The Unbearable Space of Housing

This is a far better way to relax than watching your fish in their aquarium. Just so surreal.


This is a heavy appraiser-centric Housing Notes this week.

But I digress…

Suburban Listing Inventory Is Significantly Restraining Sales Activity

With heavy demand, cities have the advantage of listing inventory to sell, unlike their suburban counterparts.

Douglas Elliman just published our market research for seven markets in New York City Metro, five counties in South Florida and the Gulf-side, two markets in Colorado and three coastal counties in Southern California. These four New Signed Contract Reports are the most recent addition to an expanding Elliman Report Series I’ve been the author of since 1994.

The Bloomberg coverage on the New York New Signed Contract Report for July 2021 was the eighth most-read piece on the 350K Bloomberg Terminals worldwide.


And a great chart.

Here are the reports with some associated charts we whipped up:

Elliman Report: July 2021 New York New Signed Contract Report


Elliman Report: July 2021 Florida New Signed Contract Report


Elliman Report: July 2021 Colorado New Signed Contract Report


Elliman Report: July 2021 California New Signed Contract Report


NPR’s Take On Why There Is A Housing Shortage Includes The Battle of Generations

No new ground broken here but it is helpful to hear the context shared:

It involves a battle between generations, restrictive zoning laws, and a lack of people who know how to build houses.


The Fed Continues To Enable Rapid Housing Price Growth Just As A ‘Societal Sweet Spot’ Emerges

I loved this New York Times piece: Home Prices Are Soaring. Is That the Fed’s Problem?

Those low interest rates hit just as housing was entering a societal sweet spot. Americans born in 1991, the country’s largest group by birth year, just turned 30. And as Millennials — the nation’s largest generation — were beginning to think about trading in that fifth-floor walk-up for a home of their own, coronavirus lockdowns took hold.


Getting Graphic


My favorite charts of the week made by others

Len Kiefer‘s Chart Handiwork

Appraiserville

(For earlier appraisal industry commentary, visit my old clunky REIC site.)

Next Week I Dive Into How The West Virginia RE Appraisal Board Went Rogue

Stay tuned.

The Appraisal Foundation Is About To Get PAVEd

The current administration is addressing the lack of diversity in housing valuation head-on with the formation of an interagency task force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE).

Here are the details of the PAVE Task Force.

They just had their first meeting and this is a serious effort unlike the silliness of TAF’s bureaucratic actions of the past year that were nothing more than window dressing to the lack of diversity problem within the appraisal industry.

Incidentally, The Appraisal Foundation is not part of PAVE Task Force. Keep that in mind when you read their bat-shit crazy letter again and think about the fact that our industry is 96.5% white and entry standards into this industry are maintained by The Appraisal Qualifications Board of TAF without legal review (to save money, I presume). I can only imagine the questions that will be directed towards TAF by the PAVE Task Force, with TAF the maintainer of USPAP and charged with protecting the public trust.

The very existence of the PAVE Task Force shows quite clearly that the public trust has been obliterated by TAF through its actions over the past three decades. TAF is a not-for-profit run like a for-profit, doing an end-around the original Congressional intent by refusing grants from ASC, the mechanism of oversight. If I were Dave and Kelly, I’d be quite worried. Even their effort to sandbag ASC last year, in what they wrongly assumed was an adept bureaucratic maneuver, by asking Congresswoman Maxine Waters to request a GAO audit but conveniently forgot to include their Appraisal Foundation in the request. I wouldn’t be surprised if the GAO audit outcome disappears in the quagmire of bureaucracy now that PAVE is a top policy priority of the U.S. government.

