March 30, 2011 - Appraisal Pictures

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words. This is true for appraisals also. I had a conversation with a client the other day. She was telling me about an appraisal she received and how bad the pictures were in the report.

My first thought to myself was, “the appraiser inspected the property, he saw everything, does it matter how good the pictures are?” After a second, I said “yes”. An appraisal is a report, and someone, in some other location who has never been to that house and does not know the neighborhood, is going to rely on your report. They are going to look at the pictures in your report, so why not take the best pictures you can? I am not talking about learning to be a professional Architectural Photographer, just know how to take a good picture that accurately represents the home, room or condition.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Know the direction of light. Try not to shoot into the light.
  2. Use a wide angle or fisheye lens. How hard is it to get those interior photos, a wide angle lens can capture an entire room.
  3. Depth, try and get as much of the yard, house and pool as possible. Step back, but be careful of those “yard bombs”.
  4. Try and center what you are taking a picture of.

Let me know what you think?

If you have any appraisal needs or referrals, please call me at 562-673-1138

March 10, 2011 - External Factors that influence perception and values.

I was up in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles today doing an appraisal. The subject house was located close off a major east west street. I pulled a few comps from different neighborhoods. I knew the range was different but I wanted to see the other areas that had higher values. Once I got to the other neighborhood, it was quiclky obvoius that the homes here are of higher value. The homes had curb appeal, all nicely landscaped and maintained. But what really let me know when I was in a higher priced area was the street. All the streets were recently repaved and or slurry sealed. This had me stop and think about how something out of the homeowners control can possibly influence the perception of buyers and how this might contribute to higher values in the long run.

What do you think?

If you need have and real estate appraisal needs in the greater Los Angeles and Long Beach Area, contact me at 562-673-1138,

January 31, 2011 - Comparable Selection


When you provide appraisers comparables, make sure that is what they are. If the subject house is 3 bedroom 2 bath, 1,600 sf in Lakewood Please don’t hand the appraiser a home that is 4+ bedrooms over 1,900 sf and over a mile away in Long Beach, and over 6 months old.

Current underwriting has changed for loans. Lenders want to see a minimum of 3 sold comps within the last 90 days. As well as 2 Active or Pending sales.

I typically try to stay as close to the subject as possible for starters. If the house is 3/1, I will focus one finding other 3/1’s first, then expand t 2/1’s and 4/2’s. I want to bracket the square footage. If the subject is 1,600 sf, I want comps that are less and more then 1,600 sf. Remember, we are trying to find the best match to the subject if possible.

Also, tell the appraiser was comps you used in determining the list price. The more information you can provide to the appraiser the better.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do when you think it might not appraise for the price your sellers wants to list is for, call me. I can help, by providing an objective opinion from a third party. I can do this for a small fee.

If you have any Apprasial Needs in Long Beach/Lakewood or surrounding areas, call me at 562-673-1138 or go to my website

January 25, 2011 - Current Long Beach Real Estate Market

The current Long Beach Market remains sluggish, we are still in a “Buyers Market” . The Market Action Index(MAI) is still below 30, anything below is a buyers market, anything above is a sellers market. The 90 day MAI stands at 17.20. The inventory has been tightening and the days-on-market has been increasing to an average of 165 days. This is not good for the overall market.

Agents, these reports from an appraiser, along with your CMA are a great tool to bring to a listing interview. An added feature would be a Desktop Appraisal of the subject house.
If you are interested, please call Craig Wallace at 562.673.1138

January 22, 2011 - The Total # of Appraisers in Long Beach

I was curious as to the total number of appraiser there are in the city of Long Beach

I went to the OREA website looked them up. Then, I decided to see how many are independent fee appraisers and how many are not. Any appraiser listed as working for a bank or a government agency I assume are not independent fee appraisers.

