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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.

Go deeper

56 mins ago - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Thursday that the country's health workers have now administered more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses.

Of note: While this is a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the coronavirus, only about 30% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, per AP. Roughly 75% has received at least one dose.

Trump says he plans to launch new social media network in 2022

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.

Beauty giant Coty Cosmetics looking to sell its own branded products

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi. Photo: Axios on HBO

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi tells Axios the beauty giant will “probably” introduce Coty-branded products one day.

Why it matters: Coty produces some of the world’s most popular fragrances, skin care products and color cosmetics on behalf of other well-known brands, but has shied away from producing its own branded products.