Over the past two years, our family had been searching for the right solar company to purchase our first electrical solar system. With the rebates the government were providing,
it seemed to make perfect sense to make a move now, while the rebates were still offered and worthy. Countless hours were expended meeting with various solar companies; none of them had a plan that fit our budget; most had graduating lease payment plans that
rendered any future benefit of owning solar useless. We had mostly given up the search and resigned ourselves to the fact we weren't going to be able to go green!
And then one day we found
GCI. Quite frankly I don't recall whether it was a mail advertisement or email, but I decided to give them a call. We were already leery and didn't want to waste too much time;
it took several calls and rescheduled meetings before we finally sat down with a representative.
What I thought would be less than an hour quickly turned into three. We found that
GCI used the best equipment (panels) currently available, we wouldn't have a big panel next to the current electrical box because each panel had its own controllers, we would have
software to monitor the system whenever we wanted, the cost was very reasonable and most importantly, we could buy the system under financial terms we could afford. And all for the price of what we were averaging in our monthly electric bill or less. We gave
it the overnight test and decided the next day to purchase the system from
Since that day,
GCI took control. They reviewed the roofing for placement, developed plans and specs, obtained permits for the panels from our local city planning department and scheduled the
installation, all in about a 3 week period. We were amazed.
The installation was completed in one day; everything from the roof installation to the electrical connections with a licensed electrician. Conduit runs were professionally installed
and hidden where possible, and the conduit was painted to match our house color. On top of that, there were a few tiles on the roof in various areas that were broken (not from them either), that
GCI replaced for us free of charge when they came out for the final construction inspection with the city.
The final inspection was short and sweet. The inspector found everything to his satisfaction.
The day of installation as I talked with the electrician while he was nearing the final hookup, we noted by a quick test that the system was already producing more electricity
than the current use in the house at around 4PM. We could see the arrow on the digital meter reverse course. That's something to smile about!
Along the way,
GCI has made everything easy for us. The folks in the various departments we've worked with throughout the process are all friendly, respectful and committed to providing the best
service they can. We are excited about getting the final step completed. It looks like the longest part of the whole purchase is waiting for the switch over from the electric company. Guess they want to ring that last drop of money out of us before we get
the upper hand. (:>)
My only regret is that we didn't find
GCI sooner. Don't make the same mistake. It will be worth your time; and it will increase the value of your home significantly. Take it from us. We value residential properties
thurout the Inland Empire and Los Angeles basin.
UPDATE: Our system has been accepted by and approved for generation by SCE; it is now on and operating. In the next couple of months, I'll post to let everyone know how our electric
bill is looking now! Meanwhile we will be glad to answer any questions. Just call our office. DM
When you pay $450 to $550 for an appraisal on a home purchase or refinancing, do you assume that all or most of the money is going to the appraiser who comes to the house and performs the valuation?
That's logical, but probably not correct. Despite
Federal Reserve regulations that took effect April 1 requiring lenders to pay appraisers fair fees, growing numbers of them say they are still being offered $200 to $250 — even as low as $134 — for work that gets billed to consumers at $450 and higher.
Last year's Dodd-Frank financial reform law mandated that appraisers receive fees that are "customary and reasonable" for their local market areas, yet the largest national appraisal organization — the 25,000-member Appraisal Institute — says that is not
"The average fees across the country today are … nowhere near reasonable or customary" in most markets, says Leslie Sellers, a former president of the group.
Who's getting the difference between what consumers are billed and appraisers are paid? Management companies that connect lenders with local appraisers take a percentage for their services, but often lenders turn appraisals into a profit center of their
Should you care? Absolutely, for several reasons:
•Accurate appraisals are in your interest as a consumer. They can be deal-breakers if they're lowballed. But performed competently, they are accurate measures of your equity when you refinance or seek a second mortgage.
•Most experienced independent appraisers refuse to work for $200 to $250 because they can't pay their overhead at these rates. Less-experienced appraisers who sometimes have to travel long distances from their home markets tend to be more willing to work
for the lower amounts.