I’ll get into the PAVE Task Force impact to appraisers in future posts as it unfolds but at first glance, I think this will end up being good for good appraisers as more and more information comes out for a number of reasons:

  • It will marginalize activists who have brought much-needed attention to the lack of diversity but literally do not understand what appraisers do
  • It will reduce the pressure from the AMC industry, whose bad actors emphasize only speed and price
  • It will re-focus emphasis on quality appraisers over AVMs
  • It will help the public better understand what appraisers actually do
  • It will shed light on the diversity issues of AVMs, which are built by human beings

The PAVE Task Force is quite significant to appraisers – it won’t leave us twisting in the wind because:

  • It involves cabinet-level attendance, not for junior officials
  • It has a 180-day deadline to deliver a final action report
  • The ASC is a member of the task force
  • The agencies that comprise the ASC are also a part of it
  • TAF is NOT part of the task force

The PAVE Task Force membership is comprised of the following officials and it is quite a breathtaking list:

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (co-chair)
Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy (co-chair)
Director of the National Economic Council
Attorney General of the United States
Secretary of Agriculture
Secretary of Labor
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council
Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)
Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC)

Dave Towne Schools HUD On Lack Of Transparency

One of the issues with resolving the diversity challenge – appraisers place 400th out of 400 occupations for white members as tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – is that the structure of the industry is the problem. Appraisers will have a voice through PAVE but I certainly hope that HUD, who is leading PAVE, will not exclude appraiser input – we have witnessed a stunning lack of understanding by activists who are levying criticism at the industry conveying a false narrative that all appraisers are racist. On the other hand, we have been made very vulnerable by leading industry institutions such as The Appraisal Foundation and The Appraisal Institute for their self-dealing and lack of diversity.

The following is from Dave Towne, who keeps appraisers informed on all-things appraisal. You can get his email by sending Dave a nice note to dtowne@fidalgo.net

“bold” is Dave’s emphasis.


This was in a news release put out on Aug. 2, 2021 by the American Society of Appraisers which reveals the ‘secrecy’ behind the government’s efforts to attempt to continually help smear real estate appraisers:

“RESTON, Va., Aug. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ –The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) held a virtual event today looking at bias issues surrounding the home valuation process. Notably, this event was held without any participants from the appraisal profession at the table. This marks the second event of its kind that has excluded appraisers or their representatives from these important conversations. On June 15th, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) held their own valuation bias event, absent any meaningful input from the appraisal profession.

This mirrors the ongoing process, led by HUD, by which the PAVE Interagency Task Force has been working. Rather than providing public notice of planned meetings and seeking stakeholder input, the Task Force meets privately and without offering meaningful opportunity for public input.

The exclusion of the appraisal profession from these events sends the message – intentional or not – that the input of appraisers is unwanted by those seeking to address issues relating to valuation bias.”

The full news release is here:

ASA Disappointed with Continued Exclusion of Appraisal Profession from Ongoing Federal Agency Efforts on Valuation Bias (prnewswire.com)

Appraisers need to remember that governmental agencies and the GSE’s were direct participants and enablers of the awful ‘redlining’ that was prevalent in the US from the 1930’s (or earlier) up until the 1980’s. Those practices had a direct causation of lower property values in many places in this country…..which are still in place today.


The Appraisal Institute Sham Petition Process Vote At The Orlando Convention Is The Tipping Point For The Organization’s Long-Term Survival

And here we are in a maelstrom of massive social change and we are without industry leadership. AI on a national level since at least 1997, has represented self-dealing, infighting, and failure as measured by a +30% collapse in membership. As a result, they have not kept their eye on the ball nor have they informed their membership of their activities. Now with the #metoo movement and lack of diversity within the profession (appraisers are dead last in the BLS diversity ranking of 400 professions), there is a deep credibility gap in any responses to these challenges because of the past and current actions by our two leading entities are indefensible.

According to people I know that were physically there, the sham petition process was born out of the need to enable operational executives to keep control and by doing so, undercut the membership and enrich themselves in self-dealing in many forms. THAT IS WHY THE SHAM PETITION PROCESS WAS CREATED. The process enables the CEO to dole perks out to keep himself in power, and as a result, FOJs learn not to question why. They need to stop saying “hey, it’s part of the by-laws!”

The institutional takeover AI by Dear Leader is textbook cognitive dissonance.

