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Relocation Appraisers & Consultants

RAC: The Best Appraisers in North America

June 11, 2014 | 5:36 pm | raclogo | Videos |

Really! This short intro video accurately portrays the RAC organizational culture and why I love these people.

I am a long time member of RAC, an appraisal organization that specializes in complex residential properties. It was founded in 1990 to focus on the relocation subset of residential appraising but this is not a mutually exclusive point. An appraiser who provides high quality relocation appraisals also provides high quality appraisals for complex residential assignments. Most of our members do a lot of appraisal work outside of the relocation universe.

For Miller Samuel, relocation appraisal work has never been a large part of our practice given our New York market location but the draw to retain my membership has remained powerful.

Here are some thoughts:

For Appraisers – RAC is nominally priced, full of incredible experienced people and most important, absent the crazy appraisal politics that have nothing to do with making someone a more valuable appraisal professional. Check us out.

For Financial Institutions – If you ever need a resource to get the best residential real estate appraisers in the country, you simply need to check out RAC. And if our organization doesn’t have coverage in a specific market you are interested in, we’d be happy to recommend someone to you.

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The 4Q 2006 RAC Report

February 15, 2007 | 11:17 am | raclogo |

I have been a member of Relocation Appraisals & Consultants (RAC) for about ten years. Its considered the cream of the relocation appraisal industry crop and their focus is to bring professionalism to relocation assignments for third party companies who manage employee moves around the world. Some of the best appraisers in the country are members of this organization.

The Manhattan real estate market is dominated by co-ops and as a result, many corporations are afraid of them so relocation volume here is pretty light. Its ironic because the foreclosure rate for co-ops is less than condos. In addition, co-op boards, for all the bad stories than have been said about them, actually filter out marginally qualified purchasers (because lenders have very low underwriting criteria these days) and discourage investors (flippers).

Even with low relocation volume as a firm, we have been rated by various relocation companies as being one of the most accurate. The last report we received a few years ago indicated we were averaged ±3% of the final sales price as compared to our estimate. The next closest appraiser (who was not a member of RAC) averaged ±10%.

One of the neat by-products of getting so many good appraisers together from around the country is an endless source of information and insight from these individuals. Leaders of the organization have been involuable to me for my professional growth as an appraiser. A few names include Chip Wagner (IL), Jeff Otteau (NJ), Butch Hicks (VA), Brad Charnas (OH), Rick Foos, (CA), Jay Delich (AZ), Colleen Welch (FL), Marie Robbins-Marine (CO), Bob Headrick (IL), Howard Babcock (MI), Suzanne Bloyed (OK), Thomas Allen (OK) and Ron Box (TX) to only name a few. There are many others in the organization that I admire and have learned from.

The price of membership, even if relocation work does not dominate your practice, is well worth it (if you are accepted). They are only interested in seasoned appraisers with references and have membership criteria outlined on their web site [pdf].

But I digress…

One of the by products of cooperation has been the RAC Report which is a market by market depiction of areas covered by members that has been standardized to included absorption, prices and volume by price strata. There is a wide array of markets covered (Manhattan doesn’t fit well into the criteria standard in addition to our lack of an MLS). Data on various New York City markets can be culled from my family of market reports available on my web site.


The redesign of the RAC report and site was spearheaded by Lee Burns, a very good appraiser and member of RAC based in Houston, Texas. The report allows the reader to peruse most of the major US markets to get a better understanding of where the risk lies in the market strata the house they are managing in inventory is likely to be.

These are the markets covered:

Akron Metro Area
Atlanta Northeast Metro Area
Boston Metro Area
Canton Metro Area
Chicago Metro Area
Cincinnati
Cleveland Metro Area
Columbus Metro Area
Corona California
Dallas Metro Area
Denver Metro Area
Detroit Metro Area
Greater Pittsburgh
Houston Metro Area
Las Vegas Metro Area
Los Angeles South Bay Metro Area
Los Angeles Southeast Metro Area
Los Angeles Westside to Central (CLAW)
Madison, WI Metro Area
New Jersey-Montclair Line
New Jersey-Summit/Chatham/Madison
Orange County, California
Phoenix Metro Area
San Antonio Metro Area
San Diego Metro Area
St. Louis Metro Area
Tampa Bay Area
Tucson Metro Area
Tulsa Metro Area
Washington, D.C. Metro Area (Suburban VA and MD included)
Wichita Metro Area

I plan on sharing the results every quarter as the reports are released.

