In The News

All 50 states Present on Latest
Improving Housing Markets Index

Market Watch, Valuation Review

Monday, February 18, 2013 – The number of improving housing markets continued to expand for a sixth consecutive month to a total of 259 metropolitan areas on the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) for February. This is up from 242 markets listed as improving in January, and includes entrants from all 50 states and the District of the Columbia.

“Just over 70 percent of the 361 metros covered by the IMI are listed as improving this month,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “That's a far cry from when we initiated this index with just 12 improving metros in September of 2011 for the purpose of highlighting places that didn't fit the mold of the national headlines. Today, the story is about how widespread the recovery has become as conditions steadily improve in markets nationwide.”

The IMI identifies metro areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. A total of 20 new metros were added to the list and three were dropped from it this month.

Read the entire article at Valuation Review, by clicking here.

New UAD Ad for BLOG


FHA Announces Substantial Reforms
12/19/12 - The Federal Housing Administration’s Acting Commissioner, Carol J. Galante, announced Dec. 18 that she would implement substantial reforms to shore up the government mortgage program, which reported Nov. 14 that it was $16.3 billion in the red, Mortgage Daily reported.

The changes Galante will implement include limiting borrowers with credit scores less than 620 to a 43 percent total debt-to-income ratio. Borrowers with high debt-to-income ratios will be subject to manual underwriting and potentially to higher down payment requirements. The change is expected to cut claim rates by 20 percent.

The FHA also will eliminate its standard, fixed-rate home-equity conversion mortgages — a reverse mortgage program that allowed seniors to draw a large lump sum at closing, ranging from 62 to 77 percent of the property’s appraised value. Many seniors now are unable to keep up with payments and facing foreclosure.

Additional changes include reducing FHA market share by cutting loan-to-value ratios to 95 percent on loans greater than $625,000 and more closely scrutinizing borrowers with prior foreclosures.

“I've been working closely with (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) Secretary (Shaun) Donovan and Acting Commissioner Galante over the past few weeks on ways we can put FHA on sound financial footing,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said in a news release, Mortgage Daily reported. Corker is member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. “While this is only a first step, I am encouraged that Acting Commissioner Galante has committed to structural reforms that we both believe put FHA in a much stronger position,” he said.

Read the full story here.


Fed Alleges Mortgage Fraud, Sues Bank of America for $1 Billion
10-31-12 - Bank of America was hit with a $1 billion civil mortgage fraud lawsuit Oct. 24 in which Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara alleged the bank ran a scheme to defraud Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, USA Today reported.

According to the lawsuit, Countrywide Financial, which was purchased by Bank of America in 2008, ran a program known internally as “Hustle” or “High Speed Swim Lane,” which pushed mortgages through the approval process without checking for fraud, misstatements and inaccuracies or missing information.

Bharara’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, is the sixth such case filed against the nation’s biggest banks in the last 18 months by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office.

Lawrence Grayson, spokesman for Bank of America, told USA Today that “at some point, Bank of America can’t be expected to compensate every entity that claims losses that actually were caused by the economic downturn.”

However, federal prosecutors said that it was fraud and not a bad economy that caused Bank of America to allegedly sell unqualified mortgages to Fannie and Freddie in order for them to be packaged into mortgage-backed securities. The lawsuit alleged that Countrywide employees were given bonuses between 2007 and 2009 based on the volume of mortgages they processed. The suit also claimed that the bank’s executives were aware of the faulty mortgages being issued; a January 2008 internal review indicated that 58 percent of “Hustle” loans defaulted, USA Today reported.

The complaint also noted that Fannie and Freddie failed to review the mortgages before purchase, instead relying on the bank’s statements regarding the quality of the loans.

Bank of America has denied all allegations.

Read the full article here.


DataQuick Appoints Frank V. McMahon as Executive Chairman
SAN DIEGO, SEPT. 13, 2012 – DataQuick®, a provider of advanced real estate information solutions powered by data, analytics and decisioning, announced today that Frank V. McMahon has been named executive chairman of DataQuick.

In this new role, McMahon will play an active part in the management of many of DataQuick’s most significant client relationships and the development and execution of strategic priorities. He will participate in many of DataQuick’s growth initiatives, including the company’s plans to expand Rels Title. In addition, McMahon will continue to work with John Walsh, president of DataQuick, and the company’s senior management team on product development, operational, partner and client initiatives.

