Appraisers Need to Rethink How to Conduct Business
AMC apps and text messaging does nothing but promote fast and cheap.
Last week we learned of a lawsuit file by an appraiser against an AMC and its owner. The allegations are his personal and business email accounts were illegally accessed and the investigation lead back to an AMC located in Rockville, Maryland and its owner. (You know who it is, no need to mention any names.) This news angered many appraisers as our personal space, property and livelihoods have been violated.
In case you missed the story, you definitely want to learn about it. There are several good sources that have revealed the details. Here are links to them: Voice of Appraisal with Phil Crawford, Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller and Appraisersblogs.
Technology has changed how we all conduct business. Websites, emails, digital photography, GPS systems, MLS systems, laser measuring devices, smart phones and mobile report completion. Even the way we deliver the completed appraisal report has changed. Don’t get me wrong, the advances we have today are great. However, as with anything in life, there is risk. Are appraisers ignoring risks in our day to day activities?
Some AMC’s send text messages to appraisers for assignment acceptance; others have developed their own apps that are installed on our phones. Many AMCs and portals even charge the appraiser for accepting and uploading the order.
In some industries, the use of apps makes sense; Uber drivers, day laborers, and dating and “hook up” sites require an instant response. An app makes sense for those industries. Appraisers are licensed professionals and provide a professional service. There are no professional industries that operate with fast and cheap mentalities and the appraisal industry should not either. The appraisal is the key component to the largest financial investment of consumers. The appraiser should be properly vetted and the agreement to complete the appraisal assignment should be a mutual decision based on communication, research and knowledge. Fast and cheap is harmful to consumers, neighborhoods and the industry. Communication, research and knowledge are all missing with AMC apps. Why would any professional appraiser subject themselves to be abused by AMC’s in this way? Don’t appraisers get abused enough from others?
Prior to AMC’s becoming popular, appraisers would receive an email or phone call and we actually had time to investigate the property to determine not only if we were competent to complete the assignment, but if we wanted to complete the assignment. This crucial form of communication is a far superior system and actually protects the consumers, lenders and investors. There is significant benefit to the appraiser as well. AMC apps and text messaging does nothing but promote fast and cheap.
The bigger question to ask yourself: Are you giving the AMC a way to access your email, contacts, and photos, etc. through these apps? Even worst, what about banking information? How many appraisers give the AMC their bank account information or credit card information? Did you have a background check performed on each and every employee that works for the AMC? Are they bonded? Did you ask the AMC for references? How is your personal information secured? How much risk are you willing to take? How secure are these AMC apps?
Remember, The AMC needs the appraiser more than the appraiser needs the AMC! It is your business, your data, your privacy. Keep it yours and run your business your way!