Appraiser Safety, Stalked by Homeowner

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Appraiser Safety - Stalked by Homeowner

Personal safety of appraisers

I have several issues that focus on PERSONAL SAFETY of appraisers especially female appraisers that I need to address.

I had a recent event where a homeowner was not happy with the appraised value of his home. Four weeks after I had turned in the appraisal, the lender, Freedom Mortgage, proceeded to send five sales that were 16 to 29 months old, for my review. I responded via StreetLinks AMC communication log stating these were not within FNMA guidelines. A few weeks later StreetLinks sent me the following:

Good afternoon, the lender has ordered a second appraisal for this property that was completed by another appraiser in your area. Both reports were completed within the same time frame and reporting differences were noted. In an effort to resolve discrepancies, please address the following reporting differences…

I responded that their request was for a Review Appraisal. I added that I would gladly perform one for a customary and reasonable fee. StreetLinks did not agree with my comment of a Review Appraisal and stated “Don’t you want to defend your report?” I replied “my report does not need to be defended.” I then quoted Dodd-Frank and warned them of coercion, intimidation, and various other violations.

The homeowner must not have been happy because he proceeded to call me. I immediately informed StreetLinks and asked them to notify the lender. A couple of weeks later, I see the homeowner’s name in my Facebook account as a potential friend. A day or so later I see his name in my Hotmail contacts. When vacationing out of the country, I logged in to my dormant Skype account and saw his name among my contact lists. I had not used Skype for several years.

I have a teenage daughter at home. Now I am worried and wondering if this person has driven by my house? Has he seen my daughter coming and going? What else does he have in mind? A mother’s worst nightmare.

I have a stalker and needless to say I had to make a few changes to my reports and to the way I conduct business. I no longer include my license or E&O Insurance declaration page in my appraisal reports. I have sent a request to DPOR to change my address to a PO Box. I have changed my address on my E&O Insurance declaration page to a PO Box. My PO box is in a different city than where I live. I now use a prepaid cell phone for calls. I am in the process of updating all my clients to a new e-mail address. My safety has been threatened. My life and my families’ life has been turned upside down. All because of a disgruntled homeowner.

I also notified my E&O insurance and told them about the disgruntled homeowner. They opened a claim and then closed the pending claim. Upon renewal I received the following from LANDY in an email:

I have reviewed your renewal application. We will continue to offer terms in the individual appraiser program; however, it will be subject to an additional 15% debit due to the open claim. The premium will be $598 x 1.15 = $688.00. Please revise the Premium Payment Options form to reflect payment of that premium amount and initial and date the revision. Please return the revised payment form to my attention. Once we have that, we can process your payment and send your confirmation of coverage.

So, I get stalked by a homeowner. I inform my E&O insurance. And I get penalized for being stalked!

Recently, I advised another client, Nationwide Property & Appraisal Services, that I will no longer add my license and E&O information in my reports, for safety concerns. Including the license and E&O declaration page in appraisal reports is in their engagement letter. They say it is a requirement. I told them that I would send these documents separately because I didn’t want my personal information such as my residence’s address to be made public. Not like they didn’t already have these documents on file. They came back and said, “In order to close the loan, any mortgage company must have proof that their appraisal was done by an adequately licensed appraiser.” In other words, the appraiser’s information in reports is not good enough, and clients are not capable of checking appraisers’ credentials on the Appraisal Subcommittee website. The AMC then stated,

“Jodi, the license is public record. So if someone really wants it they can find it anyway. And if they have a copy of the appraisal they will know your name, address, company name, phone number, etc. The E&O being separate is fine. I get that this could encourage homeowners to try to file unfounded claims. But the license needs to be there. IT IS NOT CREATING ANY EXTRA RISK AND IT IS REQUIRED THROUGHOUT THE INDUSTRY.”

I NEVER added my license or E&O information in my reports when I had banks, lenders and mortgage companies as clients. Only AMCs require this information. When did this become industry standard?

I posted a commentary on Facebook regarding appraisers’ personal safety issues, stalkers and whether other appraisers included their license and E&O information in reports. The amount of responses that I received was over whelming. I was surprised to learn that they were other appraisers that had faced similar safety issues. One appraiser had even been confronted in his residence by a disgruntled homeowner. I received hundreds of responses and many provided safety advice, and encouragement. AMCs need to be concerned about the safety of appraisers and should eliminate handing over personal information to the public.

I would like to share some of the many advice I received from other appraisers. Check in on Facebook before you enter a home for an inspection. Leave an itinerary of your daily events. Listen to your gut and document items that you think are suspicious. If you are not comfortable when you pull up for an inspection, leave and make another appointment. Notify the lender that it was unsafe and you will be taking someone with you on the inspection. If you are comfortable, carry mace for protection. Take notes in case something does happen so the authorities can easily find it. STAY SAFE!!

