This week Bruce is joined by Rick Solis. Rick wears many hats. He is a real estate investor, he is the appraiser for all of The Norris Group’s California hard money loans, and he occasionally trains people to appraise in The Norris Group’s REO boot camps.
Rick started appraising because his mother was a loan processor when he was a teenager. He was also interested in investing, but he was overpaying for properties. He began appraising to become a better investor. When he first began his appraising career, the only thing you needed to be an appraiser was a clipboard and a tape measurer. However, Rick believes that appraisal qualities were better back then than now with all the education requirements. In the past, appraisers had to be approved by each bank you wanted to appraise for, and you had to submit six work samples to prove you were able to do the job. Once licensing came into play, the banks eased off of those restrictions.
Rick closed escrow on his first house 1 week after his 20th birthday. Rick became attracted to the real estate business because of infomercials from Dave Deldado and Robert Allen.
Rick enjoys working with hard money lenders, because they actually want to know what the property is worth and what is wrong with it. That is the complete opposite of an A-paper appraisal job. All people involved in the A-paper transaction, other than the investor, do not want to know that information, because that information can kill the deals. Information like termite problems cannot be disclosed on an appraisal.
The investor is typically a private person with money, but you can also have a hard money loan with a different kind of intent. Some lenders are pressured to provide lenders with a specific appraisal value. Rick has had this experience with lenders in the past. Those lenders put a lot of pressure on appraisers, but he does not receive that kind of pressure from The Norris Group’s loan processor. Craig, TNG’s loan processor, would rather skip a deal than skew appraisal values.
In May, HVCC was passed. This new rule requires appraisal management companies to check on all appraisals for accuracies. Unfortunately, appraisal management companies are taking 40 percent of the earnings from appraisals, which means they must work much harder to earn the same income. This has caused many of the veteran appraisers to leave the business. Rick knows an appraiser who has found a way to cope with HVCC and make his job more efficient. This appraiser only takes appraisals that are close to him, and he looks at the properties before he accepts it. If there is anything wrong with the property he is looking at, the appraiser will skip it.
People often think of the appraisal process as being easy, because now they can push a button on Zillow which gives an estimated home value. However, this is very inaccurate. It is very difficult to come up with an accurate appraisal. It is also difficult to make an appraisal which meets all the guidelines of the lender and the investor who the lender is selling to.
FHA significantly loosened their requirements in the early 2000s. FHA once had a 2-page checklist of everything you had to check for on a property. For example, if the crawl space under the house didn’t have 18 inches of clearance the house had to be fixed. If there was any chipped paint on the house it would need to be fixed. However, they will allow some things like dirty carpet. FHA will accept non-permitted home modifications just as long as there are no health hazards. However, many banks and underwriters will not accept that. If non-permitted additions add value to a house, then you are supposed to account for it in an appraisal. It is very difficult to find comparable houses for a house with non-permitted additions.
In the current market, if your house is in average condition, there is not much you can do on repairs which will add a significant amount of value to your house. However, if your house is in bad condition then you can get a decent return on the cost of repairs. Regardless of how much money you’ve spent rehabbing, appraisers will not adjust the price by any more than 10 percent.
Cost basis appraisals are no longer being used. No appraiser who spends half his day looking for land sales is going to come up with an accurate land value.
Bruce Norris brings up an example for when the cost based appraisal may be useful…
Bruce: “If you were making an offer on a custom home, and you wanted the lot value to be emerged from what a custom home would be once it is done, then that would be like a residual value. This could be used to prove to a lot owner that it was once worth x value, but once you subtract the costs and the appraisal then the lot will be worth x. ‘Is that a useful idea?’”
Rick has never done this kind of appraisal, but Bruce wants him to. If you can look at the comps and subtract the costs, then you will have the residual dirt value. Rick thinks that is so simple that you probably wouldn’t need an appraiser to do it.
Around 2006, people were concerned about buying homes with awkward floor plans. Currently, investors no longer seem to be concerned by this. This may be due to the fact that these types of homes represent the largest portion of the current “for sale” market. They are taking a price hit on those homes, but they are still able to make a profit.
Appraisers account for pool values using comps. For example, if an appraiser is looking at two homes that are very similar except for the fact that one has a pool and the other does not, then the pool value will be calculated by subtracting the value of the home without a pool from the value of the home with the pool. If the home without a pool has a value of $200,000, and the value of the home with a pool is $210,000, then the value of the pool is $10,000. The value of a pool can change dramatically depending on where you live. In some areas a pool adds little value to the home, but in other areas a pool can add a lot of value. Rick has noticed that pools typically add up to 0 to 5 percent of the house. Also, the value of a pool can change dramatically depending on what season you sell in. If you sell during a hot season, the pool will be more valuable.
The number of bedrooms within a house does not affect the price much. The square footage of a house is more important the number of rooms within it. Some families like two big bedrooms more than 3 small ones, and vice versa.
If you are appraising a property as an investor, avoid location problems. Stay away from atypical problems, especially problems that cannot be fixed. Old homes surrounded by new homes will not sell well, and dome home styles don’t sell well either.
Investors often make the mistake of assuming that an old remodeled home will sell for the same value as a new home in the same condition. Newer homes will always sell at a higher value.
Mello-roos homes can also be a detriment to home value. However, a lot of first time buyers do not always notice this difference.
For more information about The Norris Group’s California hard money loans or our California Trust Deed investments, visit the website or call our office at 951-780-5856 for more information. For upcoming California real estate investor training and events, visit The Norris Group website and our California investor calendar. You’ll also find our award-winning real estate radio show on KTIE 590am at 6pm on Saturdays or you can listen to over 170 podcasts in our free investor radio archive.