Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Real estate appraisal is a solid, middle class profession—one that requires a four-year degree and extensive on-the-job education, but also pays 40% more per hour than the median job. But appraisal licenser Brian Weaver wrote in an industry newsletter that "The future for appraisers specializing in residential mortgage work is coming to an end... No bang. Not even a whimper."

Algorithms deployed by firms like Zillow are getting better at analyzing characteristics of a home and its neighborhood to determine its value. The firm says that it on average predicts a home's value within 5% of its sale price, down from 14% a decade ago. Meanwhile, home-finance giant Freddie Mac recently began using automated appraisal for a small fraction of transactions.

Government to the rescue? Would-be automators will have to change government regulation if they want to cut human appraisers out of the picture. The industry says handing this important pillar in housing finance's architecture over to computers is dangerous, and important players like Freddie say that they plan to rely on human appraisers for the foreseeable future. But as computerized appraisal methods improve, potential savings could become irresistible.

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Updated 37 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. States: California to independently review FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines
  4. Wisconsin judge reimposes capacity limit on indoor venues.
  5. Media: Trump attacks CNN as "dumb b*stards" for continuing to cover pandemic.
  6. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  7. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  8. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The 2020 holiday season may just kill Main Street

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Online retail and e-commerce have been chipping away at brick-and-mortar businesses over the years but the combination of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 holiday season may prove to be a knockout blow.

State of play: Anxious consumers say financial concerns and health worries will push them to spend less money this year and to do more of their limited spending online.

California to independently review FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California will "independently review" all coronavirus vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration before allowing their distribution, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced at a news conference Monday.

Why it matters: The move that comes days after NAID director Anthony Fauci said he had "strong confidence" in FDA-approved vaccines could cast further public doubt that the federal government could release a vaccine based on political motives, rather than safety and efficacy.