McMahon will continue to serve as a member of the Advisory Board of Decision Insight Information Group (DIIG), the holding company that owns DataQuick as well as Marshall & Swift/Boeckh (MSB), Decision Insight Information Group–Europe and Access Point Information Canada.

“Frank has provided invaluable insight and direction to DataQuick and the other DIIG businesses as an Advisory Board Member,” said Chris Cartwright, chief executive officer of DIIG. “His expanded role will allow him to leverage his extensive industry experience to help DataQuick meet the needs of our clients and grow more effectively.”

McMahon has served as a consultant to TPG Capital, DIIG’s parent company, since 2010. Prior to this, he served as CEO of the Information Solutions Group at The First American Corp. for two years and as vice chairman and CFO of the company for two years. Despite challenging economic and market conditions in 2008 and 2009, the Information Solutions Group grew under McMahon’s leadership achieving GAAP EBITDA of $484 million in 2009. Prior to 2006, McMahon spent 20 years as an investment banker with Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers.

McMahon graduated with a bachelor of science degree in Economics from Villanova University and a masters of business administration from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

About DataQuick
San Diego-based DataQuick, a Decision Insight Information Group Company, delivers advanced information solutions powered by higher quality data, innovative analytics and automated decisioning across a national footprint. The company drives better decision making and improved profitability for the real estate, mortgage lending and secondary investor markets. DataQuick’s integrated solutions include property data and analytics, appraisals and non-appraisal evaluations, flood determinations, mortgage credit reports, automated valuation models, automated decisioning software, title insurance and property information, property research portals and marketing tools. For more information, visit the company’s website at, on LinkedIn or on Twitter at @DataQuick.

About Decision Insight Information Group
Decision Insight Information Group, located in the U.S., Canada and Europe, delivers a comprehensive range of information, infrastructure and decision support products and services for financial and legal professionals. Operating at the heart of the property industry, Decision Insight Information Group manages complex information solutions and provides clarity on decision making for buying, selling, conveyancing, financing and insurance. Decision Insight Information Group companies include MSB and DataQuick in the U.S., Access Point Information Canada, SearchFlow, xit2 and Decision Insight Hub in the UK, Millar & Bryce in Scotland, Rochford Brady Group in the Republic of Ireland, Wertweiser, a joint venture with HVB Bank, in Germany, and Decision First, a joint venture with First Title, in the UK. Decision Insight Information Group has 1,100 employees in 16 offices. For more information, visit Decision Insight Information Group is a TPG Capital portfolio company.

Breaking News

Appraisal Qualification Board Q & A Vol.4, No.1
Dear Henry,
I am now considering up grading from a Certified Residential Appraiser to General Certified Appraiser. I get different answers from different people on several of the requirements. For example some people tell me my upgrade work must be supervised by a General Certified Appraisers. Others tell me it is unnecessary. My state appraisal board says it depends what is required by the Appraisal Foundation. I have tried to real all their voluminous requirement but can not find a definitive answer to the question. What do you think.

Madison, WS

Dear OJ
You are correct when you say there is no direct definitive answer to this question in the USPAP. There is an answer in the just released Appraisal Qualification Board Q & A Vol.4, No.1 dated June 2012.

This is a summary of what it says:

1. Some states have specific requirements that cover this situation. Therefore the first then than any appraiser who is considering getting a Residential or General Certification is to check with your state to see what their specific requirements are. The simplest way to do this is to send them a letter asking what if any requirement you state has. I always prefer a letter to a verbal request as if some time in the future what you have done is questioned you can fall back on the letter to explain what you did or did not do. The only problem with this communication method is that some states take a very, very long time to answer appraiser inquiry letters. If this apply to you state you should make a verbal inquiry and when you get someone who will talk to you ask them if they have anything in writing that they can send to you.

The entire AQB Q & A Vol.4, No.1, June 2012 is available to download by clicking here.


FHFALogo_notificationFederal Housing Finance Agency

FHFA Sends Congress Strategic Plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Conservatorships

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco today sent to Congress a strategic plan for the next phase of the conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises). The plan builds on the Acting Director’s February 2010 letter to Congress on the conservatorships and sets forth objectives and steps FHFA is taking or will take to meet FHFA’s obligations as conservator. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed into conservatorships Sept. 6, 2008 and have since received more than $180 billion in taxpayer support.
FHFA identifies three strategic goals for the next phase of the conservatorships:

Build. Build a new infrastructure for the secondary mortgage market;

Contract. Gradually contract the Enterprises’ dominant presence in the marketplace while simplifying and shrinking their operations; and

Maintain. Maintain foreclosure prevention activities and credit availability for new and refinanced mortgages.