4th Quarter 2006 RAC Report


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Strawberry Fields Forever Days On Market

November 27, 2006 | 12:05 am | raclogo |

I have been tracking the Manhattan housing market in report format for more than 12 years, appraising it for more than 20 years and I often worry I became Manhattan-centric as a result. Things that I thought were pretty standard here I assumed would apply to other markets in the same way.

….like…

  • rating a neighborhood by whether a resident can buy strawberries at 3am (never done that, but I have heard this discussed more than once)
  • hailing a cab in a downpour to get to work (but doing this on a street going in reverse of the morning rush ’cause the odds are better)
  • buying a few bags a of groceries at a time because thats all that can be carried (but making the argument that its because you eat only fresh food)
  • taking a dozen elevators rides per day and still remain fascinated by the changing floor numbers
  • not making eye contact with oncoming strangers when walking
  • taking comfort in the fact that 80% of all clothes worn are black
  • and the subways are actually pretty clean and reliable

…ok you get my point.

…while Manhattan real estate related assumptions include…

  • the fact that price per square foot rises with larger properties
  • new development is nearly always targeted to the upper end of the market
  • its tough to build without tearing something down
  • co-ops are a pretty standard form of ownership
  • average days on market is about 120 to 150 days in a balanced market

Average days on market is measured by taking the number of days from the last list price change, if any, until contract date.

For the 2nd and 3rd quarter, the average days on market in Manhattan was 144 and 150 days respectively.

This market stat should be relatively consistent around the country in housing markets that are relatively price stable (coming out of a boom period) like Manhattan is. When I began crunching the data for Long Island (Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties) this stat was pretty consistent by county and averaged 86 and 83 days respectively. This was curious to me because it was so different than the Manhattan market, yet the position of the markets is fairly similar. In fact, the argument could be made that Long Island is a weaker housing market than Manhattan right now. So why is the average days on market so different (lower)?

I was speaking to an appraiser last week who covers Northeast Ohio and his marketing times for a market in weaker in health to Manhattan is about 90 days. Another appraiser I know in Charleston, SC reported a 54 day marketing time this quarter for a market in a similar stage.

My 120 to 150 day rule of thumb is sort of on all Fannie Mae forms used for nearly all residential mortgage lending. There are three choices for describing marketing time:

  • Less than 90 days,
  • 90-120 days,
  • greater than 120 days

(translation: fast, medium, slow).

The Employee Relocation Council defines reasonable marketing time (a balanced market) as 90 to 120 days, yet most markets that are argueably buyers markets (not balanced = slow) actually average a shorter period than this standard.

I also looked to the stats in an appraisal organization known as Relocation Appraisers & Consultants [RAC]. Their appraisers (self-included) are considered among the best relocation appraisers out there and they compiled stats in each of their markets. The RAC Report covers a variety of markets across the country and like New York, the results are also all over the place.

Since the 3Q results are not posted by RAC yet so I looked at the 2Q results. They break out the DOM figures by price strata so I selected the middle price strata of each market and rounded.

  • Las Vegas (40 days)
  • Los Angeles (55 days)
  • Atlanta (75 days)
  • Texas (overall – 50 days)
  • Denver (100 days)
  • New Jersey (40 days)
  • Chicago (western suburbs – 90 days)

_plus the previously discussed 2Q results_

  • Manhattan (144 days)
  • Long Island (86 days)
  • Northeast Ohio (90 days)
  • Charleston, SC (43 days)

One lesson in all this is that real estate is local but I wonder, is there a different efficiency in the way a property is sold or takes to sell in different markets? Is it the legal process? In other words does the time it takes to actually go to contract once the meeting of the minds occurred play a key variable here?

And how do those fresh strawberries get to Manhattan all year ’round?

UPDATE: Speaking of Strawberry Fields, did you see the full page ad by Yoko Ono in the NYT this Sunday? I’ll always remember exactly where I was on December 8, 1980.