Coffin Lid Closed on Defunct AMC

Dave Towne

Dave Towne

Certified Residential RE Appraiser at Towne Appraisals
AGA, MNAA, Accredited Green Appraiser - Licensed in WA State since 2003.
Dave Towne on e-AppraisersDirectory.com
Dave Towne

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Coffin Lid Closed on Defunct AMC

AMC is indeed closed!

Over the last number of days, I have sent messages about a Washington State Appraisal Management Company which was about to fail. This AMC is owing many appraisers thousands of dollars in unpaid appraisal fees. I performed an ‘autopsy’ on that AMC while it was still kicking and screaming.

I now have confirmation from two separate appraisers, on two separate days, that the AMC office is now closed, with most furnishings removed. The AMC owner has not informed any appraisers about this action, or anything else related to the business closing.

Because those of us involved with this situation believe that the AMC is indeed closed, and apparently out of business, the name will now be revealed:

The William Craig Company, Inc., also known under their AMC name of WCCI.

The primary issue now is finding any appraisers who are owed unpaid appraisal report fees, or those who have had NSF checks for appraisal fees mailed to them by the AMC owner or staff.

A primary appraiser caught up in this mess is willing to help affected appraisers understand the process necessary to ‘attempt’ to be paid what is owned you. The appraiser has already begun the process. The appraiser will not do the legwork for you, but will provide you a list of steps you can take, plus contacts, to get what is owed to you, with no guarantees that will happen.

If you want to connect with that appraiser, send me a note and describe what your WCCI situation is, and I’ll forward your info on to that appraiser. Be sure to provide your name, phone # and email address in your message.

Dave Towne

Dave Towne

AGA, MNAA, Accredited Green Appraiser - Licensed in WA State since 2003. Dave Towne on e-AppraisersDirectory.com

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38 Responses

  1. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    As Donald Trump would say:

    “I would post a YouTube video of Kool & The Gang performing “CELEBRATION” but that would be politically incorrect”.

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    • bubba jay / Retired Appraiser II bubba jay / Retired Appraiser II says:

      im too old and crotchety to be PC anymore, and threw that nonsense out the window a long time ago.

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  2. Linda Newman says:

    This is a most annoying issue.  The old fashioned way is the best.  COD at the door!!!!

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    • Tom D says:

      i call it cad, cash at door.  that was with the mortgage brokers & lenders.  the banks were always billed, i think.  can’t remember what the s&l did.

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  3. Diana N. says:

    They must have taken lessons from ES, how many more of these AMC have to close their doors owning appraisers thousands of dollars before the stupid government goes back to the way it was. I never got stiffed by a bank or mortgage company in the old days. Supposedly the AMCs were set up to protect the consumer, well damn it  appraisers are consumers too.

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    • Tom D says:

      banks never, but yea, i got stiffed by a couple of mortgage brokers.  i was making a lot, and sometimes it was a big stiff.  that was my fault, i was still young.

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  4. Baggins Baggins says:

    Someone should look at their public business records, and note their yearly intake and such.  Let’s get some details on the volume of defaulted payments coming soon.

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  5. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    I know that this is both rude and politically incorrect but it has to be stated.  Why would you feel sorry for appraisers who lost money to this AMC? When you accept work from an AMC you know the risk.  Everyone knows that you’re playing with Vegas odds regarding getting paid from day one.

    An Ethical Point Of View
    When you accept work from an AMC you are participating in what is typically known as a criminal enterprise.  You are willingly participating in extortion (Pay To Play) each time you accept an order.  For the sake of being politically correct we’ll call it “legalized extortion”.  Karma truly can be an evil bitch when it comes to compromising your ethics.  Ethics took me out of the game in 2009.  I don’t compromise there. The AMC fee grab was a secondary consideration.

    Sometimes you win in Vegas…sometimes you lose everything you own.   The question is: Who forced the appraiser to play the odds?

    Few find a way to refuse AMC orders so you continue to play russian roulette with AMCs loaded in all six chambers. Fewer still opt for taking the high road and simply walking away from the profession. The latter is by far the easier path and the most admirable.

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    • Koma says:

      That’s LIFE! and yes I still feel for the appraisers that might have lost moneys. Maybe it’ll be a teachable moment for them. No need to kick them when they are already down. I’m far from perfect and learned my lesson from ES. Luckily only two of reports for me.