Tom Kirchmeyer, president of Kirchmeyer & Associates Inc., an independent appraisal management company based in Buffalo, N.Y., with 8,000 affiliated appraisers around the country, says consumers often have no idea what they're really paying for because "there's
no transparency" in the process. Kirchmeyer favors mandatory disclosure of how much the appraiser is receiving and how much is going to the appraisal management company that arranged the assignment. So does Richard Hagar of American Home Appraisals in Seattle,
who says major lenders who own or are affiliated with appraisal management companies oppose it because they know that if the financial facts are disclosed, "consumers are going to riot."
In a hypothetical example, say the appraiser receives $250 and the management company receives $100, how can the lender, which is charging $500 for "appraisal services" on the HUD-1 standard settlement sheet, justify the $150 difference?
It can't, said Gary Crabtree, head of Affiliated Appraisers in Bakersfield. Worse yet, he says, employing "subprime" appraisers for low fees also often leads to lowballed valuations that are harmful to homeowners and buyers.
As a recent example, Crabtree says an unhappy homeowner showed him a valuation performed by a low-cost appraiser hired by the appraisal management affiliate of a large national bank. The house, located next to a country club, was 4,000 square feet and the
owner had just spent $250,000 in renovations on the property.
Crabtree, who refuses to do appraisals for the low fees paid by the bank's affiliate, said the house should have been valued at around $600,000. But the appraiser hired for the assignment valued it at just $320,000, using distressed sales and properties
outside the area as comparables.
How is this happening when Congress clearly mandated higher "customary and reasonable" fees? Appraisers say much of the blame goes to the Federal Reserve, which created a giant loophole for lenders and management companies that wanted to keep playing lowball
games with fees. The Fed rule allows them to consider their own low payments in their calculation of what is "customary and reasonable" — a concept that was never part of the Dodd-Frank legislation.
The Appraisal Institute's Sellers says his group and others are seeking to persuade the Fed to tighten its regulations. But in the meantime, consumers should demand transparency: Of my $500 appraisal fee, who got what? And why?
Reprinted by permission of the author.
There is an array of appraisal types that are in use when a full appraisal is not necessary due to underwriting guidelines and/or cost. It is important for the real
estate appraiser and other people in the housing scene to comprehend the various appraisal solutions out there. I have posted these items below.
Model - $5-$20 value range. Word is those items fell out of favor in the aftermath of the Credit Crisis. We now see signs that they are returning back into use perhaps considering
that there are no sensible alternatives. The area of interest they provide is as a entry level for a quick check of ballpark values for loans and portfolio choices. If the value comes in significantly over the loan being considered the transaction is authorized
for further underwriting. If it happens in too close to the crucial point, the next credible level product is requested. In portfolio choices AVMs produce a sensible degree of confidence as to the place the value lies. A similar important analysis occurs.
If the value is too close to the make or bust choice point, the subsequent credible solution is ordered. Lenders and portfolio professionals save considerable income using AVMs as the triage function.
Broker Price Opinion - $75- $125 price range. One of the next level up solutions is the same BPO that has been provided for years. It has in fact taken over a considerable aspect of the appraisal marketplace.
I’ve discovered estimates that 32 million BPOs have been prepared by the top three Appraisal Management Companies in 2009. Most were applied in distress properties analyses, REO preparations. Many states demand that they can only be utilized by brokers in
efforts to obtain a listing.
Desk Top Appraisals – $75-$100 selling price variety. This is most likely to be a expanding marketplace product. Financial institutions, Fannie/Freddie, Fha, all appear to have renewed interest in value opinions offered
by appraisers. This solution is an appraisal. We’ve seen specific valuation service suppliers announce they are moving to create a panel of appraisers throughout the country who can handle such assignments, and they claim to have clients who desire to purchase
1000’s of them per month. It is a product that has been obtainable to most appraisers for many years, but up until now there had been minor requirement and also fewer appraisers marketing this kind of solutions.
The Bradford CompCruncher ,
Collateral Valuation Report-$150-$225 cost range
One more class of solution that has appeared on the scene in the last six months is Bradford Technology’s CompCruncher. Bradford has been advertising and marketing the solution at conventions and in the print media. They seem to be crafting inroads in
that a few hundred appraisers have signed on to present the solution.
