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Thoughts and Tips on the 1004MC Form
The 1004MC or Market Condition Form is a new addition to residential appraisals. This is a standard form that must be included with all home appraisals that involve a mortgage. It’s not perfect in every way, but it’s a useful way for appraisers to understand the markets. This article offers some perspectives and tips.
Personally, I basically agree with the 1004MC concept. Real estate appraisers have long needed a standardized methodology for determining market trends. This new form was introduced on April 1, 2009 after being modified to compensate for the varying levels of data available from local sources such as the MLS. Not all MLS services across the country provide the appraiser with enough analytical tools and information to provide a complete analysis, while some other MLS services are very sophisticated. It depends on where the person lives and works. 1004MC also provides transparency to the appraiser’s conclusions about the market and gives the appraiser a much better understanding of past and current market activity.
The use of Form 1004MC is still very new and it will take some time for filers and reviewers to really understand how to do it. Although the implementation seems simple (and it is), the interpretation of the raw data is much more complicated. For example, the results may show a large increase in the number of homes available on the market and a corresponding increase in months of inventory. It could be as simple as the start of the summer buying season, or more complex, such as a large number of foreclosed homes coming online, a new subdivision with dozens of homes for sale, or perhaps a major layoff that causes an unusually high number of people looking to sell. An appraiser needs to understand what the market and the economy are doing to know why.
I would caution both private examiners and state enforcement examiners to allow the industry a reasonable amount of time (about 1 year) to adjust to and understand Form 1004MC, and private examiners should understand that reproducing the assessor’s results can produce results. variations of what they got, even if you use the exact same parameters and spreadsheet formulas. It will take some time for all the errors to be worked out in the source materials, and is it well known in the appraisal industry that in some MLS systems, two identical data searches, even moments apart, will produce different data results. It could be a faulty database, faulty database search software, or perhaps simply data changes due to input from thousands of MLS users throughout the day. Revision of the 1004MC is much less difficult (and potentially less damaging) if some variation is accepted as normal.
Some MLS services offer an easy-to-use spreadsheet with the necessary formulas already built in, along with a special MLS search function designed specifically for Form 1004MC, where the appraiser uses the paste function to apply the raw data to the spreadsheet. I want to give some helpful tips to appraisers who are lucky enough to have this tool.
One tip is to always check the raw data running price list before analyzing. Some agents include both sales and rental listings in the same category. In other words, rental listings for homes for, say, $800 a month may be mixed with active, pending, or sold homes for, say, $100,000. The 1004MC form uses the median (middle) prices, but those $800 rental prices are not part of the analysis and may lower the actual median. Appraisers can use average (average) prices if needed, and those $800 rental bids definitely affect the average prices. I’ve also seen prices that were entered incorrectly into the MLS, where the agent or his assistant got the price completely wrong, or tried to enter a sales price that contained both dollars and cents, which many MLS systems misinterpret. It does not affect the median, but it does affect the mean. Be careful with raw data and filter out information that doesn’t belong there.
Another tip is to double check when filling out the closing section of the form. If your MLS allows it, narrow your second search to only foreclosed homes, regardless of how your MLS describes them (forbidden, foreclosed, REO, etc.) and then paste only those results into a separate spreadsheet for analysis. It quickly gives you information on REO / foreclosure trends and only takes a few minutes.
Another tip is when defining your neighborhood, if you’re not entirely sure of the boundaries, try surfing the Internet for sources. Many cities have voluntary or involuntary neighborhood associations that have their own websites and often describe their territories. The little time you spend doing this and marking them on your wall map will be of great help to you, not only for 1004MC purposes, but also to better understand your city.
Another tip is to pay attention to the statistical aspect of your data. If your defined neighborhood only produces a handful of data (samples) to work with, be careful because too few samples can easily produce skewed results. A good minimum number of samples is at least 100. But if you can’t find more than 50, you need to reconsider the boundaries of your neighborhood or carefully explain the analysis results that are distorted or confusing.
Another tip is to never “template” your 1004MC form. In other words, don’t pull up the parent, enter the new data and move on. It’s all too easy to forget to examine and correctly check the general trend boxes and change other sections. Always fill out a new form.
Another tip for Windows users is to create a shortcut to your specially designed 1004MC blank spreadsheet in the taskbar at the bottom of your screen. This makes it easier to open it without having to close or minimize other windows.
Many appraisers do not have or cannot afford Microsoft Excel software. An alternative is Calc, which is part of the OpenOffice.org free software suite. Calc is an Excel clone and has most, if not all, of the same features as Excel. Another tip for Windows users using Open Office Calc is to save your first spreadsheet after making it and use Windows Explorer to find it. Before opening it again, left-click once on the file name to highlight it, then right-click and select “Properties” from the pop-up menu. Now look for “Opens With” and select “scalc” or follow the instructions to find and select the program “scalc” and be sure to check the “Always use the selected program to open this type of file” box. OK change. From now on, Windows will use Calc as the default program to open your 1004 MC spreadsheets and save you a few steps.
One final tip is that if your MLS 1004MC data run comes as a separate file (text, etc.) that you paste into your spreadsheet, always save the run data with the spreadsheet. Never rely solely on spreadsheet software to store your data. It’s all too easy to make a mistake when saving spreadsheet data. This is part of your work file and must be saved.
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