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RAC Conference Frisco TX: Changes, Challenges, Solutions

As I’ve said many times, the annual RAC conference is the best appraiser-centric conference I’ve ever attended. It is developed and operated by active appraisers who are working to help you thrive as a professional.

As the current president of RAC, I’m proud to be part of an organization comprised of the best residential appraisers in the U.S.

Click here for more information.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Market Summary

Mobility Magazine of the Worldwide ERC, June 2017

by Byron Miller, SRA, AI-RRS, RAA

Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, represent a tale of two cities. Known to the locals as “the cities” or the “metro area”—“the metroplex” to hipsters—each city has its own personality and draw. Minneapolis is viewed as the younger city, with many modern skyscrapers, while St. Paul maintains an Old World charm in contrast to Minneapolis’ cosmopolitan feel.

Minneapolis is the largest city in Minnesota, with a population of 410,939 as of the 2015 U.S. Census estimate. St. Paul is the state capital and has a population of 300,851. Statistically the cities are known as the Minneapolis, Bloomington, St. Paul, Western Wisconsin Statistical Area.1 MN-WI MetroSA, as it is known, consists of 16 counties, including two in western Wisconsin, with 3.52 million people.

LOOKING BACK

Minneapolis and St. Paul are two very different cities, built by two different industries that share a common thread—water. The cities abut each other in some places and are separated by the Mississippi River in others. In the early days, the mighty Mississippi provided a means of shuttling flour and lumber from the city of St. Anthony, which would later become Minneapolis. Minneapolis’ development is tied to early milling and lumber companies that went on to become international powerhouses such as Pillsbury Company, as well as General Mills, which shipped more than 14 percent of America’s grain at its peak. Further downstream, St. Paul developed as a transportation center, first by shipping goods via the Mississippi and later by the vast railroad network built by James J. Hill.

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Minneapolis was influenced by early Nordic immigrants such as Norwegians, Swedes, and Finns. St. Paul was influenced more by other European immigrants such as French, Irish, Italians, and Germans. Both cities are influenced by an influx of immigrants to this day—Minneapolis–St. Paul has the largest Somali and Hmong populations of any U.S. city. This welcoming atmosphere still holds true for modern-day transferees.

TODAY

The cities have diverse industries as well as long histories of job creation and innovation. Sixteen Fortune 500 companies have a presence in the area, attracted to the highly educated local workforce. A partial list of major employers includes United Health Group, Honeywell International Inc., Cargill Inc., Target Corp., Best Buy Co., 3M Co., U.S. Bancorp, Ecolab Inc., Xcel Energy Inc., Thrivent Financial, Ameriprise Financial Inc., SuperValu Inc., General Mills Inc. (including Pillsbury), Land O’ Lakes Inc., Medtronic PLC, and St. Jude Medical Inc.

These companies make up key industries such as agricultural, biomedical, engineering, finance, health care, and information technology (IT). The diverse industries buffer the metro area from market cycles, providing economic stability. The climate can be challenging. However, for those who enjoy the outdoors, the area has much to offer. More than 10,000 lakes offer fishing, hiking, and water sports in summer, and skating and skiing in winter. Hunting options are available in each season.

market-at-a-glanceThe Twin Cities host major professional teams for baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer. The cities have much to offer culturally as well. The Minneapolis Institute of Art has a permanent collection of famous artists and hosts traveling art shows from other major metropolitan art institutes. The Walker Art Center has its own permanent collection and hosts more contemporary art exhibits. The cities have well over 100 theater companies, ranging from the world-renowned Guthrie and Fitzgerald theaters and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts to smaller regional theaters. There is a wide range of live music options as well—after all, the cities are where Bobby Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan, and Prince first played before stepping onto the national scene.

The local economy is still recovering from the mortgage meltdown of the mid-2000s. Like most of the country, the cities have seen both high and low economic tides over the past decade. However, variations in this area have not been as dramatic as in the rest of the country, due to industry diversity. At the market’s peak in 2007, the average sales price was $302,845. In contrast, the market’s low sales price was $211,580 in 2011. Recovery from the low point continues today, and the market has increased over the past three years. For example, the average sales price (ASP) of a single-family home in 2016 was $282,997, up 4.1 percent from 2015. Year-to-date ASP for 2017 is showing another 5 percent increase over 2016, with an ASP of $297,230. Days on market have decreased over the same period, from 83 days in 2015 to 68 days in 2017. Similarly, inventory has decreased from 4.2 to 2.7 months over the same period. Local unemployment has been steadily decreasing over the last decade. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February 2017 was 4 percent, in contrast to the national rate of 4.7 percent.

