Category Archives: Reviewer Thoughts & Tips

The main attempt of this blog is for me to give back to the real property valuation industry. I can’t take my knowledge with me when I leave this world. So, my goal is to share everything I know through writing articles, teaching classes and seminars, and this blog.

I usually receive several questions a week from fee appraisers, appraisal reviewers, and chief appraisers regarding appraisal reports, FIRREA, or USPAP. Hopefully, these will provide most of the content for this blog. In this way, we can all learn from the same issue under discussion. Obviously, items will be redacted as needed to maintain confidentiality.

If I hit a lull in inquiries, I have a huge treasure trove of topics to draw on. I will try to discuss interesting topics I have encountered in international reports. It is a neat world out there and us American valuers should be amazed at how the rest of the world handles various items.

Yes, I will give my interpretation of FIRREA and USPAP. Everyone knows I am not shy. However, to CYA, I need to give the standard verbiage that my interpretations are not legal interpretations….they have not and cannot be approved by examiners and regulators. Each Bank should contact their specific examiner and/or the appropriate regulator in Washington DC that interprets FIRREA.

THE ADDENDA FROM HELL

February 12, 2016 – As I sit here on a Friday evening reviewing an appraisal report of an office building in a major CBD, I just have to start sharing my experiences.

This is a $5MM+ property that is 100% leased to several tenants.  Again in a large city CBD.  You get the picture.

As I glance at the Table of Contents, I notice that the Reconciliation is on Page 25.  Only 25 pages to appraise a property of this complexity?

But, it gets better as I look at the Addenda….Page 100 goes by….Page 200 goes by….the report finally ends at Page 245!!!  So, I am about to review 25 pages of analysis followed by 220 pages of who knows what.  This must be a record!

Oh the life of a reviewer…. :)

THE BIG SHORT – A Movie All Americans Need To See

January 16, 2016 – I went to see The Big Short today.  I encourage everyone to go see it.

After seeing this movie, you will know why I list Banks among The World’s 3 Greatest Evils (I won’t go into the other 2 at this time).  You will know why I took on Fifth Third Bank and suffered for 7 years to achieve vindication.  And why I look so forward to all of the other whistleblowers out there getting their share of that and many other banks.

For me, it was an emotional movie.  I lived it and knew it at the time.  I can totally relate to Mark Baum, and really the others who went short, as it was an obvious winning bet – but, to win, the American public had to be decimated and we knew banks and Wall Street would be bailed out by the taxpayer.  Corporate Socialism I heard it called recently.

It was good to see the few other people that forecast what I termed in June 2005 The Great Depression II (c).  Unlike them, I just didn’t make a few billion dollars:(  I am glad they did at the cost of ‘the smart money’ on Wall Street.  Yes, a few of us can be right and 99.99% of the World can be wrong.   Remember Mann’s Axiom….

Money will be made shorting the current Echo Bubble during this Echo Depression(c).  It just won’t be as much as last time since the bullish housing people know what the shorts are doing this time around.

I was interviewing with the OCC in the Summer of 2008 and they asked me if I thought banks had learned their lesson.  I said ‘NO’ and that as soon as the pendulum swung back to optimism they would do everything all over again.  I have been told things are even worse today than in the bubble years.  Scary.  The OCC then asked me what it would take to stop banks from being so wreckless.  My answer was to enforce the FIRREA penalties that would allow the government to fine and imprison individuals – the corporate veil does not protect employees that violate FIRREA.  I won’t give it away, but the movie tells us how many bankers have been arrested for the housing debacle – you won’t be surprised, but should be disappointed in the system.

Today, my solution to get banks to clean up their act is simple – eliminate the FDIC deposit insurance.  The public would demand 100% transparency and total safe lending and practices before they would put their money in a bank.  Of course, and saying this I sound like Mark Baum for sure, this would just move all of the unethical and greedy people from banks to non-bank lenders.  The scum keeps moving to where it can thrive.

Speaking of which, the scum have renamed CDOs today as ‘Bespoke Tranche Obligations (BTOs).  Also, a residential lender told me that lenders are starting to do ‘Statement Loans.’  They simply look at your bank statement to see your income and don’t request your tax return.  This is the first step in the direction of the old NINJA-type loans.

I encourage anyone in the industry that encounters these products to collect all of the info you can and go to the authorities so these people can be prosecuted when the time comes – I will be glad to advise you on what steps to take.  Also, investors should remember a rose is a rose is a rose.

Please go see the movie.  Please tell everyone you know to go see the movie.

 

FF&E – FIRREA vs. USPAP

January 7, 2016 – Below is a question I received followed by my reply.  Happy New Year to all.

George – Hope your holidays were great and 2015 is finishing off strong.  I was hoping to get your opinion on an item below.

