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Josh: Hey everybody, and welcome to the BiggerPockets Podcast this is Show 007. I’m your host Josh Dorkin along with my co-host Brandon Turner. What is going on Mr. Brandon?
Brandon: Oh not much Josh but to be honest I’m getting a little tired of this winter I’m looking forward to the sunshine again.
Josh: You know what we’ve got inches of snow on our front yard and it’s certainly getting a little bit dreadful even though we’ve got 300 days of sunshine here in Denver Colorado.
Brandon: You do and I have 300 days of rain out here in Montesano, Washington.
Josh: Well you know you can always get up and move man.
Brandon: I could, I don’t know, I like my house now.
Josh: Yeah, nice, nice. Well it’ll be spring soon and spring, speaking of which is a great time to sell your house or to buy a house and with that in mind we’ve got a great show today don’t we?
Brandon: We do and nice transition Josh.
Josh: Did you like that; that was awfully created.
Brandon: That was smooth.
Josh: Yes, well speaking of smooth I’ve got some Colt 45 here. Just kidding. Well listen, let’s jump right into this thing alright.
Brandon: Sound good.
Josh: So for all you guys listening, you know that most real estate investing podcasts are typically about the hype and the motivation which certain has its place. But here in the BiggerPockets Podcasts we like to go further and keep with the tradition of biggerpockets.com by bringing you actionable real life strategies that we could use in our day to day real estate investing careers.
And of course that’s our goal for today’s show as well. Today we’re actually going to be sitting down with Ryan Lundquist a busy appraiser from the Sacramento area who has got a keen insight I’d say into the real estate world through his appraising job. Ryan runs the Sacramento Appraisal Blog, and teaches people about exactly what an appraiser does. Well bottom line is investors deal with appraisers on a day to day basis and they’ve got a huge say in how our deals turn out. We thought it’d be great to talk with an appraiser, get to know their side of the industry so we can in turn all become better real estate investors.
Brandon: Hey real quick I just want to point out Ryan actually published an article on the BiggerPockets Blog yesterday called: How to challenge a low appraisal; Advice from a real appraiser. And it actually includes a form you can download, that you can send to an appraiser or to a bank to challenge an appraisal.
So it’s pretty great, you can check it out in the show notes at biggerpockets.com/show007. But yeah check it out. Josh you want to introduce us to our guest?
Josh: So without further ado, welcome to the show Ryan, how are you doing?
Ryan: Hey doing well, thanks so much for having me guys appreciate it.
Josh: Definitely. Thanks for coming man. Well listen let’s jump right in here, we’re going to talk about appraisals and issues of that type here. So let’s get into this. How do you know what a property is worth?
Ryan: There are so many things. I wish it was just a matter of pulling out a number out of a magic hat and it took just a couple of minutes. But these days it seems like it takes so long to really establish value because there are so many different types of sales. And really what my goal as an appraiser is, is to compare the best available information in the market.
And to find the most similar types of properties, and then add and subtract based on differences whether one has an extra kitchen or bigger lot, third car garage space, or whatever. Then find out what the market’s willing to pay for those things and then adjust for them and come up with the final value. It’s really that simple.
Yet it’s kind of complicated because short sales often sell for less. There’s dirty REO's, there’s pristine investor flips. There’s just funky market dynamic where buyers are willing to overpay by $20,000. So it’s really sifting through a lot of conflicting information a lot of time to come up with that value.
Brandon: So I’m guessing Ryan then you don’t just go to Zillow and type in what’s its estimate.
Ryan: Yeah, no I actually don’t. It’s funny people are always looking at Zillow but it’s just not an accurate appraisal especially sometimes the information Zillow has is really spotty because the information to me as an appraiser is spotty but I need to go pay for that information in certain counties. So they don’t have it.
And you can look up a property and it could be asked by a couple hundred thousand dollars. And sometimes they nail it but most of the time it’s off and sometimes it’s off quite significantly.
Josh: Well so what about potentially going to multiple AVMs and AVM is Automated Valuation Model for those people who don’t know but Zillow would be an AVM truly. Could I potentially then go to say Realtor, Truly, Zillow and basically concoct some kind of average to come up with a fair appraisal value or are these numbers just so randomly off that it’s not really going to be an accurate assessment?
Ryan: It all comes down to the data; how good the data is because a lot of these sources are pooling the same data and if the data is inaccurate, if it’s not complete, if it’s really not consistent with sales in the neighborhood, then you’re going to have a skewed value. And AVMs have their place because they can be sort of a good, get your foot in the door to figure out what may be a ballpark figure.
