Working for an AMC? How Exciting!

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Can You Tell I’m Excited About Working for an Appraisal Management Company

Can You Tell I’m Excited about working for an Appraisal Management Company?

Today I received a notice telling me my best customer was changing over to an AMC for all their appraisal ordering. I have worked for this company for many years and have always enjoyed a great relationship. Today that ended. I can longer talk to any person at the bank.

In my application to continue working for this company I have worked with for so long, I have to provide sample reports, a resume, three business references, license info, info about CE classes I have taken. I have to sign to agree to new terms which completely change the way I get paid, how much I get paid, how long it takes to get paid, the amount of comps within my reports, agree to provide them pretty much anything they ask for within 24 hours, give them permission to make deposits and withdrawals from my checking account (in case they make a mistake or I don’t do something they ask), and basically give them more power over my business than anyone else should have.

It used to be my company and I had the ability to run it the way I saw fit. Why do they get to decide when I get paid, how much I should charge, what comps I include in my reports, etc.? The bank charges the buyers the appraisal fee up front. Now, this company agrees to pay me on a schedule with the fastest payment time of thirty days and up to six weeks to pay. And, for all their help in sending me work, they want to take a part of my fee. They want me to take less money and do more work. Try that at your job and see how you like it. Who wants to work more for less money? Oh, and we have to check in every single day. They expect me to check in every day to let them know what I am working on and when I will finish their work. Maybe I could finish it faster if I didn’t have to check in so much. I feel like a school kid with the teacher looking over my shoulder every minute. But, this teacher doesn’t even need a license. I have to have a license and take all this continuing education and they don’t have to have an appraisal license, yet they can dictate what is included in my reports. Wow! Who came up with this stuff?

Part of the deal also includes them judging the “quality” of my work. Their definition of “quality” is defined by national percentages and guidelines written for larger markets where comps are plentiful. In our market between 60-70% of all sales require “exceeding adjustments.” This area requires more art than most, but it is very similar to markets all across the country. There are simply not three perfect comps, within a one-mile radius and within 90 days for every appraisal report. So, since I do not have access to a large pool of comparable sales and my reports will require exceeding adjustments triggering their “quality” status, they will eventually describe me as a less than perfect appraiser and write that I do not provide quality work. I will be given fewer reports and perhaps placed on their do not use list. Eventually they will figure out that every appraiser that works in this market has the same problems and the comps we use are the best available. But, until they figure it out, they just might kill several appraisers business in the process. And, once you get on a do not use list, it’s Mission Impossible to get off that list. So, appraisers in our area work harder, must use more comparables than most other appraisers, have to do long addendums on every report, and have to know our market inside and out in order to explain everything in detail (to people who really don’t want to hear the explanations, they just want the report to fit their guidelines). You can type two full pages of explanations and still get the same request: please provide two more comps within 90 days and one mile. Boy, wish I had thought to use those the first time. Maybe they think I am hiding those just waiting on them to ask first. Talk about frustration. Can you tell I’m excited about working for an Appraisal Management Company?

This is the business I am in. However, I don’t see this relationship working out well in the long term. I will eventually look for other work and lose my longtime customer.

Sure, it’s the lender’s choice and I can always just say no. But, that hurts the lender and of course, my company. And why is it really necessary? It’s always about the money. But, that’s another blog. For now, too many good appraisers are being lost in the new appraisal process. The idea of Dodd-Frank and the HVCC making the appraisal process better is almost humorous. In my opinion, consumers are far worse today than they were and the only people who have come out good with all these changes are lenders and especially AMC’s. Read my book Death of an Industry.

By Hamp Thomas
~ Source Institute of Housing Technologies

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10 Responses

  1. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    The fact that you are still engaged in this business (extortion racket) five years after the crime speaks volumes about your ability to adapt. Do you think that Colonel Harland Sanders sat on his thumb for five years after the new interstate bypassed his thriving restaurant and motel? Not quite. He said F it and moved on with a new plan (at around age 65 I might add).

    Learn to adapt, and learn to quit when quitting is wise option. and you will go far. Don’t feel badly though; you chose to follow the herd and the herd chose to do nothing but whine about their circumstances.

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  2. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    Would you care for some cheese with your whine? Some of us catch on a little slower than others; but five years after the crime was committed? THAT is the most interesting part of your story.

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    • Jay Yibm says:

      so you are retired and it bothers you that AMC’s are taking way too much of the pie and treating appraisers like crap and this guy complains and that is whining, hit the trail, if you are retired beat it and leave the rest of us who need to make a living deal with this without your smart ass comments

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      • Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

        JayBird

        Have you witnessed any other appraisers or ex appraisers attempting to help YOU out of this mess? I haven’t. I quit the business as soon as HVCC kicked in because I refused to be a willing participant in an extortion based business model. Afterwards quitting I spent another two years writing to every Congressman and Woman, writing to every group that was trying to assist appraisers, and I sat up a website to educate both appraisers and homeowners on the subject in hopes that both groups would boycott AMCs. Did I mention that I also wrote letters to every national news agency in a attempt to have them cover the story. I did manage to get Ken Harney of the Washington Post interested. He covered it several times but that was it.

        I became so disgusted with appraisers and my state appraisal board after two years that I chose not to renew my license. I’m not an old puck; I quit the business at age 48. I’ve given up on appraisers lifting their fingers to help themselves long ago. I do however spend a lot of time trying to convince appraisers to do throw in the towel and choose a more intelligent career path. Life is too short to HOPE things will get better. Five years have passed; I assure you that things will only get worse for appraisers (FAR WORSE) as interest rates begin to climb.

        Whining does NOT qualify as taking action.

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  3. Sounds like a good time for you to get out of the business. “It used to be my company and I had the ability to run it the way I saw fit. ” Very Problematic!

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  4. Dr Kenneth Nosewater says:

    If the amc is paying you less they are in violation as they are not paying you C&R as established by your client over the last several years. I believe you do have a case and this should be reported.

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    • Harry says:

      Dr. Kenneth, There is no point in reporting violations because there is (and has never been) any enforcement of the regs.

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  5. Jeremy Hall Appraisals - Colorado Jeremy Hall Appraisals - Colorado says:

    The amc model could have worked, if only the lenders would have required the amc have a seperated billing structure, and distributed orders in a fixed rotation. Instead what we’ve got is another episode of result based distribution. Not only might the amc assign in a valuation result based setting, just like the improper lenders used to do, but the amc will most certainly distribute orders to appraisers with the lowest fee, so they can make the most profit per order. A consequence of improperly entangled fees for distinctly different services. Call your lender up and demand they force a new contractual engagement with the amc where the amc must bill separate. may not depress the appraisers fees for variable unearned fee opportunistic profit, and also tell the lender to demand truly rotational based assignment to eliminate impropriety assignment methods involved with results based distribution. Kiss your client good by, and welcome to the national club of appraisers who have had their livelyhoods ruined by amc’s. Refuse amc service, charge them more than you did your lender client, or compell your lender client to control the amc terms. Welcome to the club, but the article is misleading. Only the appraiser chooses to work for less. I’d rather not work than be part of an improper distribution system. I refused to work for mb’s who assigned orders via result based distribution, and I likewise refuse to work for amc’s who force fees down for unearned profit. Those amc’s are promoting lower fees for higher profits. That is not synonymous with any appraiser obligation to work with companies like that. I’m not obligated to work with anyone, and I’ve got firmly set minimum fees. My absolute minimum is $350, but for amc’s, I usually apply a minimum of $450 or $550 to them, if they don’t distribute orders fairly. Been there, done that, not doing it again.

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