How the real estate listings cyberattack is impacting appraisals in the North Bay
It’s not just the thousands of real estate agents with homes to sell or clients looking for purchase opportunities who are having to work harder to come up with workarounds nearly a week after a cyberattack hobbled the property listing systems for the North Bay, San Francisco and certain markets across the country.
Appraisers also depend on multiple listing services to prepare property valuation reports for lenders to consider in making loan decisions and for attorneys involved in estate cases such as divorce and death.
A ransomware attack late Aug. 9 locked away the data on Rapattoni Corporation servers that host the MLSes for most of the North Bay — Bay Area Real Estate Information Service, or BAREIS, and for San Francisco. Because of a Northern California alliance of listing services, data up to the time of the attack is available via the Sacramento-based MLS, MetroList, but that information can’t be updated for key details such as new listings, price changes, sales pending, or offers submitted.
BAREIS sent out an update Monday evening just after 5 p.m., telling its roughly 8,400 users that the MLS won’t fully be back online on Wednesday as hoped. The service continues to pursue workarounds, such as a new temporary way for agents to enter information about upcoming property tours.
Since BAREIS and San Francisco’s listings went offline, Marin County appraiser Bruce Raful has been telling attorneys they’ll have to wait for a report until the listing systems fully come back online and informing lenders that his valuation reports may be missing key information.
“I just did an appraisal in Tiburon on a $3.5 million home, and the lender wanted the report ASAP,” said Raful, who has been doing valuations for over three decades. “But I put in a caveat that the report will need to be changed when the MLS comes back up.”
A key feature of the BAREIS listing information that’s different from what’s viewable on the same listings in MetroList is the North Bay MLS could be searched for sales that happened while the listing was in the system, viewable to the public, and whether the sale information was added after the transaction for comparison purposes. These off-MLS deals often involve multimillion-dollar sales, Raful said.
Beyond home shopping, the outage is posing challenges for homeowners who are looking to refinance a loan, as lenders traditionally want to see information on a few pending sales to gauge market trends, Raful said Monday. That’s even more important in the current real estate market, as much higher interest rates than a year ago are changing prospective homebuyers’ financial wherewithal when approaching a deal.
“For homes with multiple offers, the seller may go to the next person who has a cash offer or want a buyer to offer a little more,” Raful said.
Susan Pomilia, regional manager for mortgage brokerage Supreme Lending, which has offices throughout the North Bay and nationwide, said the MLS outages and the challenges they’re causing for appraisals so far has not held up loans in progress.
“We’ve been on top of this since it first started,” Pomilia said. “In these counties, we will have a little bit of a lull in getting properties into contract.”
Thomas Markovich, a Napa appraiser for 46 years who focuses on high-end homes, said the MLS outage comes at a time when there are far fewer transaction in the market and a dwindling number of appraisers to valuate properties.
Before the pandemic, Markovich was completing 40 to 50 appraisals monthly, but now it’s two a month. This week he’s set to complete an appraisal in Yountville, but he’s planning to come back later to collect pictures and details on comparable properties when BAREIS is fully operational.
“If this happened four or five years ago, I would be scrambling because of the short turnaround time,” Markovich said. “Yes, this is debilitation, but it’s not catastrophic.”
Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-4256.