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    • Tom D says:

      that’s like saying because you got $10 in your pocket you deserve to be robbed.  however, the total destruction of the amc slavery system is the only option to discuss.

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      • Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

        Faulty logic.  You’re odds of being robbed are 50/50 regardless of whether you have $10 in your pocket.  The odds go up if you are over dressed just as the nonpayment odds increase for appraisers who accept AMC orders.

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  6. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    Check back in on the executives of this defunct company next year.  You’ll be amazed how many will be partial or full owners of new AMCs.

    Wash = Launch

    Rinse = Profit & Conceal

    Repeat = Bankrupt Company

    Cha…ching.

    Many of these AMC owners owned scam mortgage companies previously.  They’d sell their own mother for the price of an IPhone.

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  7. Diana N. says:

    Blame the government instead of the appraisers.

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  8. Diana N says:

    Nice thought about boycotting AMCs, but you and I know it will never happen in the real world, especially when you have appraisers using the “grab it” system when AMCs broadcast assignments. Maybe in Neverland, definitely not here.. 🙁

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    • Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

      Unfortunately that only proves one thing:  The sheer stupidity of appraisers across the country. 

      The moon landing appeared to work “in theory” but theory didn’t mean crap…it required follow through.  I have yet to meet a single appraiser who told me an AMC boycott wouldn’t work because “in theory” it will absolutely work. The one thing that is lacking is the COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE to follow through.  What does that tell you about appraisers?

      The answer that I typically hear is the old Rallys slogan: “Gotta Eat”. My reply: “Then quit bitching and enjoy your beans and rice until they run you out of business completely. If you would simply endure 1 month of hardship you could feed your family steak for the rest of your life”.

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    • Wayne says:

      Diana,

      I do not believe for a minute that all of this is the fault of the government. Most of this is the total fault of appraisers. There are some appraisers who are going to do an Alternative Valuation Assignment for Valligent at a fee of $40.00. Can you believe that they will accept this type of crap for a lousy 40 dollars?

      I believe that there are appraisers in our industry that would slap their mother if an AMC told them to do so! If appraisers want to work for AMCs that is their choice. I really do not care to hear all of them boo hoo about not getting paid or all of the other problems associated with that type of assignment. To each their own!

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  9. Diana N. says:

    Wayne, I agree, that’s why I mentioned the “grab it” system. But let;s not forget, it was the Feds that insisted that lenders use AMCs. and yes, I agree some appraisers were at fault because they were bullied by the lenders to make the deal or loose their work. but not all.  Unfortunately all are suffering for the few.

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  10. Wayne says:

    Diana, take a look at the following and let us know what you think: U.S. Valuation Profession Fact Sheet – December 2015

    The above report prepared by the Appraisal Institute indicates 76,800 total appraisers as of the end of 2015. The report shows that 31% of the total work as residential appraisers. Based on this information it appears that as of the end of 2015 there were 23,808. The Texas Real Estate Research Center did a study that indicated that 1/4 of appraisers did not accept assignments from AMCs. If these things are correct, there was 17,856 that were available to work for AMCs at the end of 2015.

    We all know that a few hundred appraisers leave this occupation each month. We also know that the AMCs and appraisal mills are hurting because of a lack of appraisers willing to work for them. That is why all of these groups are trying to get the requirements for licensure/certification reduced so that they will have many more suckers to provide a living for this scum.

    Some appraisers will always continue to grovel before their AMC masters and we cannot change that. There are some of us that may see that now is the time to make our move. It will not require that we have everyone join us. We only need to add to the existing shortage and make it impossible for AMCs to provide appraisal services in a nationwide situation.

    If appraisers will stop paying dues, subscription fees, attending useless conferences, etc. we can take the profit out of the hands of these parasites. We do not have to ask the permission of any government agency. All we need to do is stand tall on our two feet and say no to all of this. The appraisers have the power to change this and have always had the power.