Additionally, since the bottom of the last recession, the cities have seen a significant increase in new construction, from starter homes in suburban development to the high-end condo segments in the downtown districts. While there is some multifamily construction, affordable multifamily housing continues to be in short supply.

LOOKING FORWARD

Although still in recovery from the last recession, the cities’ vitals look promising. Low interest rates and unemployment, zero inflation, and a recovering housing market fuel an optimistic tone. However, the caveat to the recovery is that rising interest rates and prices of key staples such as food, clothing, and energy could stall the recovery in the next chapter of this tale of two cities.

1 MN-WI MetroSA: State of MN Employment & Economic Development:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minneapolis%E2%80%93Saint_Paul#Counties.

2 A portion of these statistics supplied by BM Appraisals.

3 Unemployment data: mn.gov.

4 North-Star Multiple Listing Service, February 2017 (Single-Family Homes).

Byron Miller is with BM Appraisals in Minneapolis and is a member of RAC (Relocation Appraisers and Consultants). He can be reached at +1 612 822 5985 or byronmiller@rac.net.

 

Dallas-Fort Worth #2 in Growth

DFW #2 Growth 2010-2016The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has grown by almost 2,500 persons per week since April 2010.

Eleven major metropolitan areas, led by the Texas duo of Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, are growing at a pace of more than 1,000 persons per week, based on population estimates issued this morning by the U.S. Census Bureau.

See the full story at the Dallas Business Journal.

1/3 of Texas Sales in February were in North Texas

Sold House 2017About a third of all Texas home sales in February took place in North Texas, according to the MetroTex Association of Realtors. Using the dollar volume metric, Dallas-Fort Worth accounts for about 35 percent of total state sales.

For reference, Dallas’ population of just above 7 million represents about 25 percent of state’s population.

There were 6,909 homes sold in Dallas-Fort Worth last month, the report said, a 5-percent increase from last year. Both the average home price and median home price, $285,940 and $235,000, respectively, were up 13 percent from last year.

See the complete article at the Dallas Business Journal.

Express Yourself

One of our new RAC members, Rachel Massey, SRA, is a prolific writer of appraisal-related topics. She loves appraising and is passionate about appraisal education. The following is something she shared with our members, that had appeared on WorkingRE. We thought it was something we should share with you.

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Massey, RachelExpress Yourself
By Rachel Massey, SRA

The appraisal was good. In fact, it was really good. The logic was sound and the comparables used and analyzed were the best available. It was a complex property and the appraiser did a terrific job considering the likely buyer and what their alternatives would have been. Unfortunately, there was a problem.

The problem was that the report was bad. In fact, the report was really bad. None of the appraiser’s logic and analysis came through in writing. The complex property appraisal looked like a jumble of disconnected sales that had nothing to do with each other, let alone the subject property.

The disconnect was simple. The thought process that was involved in developing the appraisal did not make it from the appraiser’s head to the reader. While all the steps in the appraisal process had been followed and a logical result occurred, communicating the result, the last leg of the process, was weak. It was weak because the appraiser was unable to adequately communicate what was going on.

The house was unusual for the market. The market was rural and there were few comparable properties to choose from. There were sales in the area but the sales were just that, sales. The best sales were distant, older, and looked dissimilar with the exception of a couple key features. The key features in this instance were acreage properties with large pond sites, far from any town and close to areas with recreation land.

Start at Beginning
When you begin a report, think about the intended users, as well as the reviewers who will be viewing the report and step back to see if it contains sufficient information for them to be able to understand what the complexities of the situation are. Where do you start? Start at the beginning by describing what the problems are. Why is the property complex? How is it unusual? How many sales are there in the competitive market over the past year? How about two years? What is the competitive market? What would drive the buyer to consider this property and what would their alternatives logically be?