I say that with a grain of salt of course but it is what it is but it’s not going to compare to a human on the ground who really understands the dynamics and the trends in the market. Say for example there was a different in 10% between on-blink sales and short sales. Well an AVM may not know that and there really could be a huge value discrepancy by not knowing some of those things in the market.
Or maybe a pothouse sold that was totally stripped and just found one of those the other day and that’s always fun. But AVMs don’t know that and so humans do.
Josh: Got you. So there is no replacing feet on the ground is the bottom line here.
Ryan: Yeah I don’t think so and some people will talk about appraisals will eventually be replaced but my big thing is that, maybe that would happen but the thing is that appraisers carry insurance and you can sue an appraiser. So I think that’s a luxury that the real estate world is going to want to keep.
Josh: Yeah for sure. Well let’s get into the appraisal itself. How do you come up with the numbers for an appraisal? I mean everybody there’s comps I mean other various methodologies. What do people need to know?
Ryan: Yeah there’s the sales comparison approach where you basically compare the subject property to other competitive properties in the neighborhood. So it’s really important of course first to define the neighborhood, to get those boundaries right because we all know if you cross the freeway or the other side of the railroad tracks so to speak you can be in a completely different market where values are exponentially higher, exponentially lower or just different.
So it’s important to have the neighborhood defined right and especially obviously for investors too because you want to be pulling these sales that are truly competitive. And really what make a comp is something that would buyers consider this property as replacement? If these sales were still listed on the market, would a buyer be shopping for all these houses? So I talk a lot say with realtors and sometimes investors.
And I get handed sort of a stack of potential comps to say, “Hey this is a support for why the property is worth what it’s worth. But sometimes they’re just so different, 700 sq ft larger or just have incredible amazing upgrades. And those don’t really compare. So it’s just a matter of comparing it to the right properties in the right neighborhood, same neighborhood.
But if it’s an income production property too you’re also going to factor in how much income can this property really produce? And you’re going to be looking to be looking at the Gross Rent Multiplier and you’re going to be comparing rents and so there’s a different layer of analyzing the market in that regard.
Josh: Got you. Now is that something that you guys deal with; I would imagine a lot of people are probably crawling up your backside saying, “Hey man this ain't worth this,” and trying to influence the way you come up with your numbers. Is that one of your biggest complaints with investors and home buyers?
Ryan: Well I don’t know that I’d say it’s a complaint but I’d just a critique of some investors is that I would just say price your properties correctly. Right now there’s such low inventory that you can price a property in my market for almost anything and generate multiple offers at that level but all sales and listings, it doesn’t support that level because inventory is so low.
I think buyers are so hungry and so tired of having to shop for so many months to actually getting the contract that they’ll offer anything. So I think it’s just important to realize that. So there’s sometimes complaints that appraisers are botching deals and sometimes they really are I’m not making light of that, there are some really bad appraisals out there. But other times an appraiser is doing his or her job and bringing this property in. measuring the market correctly, where the price probably should have been.
Josh: Okay so you brought up a really good point about potentially appraisers botching the numbers. So let’s circle back and maybe talk about how can we find a good appraiser? How do you know where to find a good appraiser, how do you get recommendations and look for somebody who is going to give you trustworthy numbers? And then how do you really verify as an investor or a home buyer, if those numbers are Kosher?
Ryan: Yeah well it’s a little bit complicated because you can’t handpick your appraiser. As we all know anyone in the real estate community it’s not like what it used to be during the previous boom where realtors, investors, home owners whoever. The borrower could pick their own appraiser. That system is done away with so essentially sort of it’s up to the lender to choose the appraiser.
So you may get a good one, you may get a bad one. I just recommend people to work with reputable lenders who have an appraisal ordering system where they’re working with local appraisers and paying them well. If there’s this appraisal management companies as third party system ordering an appraisal from an appraiser and willing to pay them $250 when everyone else is getting $400, then you’re probably not going to have a very good appraisal.
And you definitely don’t want to have the lender choosing an appraiser who lives two hours away from the property when there’s a tonne of appraisers who can handle it locally. So those are always challenges and so in some senses you’re not guaranteed quality, you never are but I think you can sort of minimize damage by finding a lender who really is reputable and really is working with good appraisers.
Brandon: That’s really good advice. Recently I’ve been selling a house right now; it’s actually supposed to close today, so I’m pretty excited about that. And we had an appraisal and it came we were selling the house for 110; I live in a pretty low price area. So $110,000 and the appraisal came back at remarkably exactly $110,000 I mean it was within dollars of what the price was. But when he appraised it he compared it – this was a flip, it was after the repairs were done.
