Mortgage applications and home sales may be solid markers for the housing market, but a closer metric for the health of the housing economy is appraisal volume.

So HousingWire is partnering with a la mode, inc., an appraisal forms software company which has since 2006 tracked the appraisal volume throughout the country, to provide a weekly read on appraisal volume.

Appraisal volume is an indicator of the market strength and has a few advantages over mortgage applications. 

Why is appraisal volume such a critical measure?

First, since 2008 nearly half the real estate transactions were “cash” where no application is taken. 

Second, the fallout is less for appraisals since they are ordered later in the mortgage process after credit worthiness has been approved. 

a la mode captures 50% of the appraiser market – more than 6 million appraisals per year since 2007, making it the most comprehensive record of national appraisal. 

For the first six months of 2015, our index has tracked 3.4 million appraisals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Here’s what a la mode provides as a baseline for the past three months, as well as its latest reading as of June 28. The dip at the last is because of the July 4 holiday weekend.

This will be a new, ongoing exclusive feature in partnership with a la mode.

The Federal Housing Administration has introduced a new, comprehensive online handbook, 4000.1: The FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook, that includes all applicable policies for those parties doing business with FHA ranging from appraisers to lenders and underwriters.

This new policy will become effective Sept. 14 and will replace the myriad of existing handbooks and hundreds of mortgagee letters that are currently in play.

The appraisal methodology to be used in performing an appraisal of a property to be financed with an FHA insured mortgage is consistent with the conventional lending industry with few exceptions. This webinar is intended to provide participants with an overview of the policy changes and clarifications in appraisal reporting requirements that will take place upon the new handbook becoming effective.

There’s a webinar for this hosted by AlterraOnline, which may be worth a look.

Related to the change, are appraisal fees going up this fall? A survey from AppraisalPort suggests that’s the way the wind is blowing.

Click to enlarge

(Source: AppraisalPort)

ExactBid has acquired Narrative1, in a bid to become a leading comprehensive, single-platform solution for commercial real estate and appraisal management.

Financial terms of the deal were not announced.

"The addition of Narrative1 to ExactBid creates a full service solution for all participants in the commercial real estate industry," said Matt Cotter, CEO of ExactBid. "Traditionally, ExactBid has focused on lenders while Narrative1 was focused on appraisers. This combination allows us to add value at every step of the process to all constituents."

Narrative1's software automates processes for appraisers, assessors and lenders. It provides appraisal templates for retail, multifamily and mixed-use facilities, and also valuation spreadsheets, comps databases and mapping tools.

ExactBid provides software that allows lenders to manage real estate information. ExactBid's software automates the appraisal process for banks by connecting them with a network of appraisers and due diligence vendors.