Commercial Fees Taking a Hit, Revision Requests & C&R Fees

VaCAP Board

VaCAP Board

Coalition of Appraisers in Virginia at Virginia Coalition of Appraiser Professionals
Coalition of individual appraisers working together to unite, promote and protect the collective interests of all appraisal professionals in Virginia; to promote needed changes in laws, rules, regulations, policies and standards affecting all appraisers in Virginia; to observe and report the actions of regulatory, legislative, oversight, and standards-setting entities of the Commonwealth.
VaCAP Board

commercial aprpaisal world

Fee for commercial appraisals cut in half

Metro West is an AMC entering the Virginia Commercial world. They are coming on strong as they have viable operations in other states. I heard that in the states they are presently in, the fee for a commercial appraisal has been cut in half. Like I said before, it’s only a matter of time. Will Virginia establish a C&R fee for a commercial report?

Customary & Reasonable Fee

Since Virginia enacted the C&R fee rule, I have gotten a lot of emails from appraisers asking when can they charge more. “When can I get my raise”? I go back to “Know what you are worth”. If you want to make $5.00 per hour, charge $5.00 per hour. You will probably be very busy. If you want to make $200 per hour, charge $200 per hour. The market will tell you what you are worth. But if you want to stop doing appraisals for $225, STOP taking the order. The state has nothing to do with it. Know your client, your market, your abilities. If you are unhappy, change the three factors. Improve your ability. That is the easiest one.

Updates and Upgrades

Updates and upgrades, we all get them. Then when we accept them, there is a learning curve. It always seems more steps are involved. Years ago, an order would come on the fax. The secretary would assign it. The appraiser would do it. And then is was shipped to the lender. Now, you must bid it, win the bid, go inspect it (because you are the assigned appraiser and you can not give it to your employee, so why have an employee), write it up, send it, revise it, revise it, revise it, and then just before closing, an addendum arrives changing the closing costs…. By far an upgrade.

Corelogic is taking over the data world. MLS’s are changing – It’s a better system – It will do more. Great, but what used to take 3 clicks of the mouse now takes 8. Don’t even get me started on passwords. I have used all my pets, kids, cars, and relatives names. I have run out.

By Alex Uminski, VaCAP Treasurer

Image credit flickr - Michael
VaCAP Board

VaCAP Board

Coalition of individual appraisers working together to unite, promote and protect the collective interests of all appraisal professionals in Virginia; to promote needed changes in laws, rules, regulations, policies and standards affecting all appraisers in Virginia; to observe and report the actions of regulatory, legislative, oversight, and standards-setting entities of the Commonwealth.

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39 Responses

  1. Koma says:

    Alex I have been saying that all along, ask for what you feel your worth and stop taking LOW fees! As far as the commercial side, you mean these college graduates are accepting low (as much as half) fees. Say it ain’t so. This C&R business is ridiculous. Stop accepting these junk fees and there won’t be a problem. But as you state it’s up to each individual to accept what they think they’re worth, whether it be $5 hr or $200 hr.

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

      stop accepting junk fees sounds so easy doesnt it?

      the problem with your call to action is, appraisers need a roof over their heads and need to feed their families, and not taking orders from AMC’s just isnt that easy.

      smart appraisers who know how to run a business, will eventually realize that entities other than themselves, who control how much money they make on an assignment, is slowly bankrupting themselves and their businesses. smart appraisers will also realize after doing a little bit of homework, that there are NUMEROUS opportunities out there that pay far better and dont carry all the ridiculous nonsense or liability. junk fees only continue to push smart appraisers out of business. thats the problem with junk fees – smart appraisers arent taking it anymore and instead are just leaving the profession! THATS the problem with junk fees.

      most people who eat at a restaurant that ends up costing too much or who thinks the food isnt any good, will never stand their ground and make a scene, they will just quietly walk away and never come back. same principal, and exactly what the appraisal profession is going though right now.

      if the goal is to drive all mortgage appraisers out of business with junk fees, then the plan is working flawlessly, as all the statistics already prove. if the goal is to keep residential appraisers, then a lot of changes needs to happen right away, especially appraisers being given full control again of their own fees.

      the bleeding continues . . . . .

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      • Wayne says:

        Hey bubba jay….

        It really is a fun world these days. I just got an email from my doctor…His office has sent me an email that I can open if I enter my password…Must have so many numbers, so many letters…A lower case, an upper case…I have to do this…I have to do that….He and his office staff can bite me! I feel pretty good so I will just use my own judgement!

