Dart Board Newsletter – February 2017
Welcome to the February edition of our Dart Board newsletter. We have less than 30 days left of winter, and as we look ahead to warmer weather we’re also eagerly anticipating the start of the spring buying season. With all the new growth that the new season brings, I wanted to focus this issue on New Construction.
Appraising New Construction. The latest Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Builder Application Survey shows mortgage applications for new home purchases increased 9.2% last month compared to January 2016. Compared to December 2016, applications increased by 22% relative to the previous month.
“As house prices continue to rise and inventories of homes available for sale remain low, it is not surprising that mortgage applications for new homes in January came in higher than a year ago,” said Lynn Fisher, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics. “Alongside relatively low supply, rising household incomes and favorable demographics should continue to bolster demand for new homes, despite rising interest rates, leading to modest growth in new home sales this year.”
With current market conditions expected to drive demand for new homes in the months ahead, I wanted to share some insight on appraising New Construction. Appraisers tasked with valuing to-be-constructed homes must rely solely on the home’s plans and specs, and the cost approach is generally used to derive the home’s value. Not every appraiser can accurately appraise a home without seeing it, and appraisers with experience in New Construction should be identified by your Appraisal Management Company (AMC). Matching the right appraiser to the specific assignment is a critical function of an AMC, and identifying each appraiser’s specialty product experience is key.
At Dart Appraisal, we identify within our system appraisers that have experience with New Construction, 203K, Co-Ops, Jumbos, Manufactured or Modular Homes, as well as Vacant Land, to ensure the most appropriate appraiser is assigned to any specialty assignment. (Read more on how AMCs can manage the challenges of specialized appraisals in The Scotsman Guide).
Prioritizing Purchases. With refinance activity continuing to fall, I wanted to share what we do here at Dart Appraisal to prioritize purchase transactions. While we typically manage orders with a “First In, First Out” approach, our system flags both purchase transactions and rush orders to ensure they receive priority attention from our staff. For the last 90 days, our national purchase turn time average has been nearly 2 days faster than refinance turn times. Additionally, any purchase transaction that comes in under value (even $1 under value) is automatically flagged for a management QC review.
Broker Survey. Last month, we surveyed the mortgage brokers that work with us on their experiences with Dart Appraisal. The overwhelming majority of respondents said they would recommend Dart to a colleague or peer, and they rated our customer service as the top reason they enjoy working with Dart Appraisal. We did receive some useful feedback on what we can do to improve, and I’m working with our Operations team to get those suggestions implemented. It’s great to hear positive feedback from the broker community, and for me, it’s even better to hear that they are happy with our customer service team. Personal service is something we’ve always hung our hat on here at Dart, and it’s wonderful to hear first-hand the impact our service team members have on our customer and broker relationships.
Dart Board of Excellence. Lastly, I wanted to share an update on our revamped rewards and recognition program for the Dart team. Staff members are given brightly colored coupons to display at their workstation whenever they are recognized by a client, appraiser, broker or a coworker. Each month we put those coupons into a drawing for a prize! At year’s end, we’ll also be presenting an annual MVP award based on formal nominations that can be submitted throughout the year. If you want to recognize someone on the Dart team, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, if there is anything we can do to assist with your appraisal management needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me.