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    • Thorin vs Smaug Thorin vs Smaug says:

      Solutions are easier than all of that.  Lenders turn to amcs to pass the cost.  So in turn, all appraisers need to do to convince lenders to order direct again, is be willing to offer the coverage to the amc, but upcharge for the hassle.  If you are simply absent, although that is the best objection certainly, but if you are merely absent, the amc’s will tell lies about appraiser availability.  For many years, I backtracked lost amc orders and wrote letters to lenders.  Many of them have gone direct, and I was first in line.  I’m always willing to work with anyone, as long as they pay.  Currently, lenders experience cost savings by using amc’s, but mark my words, they don’t bother reconsidering that until the cost savings are absent.  To each his own.  Choose to be permanently absent, or treat the amc’s as the cash cows they are, and upcharge them.  It’s not my fault they’re awful negotiators, but they choose to take on that position.  The common misunderstanding between amc’s and appraisers is the presumption that because amc’s negotiated this or that, such is also the appraisers negotiation in turn.  But that’s wrong.  My fee is my fee, and amc’s always get charged more than direct.  Go big or go home.

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      • Wayne says:

        Thorin vs Smaug,

        You may be correct. Personally I have no desire to work for any AMC. I do not know what type of fee or turn time they will allow me on any assignment because I hang up long before we get that far! If for some reason I had no choice except to work for AMCs, I would change occupations.

        I understand that every appraiser has their own situation and should operate their business as they wish. Our office is tiny and we like it that way. No AMCs, no mortgage brokers, No USDA or FHA. We are very selective as to who we will accept work from. Right now we are only accepting residential assignments. We are very lucky as that is plenty.

        If your idea helps all of us to end the horror of AMCs I am behind you all the way!

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      • Baggins Baggins says:

        Thanks Wayne.  So many undercutters here in CO, they might be the majority.  Coupled with absence of marketing potential directly through portals which cater to direct, like Mercury, it’s tough to link with direct assigners.  Random hit and miss w/ marketing unless you know who is and who is not utilizing amc’s.  And even then when you find quote unquote direct distributors, often they behave just like amc’s.  The focus is on grading, stats, and often with a central order assignment person or staff whom is a strong advocate of the lender.  Fees, tats, stips, and SOW presentation, and selection criteria might as well came from an amc directly, or the assignments are alternatively based on popularity via non-qualified persons judgements or directives.  For all the hundreds of companies I’ve marketed over the years (which now occupy 4 full legal drawers of manilla records complete with dates of contact, fee offers, names, prints of emails, etc), I’ve only ran across a half dozen who has an order assignment person who would actually be qualified to perform appraisal review legitimately themselves.  I always land those clients, because the assignment person is easily sold on my verifiable reporting quality.  For the rest of the industry, I’m usually dealing with loosely qualified, unlicensed assignment clerks, to receive orders.  Amc or not, no longer matters in the larger picture, so therefore boycotts are pointless.  One should be careful what they wish for because some ‘direct assigners’ are exact mirrors of amc’s in many regards, and with the record pacing transitions, it’s apparently rather easy to duck out of amc licensing, and still utilize those assignment principals.  Amc owners would have been better off being proprietary contractors to a specific lender, and running a special proprietary assignment platform to rake that hundred per order, instead of muddling with amc regulation.  Even the direct guys are raking variable takes through a multitude of botique lenders or nationally distributed network for a company or set, whom utilize their central distribution portal, and that staff, for all appraisal assignments.  The constant similar factor is the option and willingness to readily substitute any appraiser who’s not competing as they see fit.  Nothing short of clearly separated fees will solve this dilemma created by financialized incentive to micro manage the assignment process for a variable or even fixed, per appraisal fee rake.  See back in the day, the mb, being a licensed individual, was individually held accountable if they violated junk fee and skimming rules.  Where as amc’s, and direct portals, not requiring the daily decision makers to be individually licensed, have no such equivalent accountability.  It’s han solo appraiser vs goliath amc w legal representation and disposable front line contact persons, which is why amc business licensing did nothing to correct individual relations with appraisers.  The interesting aspect of upcharging for the bureaucracy of additional assignment persons in place, regardless of source, is how this relates to the oftentimes national distribution models they’ve adopted lately.  Win here, lose there, and make an appraiser elsewhere absorb the loss taken by another appraisers gain, half a country away.  Such a model is unsustainable, and clearly violating fee disclosure and junk fee rules.  So surf around, upcharge, and rest assured that with a charge higher than the identified lender to consumer charge, you’re the one winning in this struggle, causing steps forward to business modeling change, even though they do not want that change.  Appraisers are the tool by which lenders legally engage national lending GSE’s, and the only thing necessary for victory, is to stop leaving money on the table and pandering in unethical manners to receive the orders, aka undercutting.  It would not be called undercutting, if the ‘cost savings from lower priced appraisal products’, were returned to the consumer, instead of being held as variable opportunistic profit, aka; vulture capitalism.  So far, I’ve identified absolutely zero clients whom take that ethical high ground in mortgage lending. Think of this simple explanation; The added pressure an appraiser can place for higher fees on assignment companies, results in more downward pressure on undercutting appraisers whom are willing to wheel and deal to get first dibs on assignments. Their end draws nearer, with each individual appraiser whom is willing to deal with amc’s, but is unwilling to discount to do so. The amc model would not exist in it’s current form, without undercutters. It’s not the amc per say that is the primary objection, it’s the preference for undercutters. So dive in bro, market more, get more high fee exposure opportunity, and put that same principal of substitution right back in the amc’s face with stringently applied high fee scales for service. Amc dominance is achieved by your absence. Get in there and be one more appraiser whom won’t play along, mixed up in their data systems. Time is money and when an amc needs fulfillment of an order, they call right down the approval list regardless of appraisers fee. If all they send you is tough work, just double the charge. LOL. It works, true story, because the discounters dare not ruin their ‘stats’. They made up this game, I just play along, stats be damned. The only stat that matters to me, is $450 or better for fulls, and $550 or better for hassle orders, with mandatory 7 days out or rush charge applied. Lately I’ve been landing 400 2055’s. Go figure, because the more bridges amcs burn, the greater my opportunity to rake higher fees becomes.