The cognitive dissonance runs deep with FOJs. It is tribalism of the first order. After all, the current status quo has been in place for at least 14 years, so anything that runs counter to that and interferes with the personal benefits of FOJs, results in outrage towards those who threaten the tradition of self-dealing. Aside from that, such tribalism is reflected in the loud and proud insults of the few, who either are pining for a first step on the FOJ advancement ladder or have been too lazy to do any critical thinking about the organization and that’s a real shame for all of us. More on this further down.

Remember, if someone wants to attain any AI leadership positions, teach classes, head committees, fly first-class anywhere with their spouses to frivolous international conference junkets, they are nearly always done by an FOJ. That, my friends, is the reason they become FOJs. FOJs are currently in power and will remain so if the sham election process is successful this year. Even worse, since the sham petition process is the unethical workaround to the NNC selection process, Dear Leader is able to continue to keep the shelves stocked with eager FOJs.

As a result, there is a sameness to the people that are selected for these opportunities and surprisingly, they know little about how the process works within the organization – they are the perfect lemmings for manipulation. As I discussed with the Hateful 8, This is a key reason why the organization continues to grow stale and the decline of membership continues. There is a stunning lack of new blood brought into leadership – for example, The Consigliere’s 6 committee positions makes this embarrassingly obvious (Is that a lie Mr. Roach?)

But I strongly believe in AI membership itself. There isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t send a few clients looking for appraisers in markets that I don’t have contacts, to the “find an appraiser” feature on the AI website – because this battle is about installing effective leadership and removing the cronies, not obliterating the organization.

To members of the AI Board of Directors who have a soul and a sense of ethics and morality, or have any concerns about your legacy in the industry, please make your voice heard above the FOJ noise in Orlando and vote down the sham petition process. This is your last opportunity to fix this situation and your legacy in the profession hangs in the balance.

This is it. If the sham petition process succeeds this time, the NNC is effectively obliterated and no one should ever waste their time and effort again to be a part of it ever again. The future will mean that any FOJ who doesn’t like NNC’s selection can just throw their hat in the ring or another crony and have equal billing to someone offered by the membership to be was vetted and nominated. If the sham petition process wins this time, AI will beyond saving.

And that would be a sham.

The FOJ “Stupid” or “Liar” Test And The Sham Petition Process

There is an exercise I use quite often when I read or listen to FOJs rationale for bad behavior. It’s called the “Stupid” or “Liar” test – these are the only two answers that can be selected.

As the critical Orlando board meeting on Thursday, August 12th gets closer, it is getting really hot in the kitchen. FOJs are on Facebook and websites are calling me a liar, and that I’m twisted and sick, etc. And unsurprisingly, some of them are the same FOJ cast of characters who attacked me in 2016-2017 when I called B$ on National absconding with chapter funds (and they eventually did). Back then, even some FOJs called colleagues and organizations to spread misinformation about me. My favorite FOJ lie was that I was a designated member of AI and was caught not taking enough CE so I was booted and therefore hold a grudge. LOL…I’ve never held an AI designation.

Perhaps what frustrates the handful of FOJ sycophants that rail against me, is they can’t figure out what drives me to go after AI leadership as I have. I’m not a member of AI so why would somebody go out front and be willing to be attacked by gullible people devoid of critical thinking? Of course, the very reason they are FOJs is the same reason they can’t understand why I do this.

The bottom line is that bad AI leadership spilled into the public domain and reflects badly on all appraisers. I take that personally.