By Jodi Sheldon, Residential Appraiser at Sheldon Appraisals, LLC. She has 10 years of experience in the appraisal industry. Jodi specializes in the area of new construction, waterfront properties and various residential properties. She offers her clients expert analysis backed up by objective data in the Hampton Roads area.

Image credit flickr - Dennis Skley
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29 Responses

  1. Bill Johnson says:

    Its an issue that doesn’t have an easy answer, however I want to know more about your E&O provider. Heck, the next article should be devoted to the various E&O companies and their annual premiums. I would gladly pay $688 for coverage as with a perfect record my premium is over $1,100.

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    • JC says:

      Bill, $1100? Who are you insured with? Mine is less than $600 for a mil coverage.

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      • Bill Johnson says:

        After receiving two other estimates that were higher, and after consulting and verifying with other associate on their policies ($), I went with Aspen American Insurance. This may or may not be high for the area, however don’t forget insurance companies unlike appraisers have the ability to charge down to a zip code level. Apparently E&O insurance companies recognize that if my typical assignment is in the $900,000 range then the liability is higher for them, and they charge accordingly. Lenders and AMC’s don’t recognize the higher liability to appraisers in areas like mine (and pay more), but seem to think that all 1004 assignments are the same and should be paid as such. In the past I’ve had E&O coverage via Liberty Insurance, and FREA (late 90’s $895).

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      • JC says:

        Bill, I use LANDY. Their premium for CA appraisers is less than $900 for a mil coverage. I believe you can get a quote online. Doesn’t hurt to check them out… Landy E&O

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      • Baggins - No Cigar. Baggins - No Cigar. says:

        Hey Bill. Per billing structures; Yep, the insurance is sufficiently sophisticated, the lenders appraisal order distributors are not. The root cause of course being the federal standards which cast a wide net. The presumption lenders cannot charge to a zip code is flawed. They choose not to in order to save on bureaucratic process. Which is one of the constantly present yet rarely discussed reasons for fee stagnation with appraisal services; It takes a lot of work to change that standard appraisal fee which is pre stated in the companies engagement terms, sales docs, web site, etc, etc. That never stopped me though. If they’re interested in saving the borrower a dollar or a day, they are free to do so from their end. That responsibility of catering to the customer does in no way what so ever, fall on me the appraiser.

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  2. Wayne says:

    AMC/Lender says: It is a requirement you MUST do this and that.

    Appraiser: No thank you…I refuse to to that.

    AMC/Lender says: You cannot refuse…you HAVE to do it!

    Appraiser: I can refuse, and I have already refused! Thank you for considering XXX Appraisal Company for your real estate valuation issues.

    AMC/Lender says: YOU do NOT understand….I insist that you do whatever in the HELL I say or YOU will be dropped from our panel!

    Appraiser: Please remove my company from your panel as we will no longer accept assignments from your company.

    AMC/Lender: You cannot survive without us giving you assignments!

    Appraiser: Yes i can without any problem at all!

    AMC/Lender says: GEE….how in hell are we going to earn millions of dollars without appraisers?

    Appraiser: I do not know. Please excuse me as I am running late for five inspections today. Since I do not sponsor trainees and do my own work, I am too busy to worry about your problems…I have my own. Have a great day!

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  3. chris says:

    Stick to your guns, times have changed, they need us NOW more than WE need them !!!

    And dont forget….. only the best have survived !

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  4. ej brown says:

    I added StLinks to my DNU list several years ago and am happy I did. A S&W .40 cal works good for me.

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  5. Koma says:

    Jodi sorry to hear you had to go through this. My personal address is never on any of my appraisal business information. My mentor told me that from the get go. Something else to do when receiving a job is Google the owner(s) and address because I had one job where one of the owners was on a child sex offender list so I made sure another appraiser from my office went with me to do the inspection.

    A side note is Street Links is one of the worst in my opinion. Drop them like a bad pain in the ass. I did so 6 yrs ago and have no problem finding/getting work. Wake up appraisers AMC’s do not care about you! God for bid we get hurt because of something like this and they will just move on to the next sucker..aaa… I mean appraiser.

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    • Bill Johnson says:

      The issue of permanently dropping an AMC client Koma (Streetlinks) is that most have several business models that they operate from and doing so removes you from those clients that use there Software as a Service (SaaS) programs (Streetlinks calls it LenderX). These systems allow for the AMC to be the firewall for regulation purposes (no true AMC service), while the lender pays full fee and No AMC is indicated on the appraisal report. One can refuse/decline the traditional AMC work while saying yes to those clients that use their SaaS programs (full fee). To those that say the answer is to boycott all AMC’s (and I guess their SaaS systems too), is to not understand the devil they truly are.

