Welcome to another edition of our series, A Day in the Life, which will introduce you to HUD employees and highlight the important work they do.
Today we meet Ralph “Andy” Blake, a Housing Program Specialist in the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) Resource Center in HUD’s Jackson, Mississippi field office.
What is your typical day like?
I handle single family inquiries that come into the FHA Resource Center from lenders and appraisers as it relates to appraisal/property requirements. The majority of my day is spent doing desk reviews of FHA appraisals that are performed throughout the jurisdiction of the Atlanta Home Ownership Center (HOC). I also perform HUD Real Estate Owned (REO) inspections which entails performing an on-site inspection, filling out detailed reports and submitting photos of properties that have hazards or are in no-show condition.
What is the overarching task of your position?
It is definitely the review of FHA appraisals. It is imperative that a property not only meet HUD guidelines but the value must be supported by appropriate and similar comparables. Since the FHA insurance fund is risk based, eligibility, needed repairs and a well-supported value are essential in order to minimize risk to the Department.
How long have you been in your current role?
I was hired by HUD as a single family staff appraiser in 1990. When the HOC’s were created in 1998, I became a Single Family Housing Specialist where I performed all tasks related to single family. In 2013, I was given an opportunity to transfer to another single family division so I elected to go back full time as a staff appraiser to the Processing and Underwriting Division.
What is the most exciting part of your job?
For me, it is the verbal contact I have in responding to lenders and appraisers when they have questions regarding appraisal/property issues. The industry as a whole appreciates it when someone from the Department contacts them by phone as opposed to email. Receiving a personal thank you for sharing your knowledge is very rewarding.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part is preparing for and conducting appraiser appeal phone conferences with FHA appraisers whose appraisals have been reviewed and found to contain major deficiencies that warrant removal from the FHA Roster. Meeting monthly time frames for completing all assigned appraisal reviews and REO inspections, FHA Resource inquiries must be closed out within 48 hours of receipt.
Where did you work prior to your position at HUD?
I worked in the residential/commercial construction industry in the Jackson, Mississippi metro area from 1980-1986 as a brick mason and carpenter. I went back to school in 1986-87 at Belhaven College and then transferred to Mississippi State University in 1987-1990 where I majored in Real Estate and Mortgage Finance and received a BA degree.
Do you have any interesting hobbies?
I am a craft artist and a member of the Craftsman’s Guild of Mississippi. I specialize in making hand crafted items that have a western, southwestern, wildlife or Native American theme which include: antler lamps, jewelry, primitive bows, arrows, arrowheads, knives, spears, quivers, wood carvings, etc. I also hike/backpack extensively in the mountains and wilderness areas of California, New Mexico, Colorado, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next month for a new edition of A Day in the Life!
Ziva James is a Senior Management Analyst in the Jackson Mississippi office