Some of the most amazingly idiotic things that were said by FOJs in the pushback of my recent writings on AI’s sham petition process:

  • I need to name my sources and if I won’t it means I am lying. LOL.
  • One FOJ sent me an attack rant saying I should never criticize anyone in the profession, but they were doing just that to me and have literally posted drunken video rants on the web (not about me) in the past.
  • Another person criticized me for using “anecdotal” information in an “appraisal review” format but used anecdotal information to declare I was using anecdotal information. A number of people shared this with me, all laughing at the hypocrisy of the embarrassing dim-witted logic.
  • One FOJ, who has a warrant out for his arrest (unrelated to all this), told me to keep my criticisms to myself because “professionals” don’t criticize others, Apparently we differ on the meaning of “professional.” LOL.
  • I even had an outspoken FOJ who has been providing blistering attacks, privately offer me dirt on Dear Leader in person at an event after they were shamed by Dear Leader, and of course, I refused.
  • I am being called a liar by The Consigliere over something I said recently, yet other board members know that what I said is accurate but can’t say anything. This person has been particularly adept at operating under the radar for Dear Leader. His newfound discomfort was to call me a liar yet a handful of his colleagues were the ones that provided the information. I’m not the one lying.
  • One stupidly proud FOJ asked me to come to Orlando so he can “take care of me.” Perhaps he meant he will throw some bad comps my way in person? Remember that this person said this in front of others on the internet – aka the world. Where is AI showing concerns about the unprofessional bullying behavior of a few of its members?
  • I was trashed by a few FOJs who said essentially that because Trevor has an SRA, he is pro-residential when any board member will tell you privately that he has been trying to remove SRAs from AI since he joined the board. The not-wittedness of this assumption goes against Trevor’s very specific openness about this, almost as if that’s his go-to mantra, and yet no board members have come out to speak on his behalf. Why? Because they would be lying if they denied what he has said often about residential appraisers.

There’s much more but I think I’ve presented enough to make my point. These people give AI a bad name and hopefully, they will be dealt with appropriately through lack of advancement and recognition by AI if the sham petition process fails this year. I’ll be happy to provide details to whatever ethics board AI has if that day comes.

And some observers might notice that:

  • FOJs I have singled out might levy criticism at me and other non-FOJs as well as in public but STILL never show concern about the organization’s future – in other words, everything is great at AI and it is all about what’s in it for them. They are personally “hurt” but they can’t go into detail on why I am inaccurate because I am not misrepresenting anything.
  • When non-FOJs bring up topics to FOJs like the sham petition process on Facebook or blog posts, FOJs respond that since it is part of the by-laws, it is wrong to criticize it. What cowards. The inability of FOJs to apply critical thinking is astounding. They hide behind a rule that was promulgated by the political need (actual whining by Leslie Sellers per people in the same room) to manipulate an election.
  • I have found that many of the FOJs who have attacked me have very little grasp of the technical maneuvering that is being done right in front of them. It is quite incredible to read the criticisms of what I have said and they literally don’t understand how the sausage is made within their own organization by Dear Leader.
  • I still can’t believe that FOJs never showed outrage when all the regional contact information was scrubbed by Dear Leader months ago (tech reports to him and he could fix it in 10 minutes).

For myself, it has been quite satisfying, despite the FOJ attacks, to shine a light on the problem because it impacts the industry, not just the organization. Many “volunteering their time for the grift” against the mission of the Appraisal Institute deserve to be called out. Inspirational nicknames like the “Hateful 8,” “Super-Duper,” “The Consigliere,” and “Dear Leader” all make the point that to these people, the membership of the Appraisal Institute is not the point to those in power at the Appraisal Institute.

These embarrassingly selfish FOJ members are reflecting badly for all the world to see and this impacts all appraisers, not just AI membership. I would love to see AI return to greatness again before the SRA and MAI designation brands become completely worthless. The SRA designation is nearly worthless now and the value of the MAI is steadily falling – the value of the designation brand is the responsibility of AI and their growing irrelevance is patently unfair to the membership. Yet leadership continues to exist in a bubble and maintains the grifting status quo.

Because of the bad behavior of AI leadership and its distraction, it has ignored bad behavior by a small portion of membership to continue to tarnish the AI brand. How much more of this, is the membership in this once-proud organization, willing to take?

