They’re paid to keep an eye on valuations so buyers, lenders — and even sellers — know a home price is within logical boundaries. If appraisers get skittish about the housing market, deals and loans get harder to complete.
I watch a curious regional home-price index from the Real Estate Research Council of Southern California, a group of property industries analysts and insiders operating out of Cal Poly Pomona.
The group produces a unique housing benchmark by having volunteer appraisers go out every six months to value the same 308 homes in the seven-county area to gauge pricing patterns. The group’s been doing this since 1943, with a major revision in 1990.
To me, when you compare the appraiser indexes to traditional benchmarks — say, CoreLogic’s widely quoted median selling price — you get a sense of whether broad valuation trends are consistent with the logic appraisers use. Look, appraisers are human and have their own faults. But computer-created valuations missed badly in the last housing boom-to-bust, too.
I tossed the appraisers’ indexes and CoreLogic data into my trusty spreadsheet, with the caveat that the council tracks one extra county — seven, including Santa Barbara — in their regional math vs. the six counties followed by the Southern California area median. Here are five things I learned:
1. VALUES ARE UP
Appraisers are by nature stingy and often slow to change their math.
But the index shows regionwide values are up 7 percent in the year ended in October. That’s the biggest gain since October 2014.
By county, October’s annualized gains were, high to low: Riverside 8.4 percent; San Diego 8.0 percent; Orange County 7.2 percent; Los Angeles 6.5 percent; San Bernardino and Santa Barbara, both at 6.4 percent; and Ventura the low at 6.2 percent.
All October county gains were above previous results for October 2016 and April 2016.