Sounding Bored is my semi-regular column on the state of the appraisal profession. This week, all the pressure venting starts to get the word out.
For the past 5 years I have watched the appraisal profession go through a pretty dramatic change, most of it bad, accelerated by the housing boom. In 2005, I decided to beginning blogging about it to try to get the word out because going through normal channels (ie appraisal organizations and politics) didn’t seem to be effective enough, plus, I had no idea how to do any of that.
So I simply said what was on my mind in this blog, and later on, got others to join me. These include appraisers and former appraisers that I have met during my career including Chip Wagner from Chicago, my commercial appraisal business partner John Cicero, Marty Tessler from New York City, Butch Hicks from Virginia, John Mason from suburban New York and Todd Huttunen from suburban New York.
The subprime mortgage market woes expose the problems we have been discussing for years. Two articles were released this week that are starting to shed light on the situation. These authors got our attention through Soapbox and my other blog Matrix.
“In the current real estate market, an accurate appraisal is more important than ever”  by Carol Lloyd of the San Francisco Chronicle  who writes a must-read weekly column “Surreal Real Estate “
The subprime lending woes we are all reading about illustrated the problems all of us have been shouting about in this blog and on a personal level for the past several years if not more.
- Competent appraisers are being replaced by form-fillers and 10-percenters.
- The lending industry structure has evolved into a flawed system where those on commission determine which appraiser gets the work.
- The appraisal industry is being commoditized into the equivalent of a title search or flood zone certification rather than a professional analysis.
- Appraisal licensing, while a good idea overall, has legitimized a legion of hacks and given the good ones a bad name.
- The lack of political clout for the industry has made appraisers the poster child for all that is wrong with lending (aka mortgage fraud).
- Lending institutions don’t understand the value of their collateral, affecting compliance with bank reserve requirements by federal regulators.
- Mortgage portfolio pricing in many cases is grossly inaccurate, because the secondary mortgage market investors don’t realize nor have access to accurate collateral valuation.
Let’s hope there is more coverage of this specific issue in the future.