“With the conservatorships operating for more than three years and no near-term resolution in sight, it is time to update and extend the goals and directions of the conservatorships,” DeMarco wrote. “FHFA is contemplating next steps to build an infrastructure for the secondary mortgage market that is consistent with existing policy proposals and will support any outcome of the leading legislative proposals. FHFA looks forward to working with Congress and the Administration on a resolution of the conservatorships and a comprehensive review of the nation’s housing finance system,” said DeMarco.

Link to February 2010 letter


Not too Late to Comment...
The ASB is currently considering changes for the 2014-15 edition of USPAP. All interested parties are encouraged to comment in writing to the ASB before their upcoming meeting in Savannah, GA on February 10th, 2012.

The actual deadline for written comments is extended to March 12th, 2012. Respondents should be assured that each member of the ASB will thoroughly read and consider all comments. Comments are also invited at the ASB public meeting on Feb.10th in Savannah, Georgia.

Written comments on this document can be submitted by mail, email or FAX.

Snail mail address:

Appraisal Standards Board
The Appraisal Foundation
1155 15th Street, NW, Suite 1111
Washington, DC 20005

Fax: (202) 347-7727

To review the current proposed changes, click here: USPAP COMMENT


~ SOPA Update ~

Senators Flee Internet Piracy Bill

Support for two online piracy bills in Congress dropped dramatically on Wednesday after opponents of the legislation staged a dramatic protest in which vast swaths of the Web effectively went dark. More than 4.5 million people signed their names to the Google petition and 300,000 people emailed or called their lawmakers, according to the protest organizers.

In New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas, protesters held rallies to draw attention to the bills. The Library of Congress said late Wednesday that it had been hit with a denial of service attack by “a group opposed to the online piracy legislation.” By evening, a number of lawmakers had done an about-face on the legislation.

The Senate version of the bill lost four of its co-sponsors, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “It is simply not ready for prime time and both sides must continue working together to find a better path forward,” Hatch said in a statement about the Protect Intellectual Property Act.

Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mark Rubio (R-Fla.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also released statements Wednesday saying that they had reservations and would not vote for the bill if it came up for a floor vote. In the House, where lawmakers are considering a similar bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters that “it’s...clear to many of us that there’s a lack of consensus at this point” on how to proceed with the bill.

The online piracy bills had been aimed at protecting U.S. companies against foreign Websites that illegally post copyrighted material. Companies opposing the legislation had argued that the bills would impose heavy regulatory costs, harm innovation and give the government too much power to shut down Websites accused of copyright violations even if they are later found to be innocent of the charges.

“The entire approach is philosophically wrongheaded,” said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales last Tuesday evening in an interview with The Washington Post before the protest began. In a statement posted to his public Facebook profile, co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the bills “get in the way of Internet development.” Google’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt encouraged his followers on Twitter to sign Google’s petition against the bills, calling on them to “Defend the web!”

The darkened Web sites represent some of the largest properties on the Internet: Google easily has the widest reach, with 187.1 million unique visitors in December, according to data from ComScore. Wikimedia, which owns Wikipedia and other Wiki sites, and Craigslist also have broad audiences, reaching 83 million and 49.8 million unique visitors, respectively, in the same period. Reddit, which compiles links to funny stories, was visited by 4.8 million users last month. Another participant, Boing Boing, had 1.6 million visits.

Most responsible parties agree that some kind of intellectual property protections are needed in the current "free for all" world of downloads, uploads, YouTube, Wiki and Google. Still, the anarchic values of open structure and little regulation still hold the hearts and minds of most users of the Internet who fear that by regulating anything, the nemesis of overregulation and lost integrity will ensue.



As genuine MAC addicts, we at REV join the millions of fans and customers around the globe in mourning the death of Apple founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs. He enriched the lives of so many of us with unique 21st Century devices that are beautiful, practical and most importantly, fun to use.

For a moving convocation by one of this generations greatest thinkers, click the video below to watch Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford from May 2005.


AI's New GREEN Addendum

On September 30th, the Appraisal Institute released a new form intended to help appraisers analyze values of energy-efficient home features.