He compared it with three comps that were reposed. And so they were like these terrible looking properties in worse locations. And I call that lazy appraising because he didn’t go out to actually find ones that were comparable; he went for the three that would just give him his number. So then we had a problem with we needed to raise the purchase price to cover, they wanted a new siting; we needed to $2000.
And of course you can’t do that because he can’t go out and change his appraisal even though the comps were ridiculous. So yeah I’ve been experiencing the good appraiser versus the bad appraiser. So I guess on that note what would you do in a case like that or what would you suggest somebody should do if we have a bad appraisal or something that I feel that they used the wrong comps for? Do I have anything to do?
Josh: Beat him on the head.
Ryan: Yeah avoid violence, avoid threats. I have interesting stories about those sometimes it…
Josh: I was kidding by the way.
Ryan: I’m just talking to the one investor who’s listening to you right now with a baseball bat and chain in his trunk. But I mean there is a sense where in the world of appraisal you’re trying to get a deal closed obviously if the numbers work for you but it’s just not a great appraisal you’re not going to contest that. So that’s just how it goes but if something is not legitimate you just feel like, “Well these are all the wrong comps, I can’t believe this happened.”
And it’s really not a good representation of value and it’s damaging your pockets then you can definitely contest that. Usually lenders have a formal way to contest and you can do that or your realtor can do that. It’s just important to know what that is but I just always recommend when someone wants to contest an appraisal that they put it writing.
You don’t want to just give the appraiser a call, you don’t want to give an emotional speech saying, “Well I think value is just higher.” Because that really doesn’t do anything to advance the conversation so if you can send in a very cordial and humble letterhead, something that critiques comps and their report, you can point out thing about Comp1 that’s the commercial property.
How does this impact value; the appraiser didn’t mention it, seems like an inferior location. Comp2 A. B and C, Comp3 A, B and C but then most importantly provide additional data. Give the appraiser “Here’s two under your sales.” and would you consider, how does the appraiser feel about these two properties?
Are these adequate comparisons? So I think it’s very, very important to do that because then the appraiser can take a look at the situation and realize wow if I really did beef up this appraisal and mess things up, then I can at least go back and include one of those sales. Now the thing is though I’ll say that it’s really hit and miss.
Sometimes you’ll have success and sometime you won’t. So it just really depends on the appraiser, it depends on the lender. But also I will say one last thing, that just make sure you’re really familiar with the format of an appraisal report so that you can really look at it, interpret it correctly and you can quickly analyze things and say, “Wait, tax record says the property is 1600 sq ft, the appraiser measured 1400 or 1300.
So there’s a discrepancy there and you’ll be able to quickly point those things out and be able to then put that into a rebottle or an appeal. And hey if it was just a square footage error then great that’s an easy fix for the appraiser and it should instant value if the appraiser messed that up.
Brandon: Yeah a couple of weeks ago we had Frank Gallinelli on the show and I think it was podcast 004 and he talked about that with his county appraiser who did the assessment on one of his properties and on something he was appraising and they had just gotten the number wrong. They’d used the wrong- I think it was the wrong cap rate.
So he talked about how to as long as you got your facts before you and you know what’s going on and just present that in a non-emotional kind of a manner and you can get a lot accomplished that way. So that’s really good advice I wish I would have actually talked to you like two weeks ago.
Ryan: Yeah exactly and I think too it’s important to go in with a attitude to build a bridge rather than name call and do all the things that turn off a person from wanting to listen. So I mean as professionals we should all listen to each other but you’re more prone to gain an audience if you have cordial, respectful tone.
So that’s just really important and I say one last thing in terms of income properties, pay really close attention to the Gross Rent Multiplier because that makes a key difference in the appraisal when the appraiser uses the income approach, and getting rents right and the GRM right because if that’s off and you have better data then absolutely present that.
Josh: So what exactly is the Gross Rent Multiplier for those who don’t know?
Ryan: It’s just a metric for dealing with income properties. It’d be sales price value divided by the monthly rent. So it’s just a way of looking at investment properties and if I were to look at five recent sales in the market then I could divide their sales price by their monthly rent and that gives me a certain metric.
And the properties that are most similar to the one I’m appraising, I can derive that GRM, the Gross Rent Multiplier from those properties and then use that in my appraisal. Now the least similar properties, the REO, beaters and the short sales, there might be a reason why the GRM is coming in at a way different level.
So I’ve got to make sure that I’m using the right GRM in my report. Otherwise it can really skew the numbers because investors ultimately are looking at these properties and considering things like the rental income possibilities so I’ve got to consider that as an appraiser.
