Essential Businesses Keep The Housing Market Trucking

I had one of these bad boys growing up and they were indestructible.

But I digress…

Warning! This week is heavy into the real estate appraisal world – but you’re probably cooped up inside so even if you are not an appraiser, it still might be interesting to explore.

Randall Bell’s Bell Disaster Index Shows We Will Survive

Randall Bell is the guy you call for property valuation analysis when there is a catastrophic event in the U.S. He provides a fascinating perspective for the current situation in his Bell Disaster Index.

From My Matrix Blog: The Future of Real Estate (And Life) Is Happily Looking Remote

With many Americans living under self-quarantine, the future of housing and office space will experience radical change. Here are some random thoughts about life after coronavirusappoccalypse:


The Man-Bun will make a big comeback due to the inability to get a haircut

There will be so much toilet paper to appear on store shelves that it will take years to use it up and toilet paper production-related employment will be bleak

Consumers will not regret hoarding toilet paper but will refuse to admit it in public

With everyone frustrated about being housebound, they will plot and plan to buy or rent a larger home as soon as this crisis is over

Buy a new refrigerator after burning out the refrigeration unit with thousands of sustained door-opens

A surge in the stock prices of Jenny Craig and WW

Gyms will see a new revival (see ‘Jenny Craig’)

People will discover they actually like to walk every day to clear their mind

Many people will begin to use every day and discover they like to see their friends and relatives faces when chatting – even in HD

Universities will incorrectly believe that students will want to learn remotely when really all they want to do it party in the dorms

Employees will decide they hate the time wasted on the commute even more because it is not completely necessary

Americans will love sleeping in until 8:30 am permanently changing the 9-5 standard to 10-6

Podcast usage will become a bigger thing than it ever was (see ‘walk every day’)

People will rush to cut their cable service after enduring endless hours, watching mindless cable shows, for reasons they can’t explain, but did realize being permanently pissed off was exhausting and unnecessary

The difference between weekends and weekdays will suddenly be thrust back into our daily lives and we’ll hate it despite the dated conventional wisdom that we should keep our personal and business lives separate (see ‘walk every day’)

The divorce rate will skyrocket as couples actually discover their real partner in close quarters

Parents will completely shed their ‘put their kids on the couch to watch tv’ shame as they consider how many episodes of Gilligan’s Island they have watched

Commercial real estate will never be the same again as millions of employees worked remotely and companies realized it wasn’t that big a deal


There will be a new generation classification known as Baby Boom II beginning nine months from now – ok, boomer? (see ‘divorce’)

Uncomfortable chairs will no longer be tolerated as Herman Miller Aeron Chairs will be the only office chairs made worldwide


I’ve seen the future, and it is good. -Beavis & Butthead

Other insights welcomed.

Getting Graphic

Len Kiefer‘s Chart Handiwork


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

Appraisers in Quarantine

This meme is making the rounds. Truth!

Effective today, more VA appraisal orders will be exteriors

It’s a good sign to see institutions shift their orientation to exteriors considering the largess of the mortgage world.

Here is the announcement and scope of work:

Valuation Practices during COVID-19
Exhibit A Scope of Work for Desktop Appraisal

GSE Regulator FHFA Announced Their Position On Exterior Inspections

After a massive agency effort to address the issue of appraisers performing in harm’s way, the FHFA issued temporary rules to address it during a rapidly ramped of crisis. Individuals like Danny Wiley, Scott Reuter, Lyle Radke and others made it all happen within the massive bureaucracy of the mortgage market whose underpinning is essential to the economic condition of the country. I know I complain a lot but their actions warrant a large thank you from the appraisal industry.

March 23, 2020: FHFA Directs Enterprises to Grant Flexibilities for Appraisal and Employment Verifications

Real estate appraisers are an essential business and here to protect the public trust

I hope all my readers (and everyone else) are staying safe and healthy during this crisis – now let’s get to business.

With New York State on lockdown, real estate brokers/agents can’t sell real estate right now because they are not considered an essential business (yet they are in nearby Connecticut!) This declaration determines whether you can or cannot remain in business during a crisis like this.

Are real estate appraisers considered an essential business in New York? Yes. They are in New York State and they are stated as such in the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. But the fact that real estate appraisers are an “essential business” is not consistent in the federal language, especially now when many states are, or will be going on lockdown.

My good friend and appraiser/regulator Pete Fontana and I wrote a letter nicknamed: Fontana/Miller Essential Letter of March 24, 2020. This letter combines the scattered references to address this issue in very specific terms using key language in the public record that illustrates the fact that appraisers are an “essential business” now and going forward.

This letter is the first to address this important issue. It was just sent to Congress, state officials, trade groups, agencies, and other groups related to our industry today and went viral industrywide. The feedback from these groups has been immediate and overwhelmingly encouraging and positive.

Please share the Fontana/Miller Essential Letter of March 24, 2020 with your colleagues in the industry, trade groups, state governments, on forums, and with anyone or in any place you think is relevant to our industry.

Real estate appraisers are an essential business in our country, always have been.

UPDATE – Pete Fontana sent our letter to the Governor of Montana who subsequently made sure that “appraisers as essential business language” were inserted in yesterday’s Stay at Home Directive See Pete’s highlight in the document.

In the following days, a number of trade groups wrote similar letters which is very encouraging.

NAR sent a joint trade association essential business letter on behalf of four institutions

Their letter is from the American Land Title Association, Mortgage Banker Association, National Association of Realtors and National Association of Home Builders.

They urged the implementation of stay-at-home orders to combat the coronavirus, and among other things, stating that appraisers are an essential business.

The Appraisal Institute, American Society of Appraisers and others sent a letter on appraisers as essential services

The American Society of Appraisers, American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, Appraisal Institute, Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Appraisers and the National Association of Realtors sent a joint letter on the Designation of Real Estate Appraisals as Essential Services.

We urge remaining jurisdictions to classify real estate appraisal services as essential…

Peter Christensen rolled out a free webinar and materials for appraisers to manage risk in a COVID-29 world

Peter has always been the voice of risk management in our appraisal world through conference presentations and his website Valuation Legal. He is allowing me to share his in Appraiserville.

Take a look at his slides and presentation. His content is all very helpful to our community.

Appraiser Frank Gregoire Has More Monitors Than You Do

Ryan Lundquist shows us how to communicate the market in this crisis

Delivery: Factual, neutral, non-apologetic, empathy without bias.

XOME Issues Vendor Authorization Letter In Case Appraisers Get Arrested

Insiders tell me they are publishing a Dick Tracy Decoder Ring next week. Good grief. This suggests they are so desperate for appraisers to place themselves in harm’s way that a printer and a logo is all you need they need for protection. Do they have a legal department?

OFT (One Final Thought)

The cover of the NYT today followed by the business section cover showing all 50 states. First here is the mockup for the anticipated announcement – this is how I design each market report I create!

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 essential;
– You’ll be more essential;
– And I’ll rest easy knowing U.S. real estate appraisers are considered essential businesses.

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
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog

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