So, we have a Total of 149 Appraisers in Long Beach, of which, 140 are Independent Fee Appraisers. Look at the number of Trainees, only 14. Do you think we are going to have a problem in the future as some Appraisers retire or leave the industry? That is a different topic all together.

Next I was curious to see how many closed sales of Condos and SFR’s there were in Long Beach for the past 4 months. I also wanted to see how this would average out to work for those Appraisers. I did not include Certified General Appraisers since they focus mainly on Commercial work. I also did not include Trainees since they can not really do work on there own. That left only Certified Residential and Licensed Residential Appraisers, a total of 84.

I then took the total number of closed sales and divided that by the number of Fee Appraisers, as you can see that was between 2.7-3.0 Appraisals per Appraiser in Long beach, not including January. I guessed at a conservative post HVCC/AMC fee for an appraisal of $300. Basically each Appraiser would be making $775 -$866 per month.


This does not include the fact that appraisers from other areas come to Long Beach.

Basically, there is not enough work for the Appraiser that remain to make a decent living on, couple that with the low fees being paid and the fact that we lost most of our clients when the HVCC went into effect, it is no wonder the ranks are thinning.

To me this looks like a good argument to band together and demand a higher fee.

What do you think?


By Craig Wallace – Long Beach Appraiser

I have been doing a bunch of Enhanced Desk Reviews for Bank of America lately. I enjoy doing these, because it gives me the opportunity to see what my peers are doing. I find things that other appraiser might do that I can use in my reports and things not to use or do. For the most part they have all been very competent reports with the exception of one.
However, the one thing that I run across that really bugs me the most, is when appraisers TYPE REPORTS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS! I understand that they want the information they are typing to “stand out” from the rest of the report. But it makes it really difficult to read. Is this really necessary?

A reviewer and underwriter know what they are supposed to be reading and where it is in the report.


December 8, 2010 - Appraising Real Estate in Long Beach

Appraising Real Estate in Long Beach

By Craig Wallace, Long Beach Appraiser

Long Beach can be a difficult city to appraise in for a non-local appraiser there are many factors that contribute to the complexity that an appraiser must consider to perform and accurate appraisal. Long Beach is the 38th largest city in the United States, and the sixth largest in California, with a land area of approximately 50 square miles. That’s Big!
Zoning – Long Beach has a large mix of zoning that changes rapidly in residential areas. Some home have “granny flats” or additional units that were legal when built, but now the zoning has changed.

Location – Values can change by crossing a street. This can change the school district. Then there is the proximity to the beach for some locations. This can change in an area like Belmont Shore. Is the property located on the beach side of 2nd street or the other side?
In other parts of the city you must consider the flight path and airport noise, or location to freeways. Is the property located across from a park, is this a high use park and are there parking issues. Is the property located in or near the Port or a commercial center?

There are area that are less complex, those are usually areas made up of “post war 1940’s to 1950’s tract Homes.

Neighborhood – Long Beach has 52 Neighborhoods, each are unique and require the appraiser to have an understanding of each of them and how they can effect comparable selection. Here is the list of the 52:
• 4th Street Corridor
• Alamitos Beach
• Alamitos Heights
• Arlington
• Artcraft Manor
• Belmont Heights
• Belmont Park
• Belmont Shore
• Bixby Knolls
• Bixby Village
• Bluff Heights
• Bluff Park
• Broadway Corridor
• California Heights
• Carroll Park
• Central Area
• Craftsman Village
• Downtown Long Beach
• Drake Park
• East Village
• Eastside
• El Dorado Park
• El Dorado Park Estates
• El Dorado South
• Hellman
• Imperial Estates
• Lakewood Village
• Cambodia Town (Little Phnom Penh)
• Long Beach Marina
• Los Altos
• Los Cerritos – Virginia Country Club
• Memorial Height
• Naples
• North Long Beach
• Park Estates,[13]
• Peninsula
• Ranchos
• Rose Park
• Shoreline Village
• South of Conant
• Stearns Park
• Saint Mary’s
• Sunrise
• Terminal Island
• Traffic Circle
• University Park Estates
• Poly High
• West Long Beach
• Willmore City
• Wrigley North and South
• Wrigley Heights
• Zaferia

Historic Preservation Zones – Long Beach has 17 designated zones.
Perhaps a future post will include photos, video and history of each of the neighborhoods and Historic Zones.