Josh: Wow that’s great. Well listen, just to remind everybody this is show 007 on the BiggerPockets Podcast it’s biggerpockets.com/show007. Go there, check out the show notes. We’re going to have lots of great information about the show over there. Let me follow up with a question about the numbers themselves.
It seems like there’s a lot of discussion all the time about hitting the number. Brandon talked about it; we talked about it a little bit. Are there any tips that you have for investors to avoid pressuring appraisers on hitting that number?
Ryan: Yeah absolutely, I would just say, make sure in your heart of hearts that you’re not pressuring appraisers. I know that sounds really profound but take the pressure off and I think one thing that you can do is just avoid pressure statements. When you meet the appraiser at the property, you don’t want to be saying, “Oh man I’ve got $40,000 wrapped up in this, it has to appraise if it doesn’t appraise I’m going to lose everything.”
Because that puts a little pressure on the appraiser, or, “You know I really need this one to work out,” or same things like, “I don’t want to ask you to do anything unethical but just do your very best. But please don’t be unethical just do your best.”
Josh: And here’s $100 for you.
Ryan: Exactly or sometimes investors can say I’ll give you more business if you make this one work out, or work your magic.” And that’s a little on the shady side of life, you know what I’m, saying?
Josh: Well so let’s talk about the shady side of life; what’s the shadiest thing you’ve ever experienced?
Ryan: The shadiest thing, oh boy.
Josh: Oh come on man there’s like 25 stories that come to mind right away, aren’t there?
Ryan: I don’t know I mean I’m sure something will come up in the course of conversation but people honestly ask me to lie all the time. So that bothers me, it really does. So I don’t like that, I don’t like being put in that position and I don’t like when people outright lie to me either about their properties. So I’m not an angry guy here, I’m not saying this out of anger.
But when someone tells me, “Oh this property it’s in the best school district, and it totally mischaracterize the neighborhood and comparables and they’re really just trying to get me to hit a number I just think, “Man why are you doing that?” if you don’t have anything just don’t give me anything but I just appreciate not being lied to.
Brandon: Yeah you’re going to find it out anyway so.
Ryan: Yeah, exactly and then it makes the other person look bad, I don’t trust that person, I won’t refer business to that person. So it really destroys any potential relationship in the future too. It’s very short sighted. It’s better just to do honest business, keep those properties priced correctly and avoid pressure on anyone. That’s good.
Josh: That’s great advice. Hey man so somebody tells me that there is a way to learn about understanding real estate via an old toy. Actually it was Lego; somebody somehow told me that if I were to go online there is this article that spells out how Legos can help us understand real estate. Maybe you could talk to us a little bit about that.
Ryan: Well yeah I have actually two posts where I’ve used Legos to help convey concepts like functional obsolescence or just show different real estate trends or funky things in houses, so yeah those are fun. I have two boys and we love Legos and sometimes I let that cross over into my blog somehow.
Josh: Yeah those were really great posts and we’ll be sure to link to those in the show notes. I definitely got a kick out of seeing those and we’ll make sure to share that with everybody.
Ryan: Thanks I appreciate that.
Brandon: Yeah I want to go real quick to something that was going on over in the BiggerPockets Forums. There was a question that came up a couple of weeks ago and there’s been quite a bit of debate on it. And it kind of relates to what I was talking about earlier with my situation but a little bit different. So basically this thread called Appraisal Woes.
Somebody is trying to sell a house and the sales price was $253,000 and the appraisal came in $20,000 under. So this person was asking what to do about that; should they just lower their sales price or can they do something? I’m wondering what do you recommend and also why is it a difference; I mean is that common today? What can you tell us about that?
Ryan: Yeah that’s definitely a loaded question. I’ll say this, is that it’s very common in my market right now for appraisals to come in lower. During the previous boom it was all about hey hit the number man, hit the number. And I’m going to find someone to hit the number but we’ve removed that direct link with appraisers.
So it really should be as it should have been then an independent valuation. So some of the reason there is a discrepancy there is because properties are overpriced. Assuming it wasn’t a bad appraisal of course but right now the market in some senses it’s really propped up. It’s been influenced by external factors such as low inventory, historically low rates, exponential cash sales.
In Sacramento, 35% of all sales in the whole county are cash right now, that’s up 7% over the year and under $200,000 in Quarter 4 of 2012, 49% of all sales were cash. So one out of every two sales was cash and what that’s doing is it’s increasing the median price levels. But basically under $200,000 the market’s just out of control.
It’s just appreciating like wow but that same appreciation isn’t happening at every tier of the market. And what it’s doing is it’s helping the numbers look a little bit better than they actually are. So sometimes properties you really can get in the contract even though you’re prices 20 or $30,000 above anything else, you will get multiple offers when you list a property right now in the Sacramento area.