Had the appraiser laid out the problems unique to this property at the start of the narrative, the logic would follow that the client should not expect a pretty report. If the property was rural and unique and the market from which the likely buyer would consider properties broad, then say it. Spell it out so that the client knows what to expect. If the typical buyer for this property would only consider acreage properties with large pond sites, and eclectic style houses that were secluded from all neighbors, then perhaps the market includes properties thirty miles apart.

Convince the client that this is the case. If the typical buyer is a horse enthusiast who wants to be able to take their horse out for trail riding, then the likelihood is that they want to be within a short ride of the horse trails. Talk about it. These are very real considerations for many buyers and may be the overarching drivers as to which properties get considered.

Even on complex properties, there are usually sales that can be located, and those sales are either superior, inferior, or equal to the subject property. If the appraiser steps back and looks at the bigger picture of these sales and logically details why one is better than the subject and one not as good, without any adjustment at all, the appraiser can lay out a logical value range. Watch almost any house hunting show on television and you will see this is very much what buyers do. If buyers do this and appraisers try to reflect the actions of the market, this kind of logic can help present an answer to a difficult appraisal assignment. Even with very imperfect sales data, we can still tell the story of what makes the property unusual and how the sales we choose compete and rank in comparison. From a logical standpoint, simple bracketing with inferior and superior properties can help convince our client that the property is worth more than X and less than Z, with the telling of the “why” being up to us.

Remember that no matter how good the appraisal is in our heads, if we don’t communicate it in the report, our client may well think we have presented nothing more than a jumble of sales. It is up to us to tie everything together into a cogent and compelling story and convince our client that our value opinion is sound. After all, that is what they are paying us for.

Austin, TX: Salaries can’t keep up and it’s pushing people out of town.

Austin, TX 2-14-2017AUSTIN – The American dream of owning a home may be slipping even further away for many people in Austin.

KVUE has been investigating the issue and found that while the sky seems to be the limit for home prices in the city; salaries can’t keep up and it’s pushing people out of town.

According to federal housing data housing prices have risen faster in Austin than anywhere else in the country.

But the real issue isn’t just a need for housing. Instead, the salaries that most people in Austin receive is not enough to keep up with the price hikes.

Over the last 26 years in the city, family incomes rose 97 percent. At the same time, median home prices rose 290 percent.

Put another way, a family making $50,000 in Austin would have seen their income rise to $98,500. However, a home that cost $100,000 then would now cost $390,000.

It’s not an isolated trend in Austin, statewide prices are increasing at a rate that wages can’t keep up with, but Austin still far outpaces the larger cities like Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

Read the full article at KVUE News

St. Louis Market Summary

Mobility Magazine of the Worldwide ERC, October 2016

By H. John Neff, SRA

The City of St. Louis and the four surrounding counties of St. Charles, Jefferson, St. Louis and Franklin comprise approximately 75 percent of the entire metropolitan statistical area’s 2.8 million population total and more than 90 percent of the Missouri market area’s population. St. Louis County dominates, with more than 1 million residents and 90 municipalities. Area commerce is led by health and education, trade and transportation, manufacturing, financial services, leisure and hospitality. Professional services account for the majority of employment opportunities in the area. As of May 2016, the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent. Efforts to provide opportunities for technology, bioscience, manufacturing, defense and financial services growth are ongoing in the community.

There’s good news for the St. Louis Housing Market. Late last year Realtor.com predicted St. Louis will be the second hottest major real estate market in 2016, with an estimated 8.6 percent increase in sales activity and a 10 percent increase in the median sale price. Through the first three months of 2016 Multiple Listing Service (MLS) statistics indicate sales activity was up 8.6 percent, but ended up 6 percent overall through the end of June. The average home sale price is up only 4.5 percent year-to-date based on the first six months of 2016 compared to the first 6 months of the prior year, and median home prices are up 6 percent for June  2016 as compared to June 2015.