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  6. Koma says:

    Yea I don’t deal with those clients either. Another program is Appraisal Scope. You just have to take the time and effort to vet who you do business with. The clients I deal with have directly to them uploads.

    Thanks for the info Bill!

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  7. Wayne says:

    A lot of our industry depends on the specific location and the business model developed by each appraiser. Some of us may want to be the GURU and employ as many appraisers as possible. These folks (half-arse) train as many as possible and accept any scum AMC client or National Appraisal Company assignnent in an effort to keep that heard of folks busy. (See what happens to them when interest rates go up!) LOL

    Some of the appraisers that I have known take it slow and easy. They remind me of the dental profession. You have the old dentist working for many years all by himself until time to bring on junior to sell out the business. These appraisers understand that they can only do so many appraisal reports in a week/month. They are experienced and respected in their communities. They do not train their competition. These appraisers do not typically work for any AMC. They totally control their own business, time and fees. These are the ones that always stay busy…no matter what the economic climate. They are the ones that can take vacations (and many clients will wait until they return). At the end of the day, if you have some lawyers, accountants, Realtors, builders, investors, government engineers, credit unions, regional banks, individuals, etc…that should allow you to have all the work one person could possibly do. You are constantly promoting yourself and pick the very best of the clients. If one becomes a pain in the ass, you just ease them out and replace with a better one. RINSE and REPEAT, etc. Sometimes it is not the trade but the tricks to a trade that are important. Just my opinion….you go chase AMCs! LOL

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  8. Jodi says:

    I want to add one item. Since I wrote the story in I had requested that the claim be closed. Once the claim was closed I pointed this out to my Insurance Carrier and they lowered my premium to the usual rate. I want to thank the V. P. of the Company for all his help in this matter. Thank you all for your responses. Stay Safe!

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  9. Baggins Baggins says:

    Here are your go to eo links, and why you should never include eo within a report itself. EO covers the errors and omissions, and does not indemnify or protect the home owner from their own investment, what so ever. Misleading to borrowers, so I refuse to include.
    Should You Attach Your E&O Insurance to Your Appraisal Report?

    Should I Attach My E&O Declarations Page to My Appraisal Report?.

    So you say you have a social media stalker? More reasons why I’ve never had such accounts. Social media is the most clever and sophisticated market tool of this century, but it’s just a marketing tool none the less. If you love getting your private information and usage habit sold by the companies whom you frequent, you’ll love social media of all types. 

    Another Streetlinks story.  Will appraisers never learn?

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  10. JC says:

    I’ve never included my E&O or license in my reports. Appraisers should stop complying with these stupid requests.

    As for safety, carry a mace or pack a firearm, share your location with colleagues, friends or family members, PO box is a must, be aware of your surroundings…

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  11. Clint says:

    It seems we can all agree that StreetLinks is a tough client to work for. I have been on their panel for several years and almost always quote a premium on every assignment because 99% of the time there will be a revision request or clarification based upon some computer system suggesting other comp’s simply because they are closer in proximity. The clerks working for Street Links are not underwriters and do not review those sales to determine whether they are actually comparable. Plus they want two listings and 4 sales for every assignment regardless of relevance. It is very annoying, but if you do good work for them they’ll call for price quotes on complex assignments. I do million dollar lakefront homes for them pretty frequently. So they suck to work for until you get the big assignments that you can typically quote two to three times more for. Now I just cherry pick assignments from them. Let someone else deal with the low fee appraisals, I’ll do the big ones. Those assignments are actually reviewed by an underwriter who has some knowledge of the appraisal process; not just a clerk running a computer program. In general there are not many AMCs that will pay reasonable fees. SAMCO and ACR are the best I know of. Dart might be the lowest, but they send a crapload of assignments. All the big ones like JP Morgan and USBank have their own AMCs but the fees are too low, so I only do price quote complex assignments for them. its a business decision whether to use AMCs or not. Some are good and most are bad to work for, but you always have the choice whether you want to accept the fee they are willing to pay or simply walk away.

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  12. John Pratt says:

    Most of us appraisers know that “Streetlinks” is one of the 3 worst AMCs in the market, why would any appraiser work for them?. They have been on my do not use list for over 3 years ( my list totals over 20 ). Jodie stated the lender ordered a 2nd appraisal and they asked her to reconcile or rebut the other appraisal. All appraisers should know that when a lender orders a 2nd appraisal that they must use that 2nd appraisal, this is also true for a Review if it changes the Value (fannie requirement) so why would the original appraiser even consider reviewing or rebutting that appraisal report or Review. Maybe EGO.  Second, USPAP prohibits the appraiser from discussing the appraisal report with anyone except the Client without the prior approval of the client. I would never ask the client for that approval however if I did I would make it be in writing.

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