And the thing is that what the appraiser is analyzing is market value. And it’s like what an appraiser colleague Patrick Egger what he says, “Imagine market value if you lined up 100 buyers, what would they typical buyer pay for this house?” a lot of times in our dream world, we want that one buyer, the private equity fund.
We want Blackstone to come in and they’re willing to pay 15 or $20,000 over anyone else because they can and because it works for their cap rates but what would the typical buyer pay? A lot of times, that’s what the appraiser is analyzing and then the numbers, are definitely going to come in lower than what maybe a hedge fund or other buyers.
Brandon: Okay yeah that makes sense. And one question I should have asked you earlier probably but kind of relating to that is, does it make any sense to come up with your own comps to bring to the appraiser? Like in that case where you’re under if admittedly sure that that property is worth 253, and I have comps, can I bring them ahead of time maybe or only if there’s a problem with it?
Ryan: Yeah I would say it’s most important in business and life, why not be proactive instead of reactive? So I would say as part of your normative practice in business and flipping properties, yeah come with data. And even rather than calling them comps where you’re saying, “Hey here are your comps, here’s how you can do your job, here’s number one, number two and number three.”
Just come and say, “Hey here’s some data I used to list the property.” So really what you’re getting at is that this is support for your purchase price, or for the contract price. And then you can make notes on comp1 in the MLS sheet if you’ve talked to the other agent or if you have inside information then do all those things I think that’s important.
If you know how to make graphs which is such a good skill to have and then you can show trends in the neighborhood with those graphs, bring those. I mean bring whatever you can I’d say that’s great. Just don’t bring the baseball bat.
Josh: So a lot of folks will go to their lenders with these packages right they’re fully prepared. But when the appraiser comes in they may not necessarily have anything prepackaged or pre-planned. It sounds to me like you’re saying, “If you want to potentially influence - and when I say influence I’m not saying in a bad way I’m just saying, you want to reveal things that you’re afraid might be missed.
Put together some kind of package, talk about what’s going on in the neighborhood, talk about potentially highlights of the property itself, features that potentially might make for a better appraisal, things like that. And have it plotted out and just basically, “Hey Mr. Appraiser here you go.”
Ryan: Absolutely. And definitely include all the costs you spent to rehab the property as well as any other information like an itemized list, written list of all your repairs. Sometimes get to a property then someone wants to go over that verbally, I’d love to just get that over email. Something I can quickly cut and paste in the report and say, “Hey they spent $23,000 on this house.”
And if you got the house for a really good deal then let the appraiser know and say “Yeah I bought this on the court steps. I just got a slamming deal.” So I mean it shouldn’t matter what you purchased it for previously but the lender is going to want to know, why is this house selling for twice what it did before. So there’s got to be some sort of justification for that and they’re going to be looking at the appraiser to address that.
Josh: Now that’s great. Well what about that on the flips? There’s the guys who go out and they put lipstick on a pig right and I’m sure those are out favorites on BiggerPockets; those guys who basically give a bad name to real estate investors really. I mean they just do bad things and assume that the property is going to be worth a lot because they just put paint over peeling paint.
And then you’ve got the guys who’re going in there, they’re doing really quality work, putting a lot of money in. I guess we’re not going to pass an appraisal; we’re not going to fool you by trying to do shoddy workmanship are we?
Ryan: No, no I encountered a property recently where there were some shards of glass sticking out from a broken window of a double pane window. And then this high quality contractor or investor put duct tape over it to cover it and it didn’t fool me. It didn’t fool the lender either. So no, no I mean anyone wears the halo beams in the real estate community will be able to look right through that and just see the poor workmanship.
And I know in my market investors who really do a good job and because I know a lot of them personally or I’ve just been able to observe their work. And I know the ones who really don’t do a good job, and I know that’s why in a lot of cases their properties sell for less because they just really aren’t done that well. Or they’re trying to market their property to an FHA buyer but then I get over there then there’s 10 FHA repairs on the property. And then I’m thinking, “Guys why aren’t you getting this right?”
Josh: So the quality of work that you do is going to be reflected in the price, period there’s no two questions about that right?
Ryan: Absolutely, it really matters but I will say too, it comes back to knowing the neighborhood market because you certainly don’t want to over improve the property in $100,000 neighborhood. You probably don’t want to put the $25,000 kitchen remodel right. So it’s really important to know that again. And I will say for investors, get to know an appraiser. Take an appraiser out to lunch; get to know someone that you can …
Josh: He just wants some free lunch guys.