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While the housing market is trending upwards in many locations and price ranges, at least some of good new depends on which side of the transaction you’re on. Low interest rates continue to keep buyers in the market, but the inventory according to both real estate agents and MLS statistics is well below demand. It’s a seller’s market, especially in active areas such as St. Peters, Webster Groves, Manchester, and Brentwood, where there is a less than 1.5-month inventory as compared to the overall market, which has a 2.9 months’ supply. South St. Louis City neighborhood leads the area in sales activity in 2016 with 1,103 transactions, followed by Mehlville (504), Wentzville (401), Kirkwood (375) and Webster Groves (366). Multiple offers within hours, full price contracts and escalator clauses are the norm in several markets. There were 14.7 percent fewer listings available in the second quarter of 2016 compared to the same quarter in 2015, yet sales activity was 4.3 percent higher in the quarter as compared to the same quarter in 2015. New home construction is steady to up slightly from the previous two years. It took roughly 6 to 8 years for the market to absorb the post-crash inventory of existing lots before raw land was developed for new subdivisions.

LOOKING BACK

St. Louis rarely experiences meteoric increases or declines in residential home prices compared to many other major home markets around the country. Home values experienced a steady rise from the mid-1990s through 2007, when the average sale price of a single family residence peaked at $190,729. For the two years following the market crash, the average home price declined 18.6 percent to $160,756 by year-end 2009.  Most every location and price range was adversely impacted by the decline in activity and market value.  Tightened lending guidelines made it extremely difficult for entry-level home buyers to qualify for loans, thus preventing the next level of move-up buyers from ascending the home-value ladder. The St. Louis Area had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the county, due primarily to home flipping and fraud activity.

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Areas where average sale prices were lower to begin with for most all city and county locations saw the highest-percentage decreases, again reflecting the adverse impact on entry-level buyers.  For example, the average sale price for a home in either the Hazelwood or Kirkwood School District in 2007 was $129,950 and $337,349, respectively.  In 2010 the average sale prices were $88,127 and $286,303, respectively. The 32 percent decline in Hazelwood was more than twice as great as Kirkwood’s at 15 percent.

Home values saw their first increase since the crash in 2010, but values slipped again slightly in 2011. Since 2011, when the average sale price was $158,675, average sale prices have increased each year through year-end 2015 to $197,288, a 24.3 percent increase. The average sale price of home soared by 15.2 percent from the first to the second quarter of 2016 ($182,100 to $209,700).

Looking Ahead

Most, but not all St. Louis-area markets have rebounded from several years of moderate sales activity and unstable values; but unfortunately, even though sales related to foreclosures and bank-owned properties are well below post-market crash levels, pockets remain in which these types of transactions continue to drive the market. Much of the increased demand for South St. Louis City homes is attributed to Generation X and Millennial buyers seeking affordable housing and conveniences. The number of transaction in this location was double that of the next-closest area.  Sales activity for expensive homes, those over $750,000, is relatively slow. Barring any significant economic, social, or political changes, all indications are that the positive housing trend should continue.

H John Neff, SRA, is president of Mueller & Neff Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants, Inc., in St. Louis and a member of RAC (Relocation Appraisers and Consultants). He is a Certified General Appraiser in Missouri.  He can be reached at +1 314 849 1444 or hjneff@muellerneff.com.

Delaware Market Summary

Mobility Magazine of Worldwide ERC, August 2016

By Tom Reynolds CRP, SRPA, Louise Jeffers, SRA and John Ciminera, SRA

The Delaware Market is located just south of metropolitan Philadelphia and west of the Delaware River.  Delaware is known as “the First State,” because it was the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787. The State of Delaware is the corporate home or place of incorporation for more companies than any other state in the country.  The U.S. Office of Management and Budget officially defines the region as the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area, and it is the seventh largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with a population of approximately 6 million as of the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau Estimate.

erc-mobility-august-2016-at-a-glance

Industries with the largest increase in jobs in Delaware over the last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, were education and health services, followed by government. The largest job growth percentage was seen in professional and business services, and the poorest growth was in chemical and pharmaceutical research-and-development science-industry jobs.  Historically, DuPont Co. was one of the state’s largest employers but the company’s recent merger with Dow Chemical brought substantial layoffs.  This is having an impact on the New Castle County economy and the buyers’ consumer confidence.