The Appraisal Institute issued the form as an optional addendum to the URAR (Fannie Mae 1004-Freddie Mac 70). It is intended to help the industry standardize the way residential energy-efficient features are analyzed and reported. The Appraisal Institute's addendum allows appraisers to identify and describe a home's green features. The form also will make it easier for appraisers to determine whether recent home sales should be used as comparable sales.

The Appraisal Institute plans encourage lenders, home builders, real estate agents and homeowners to take advantage of this new tool.

GREEN ADDENDUM FORM to download a PDF copy of the new form.

Breaking News

FHFA logo

July 27th, 2011

FHFA Sues UBS to Recover Losses to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Washington, DC – The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), as conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), has filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the Southern District of New York against UBS Americas, Inc., and related defendants alleging violations of federal securities laws in the sale of residential private-label mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to the Enterprises. FHFA seeks to recover losses and damages sustained by the Enterprises as a result of their investments in UBS Securities.

The lawsuit alleges that UBS Americas made numerous material misstatements and omissions about the mortgage loans underlying the private-label MBS, including the creditworthiness of the borrowers and the quality of the origination and underwriting practices used to evaluate and approve such loans. The defendants also failed to conduct adequate due diligence. This lawsuit seeks to recoup the losses suffered by the Enterprises related to their $4.5 billion investment in securities sold by UBS.
As conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, FHFA is charged with preserving and conserving the assets of the Enterprises. Through this lawsuit and additional lawsuits expected to follow, FHFA seeks to recover losses suffered by the Enterprises in connection with the Enterprises’ investments in private-label securities.

“FHFA is taking this action consistent with our responsibilities as conservator of each Enterprise,” said FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco. “From the issuance of 64 subpoenas last year to the filing of this lawsuit and further actions to come, we continue to seek redress for the losses suffered by the Enterprises.”

The defendants named in the lawsuit are UBS Americas, Inc., UBS Real Estate Securities Inc., UBS Securities, LLC, Mortgage Asset Securitization Transactions, Inc., and former UBS executives David Martin, Per Dyrvick, Hugh Corcoran, and Peter Slagowitz.


census banner
Mapping the 2010 U.S. Census

2010 census tract data is available now!

Check out this great link to maps and graphs of the 2010 U.S. Census Data.

Free and useful!

For many fascinating additional subjects, graphics, data, check out the Source:



The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) has issued the following Exposure Draft:

Fourth Exposure Draft of Proposed Revisions
to the Future
Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria


Issued on June 17, 2011; Written comments requested by September 30, 2011

Send Comments to


Use of Distress Sales in Real Property Market Value Appraisals

A client has asked me to disregard any foreclosure, real estate owned (REO), or short sales when performing market value appraisal assignments. Is this an acceptable assignment condition?

No. USPAP does not specifically address which sales should or should not be considered in an appraisal assignment. However, in real property appraisal assignments, Standards Rule 1-4(a) requires:
When a sales comparison approach is necessary for credible results, an appraiser must analyze such comparable sales data as are available to indicate a value conclusion. (emphasis added)

So, the appraiser must determine what data is relevant. There are many appraisal assignments where, in order to achieve credible results, it is necessary to use “distress” (e.g., REO or Short Sales) properties as comparable sales. However, foreclosure sales, defined by
Black’s Law Dictionary as “the sale of mortgaged property, authorized by a court decree or a power-of-sale clause, to satisfy the debt” are seldom based on market expectations. When there is a glut of distress sales in the marketplace, and those properties are truly comparable to the subject, it would be misleading not to use them as part (or in some cases all) of the basis for a value conclusion. A client-imposed requirement to disregard data that may be relevant and necessary for credible assignment results would be an unacceptable assignment condition. (emphasis added)

To download the entire PDF, click here: USPAP Q & A


FHFA logo
Update on Proposed Overhaul of Fannie and Freddie: Excerpts from a SPEECH by Edward J. DeMarco Acting Director,
FHFA Before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government-Sponsored Enterprises

Chairman Garrett, Ranking Member Waters and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to speak this morning on the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) role as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) and on proposals regarding the future of the Enterprises...

It is critically important that Congress and the Administration begin the work to define the longterm structure of housing finance. While substantive disagreements about the features of that structure exist, there is near universal agreement that we should not follow the old paradigm. We appreciate the efforts that the Sub-committee has taken to start this process...