Ryan: I know I’m free all these next few weeks, I prefer to eat between 12 and two. No I’m serious because it’s so important to have that relationship because I think what appraisers are seeing out in the market is crucial and sometimes it’s different than maybe investors. And I think that there is a sharing that can go on there because I do think also the investors are very in touch with the market especially the ones doing high volume.
Josh: Yeah and one of the things that we like to tell people all the time is you got a lot of these newbies who’re like, “hey how do I start investing, what do I do, how do I get to know the values of the properties; things like that?” and we always say, “Listen, you got to go out and look at every property in your market. You need to understand your market as well as an appraiser would understand it.
You’re not necessarily going to do an appraisal in the property. But if you go in, you look at 50, 100 properties in your area, you’re going to have a pretty good damn idea of what a property is worth. And I think having that sense of education and understanding is going to make you a better investor, it’s going to help you to know whether or not to over improve a property for example.
I think that’s one of the problems you find a lot of newbies is they go out and they spend way too much money for the property and they end up making a lot less or nothing.
Brandon: I’ve made that mistake a number of times actually I mean like where I paid too much for a property. Or maybe not even paid too much but I put way too much into it. So it always usually works out okay and I’ve been lucky maybe but there’s definitely a point where you need to know your market and know that like my market does not need granite countertops.
I mean there are no granite countertops in my county except for the really high-end houses on the hill. And that’s something I had to learn earlier on was that it’s okay for me to put laminate in and that’s acceptable. So yeah so that’s great. I’d actually like to move a little bit into something you mentioned earlier. FHA; what can you tell us about FHA and some people might not even know what that stands for. And what can you tell us about that?
Ryan: Sure thing. Well basically FHA guarantees loans and these are really a hot commodity in the market because buyers only have to put down 96 or they have to put down only 3.5% of the purchase price. In some markets like in California where prices are still higher than a lot of places, that really means a lot because then buyers can get into properties.
And then really FHA has strict guidelines too where they want properties that are safe, sound and secure. Those are their three S’s and they have really a detailed list of minimum property requirement. So the appraiser it going to go in there and they’re making sure that everything works and they’re making sure that there’s no health and safety hazards as much as the appraiser can do.
Because there are some things that appraisers aren’t specialized in toxic mold and environmental hazards so to speak. So it can really be a good deal for buyers because they can get into a property that should be in pretty okay condition and get a loan to where they don’t have to put down a lot of money.
Josh: That’s great yeah and in out show notes biggerpockets.com/show007 we actually have an article it’s FHA Inspection Checklist which is a really popular post on the site and we’ll point to that and let people know so they can go through and check that out whenever they are going to have their properties appraised. I want to jump really quick to probably some of the most common FHA condition issues. Maybe you can fill us in on what are the things you see most often?
Ryan: Sure I think one of the things I see most often is defective paint surface where there’s chipping, peeling, flaking paint or there’s bare wood. It’s got to be covered and houses built before 1978 where there can be the potential for lead based paint that’s a safety issue. So that’s why it has to be properly cured. So if you’re flipping a property just make sure that’s cured.
Make sure all the appliances work, if there’s a heater there; if there’s air conditioner there they should work. That’s very common in California, there’s carbon monoxide detectors required now. So make sure that those are there. Basically just go through the house as if you were a 12 year old and make sure things work.
If the windows aren’t open, then make sure that they can open, sliding glass door doesn’t open, it’s got to open. So one thing that I see there that this has kind of been coming up quite a bit lately is that as an appraiser, I have to inspect the attic. I have to do inspection from the shoulders to just sort of visually observe what’s going on up there.
And if there’s not an attic access and there is an attic then before you list the property on the market, just make sure you put in a scuttle because the appraiser is going to have that and I just called one out it’s actually an investor flip and I made the value opinion subject to me inspecting the attic. So now I have to go back out there, cost about $100, hold up a loan for probably a week or so while they make sure that they cut a square in the ceiling.
Josh: That’s great advice. And you talked about lead paints and there’s been some controversy about lead paint of late on BiggerPockets. I think there is just a little bit of confusion between some folks. But let’s talk about lead paint and obviously when folks go and they sell a property built previous to 78 they’ve got to give over the lead paint disclosure.
But what else do they need to do particularly when it comes to a property that’s being purchased with kids? I know there’s a little bit of confusion, some folks have actually thought that, that property has to be completely remediated of lead paint and that would cost a fortune.
Ryan: It would.
Josh: So what do you need to actually get done to protect this property for the next buyer?
Ryan: Well according to from an FHA perspective there shouldn’t be any defective paint surface which would be chipping, flaking peeling paint which would basically allow potential lead to be breathed. So it’s important if there’s any surface like that, the paint has to be properly scraped and then sealed with a paint or an FHA approved sealing because so then that way it can’t be just flaked off and little Johnny starts munching on chips.