It’s just how non-realty items are reported in the appraisal report. No change at all in the new USPAP – I’ve just been inconsistent in how I treat it. Sometimes I show a $ allocation, sometimes I don’t and just say it is included in the value and has a positive effect on value. Either way, I’m always clear on whether non-real property items are in the value or not.

So just trying to nail down exactly what is right or what USPAP expects. I’ve seen personal property treated many different ways and some appraisers still don’t say anything about it… USPAP doesn’t say much on the topic.

Thanks for any input!

As stated in Standards Rule 1-4, part (G): When personal property, trade fixtures, or intangible items are included in the appraisal, the appraiser must analyze the effect on value of such non-real property items.

My question is what is the extent of “analyzing the effect on value?” For instance, in a multifamily property with appliances necessary for continued operation, do we need to actually state the estimated amount that the appliances contribute to value or is it sufficient to note that the market value includes all personal property items which contribute to the market value?  If the value needs to be broken down and allocated between real property and non-real property items – can the allocation be stated once near the beginning of the appraisal report or does the allocation have to be every place where there is a market value stated?

Just curious because I have heard several versions and I didn’t really see any Advisory Opinions on the topic.

============  MY REPLY ============================

Your question only exists because the ASB and AI and others won’t specifically address the various differences between USPAP and FIRREA.
The bottomline is USPAP does NOT require a value on the FF&E.  Albeit, it would probably help all clients to know such.  More info cannot hurt.
However, FIRREA DOES require values be allocated to FF&E and Business/Intangible Assets so that the appraiser provides the ONLY required value per FIRREA – Market Value As Is of REAL ESTATE ONLY.
So, when doing an appraisal for a Federally-Related Transaction, you MUST provide a value for the non-realty items.  It has been that way since 1990/1991.
Where you place it….well that is up to you.  But, technically, when you state Market Value As Is (as well as Upon Completion and Upon Stabilization) it should just be the Real Estate Only number.
However, 99%+ of appraisers state Market Value INCLUSIVE of FF&E and Biz Value and then have some kind of footnote or wording in parentheses saying ‘the above includes $1,400 of FF&E’. Something like that.  They let the Bank do the math to get to the real estate only number.
So, you can do it that way and you will be in line with your peers.  As I always tell appraisers though, if you want to stand out from the crowd provide what your client really needs, and in this case, state MV without the FF&E and Biz Value and then let the footnote say how much the FF&E and Biz Values are worth.

The reason banks need the Real Estate Only number is it is Federal law (FDICIA of 1991) that LTV must (!) be calculated on this number only.  Any MV number that includes FF&E and/or Biz Value is worthless to a bank!

Now, for non-Bank clients you can forget all of the above.  However, I still recommend providing the separate values.
I hope this helps.

THE DICTIONARY OF REAL ESTATE APPRAISAL, 6TH EDITION

October 26, 2015 – Per the Appraisal Institute’s web site:

http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/the-dictionary-of-real-estate-appraisal-6th-edition/

The Appraisal Institute is proud to present the sixth edition of The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal and grateful to the dozens of practicing appraisers who contributed to its development. This new edition features

  •  5,000+ dictionary entries
  • 1,250 revised definitions
  • 450 new terms

Also included are new and revised glossaries to help real property valuers understand the language of related professionals in architecture and construction; mathematics and statistics; environmental contamination; agriculture, forestry, soils, and wetlands; and green building. Other addenda contain information on real estate organizations; important US government agencies, legislation, and programs;  significant US Supreme Court decisions; and useful measures and conversions.

 

Fifth Third Bank Settles False Claims Act Case for $84.9 Million

PHILADELPHIA, PA, October 6, 2015 — The United States Department of Justice announced today that Fifth Third Bank will pay approximately $85 million to the federal government to settle claims under the False Claims Act (“FCA”) relating to the Bank’s practices in connection with loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  The settlement also resolves a whistleblower lawsuit filed by Kenney & McCafferty in June, 2011 in the Southern District of New York.

Kenney & McCafferty filed the whistleblower complaint on behalf of a former chief appraiser at the Bank, who alleged a broad range of commercial and residential mortgage violations, including fraudulent appraisal practices, which resulted in significant losses to the federal government. The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act.  These provisions permit private parties to sue on behalf of the United States when they believe an individual or company has submitted false claims for government funds.

Fraud on the government’s mortgage programs has become a major source of False Claims Act recoveries in the wake of the mortgage crisis, and the Fifth Third settlement marks another significant victory for both the government and the taxpayers in this line of cases.  According to George Mann, the former Fifth Third employee who blew the whistle, “the culture of the Bank at that time emphasized profits over compliance with federal regulations.  This type of behavior is exactly what led to the financial crisis and, no matter what the outcome, I felt it was my responsibility to speak up and do the right thing.”