The product is software that operates outside of the residential forms software. It receives MLS imports from the local MLS, the parameters defined by the participating appraiser, and a regression model is employed to improve the market and the subject
property using the information chosen from MLS. An spectacular array of output is accessible including market tendencies evaluation, assimilation stats, eye landing graphs, and a value conclusion. It is reported that the product can be used to generate a
value conclusion and reports of various levels of facts and support in under an hr of appraiser time, excluding any field inspections of course.
Zone Data Systems, Z products-$50-$225 price range
ZDS is owned and managed by
appraisers, an expanding network of Partners representing the important promotes throughout the country. The basis for the Z products line is even now the most innovative and creative approach to supplying appraisal solutions
in the industry today. The contending solutions are contending in marketing only, not in innovation.
AVMs, BPOs, Desk Tops, also the CompCruncher are ‘one off’ products. That is, the course of action commences when the appraisal order is obtained for a valuation of a specific property. The Z solution line is the initial revolutionary approach to appraisals
in decades. It is not a one off product.
The zone appraisers invests their time and capital developing a market data base of property data and sales histories, organizing and categorizing that data into comparable market groupings, scoring each property for the various value contributors in that
market, analyzing the sales in each market and using copyrighted software to assist the zone appraiser to arrive at tentative value conclusions for all properties within each market group. That data is then managed, reviewed, and updated monthly for all properties.
The result is that the zone appraiser has completed all of the research and analysis before the order is received from the client. That allows the zone appraiser to respond to the client’s needs much more rapidly than other competing products, often in
less than an hour. “Near Instant Response”!
The data base that the zone appraiser creates and maintains is the heart of ZDS. Once that data base is created monthly maintenance is manageable. Entire markets are available for appraisal reports at the touch of a few buttons. The hard part, the time
consuming part is done, on the shelf.
The Valytics software is designed to support the zone appraiser’s efficiency. It is also designed to allow the easy creation of report formats designed specifically for the needs of the client.
Five Z products are being created as a start: Z-Val, ZAPO (soon to be renamed), ZeskTop, 2055Z and the revolutionary PortfolioViewer. All five products can be created from a live zone.
Each report is an appraisal, prepared by a licensed appraiser, compliant with USPAP. The products are specifically targeting the competing non appraisal products…Z-Val targets AVMs, ZAPO targets BPOs, ZeskTops the Desk Tops, 2055Z the 2055 Exterior appraisal
series. We also will have a Portfolio Viewer product which will provide regular updates of value on specific properties..such as a lender’s entire market portfolio.
Because our evaluation is already complete, we can beat response times and we can compete on price against each of the targeted competing products.
The result is an Appraisal signed by a licensed appraiser, something that is valued higher in the market than the AVM and BPO.
For more information, call or email David Moore @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 951-696-7500
A total of 16,208 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was down 3.2 percent from 16,744 sales in October, and down 15.5 percent from 19,181 in November 2009,
according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.
A drop in sales from October to November is normal for the season, with the decline averaging 8.1 percent since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin. November’s sales were the lowest for that month since 2007, when 13,173 sold, and the second-lowest since
1992, when 15,446 sold. Last month’s sales fell 26.5 percent below the average November sales tally of 22,047.
In the new-home market, sales were the slowest for a November since at least 1988. In many growth areas the math for builders just doesn’t work: The cost to construct is higher than what buyers can afford or are willing to pay. Often builders can’t compete
with the pricing of nearby resale homes, especially foreclosures and short sales.
The median price paid for a Southland home was $287,000 in November. That was up 1.4 percent from $283,000 in October, and up 0.7 percent from $285,000 in November 2009. The 0.7 percent annual gain was the lowest since the median began rising year-over-year
each month since last December.
The median’s low point for the current real estate cycle was $247,000 in April 2009, while the high point was $505,000 in mid 2007. The peak-to-trough drop was due to a decline in home values as well as a shift in sales toward low-cost homes, especially
Foreclosure resales – homes foreclosed on in the past year – accounted for 35.1 percent of the resale market last month, up from 34.7 percent in October but down from 39.0 percent a year ago. Foreclosure resales hit a low this year of 32.8 percent in June
and, with the exception of a dip in September, have trended slightly higher ever since. The peak was in February 2009 at 56.7 percent.