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  11. Diana N. says:

    Wayne, everything you said is true, and always has been, but you and I know appraisers have never banded together the way Realtors have. As far as the Appraisal sub-commite goes, I think it’s an insult to all of us. They have done nothing to help appraisers who have been screwed by the AMCs that have folded, all they do is re-write USPAP and other documents so we have to take classes that in most cases are redundant or  meaningless and use up what little money we get for our assignments. I just attempted to turn down a full condo appraisal with a 1004MC for $200.00 guess what, it was already taken. How sad. and this will continue to happen. A few years back there was an attempt to form an appraisal organization in CT. to fight the injustices to appraisers, guess what, only a handfull cared, and it folded. Even the State of CT who collects some hefty licencing fees doesn’t give a damn if appraisers get screwed by AMC’s. they did nothing when complaints were filed against ES  and a few other companies. I gave up filing complaints and blowing the whistle on corrupt appraisers when absolutely nothing was being done.  I keep saying the machines will take over, Orwell was a little off on his date, it wasn’t 1984 or maybe it was and we just didn’t realize it.

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      The effective and necessary rewrite which has gone purposefully overlooked, is attention and expansion of definition of ‘the management rule’.  It should be officially noted as unethical to accept or offer discounts in mortgage lending if the following conditions apply;  If an appraiser offers lower than the amount billed to the customer for the appraisal service on the hud1 form, and cost savings from reduced cost appraisal services are not returned to the consumer, or; if an appraiser provides financial incentive via discounted services to be the preferred selectee (if) the cost savings are not returned to the borrowing consumer.  It should be noted as a violation of the management rule to discount without insisting cost savings be returned to the consumer, in the realm of mortgage lending.  Such an action is at it’s heart, clearly unethical.  Actually that’s already a rule.  The Junk Fee rule is pretty clear on this point, and it’s very clear that every instance of variable fee raking from amc’s where cost savings are not passed to consumers, are qualifiable junk fee rule violations.  Each and every instance of them.  I guess normal rules which licensed individuals like mb’s are held accountable, are no longer applicable if running the charges through your shell company amc.  Dip into the amc pot and rip out a big healthy fee for yourself now and then.  The money is just sitting there, a surplus skimmed from other appraisers complacency and willingness to participate in this extortion ring.  Reach in to the pot and grab a handful.  That’s what amc’s do, and nobody stops them.  Try it yourself, except the difference is as an appraiser, you will not be breaking any laws or ethical rules by reaching into your own cookie jar.  If I send them into the red in terms of operational expenses, is not my concern what so ever. My business is mine, and theirs is theirs. I keep myself in business, but it is not my responsibility to keep them in business. My schedule opened up, and I could rock any standard order at $550 and 2 weeks. Run a shock and awe campaign now and then, and you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. Some amc’s, especially some of the smaller start ups live in fear of losing lending clients for not being able to provide order fulfillment. And many have only partial staking, where the lender bounces orders amongst several amc’s. They will take a loss now and then to save ‘their lender client’, and place that order, regardless of fee. If they have failed to negotiate with lender a fee which is my fee or better, that’s their problem, not mine. As I like to say; I used to manage these negotiations with lenders regarding fees, but now the amc’s have willingly taken on that responsibility. Thanks for taking the need to wrangle mb’s off of my plate, that’s a relief. Oh, you could not strike a fair deal? Better step out of the way and let me do it then. Better yet; take a loss and pay my fee. Your failed negotiations with lenders, are no longer my problem. That’s how I manage aggressive amc’s whom seek target fees lower than direct. They’re readily replaceable by appraisers and lenders, bottom of the barrel, last in line, back of the bus. Pay up or step aside. No deals, and you’re fired. LOL. “I’m not in this business to save someone else a dollar. But if the mb wants to keep cost savings down for borrowers, they’re free to release a discount point, or a cut of their own fee. I have no problem with that. My fee is $$X, minimum, and that’s non negotiable.”

