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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 in all residential appraisals that involve mortgage lending. It is not perfect in every respect but is a useful way for appraisers to understand the markets. This article offers some perspectives and suggestions.
I personally agree with the 1004MC concept in principle. Real estate appraisers have long needed a standardized method for determining market trends. This new form was implemented 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 enough analytical tools and information to enable an appraiser to give a complete analysis, while some other MLS services are extremely sophisticated. It depends on where a person lives and works. 1004MC also provides transparency to the appraiser’s findings about the market and gives the appraiser a much better perspective on past and current market activity.
The use of the 1004MC form is still very new and it will take some time for those filling it out and reviewing the results to understand how to do it. Interpretation of raw data (and it is) seems easy to fill but is very difficult. As an example, the results may show a large increase in the number of homes available on the market and a corresponding increase in the number of months listed. It can be as simple as the start of the summer buying season, or as complex as a large number of foreclosed homes coming online, a new subdivision with dozens of available homes for sale, or perhaps an unusually large number of people wanting to sell due to a major layoff. It is up to the appraiser to understand what the market and the economy are doing to know why.
I caution private appraisers and state enforcement reviewers to allow a reasonable amount of time (about 1 year or so) for the industry to adapt to and understand the 1004MC form, and private reviewers should realize that trying to reproduce the appraiser’s results may produce. Differences from what they get even when using the exact same parameters and spreadsheet formulas. It will take some time until all the bugs in the source materials are worked out, and it is well known in the appraisal industry that in some MLS systems, two similar data searches will yield slightly different data results. This could be due to faulty databases, faulty database recovery software, or simply data changes due to the input of thousands of MLS users throughout the day. 1004MC review would be much less challenging (and potentially less damaging) if the degree of variation were generally accepted.
Some MLS services offer an easy to use spreadsheet with the necessary formulas already built in, especially for the 1004MC form with an MLS search function, where the appraiser uses the paste function to apply the raw data to the spreadsheet. I would like to offer some helpful tips for those reviewers lucky enough to have this tool.
A tip is to make sure to scan the raw data run values list before you do the analysis. Some agents include both sales and rental listings in the same category. In other words, rental listings of homes for $800 per month could be say $100,000 with active, pending or sold homes. The 1004MC form uses the median (in the middle) values but those $800 rents are not included in the analysis and may pull the actual median. Appraisers can use average (median) prices when necessary and those $800 rental listings will definitely affect the average prices. I have also seen prices improperly inputted into the MLS where the agent or their assistant got the price completely wrong or tried to input a sales price that contained both dollars and cents, which many MLS systems would misinterpret. It does not affect the mean but does affect the mean. Use caution with your raw data and filter out information that doesn’t belong there.
Another tip is to double check when filling out the foreclosure section of the form. If your MLS allows this, narrow your second search to include only the properties your MLS describes (Foreclosure, Foreclosure, REO, etc.) and then paste only those results into a separate spreadsheet for analysis. It will quickly give you REO/foreclosure trend information and only takes a few minutes.
Another tip When defining your neighborhood, unless you are sure of the boundaries, try surfing the Internet for resources. Many cities have voluntary or involuntary neighborhood associations that have their own websites and often describe their areas. A little time doing this and marking them on the wall map will help you not only for 1004MC purposes, but to understand your city better.
Another tip is to pay attention to the statistical aspect of your data. If your defined neighborhood produces only 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 either reconsider your neighborhood boundaries or carefully interpret analytical results that are distorted or confusing.
Another tip: Never “template” your 1004MC form. In other words, don’t delete the old one, insert the new data, and move on. It is very easy to check and mark the overall trend boxes correctly and forget to modify other sections. Always complete a new form.
Another tip for Windows users is to create a shortcut to your specially designed 1004MC blank spreadsheet in the task bar at the bottom of your screen. This makes it easy to call it without closing or minimizing other windows.
Many appraisers do not have, or cannot afford, Microsoft Excel software. An alternative is the Calc program, which is part of the free suite of software at OpenOffice.org. Calc is an Excel clone and has most, if not all of the same functionality as Excel. So another tip for Windows users using OpenOffice Calc, after you’ve created your first spreadsheet, save it, then use Windows Explorer to find it. Before you open it again, left-click once on the file name to highlight it, then right-click and select “Properties” from the popup menu. Now search for “Opens With” and select “scalc” or follow the prompts to find and select the “scalc” program and be sure to check the box that says “Always use the selected program to open this type of file.” 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 last tip is when your MLS 1004MC data run comes as a separate file (text, etc.) that you paste into your spreadsheet, always save your data run with your spreadsheet. Never rely on your spreadsheet software to store your data. It is very easy to make mistakes when saving spreadsheet data. This is part of your work file and should be protected.
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