“We were fortunate to represent Mr. Mann in this case.  He is honest, ethical, and informed, and was willing to step forward under difficult circumstances,” said Kathryn Schilling, a whistleblower attorney at Kenney & McCafferty.  “Mr. Mann raised concerns about Fifth Third’s compliance issues internally, but no one listened to him.  He is thrilled that the government has recouped significant funds from Fifth Third to restore taxpayer dollars,” Ms. Schilling said.

Mr. Mann and his attorneys expressed great appreciation for the work of the Department of Justice, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, particularly Assistant US Attorneys Pierre Armand and Jaimie Nawaday.  Mr. Mann also thanked his family, friends, former colleagues who supported his compliance efforts at Fifth Third, his co-relator John Ferguson, and the law firm of Kenney & McCafferty.

For inquiries, please contact:

Kenney & McCafferty, P.C.

Kathryn Schilling

(215) 367-4333

kschilling@kenneymccafferty.com

 

 

Apartment Appliances are FF&E, Not Real Estate!!!

It is 2015 and I continue to encounter appraisers (albeit fewer and fewer thankfully!) who do not value the FF&E in apartment properties.  When I started appraising in 1986 we separately valued the appliances back then.  Since 1990, FIRREA has required this.  This issue should have been settled 25+ years ago.

The most common response I get when I ask an appraiser to separately value the FF&E is ‘In our market these items transfer with the real estate.’  To which a whole list of questions and replies come to mind:

Who cares how the FF&E is transferred – it is still FF&E!

FF&E in hotels transfers with the real estate – how does that differ from an apartment complex?  The same goes for many other property types.

Having been frustrated by this issue for 23+ years as a reviewer, a few years ago I took the opportunity to have this item added to the 14th Edition of The Appraisal of Real Estate.  There is a list of property types with FF&E and that list now includes apartments:)

For bank/credit union appraisals, appraisers need to realize that it is Federal Law that requires LTV (Loan-To-Value) ratios be calculated on the Market Value As Is of REAL ESTATE ONLY.  Examiners have been focusing on this very item for the past 5 years.  It is important that fee appraisers help their clients comply with Federal Law.  Provide a value for the FF&E and be done with it.  And do NOT include the amount in the Market Value ‘As Is’ figure as again it is supposed to be Real Estate Only.

I will agree that in some cases this amount is minimal.  But, Federal Law still requires a separate value.  There are many cases where this amount can be in the millions of dollars – e.g. those high end condo projects that did not sell out before the bubble burst and have been rented as apartments ever since.

Lastly, as one instructor told a class I was in – If I can drop it on my foot, it is FF&E:)

Market Value As Is is not always the same as Market Value

August 24, 2015 – I had this email exchange with a review appraiser today.  This is one of the situations where Market Value As Is and Market Value can differ.

=====

George,

I have a question regarding an appraisal that I am reviewing if you have a moment to help me out.  I am overthinking this and now can’t decide which is correct.
Background info:  The property is a large (100,000 SF) multi-tenant industrial building.  The client asked for “as is” and “as stabilized” values in the engagement letter.  The building is currently 30% vacant and the appraisal estimates stabilized to be 15%.  The appraisal also states that the building will achieve stabilization within the year.  Four of the tenants have rent increases within the next 12 months.  The appraisal utilizes the current rent roll at current rent levels, but increases the four tenants to their future rate.  In addition, rent for the vacant space is estimated at market levels.  Using these parameters, PGI is estimated.  Vacancy is set at 15%, expenses are subtracted.  The appraisal then has two below the line expenses for tenant improvements (assuming a 10-year amortization) and leasing commissions.  The resulting figure is capitalized into a value which the appraisal calls “as is”.  The appraisal further states that this is also “as stabilized” because the property will be stabilized within the year.
Here is where I feel that I’m over thinking this.  I know that the Income Approach is based on the principle of anticipation and that future income is to be considered.  So is the “as is” value the rent roll at current rent levels with no consideration toward the rental of the vacant space and no bumps in rates for the 4 tenants?  Or is the application noted above correct give the anticipation of future benefits?
I find it hard to believe that the “as is” and “as stabilized” can be the same value since the property is not currently stabilized.  However, given the principles of the Income Approach I can also see how this could be so.
Sorry for the long email.  I would appreciate any guidance you can give me on this.  I value your input.
On a side note, I have enjoyed reading your website and blog; very informing.
Thanks!
=====
Hi ABC,

Thanks re the blog….appreciate it.
Regarding the As Is Value, the appraiser is wrong.  For a Market Value appraisal (non-Bank client), s/he may be right or wrong.
As Is means just that.  Deductions MUST be made for leasing commissions to go from 30% to 15% vacancy.  TI for that same space.  And lost income during the 12 months the space is leased.  And of course discounted for time.
The December 2010 Interagency Guidance states the following:

Partially Leased Buildings – For proposed and partially leased rental developments, the appraiser must make appropriate deductions and discounts to reflect that the property has not achieved stabilized occupancy. The appraisal analysis also should include consideration of the absorption of the unleased space. Appropriate deductions and discounts should include items such as leasing commission, rent losses, tenant improvements, and entrepreneurial profit, if such profit is not included in the discount rate.