We don’t want them eating those kinds of chips. So that’s really what it comes down to I mean if we had to totally remediate lead, I mean our housing stock in America would just be in really deep trouble. So that’s really what’s most important. If you’re interested FHA actually has about a 50 page handbook about how to properly cure defective paint surface. So if you’re looking for some inspired reading then go for it.
Brandon: That’s great and I think we can probably link to that in the show notes too we’ll simply find that and throw it up there so be sure to check out that at biggerpockets.com/show007.
Josh: Hey Ryan so earlier in the podcast you talked about something that I think we should touch on a little bit more here before we head out and that’s the topic of hedge funds. You mentioned Blackstone. For those people who’re probably unfamiliar, the hedge funds are really starting to get into the single family rental business.
And they’re scooping up properties around the country but unlike what some of the gurus might make you believe, they’re not buying all the inventory. There’s still plenty of property to go around, but why don’t we talk about what are you seeing, what are these guys doing? What’s the price point and at least for what you’re witnessing and how is it affecting the local market?
Ryan: Sure thing, well yeah it’s been amazing to see investor activity in the Sacramento market lately, it’s really I would say investors are absolutely dominating the market where I said before cash is pushing the median price levels, kind of making things look a little bit better than they are since our unemployment is still 10%. So we have all this growth driven by outside forces.
And one of those forces is definitely industrious and hedge funds, private equity funds like Blackstone. They purchased about 500 properties since August 1st 2012 which is a significant amount, they own about 900 right now in Sacramento County because they’ve been here, owned properties before. But really what they’ve done is that they’ve gone in and purchased really anything.
They’re buying on the court steps, they’re buying on MLS and really have been real estate locusts in a certain regard. But the thing is that, they aren’t buying everything, there still are properties. It’s really difficult for others to get in on them sometimes and so it’s only about one month’s supply of inventory. But what it’s done effectively though is it’s really driven up prices.
It’s created increased competition sometimes Blackstone I’ve seen them overpay a good 10, 15,000 on properties. They’ve also purchased flips so it’s been good for investors. So investors who have properties and who have held on to them for years, I’ve seen a lot of private deals but I’ve also seen deals on MLS where investors have been selling to them.
Since I’ve blogged about it several times, I have people calling me on a weekly basis saying, “What’s their phone number? I want to sell to them.” So whereas a lot of people it’s funny in the real estate community, Blackstone is sort of like Voldemort where in Harry Potter if you know the series no one wants to says Voldemort the evil figure’s name because he has so much power.
And I think in the real estate community it’s like that where a lot of agents don’t want to really share publicly that they’re frustrated with Blackstone. And I’m not saying they’re evil, I think that they’re really savvy. But I think that’s definitely a dynamic playing out.
Brandon: So do you see that they’re avoiding the really ugly houses; are they only buying the good ones or are they buying everything that they can in every kind of condition?
Ryan: I haven’t looked at every property obviously but I have noticed that they’ve stayed away from two specific areas in Sacramento that others would more categorize as the ghetto. So they focus 81% of their purchases as I calculated a couple of weeks ago for under $200,000 and 19% were above that. And most of them were really below 250.
So the vast bulk of what they focused on is sort of the first time buyer market. So because they’re not focusing on every neighborhood, I would say to other investors, it’s time to diversify. Focus on where they’re not going, or focus on other price points above $300,000 diversify, get a different plan together. And of course I don’t think they’re going to be buying forever either because your money is going to run out at some point even though they have millions.
Josh: Yeah no, listen I mean that’s really good advice. I actually had a conversation with a couple of private equity guys a couple of weeks ago and one of which works at a company that was scooping up properties left and right. And it’s interesting; on the down low obviously I’m not going to say who he was and who he works for.
But he basically was saying, “Listen this is what’s hot right now. And while it’s hot we’re in so we’re going to keep getting in we’re going to keep buying and frankly we don’t give a damn what the price is. We’re just trying to scoop up inventory so that we can justify to our investors that we’re buying real estate and we’re buying rental property.”
“And at some point things are going to change we’re going to dump, we’re to unload our portfolios and everybody is going to be happy again that the evil funds are out of the game again.” So exactly what you said is true I mean these guys aren’t going to be around forever. They’re in now, yeah some will be in tomorrow but others might not. So don’t worry, diversify and there’s always going to be plenty of property around for you to jump into.
Ryan: Absolutely well said I agree.