The Delaware unemployment rate was 4.2 percent as of April, while the national average was 5.0 percent. The Delaware unemployment rate is down 0.7 percentage points from the previous year, a slight improvement.  Economically, the area is known for its relative stability, average-to-low unemployment rates, and affordable cost of living.

Looking Back

The Delaware real estate market is presently experiencing the same real estate market conditions that are being felt nationwide. Residential inventory levels have started to decline, and new construction has improved slightly.  Foreclosures do not constitute much of the market today.  Many homeowners are concerned about employment stability and consumer confidence in the economy in all price ranges.  Job losses and declining consumer confidence over the last five years have contributed to a general contraction in the Delaware real estate market.

erc-mobility-august-2016-snapshot

While the national housing inventory hit a new low in January of 2013, market activity has gradually improved since then, and inventory levels started to decline. The last 12 months, the average sale price of homes and the number of closed sales has increased slightly. The inventory levels range from four to eight months’ supply, depending on the specific location and price range. The average days on market for New Castle County have held steady, with a comfortable 63 DOM, and Kent and Sussex Counties have had 90 DOM for the last 12 months. The suburban counties just north of Delaware in Pennsylvania (Delaware and Chester) have all experienced more market activity and a lower inventory of homes for sale.  These counties in Pennsylvania draw some families who work in Delaware but prefer a short commute in order to have better schools.

Consumer confidence and job security remain low. The historically low mortgage rates, however, have created a market favorable to buyers with good jobs and good credit.

Looking Ahead

A slight oversupply in the marketplace, low consumer confidence, and low interest rates are expected to continue through the rest of 2016. Employment remains the key factor affecting the local housing market.  This will be remembered as a year that marked the beginning of the changes for the State of Delaware that came along with the newly merged DowDuPont and the new Chemours Company, spun off from DuPont in 2015.

The residential real estate market will start to improve as economic indicators for both the regional and national economies demonstrate positive improvement. It is anticipated that for the next year the State of Delaware will remain a buyer’s market.

R.Tom Reynolds, SRPA, CRP, is with Reynolds Appraisal Company, and is the 2016 President of RAC (Relocation Appraisers and Consultants). He can be reached at +1 302 575-0955, or TomReynolds@RAC.net. Other local members of RAC who assisted are Louise Jeffers, SRA is with Reape Jeffers & Assoc. She can be reached at 610-527-7540, or LJeffers@ReapeJeffers.com. John Ciminara, SRA, He can be reached at 610-891-0673, or JBCiminera@comcast.net .

 

RAC member Tom Allen elected to represent TAFAC on TAF Board of Trustees

RAC president Jonathan Miller spoke with RAC member Thomas E. Allen, SCRP from Oklahoma this morning (who is also first vice president and a former president of RAC). Tom mentioned that he attended the The Appraisal Foundation Advisory Council (TAFAC) meetings last Thursday/Friday in Washington DC and was elected to represent TAFAC on The Appraisal Foundation Board of Trustees next year.

Tom recalled that:

without RAC, this would never have happened. RAC has presented so many opportunities for me.

Congratulations to Tom for this achievement and for his leadership in RAC and the appraisal profession!

The Appraisal Foundation Advisory Council (TAFAC) is composed of 60 non-profit organizations and government agencies. TAFAC member organizations represent various professions and occupations with an interest in valuation including appraisers, home builders, real estate brokers, financial institution regulators, federal land acquisition agencies, the secondary mortgage market and the private mortgage insurance industry.

RAC Appraisers Provide High Ceiling Insights To Wall Street Journal

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The Wall Street Journal reached out to RAC appraisers Michael Hobbs and Jonathan Miller for their valuation insights on high ceilings in new luxury towers.

Wall Street Journal August 11, 2016 For Ceilings, What a Difference a Foot Makes
Buyers of luxury condos will pay a premium for ceilings that are even just a foot higher than the standard, but tall rooms pose challenges

While ceilings are rising throughout new luxury towers, the tallest ceilings are typically found in the highest, most expensive apartments, says Michael Hobbs, the owner of PahRoo Appraisal & Consultancy in Chicago.

High ceilings are often found in apartments that offer other luxury amenities, such as tall windows and concierge service, which bolster their value, says New York appraiser Jonathan Miller—but not in every case.

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