Interview with Henry S. Harrison

Interview with Henry S. Harrison
by his wife
Ruth Lambert, Editor, Real Estate Valuation Magazine Online

Henry - can you explain to our readers what you are working on now?
Henry (H2): For the past few weeks, we have been very involved with the birth of our 5th grandchild, Sterling Harrison Muchnick, born February 23rd. Now I am back at work on my latest book "Harrison's Complete UAD Guide for the URAR."

What is the UAD? How will it affect appraisers?
According to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (aka the GSEs), they "have developed the Uniform Mortgage Data Program (UMDP) to enhance the accuracy and quality of loan data delivered to each GSE. The Uniform Appraisal Dataset (UAD) is a key component which defines all fields required for an appraisal submission on one of four standard appraisal forms, and standardizes definitions and responses for a key subset of fields." What this means is that soon Fannie and Freddie will no longer accept appraisals on paper — only electronic transmissions from the lenders. In addition, they will require that all these appraisals be formatted exactly as delineated in the UAD, or their computers will reject them.


Statement from FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco
on the Administration’s Housing Finance Reform Report

“I am pleased that the Administration today put forward a framework to strengthen the nation’s housing finance system, restore the critical role of private capital, and identify options for the long-term structure of housing finance.

The conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, with funding from the Treasury Department, were put in place to provide near-term stability to the mortgage market and to give policymakers an opportunity to evaluate the role of the government in housing finance. Currently, the Federal government is providing support for over 90 percent of new mortgage originations, a level of involvement that should not be maintained.

As debate over the future of the housing finance system progresses, FHFA will continue to meet the goals of the conservatorships, which include retaining value in the Enterprises’ business operations and maintaining their support for the housing market. Since the conservatorships were established, the Enterprises have strengthened their underwriting standards and enhanced their loss mitigation tools. The work of FHFA is consistent with the Administration’s focus on stronger underwriting and pricing, and the re-introduction of private capital.

Certain elements of the Administration’s framework involve preparing the Enterprises, the Federal Home Loan Banks, and other market participants for the transition to a future structure for housing finance. We will consider and discuss with the Administration the details of the framework announced today, consistent with our responsibilities as conservator and regulator. FHFA also will continue to take other steps to strengthen the mortgage market of the future. For example, we have already initiated programs to standardize mortgage data submissions and consider servicing compensation reforms.

FHFA looks forward to working with the Administration and Congress to restore the functioning of private markets and preserve the stability and liquidity of the secondary mortgage market.”


The Federal Housing Finance Agency regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks. These government-sponsored enterprises provide more than $5.9 trillion in funding for the U.S. mortgage markets and financial institutions.


The Chinese New Year - Year of the Golden Rabbit

This should be a placid year, very much welcomed and needed after the ferocious year of the Tiger. We should go off to some quiet spot to lick our wounds and get some rest after all the battles of the previous year. Good taste and refinement will shine on everything and people will acknowledge that persuasion is better than force. Diplomacy, international relations and politics will be given a front seat again. We will act with discretion and make reasonable concessions without too much difficulty. One warning: do not become too self-indulgent. The influence of the Rabbit tends to spoil those who like comfort and thus impairs their effectiveness and sense of duty when action is needed.

The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes by Theodora Lau, Harper & Row Perennial, 1979.



SAVE THE DATE: Friday, April 8, 2011 • 9:00am – 12:00pm

Grand Hyatt San Antonio 600 East Market Street San Antonio, TX 78205

Meeting Agenda: 

The Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) will meet in San Antonio in April to make its final consideration of revisions for the 2012-13 edition of USPAP. 

Based on the feedback from the Fourth Exposure Draft, the Board will expose its Fifth (and final) Exposure Draft for proposed changes for the 2012-13 edition of USPAP in mid-February, 2011. 

Written comments in response to the Fifth Exposure Draft will be accepted through April 1st, 2011. Oral comments will also be accepted at the April 8th public meeting. The Board plans to adopt revisions for the 2012-13 edition of USPAP at the April 8, 2011 public meeting. 

Please note that this meeting will be followed by a meeting of the State Regulator Advisory Group at 1:00 p.m., and these two meetings are at the Grand Hyatt Hotel; the AARO (Assoc. of Appraiser Regulatory Officials) Conference is being held at the Hotel Contessa at 306 West Market Street in San Antonio.

Your online registration will assure proper seating at the meeting.

Standards Administrator: Carrie Cadle
202-624-3058 |
Events/Meeting Registration