Friday, June 12, 2009

Competency Wins ONE!!

The story below sent to me by a Pennsylvania State-Certified Residential Appraiser.

The HVCC strikes again.

Got a frantic call yesterday morning. Could I do a rush purchase appraisal at XXXX and have the report back by Monday? I pull it up on MLS - lakefront, $500,000 sale price. I tell them yes - but it means giving up a planned weekend and my fee would be lotsa beaver pelts - complex rush assignment.

I figured they'd scream and walk away. Not so - got the order - check came this morning. So I call the Realtor's office to set appointment - the person at the appointment desk says the Realtor wants to know where I am from. I laughed and told her and said "why? Is she worried about competency?" She fell all over herself apologizing, I said no offense - if she isn't she should be thanks to the HVCC.

A few minutes later the Realtor calls back, all apologetic. Yes, she was worried about competency. She hopes I took no offense. It seems I am the second appraiser to try to get an appointment. The first one, she refused to give him access to the property. The reason? The appraiser was coming from a town 4 1/2 hours away. When he tried to set the appointment, he told the Realtor she would have to meet him there because he didn't have a lockbox key. Oh - and could she provide him all the sales she used to do her CMA and he should use to do the report? Oh, and could she provide assessment records for the subject and all sales? Oh, and did she have a map of XXXXX?

The Realtor blew a gasket, asked him if he'd like her to write the report for him and just give it to him to sign, too? Then she refused entry and called the lender and raised bloody h***. Her stance is she has a fiduciary duty to the seller, her office has a fiduciary duty to the buyer - and that includes not letting an appraiser complete the assignment who is not competent to do so. Not once was value mentioned - what WAS mentioned was "knowing the market, understanding just what is involved with these lakefront properties, understanding the motivations of buyers and sellers at this particular guard gated lakeside community".

It seems I got the job, despite fee, because said lender is friendly with a LO from a good client (with whom I can now have no contact thanks to HVCC). The lender called him and asked him if he knew someone local, competent to complete an assignment involving a waterfront residence. He gave them my name and phone number and warned them I wouldn't come cheap, but I was worth the money. Well, well.

So - now I wonder - what idiot appraiser is willing to drive 4 1/2 hours one way and be in really over his rubbers for probably less than full fee And how come whoever ordered the appraisal didn't check out the appraiser's competency to perform such an appraisal?? 4 1/2 hours away - yeah, right - sure he's competent to appraise in this area - especially considering he didn't know where the property was, didn't know it was lakefront, had no idea it was guard gated with a chunk of change initiation fee (often used as a bargaining chip and concession), doesn't have MLS or assessment records access and expected the Realtor to do his work for him.

What we have here is a Realtor who stood up for her seller and another agent's buyer to ensure competency. Good for her - I hope more will do so. Until these AMC's stop shopping for fee and turn time, until they are regulated, until they select appraisers based on quality, knowledge, competency and experience in a given market, the HVCC will continue to damage the real estate market - and especially the consumer.

Three cheers for a gutsy Realtor - may there be many more like her!

From a southern Pennsylvania Appraiser and offered by Appraiser Active with no comment. We'll leave that to you.


Anonymous said...


That is a most excellent post. I have a review of an appraisal that was performed for a refi that the borrowers had nobody to stand up for them and defend them from an appraiser what the guy in your story tried to do. The GREAB will see this one before too much longer.

My favorite story that happened to me just recently was a call to cover an area that is well outside our 50 mile radius. When I told that to the caller, she asked if I knew any appraisers covering the area. I told her not personally, but that I knew there were at least four different appraisers in the area because I met them in a CE class. She said, "Well, maybe it would be smart to call appraisers in the same town as the property." NO JOKE!!!

These stories must NOT be kept silent!

Scott Rusk said...

Just a quick comment, part of the reason AMC's are having to use distant appraisers is because they have areas that appraisers will not even talk to them. I know they can be difficult to deal with. Their prices are set by the bean counters who have their benefits & expenses paid by their employer and have never done an appraisal in their life and have no clue what is involved. I turned down an assignment in an area 60 miles from my office where I have done many appraisals (so I know the area & market) because of the fee. I quoted what I thought was a high fee because I just didn't want to mess with the 1004MC in that area. The AMC called me back 3 weeks later and said "you said last month you'd charge $xxx for this assignment, will you still do it for that?". My answer was "no, it's $xxx + $xxx because obviously you don't have anyone else qualified to do this assignment or you wouldn't be calling me back". I got the assignment at MY price. I think the key to dealing with AMC's is standing firm on pricing, but hey, If you are only $10 or $20 off, be willing to negotiate. Stand firm, don't let them nickel & dime you down every assignment, but be a little flexible. Also, be willing to go to rural areas or areas that lack FHA approved appraisers (just make sure you are competent in that area, USPAP). Remember Econ 101, supply / demand.

Unknown said...

I'm becoming a little peaved at all the garbage talk about about distant appraisers. I have 2 offices and cover 18 counties. I've been working with AMC's before they knew they were AMC's. While many don't kmow about our competency in some areas due to looking at my license address, I run circles around appraisers who are "local", when it appears on paper I came from 120 miles away. I constantly get calls on properties of this nature and command premium fees from AMC's all day long, amny times after a "local" appraiser has already completed a so called appraisal. Heck, I get $300 from AMC's to complete desk reviews on these type properties.

Bottom line: Most residential appraisers are "form-fillers" and couldn't (or wouldn't) do a narritive to save their lives. My clients could care less if I parachuted in as lond as I know the market, have the data and continue to produce the quality reports that fly underwriting virtually every time. And, when you can truthfully say that, fees follow.

Deb LaJ said...

Frank, I'm glad you have had a positive experience... I am still waiting for mine. I agree though that quality work is given less import than ever. The 19 years that I've spent trying to do the best job possible, just does not matter under HVCC (unless I get a brilliant Realtor involved like you did). Thanks and don't forget about visiting WY.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the realtor for standing up for her client, but shame on the appraiser who was willing to go 4 1/2 hours away. I have worked for AMC's for years, even before the HVCC and hardly ever have a problem. But then again, I only work for ones where I can set my fees and areas. The appraiser also holds some of the responsibility in this and not do work just because he needs the money.