Appraisers Need to Learn to Stop Being Doormats!
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Being a bad businessman is not an excuse not to pay me. Period.
The borrower pays the AMC up front. The AMC HAS MY FEE FROM DAY ONE! If they do not have it on the date I complete the assignment, it is because they used MY MONEY for some other purpose. If they are too incompetent to operate a general ledger, then open a second checking account and make the fee deposits for the appraisers the same day they are received.
Being a bad businessman is not an excuse for not paying me for work I do for you. Period. In all my relationships with past partners, employers, clients and other appraisers I have had ONE OVER RIDING rule:
“Do NOT ‘mess’ with the money!”
I actually use a slightly different word that conveys a much more forceful meaning. I make NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule for anybody. Though I have knowingly worked for free.
I use MY money to pay my mortgage, and to buy gas for my car so I can go on assignments. I use it to feed my family and pay my utilities. If some ‘executive’ at an AMC thinks I am going to subordinate the needs of my family to their bad business practices, they are sadly mistaken. The LEAST they could expect would be for me to plaster their name allover the internet, file complaints with CFPB, FFIEC and anyone else I could think of, plus their state authorities. Not just the name of the company, but also the people I spoke with there.
Having said that, here is some words of caution:
- IF you work for an AMC, the VERY FIRST time they do not pay as advertised, cut them off until they do pay. Let the circumstances of that payment dictate whether you do future work for them.
- NEVER build up more of a ‘bank’ or accounts receivable with one lender or AMC than you can afford to walk away from. New AMC clients should probably be from one to no more than three assignments AND LET THEM KNOW!
“Once we are used to working with each other and satisfied with each other’s performance, I’d be willing to accept more assignments but until we have some mutual history the most I can have outstanding is three assignments.”
IF they are legit they will accept that with no hard feelings.
- For established clients its tougher. You don’t want to lose work, but neither do you want to leave yourself over exposed. I would not let more than $2,500 remain unpaid a any one time. Even then, I’d be REAL sensitive to changes in payment practices. Especially when they say they have switched to a new accounting system or AP firm and that causes a late payment. When their payment pattern changes, takes longer, do not be afraid to cut them off!
- Consider using one of the “no charge back” Factor Services. Some advertise that they only charge 5% and never charge the appraiser back if the client does not pay. Read the fine print! Personally I’d give up 5% to get paid in less than 30 days.
Right now I am being told that a company called “Valuation Partners” is paying appraisers in New York very late, over 60 to 120+/- days. I only have anecdotal evidence form three appraisers, and obviously have only heard one side of the story. But it looks like something we, Appraisers Guild of Appraisers (AGA), may become involved with.
If any other appraisers have experience, good OR bad, with this firm, please let us all know. If these are isolated instances or legitimate service disputes we don’t want to be unfair to the AMC. If they are NOT disputed debts, then we want our fellow appraisers paid…NOW!
Appraisers need to learn to stop being doormats. Theft of service is still theft!
If YOU are having the kind of payment trouble outlined in any of the above, you really need to join with us at AGA. While we can’t promise payment results, our experience has been that a letter or phone call is usually enough to generate payment. We are NOT a collection agent, but most AMCs we’ve contacted have preferred to pay their appraisers than to take on a Guild within the nations oldest union over something they know they are obligated to pay anyway. For those that may have forgotten how to join AGA, call Jan Bellas at (301) 220-4100 or email to JanBellas@appraisersguild.org