I tell appraisers MV As Is different from Market Value.  In a general MV appraisal, MAYBE (only maybe) might the market not make deductions if they think all will be fine within a year.  Personally I would make deductions if buying your subject property, but optimistic investors may not.
However, for As Is appraisals the deductions MUST be made.
I think it would be fun for you to ask the appraiser for a list of names and numbers of people s/he talked to that said in a case like this they would not make any deductions for LC, TI, and rent loss.  Simply say you would like to talk to market investors and better understand their viewpoint:)  I seriously doubt you will be provided with a list of such contacts.
I hope this helps.
George

It Has ALWAYS Been Leased Fee Interest

Following is a recent conversation between a bank review appraiser and a fee appraiser:

Dear Fee Appraiser,

A review has been completed on your appraisal of the Apartment located at XYZ in City, ST and am wondering if you could provide some clarity in the following area:

I am wondering how the property rights appraised can be Fee Simple, when the subject apartment building is not vacant.

Thank you for addressing this item. Please make any necessary revisions and return a revised report to me at your earliest convenience.

Thanks.

Review Appraiser

—————————————————————–

Mr. Review Appraiser,

The subject property has current contract rents on a very short-term basis (most are month-to-month), and the rental rates at completion are based on market rental rates.  In both analyses, market rental rates are utilized (see Page 78).  Therefore, the market value opinion is fee simple.  If contract rental rates are market rental rates, the fee simple and leased fee values are essentially equivalent.

The report date has been changed to the current date to comply with USPAP.  Thank you for your input.

Sincerely,

Fee Appraiser

———————————————————

Mr. Fee Appraiser,

Your prompt response has been greatly appreciated.

Please refer to an explanation regarding the leased fee interest on Page 114 of the Appraisal of Real Estate (13th edition) as follows:

“The lessor’s interest in a property is  considered a leased fee interest regardless of the duration of the lease, the specified rent, the parties to the lease, or any of the terms in the lease contract. A leased property, even one with rent that is consistent with market rent, is appraised as a leased fee interest, not as a fee simple interest  ……”

If the contract rent is the same as the market rent, the leased fee value becomes equivalent to the fee simple value, not the other way around.

Thank you in advance for your quick follow up on our request.

Thanks.

Review Appraiser

—————————————————————

MANN’S COMMENTS

Geez, for almost my entire 29+ year career I have had to deal with this error made by many appraisers.  Thankfully, over the years, fewer and fewer appraisers think lease terms have anything to do with the property interest appraised.  OCCUPANCY is essentially all that matters in this determination.

The quote the reviewer presents from the 13th Edition is 100% on target.  In fact, it sounds exactly like my response over the past 20+ years….since I contribute to the each edition of The Appraisal of Real Estate and this is a pet peeve, the odds are those are words I wrote.  Obviously, I like them:) lol

I have had exactly ONE existing apartment complex appraised as Fee Simple Estate.  It was a 200-unit apartment project in Orlando in 2007 that had been vacated for condo conversion and the market crashed and that did not happen.  In that case, the owner could immediately occupy all 200 units, if they so desired.

Another item the above fee appraiser assumed, that is likely in error, is that the subject contract rents were all at market.  Once an existing apartment property is a few years old, it is near impossible that all of the contract rents are at market.  My experience is actual income from contract rents is typically 5% to 25% (!) below the hypothetical market rent at 100% occupancy – this is often termed Economic Vacancy….and often not accounted for by many appraisers.

I encourage all appraisers to simply read the definitions of Fee Simple Estate and Leased Fee Interest.  It is clear as day that lease terms are not mentioned.  Also, note this nitpicky item – only Fee Simple is an ‘Estate’ – everything else is an ‘Interest.’  Why?  I don’t know.  I just had this pointed out to me while on The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal committee.

This is a long first post….but, I want to thank the Chief Appraiser who shared this item with me and allowed me to redact the emails and post the conversation above.  I look forward to doing this on an ongoing basis.  My hope is all of us can learn from these situations – fee appraisers, review appraisers, newbie fee and review appraisers, bank credit employees, et al.