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  12. Wayne says:

    Diana,

    I am also sure everything you have said is true. I do not understand how or why an appraiser would accept a full condo appraisal with a 1004 MC for $200.00. A final inspection is $150.00. Our markets or our client base must be totally different.

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  13. Diana N. says:

    Wayne, I’m in CT and I can’t feel sorry for these appraisers, if they are willing to work for that kind of money shame on them, they would be better off working for tips someplace. I think it’s insulting to be offered this fee and for them to accept it, to say nothing of hurting the rest of us.

    My fee for a desk review is $200, and minimum $400 for a basic single family, things like the 1004MC are extra. The fee increases based on the size, complexity and location of the subject.

    Also I noticed some of the AMCs are requiring you to have all comps in the same zip code. Ha ha *I guess they don’t know that cities can have several zip codes and the comparable sales can be within .25 mi of the subject but with a different zip code.

     

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    • Thorin vs Smaug Thorin vs Smaug says:

      If you’re getting all that exposure to that kind of ‘order opportunity’, as your parents would probably say; you’re in with the wrong crowd.  Read my above posts, and surf around more.  The funny thing about amc’s is they way they play the principals of substitution off against appraisers and fees.  Even funnier, is how seriously they short circuit, and demonstrate complete ignorance regarding true principals of substitution, when the shoe is on the other foot.  If the one is screaming along with 200, you scream on down the line to the 350 guys.  As a group, appraisers contribute to undercutting or not.  It’s the undercutters whom are most to blame for setting this stage.  Betcha a hamburger some of the big shot appraisers whom are often writing self promoting articles, will refuse to detail their standard fees.  The reason is because they’re undercutters.  Undercutting is the unethical action of providing a thing of value to be the preferred selectee.  Except unlike normally somewhat ethically acceptable undercutting like in retail, it’s completely different in real estate appraisal.  The reason being is that; ‘cost savings are not returned to the consumer’.  Aka;  junk fee.  aka; unearned fee.  aka, violation of truth in lending.  The solutions to this industries woes are right in front of everyone, but nobody dares look.  Every instance of variable rake by an amc who pays appraisers random amounts, but continues to bill lenders a set amount, every variable instance constitutes an example of a junk fee applied.  Plain and simple.  Let the undercutters cut if they want.  Just be sure to develop thoughtful detailed and specific appraisals, and do not use methods similar to undercutters.  Stay away from automation, stay away from mobile, stay away from runners, outsourced typing, etc.  Do provide detailed reports and present a clearly better report which stands apart from the paper light uninformative data regurgitation reporting which is the mainstay of the undercutting crowd.  aka, the 4 hour appraisal.  With literally thousands of marketing opportunities out the for appraisers, what is not surprising is that amc’s dove in like vulture capitalists.  What is surprising is that appraisers did not shine right past that.  If a telecom amc worker can out negotiate an appraiser, that appraiser has no business rolling value analysis for the big boy salesman of this country anyways.

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  14. Wayne says:

    Wayne,

    These AMCs do not have a license. They have placed themselves between a lender client and you! YOU have the license, you have the E&O…you have the experience to prepare the appraisal. YOU are the appraiser person that keeps the AMCs alive and making millions of dollars off of the backs of hard working appraisers. Are you happy with that?

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Coffin Lid Closed on Defunct AMC

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