When you need a local appraiser that knows Long Beach, call Craig at Wallace Real Estate Services.

December 2, 2010 - Pre-FHA Appraisal Inspections


November 29, 2010 - Turn Around Times and Weekends

Turn around Times and Holidays.

By Craig Wallace – Long Beach Appraiser

I was logging on to appraisal port the other night, and looked at the recent survey they have up. AP does a new survey every few weeks. This one was about turn around times.

The question was “Do you believe that turn-around times should not include weekends and Holidays?  Out of 4,350 respondents, 4,371 said “Yes, appraisal turn times should be based on the regular work week”

I kind of agree, but the reality of residential real estate is that it is a non-stop process. The Agents work weekends, the home inspectors. But, what about mortgage, escrow, title?

Appraisers are a vital part of the real estate transaction, and that transaction is time sensitive. We have to get the report done and no one cares if we have family commitments, holidays or what ever else. I called an agent on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving ,to set an appoint for the Friday after Thanksgiving. This guy was a little upset, and asked why it took so long for me to call. I had to explain that this was a FHA appraisal, the order did not have a case number, and per the lenders instructions, appraisers are not to proceed without a case number, so I had to wait. He then asked, if  I can come out today, Wednesday and have the report in by Friday. I kindly told him “No” and mentioned the due date is the following Wednesday. He then went on to tell me that this was not good, they needed to close, blah, blah, blah….. I kindly told him again that I would be out Friday and turn in the Report next week, and that I would be not working over the long Holiday. In reality, there is no incentive to turn the report in any earlier, if they really needed it that fast, a rush fee would work just fine.

November 22, 2010 - Reasonable and Customary Fees for an Appraisal

Reasonable and Customary Fees for an Appraisal.

By Craig Wallace, Certified Appraiser.

What are Reasonable and Customary Fees for an Appraisal?

That seems to be the question that many in the Real Estate Industry are trying to figure out. Prior to the HVCC, the Fees I would charge for a standard 1004 on a home under 2,000 SF was $375-$400. FHA was $450+. Since the HVCC, the fees dropped to $200 -$335. I was no longer able to collect COD, could no longer market myself, and lost all of my long term clients.  But a funny thing happened to fees being charged to the borrower, they went up.

What did you pay for an appraisal on your last refinance or purchase? Was it over $500? Most likely. The appraiser only received 50% to 65% of what you were charged; the bank pocketed the rest as profit. So, I think a reasonable and customary fee is what the borrower has been paying. This shows up on your closing statement, form HUD1. This is what the market is; this is what the end user is accustomed to paying. The fee for the appraisal management company should be separate fee from the appraisal fee. The next time you have an appraiser over, tell him what you have been charged for the fee, but don’t expect him to tell you what he is receiving, because he is forbidden to tell you that. We can get removed from the list.

Some Agents and Homeowners think we are paid too much, but let’s look for a moment at what we have to do, and the hours involved. Personally, I spend about an hour doing the comparable research before I even leave the house. I can spend about an hour driving to the subject neighborhood and photographing all the comps. I can spend about 15 -30 minutes at the subject, more for larger homes. This includes measuring and inspecting. Then the drive back. Once in the office a typical report can take me between 2-5 hours to write. So, we have a total of about 5- 8 hours. A typical AMC fees is $295, so that is between $36 – $59 per hour. This does not include the cost of Gas, E&O insurance, MLS Dues, Continuing Education, Office Expenses, etc. So, this is at the low end of every other party involved in the transaction, but we have the most liability and the most oversight.

I personally feel we should charge by the hour and miles

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