The Appraisal Institute initiated their own Call to Action on Thursday the 13th.

All day Friday, the 14th, there were frantic emails and phone calls among Florida Realtors legislative staff, the Governor's office and contract lobbyists for the Florida Realtors. The focus was on convincing the Governor to sign the bill. Shortly after 5:30 on Friday, we heard the Governor signed the bill!

There's still quite a bit of work to do. The bill is effective July 1, 2011. Now the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board has a little over one year to adopt the rules needed to implement the law.

Updates on the Appraisal related events from the NAR Meetings and Washington, D.C. a little bit later.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

NAR Legislative Meetings - Appraisal Committee

The National Association of REALTORS® meets in Washington, D.C. May 10 - 15. This is the 2010 edition of their Annual Legislative Meetings and Expo. The NAR Appraisal Committee will meet on Wednesday, May 12th. In addition, Appraisal Committee Leadership has a couple of extra meetings planned to advance the interests of appraisers within the NAR family.

Monday afternoon, Appraisal Committee Chairman Mack Strickland and I will meet with NAR 2010 President-Elect Ron Phipps. There are a number of issues we plan to discuss. Among them are REALTORS Property Resource and the REALTOR Valuation Model, NAR Legislative and Regulatory priorities with an effect on appraisers and valuation, and the NAR Appraisal Designation Program.

The Appraisal Committee has a full agenda. An overview of the agenda, along with that of all the NAR Public Policy Committees and Forums is available here. (See page 4).

In addition, on Wednesday afternoon, Mack Strickland and I will meet with the Leadership and other representatives of the NAR Professional Standards Committee. In addition to opening up a dialogue concerning Article 11 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, we will initiate an effort to more fully embrace appraisers in the wording of the Code. We will also propose that NAR develop a Quadrennial REALTOR® Ethics Training specifically for valuation professionals.

Both Mack and I will attend the Public Policy Coordinating Committee on Thursday, and will discuss legislation pending in Congress that affects the appraisal profession. I will be part of the NAR Board of Directors meeting on Saturday, in the event any appraisal related issue is to be decided.

There's much on our plate. I'll do my best to update you all when I return to the Sunshine City.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Happy" Anniversary HVCC

As this is written, it's just a few minutes past midnight on May 1, 2010. Two news articles have already hit the web to commemorate the anniversary of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC).

Ken Harney commemorates this event with "Despite 2009 restrictions, mortgage and appraisal fraud spiked".
For anyone who assumed that the toughened real-estate appraisal rules imposed on the mortgage market last year would mean less monkey business in home valuations, here's a shocker: Fraudulent appraisals soared in 2009, according to a lending-industry study released this week, and they now represent the fastest-growing form of home loan fraud.
My favorite parts?

Freddie Mac spokesman Brad German offered a different view. Because the MARI study made no specific reference to the rule changes by Freddie and Fannie or to the use of appraisal-management companies, "we see no connection between [the code] and appraisal fraud." Fannie Mae officials declined to comment.

Jeff Schurman, executive director of the Title/Appraisal Vendor Management Association, which represents the appraisal management industry, had no immediate comment on the findings, pending a review of the data.

Read the whole thing.

Here in the Sunshine State, Beth Kassab, a business columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, offers "Still a long way to go on appraiser reforms".
Beth also picked up on the recent MARI Report.
One year ago this week a set of sweeping reforms took effect to prevent real estate appraisers from gaming the market with inflated values at the urging of lenders and mortgage brokers.

So by now, buyers and sellers should feel sure that the appraisal system is working and won't contribute to another housing crisis, right?

I feel about as confident in the reforms as I am that I could sell my house the same day I put it on the market.

Don't take my word for it.

"It's a disaster in many respects," said Frank Gregoire, a 30-year veteran of the appraisal business and former chairman of the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board who has been a vocal critic of the bad behavior by some appraisers.

"Borrowers find themselves paying more for an appraisal, and they have a higher likelihood that appraisal is being done by someone with less experience who will spend less time researching the market and actually preparing the report."

And what about all that fraud that was so prevalent during the bubble? There's no indication that it's let up as a result of the federal reforms.

A report released last week by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute and Lexis/Nexis said that in 2009 Florida had the highest year-to-year increase in appraisal fraud. The complaints centered on appraisers who intentionally fabricated comparable sales, ignored sales prices on similar properties or incorrectly adjusted the comparable sales of houses with slightly different features than the one being appraised.

Here's the Sentinel article.

More about the MARI Report on Rachel Dollar's Mortgage Fraud Blog.