Brandon: Yeah I guess we kind of probably should get wrapping this thing up now. We do have a few questions that we like to ask at the end though Ryan so I guess we’ll just burn through those real quick. First of all, do you have a favorite real estate book? I know you’re an appraiser but do you have a favorite real estate book out there?
Ryan: Honestly I just I’m not a huge reader. That just doesn’t do it for me so I’d say no I mean I’ve certainly read all the essentials through my coursework and continuing education but that’s not what sparks me in life. So it is what it is.
Josh: What sparks you?
Ryan: I love community building, working with my neighborhood aspiration, I run a nonprofit to advocate for homeless youths, I love kayaking, biking, doing Legos with my kids, just being outdoors; camping in the backyard, building out of used wood. Those things are my passion.
Josh: Building out of used wood; explain that.
Ryan: Well I just love to redeem scraps that are sitting around so get two by fours and four by fours and sheets from somewhere. I once built a clubhouse out of palette wood. And I just take a lot of joy in that or I built a table for my porch last summer out of scrap wood.
Josh: That’s cool.
Ryan: So it’s fun yeah.
Josh: Oh that’s great. One of the big questions that we like to ask is differentiating between the top performers out there and the wannabes. Typically when we’re talking to investors we’ll ask them, “Hey what do you think really sets these best investors apart?” but why don’t we apply that to appraisers here?
You’re one of these guys that I know nothing but good things about, you’ve got a fantastic reputation so what do you think sets you apart potentially from some of the appraisers who’re not doing their job as well. What’s the difference?
Ryan: Well first thanks so much I appreciate the high praise. I’m going to work really hard and I know four years ago I started a blog to have an online voice to really just build connections with people. So then that’s really important in my presentation of business and in life. I want to connect with people and I will continually work very hard to diversify.
And as I look at the trends in the market, there’s this refi boom will end for me as an appraiser. I’ve a lot of lender work right now so I’m not putting all my eggs in that basket I’m continually seeking other types of work and always fishing for private appraisals so that I can really thrive. That’s very huge.
I know when the market crushed I didn’t lose millions of dollars a couple of investors we talked about. But man they were a couple of really dark years where I spent a lot of time on Craigslist selling stuff in the house and where things got really meager. And I want to make sure that I’m staying ahead of the curve that I’m analyzing the trends very carefully so that I can be ready for what happens next in the market.
Josh: That’s great and do you think it would be a good idea for investors to potentially go out and learn a lot more about appraisals, potentially get licensed in order to potentially run a better business more effective efficient or do you think that’s just going a little bit too far?
Ryan: I think that’s probably going to far, I would say let someone else who is professional, add that person to your team, focus on what you do best. But really get to know how to think like an appraiser because you want to have that mindset when you’re approaching selling your properties or purchasing your properties because that’s really the key.
So honestly it’s a little bit challenging to go get an appraisal license right now for a lot of reasons. So it would really be honestly an uphill battle so I would recommend against that.
Josh: Got you. Hey that’s great Ryan hey listen where can people find out more about you; I know they can go to your blog which is…
Josh: Awesome, anywhere else; are you on Facebook, Twitter G-plus, I know you’re on BiggerPockets that’s for sure.
Ryan: Yeah facebook.com/Sacramento appraiser and then on Twitter I’m @SacAppraiser.
Josh: And you’re on G-Plus as well.
Ryan: And G-Plus yeah.
Josh: Awesome, awesome. Alright man well listen it’s been an absolute pleasure I know I’ve learned a lot and hopefully everyone else has as well. Thanks so much for being on the show.
Ryan: Hey thanks guys I really appreciate the opportunity thanks so much.
Brandon: Thank you Ryan.
Josh:: Alright everyone that was our show with real estate appraiser Ryan Lundquist. I know. I’m glad to hear that you liked it so much Brandon.
Brandon: I did.
Josh: Listen I know I learned a ton of great things on this show and I hope you guys all did. Certainly Brandon did from the sound of it. It’s so easy you can review all the links from this show on the show notes at biggerpockets.com/show007.
Josh:: And that’s pretty awesome. This wouldn’t be possible without the help of all of you guys. So I really just want to thank you of course remember to follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/biggerpockets and on Twitter at twitter.com/biggerpockets as well. Before we finally go, if you aren’t a member of biggerpockets.com yet we’d love to have you as part of our community.
You can read more about what BiggerPockets is and what we stand for including the BiggerPockets mindset, Nine Core Beliefs of BiggerPockets Members at biggerpockets.com/starthere. Membership is of course free and gives you access to a lot of great conversations networking training and deal making that’s happening all day long every day.
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Thank you so much for listening this is Josh Dorkin signing off.
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