The Cosmic Cobra Guy Talks Arkansas In ‘Cleanup In The Ozarks’

This is a copy of Jeremy Bagott’s must-subscribe-to newsletter (and author of his must-read book):


Dear Colleague,

On a tip, I began looking into the Arkansas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board last month. What I found was a paper trail showing years of malfeasance. Much of the activity violates the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act and the state’s constitution. The neglect and chicanery have had real-world consequences. The Arkansas board joins its counterparts in about a dozen other states. All, to varying degrees, have gone rogue – unable to meet requirements of their federal minder and stay in compliance with their respective state laws. But there may be hope for Arkansas. I’m hoping you will read the press release below.

–Jeremy

Jeremy Bagott, MAI, AI-GRS
Telephone: (805) 794-0555
Email: jbagott@gmail.com


***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***


CLEANUP IN THE OZARKS: BOARD MAKES USPAP ENFORCEABLE

(July 26, 2021) – For years, an obscure Arkansas state board has been doctoring submittals, changing regulations on the fly and violating the state’s Administrative Procedure Act by enforcing a code that, most years, has not been adopted into state law. The malfeasance has had real-world consequences. For one, it has allowed a tiny Washington, D.C., publisher to directly control a corner of Arkansas law. The publisher has learned to monetize the arrangement at the expense of Arkansans.

The Arkansas General Assembly has long understood that some state boards, commissions and agencies will ignore – or even subvert – the Legislature’s intent and create and enforce their own laws if not monitored; only the Arkansas Legislature is permitted to make laws in the state. To get a handle on rogue agencies, the General Assembly set up a Legislative Council and tasked it with reviewing and approving executive-branch rules in order to catch and correct abuses.

But these legislative “marshals” have no power to control malfeasance when it shifts elsewhere in the executive branch. The lack of oversight has had real-world consequences in the state – and not just for those small-minded citizens who believe state government should be strictly a rules-based operation. Here’s where the damage is occurring:

Deep in the plumbing of state government is a maneuver that allows private codes and standards to be made enforceable by the state. It’s a curious feature called “incorporation by reference.” It isn’t used much, but if an Arkansas state agency, board or commission wants to enforce a trade group’s copyrighted technical standards, it can do it.

But enforcing copyrighted codes and standards can be problematic, and that’s why state law requires special safeguards.

After decades of neglect and chicanery, the Arkansas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board last year finally made a continually changing set of standards called the “Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice” legally enforceable for 2020-2021, so there may be hope. The prior neglect was so pronounced that even the board’s federal minder, which normally is concerned with compelling the state agency to satisfy federal aims only, caught and flagged the neglect.

The Arkansas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board has only now, seemingly for the first time, complied with these safeguards. It has now satisfied its requirement to file legal notice, to solicit public comment, to submit the revised standards to the state’s Legislative Council for review and approval and to officially adopt the 2020-2021 standards into its rules and regulations.

As early as 2005 – perhaps earlier as well – the Arkansas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board adopted rules containing unconstitutional “rolling incorporations by reference” to the private standards. No one caught the unlawful wording until 2015.

It means the board, for years, robbed Arkansans of their right to participate in a notice-and-comment process guaranteed them by a statute. Arkansans affected by real estate appraisals – mortgagors, banks, depositors, property owners and taxpayers – were unlawfully muzzled. The Arkansas Appraiser Board effectively outsourced state governance to persons unknown to the state, in this case, an out-of-state publisher known as the Appraisal Foundation.

Until that defect was caught, enforcement of at least some of the 24 versions of the private standards has been done on a bluff and in breach of the state’s Administrative Procedure Act and the Arkansas Constitution. In Arkansas, you can’t have a continually changing law without a new adoption for each version of it. If this happens, it’s in violation of Article 5, Sec. 23, of the Arkansas Constitution.

The rule was revised to include a specific version of the copyrighted standards, in this case, the 2014-2015 version.

But adoption of the next version, the 2016-2017 standards, went off the rails again. A public notice was created but research shows it was never published in the Arkansas Register pursuant to 25 Ark. Code Subchapter 2 (§ 25-15-205). A proposed rule was drafted, but it, too, was never published in the Register, also in violation of the statute. Finally, the board provided a certified submittal to the Secretary of State’s Office containing both doctored and missing dates. You can view the bizarre submittal here.

For the next version of the standards – the 2018-2019 version – the Appraiser Board simply threw up its hands. It failed to adopt that version altogether. The standards were enforced without ever being recognized by the state.

“There seems to be a pattern of neglect, and backdating and doctoring of documents,” said appraiser-author Jeremy Bagott. “The more I looked, the more I found. This is about much more than a technicality. The malfeasance has allowed persons outside the state to effectively govern in Arkansas.”

Here is a certified submittal to the Secretary of State’s Office in which the adoption is illegally backdated. The adoption date precedes the publication of the legal notice for comment. This is in breach of the state’s administrative procedure statute. Thirty days’ notice of intended action is required for the adoption, amendment or repeal of a rule. The thirty-day period begins on the first day of the publication of the notice. Here is another adoption backdated by hand. It takes place before the Legislative Council’s review date. Here is one adoption that precedes the Legislative Council’s review date by an entire year.

By law, an agency is not allowed to file a final rule with the Secretary of State for adoption unless the rule has been approved under Ark. Code § 10-3-309, which is the statute requiring review and approval by the Legislative Council.

Diana Piechocki, the director of the state board, would not go on record. She referred Bagott to the Secretary of State’s “Administrative Rules” website and would not return phone calls seeking follow-up. Marty Garrity, the director of the state’s Bureau of Legislative Research, would not go on record about timeline irregularities in the adoption of rules. Finally, Legislative Auditor Roger Norman wouldn’t return calls seeking comment.

“I suspect this state board is overwhelmed as it tries to keep up with its duties as a state agency and, at the same time, meet the demands of its federal minder,” said Bagott. “The U.S. Constitution’s Tenth Amendment doesn’t allow a federal agency to commandeer a state agency like this. The Supreme Court has already weighed in in two similar cases: New York v. United States and Printz v. United States.

“If you can believe it, the appraiser board even collects the tiny federal agency’s sole funding source, dunning licensees an extra $80 fee at license renewal time and then giving the money to the federal agency, which the latter spends without congressional appropriation or reauthorization,” said Bagott.

Bagott has also found scofflaw appraiser regulatory agencies in California, New Jersey, Texas, Washington State, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia and South Carolina.

# # #

If you’re alarmed (or just frustrated), here’s something you can do right away:

Forward this email to the co-chairs of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee of the Arkansas General Assembly. They might be interested in what has been allowed to happen with this state board. The committee co-chairs are state Senator Jason Rapert and Representative Richard Womack.

State Sen. Jason Rapert
Email: Jason.Rapert@senate.ar.gov

State Rep. Richard Womack
Email: richard@richardwomack.com

Finally, feel free to forward this email to the following two Arkansas civil servants. For these last two, keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed.

Marty Garrity
Director
Bureau of Legislative Research
Office: State Capitol Room 315
Phone: 501-537-9114
Email: garritym@blr.arkansas.gov

Roger Norman
Legislative Auditor
Phone: 501-683-8600
roger.norman@arklegaudit.gov

# # #

Jeremy Bagott, a licensed appraiser and former newspaperman, sends up a warning flare in his 2019 book “Dispatches from the Cosmic Cobra Breeding Farm.” He takes the reader deep inside a tiny Washington, D.C., foundation that has managed to have its copyrighted code of conduct enshrined in federal and state law. All 50 states, even the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, now enforce it. The nonprofit, known as the Appraisal Foundation, has parlayed the arrangement into a lucrative publishing cartel. In his journey, the author uncovers a troubling trend deep in the plumbing of government.


OFT (One Final Thought)


Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll be more spacey;
  • You’ll be more spacey;
  • And I’ll float.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan J. Miller, CRP, CRE, Member of RAC
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

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