        Bubba, why do many of our fellow appraisers suck up to the AMCs? If you look real close, they do not! We may have three or four likes/dislikes to our responses on this forum. I know so many appraisers who do not give a hoot what an AMC or an appraisal mill wants. I live in Texas and mostly know what goes on in Texas. The whole planet earth is nothing but a big chunk of real estate. Texas has 675,580 miles of highways and I think I am about one of the 200+/- approved appraisers to do right-of-way work. I suggest that each of us take a few minutes and write down all of the appraisal assignments that we may be called on to do.

        Divorce….I did that once. Estate…regretfully…I have had to do that a few times. It is strange what type of assignments that comes your way. How about a high rise office building? Explosive manufacturing facility, highway acquisition, right of way disposition, water line right of way, sewer line right of way, slope easement, drainage easement, construction easement

        I could go on and on explaining about appraising national guard armories, flood plain, flood way…etc…What I am trying to say from the bottom of my heart is to STOP working for these silly blood sucking Appraisal Management Companies!

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  2. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    This is a good thing.  Perhaps this is what it will take to wake up the Appraisal Instititute.  The AI sold out it’s SRA & RM members years ago.  It should be interesting to see how the remainder of their members deal with a fee grab.

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    • mike ford mike ford says:

      PCV Murcor IS owned by an MAI and they do (already did) the same thing Metro West is doing. So its only a matter of time before they start cutting each others throats. On the positive side, there are still a lot of institutional lenders and private businesses that wont play the commercial AMC game…mainly because these are not usually insured loans! There is REAL risk to them!

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      • Baggins Baggins says:

        There is a popular quip regarding that;  “Honk if I’m paying your mortgage!” / You guys are the best. / I think I’ve finally figured out the right reply click to use.  I think all this past week I’ve been replying to the statement above, instead of below.  LOL.

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    • Tom D says:

      the sra & rm were never cared about. just an illusion. like the ai will be someday. oh, sorry mai’s.

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      • Increasingly, I keep hearing MAIs saying they only maintain their membership because of the purported imprimatur of being an MAI.

        Last week I talked to an SRPA that simply decided to keep using the designation and not pay the AI for it.

        Being an MAI used to mean something special. The training and reference materials put out by the AI (back when it was the AIREA) were among the best, without compromise to standards or principles.

        Now, merely three decades later, after too many free passes from the AI ethics enforcement groups on MAI abuses, and increasingly widespread use of sophistry in lieu of principles where ethics arguments sound more and more like partisan political discussions; the reputation of the AI itself has become tarnished. Is it any wonder that “MAI is jokingly referred to stand for Made as Instructed?”

        At least when the AIREA and Society of Real state Appraisers were independent competitors they could keep each other honest…more or less.

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  3. Baggins Baggins says:

    Always keep a back pocket direct assignment client lined up, and treat them well.  Then consistently upcharge the bid orders.  Order assignment is a free for all these days, which is why you must insulate yourself by striking individual deals with individual client persons for consistent direct assignment orders at preset fees.  Win some lose some, but fees like $450 or better take so much pressure off.  Cast away the concept of cherry picking and develop better client relationships with the limited array of professional assignment persons out there, and upcharge the rest.  Accept no compromises, because if you market long enough, you will find that sort of client opportunity.  Appraisers have been unwittingly accepting a predetermined compensation point for their own services and yearly income at a lower rate than the regular assignment clerk is getting paid to assign that order.  Don’t get me started on the Matrix…  Data is not better with these changes, it’s just in different forms and shapes.  More pliable for the laymen.  More sales opportunity for the data purveyor.  Corelogic turned me from an MLS data subscriber, to a quasi subscriber, quasi customer.  Thank goodness for flash and ad block, so I don’t have to see flashing banner ads when I log into MLS.  Geesh.  An effort to commoditize the data itself requires constantly reshaping the presentation.  The beat skips on.

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  4. It makes me very sad to read blogs like this that present such grossly false information.

    Metro-West is not an AMC. It is and always has been a W-2 employee staff appraisal firm.

    Secondly – Metro-West has never completed a commercial appraisal in Virginia.

    The posting contained false information and should be retracted and Alex should apologize to Metro-West for such irresponsible communications on a public forum.

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    • Clicking your link takes us direct to the Metro West website instead of Greg Stephens site. That’s ok, the post itself told us you were affiliated. It looks like Metro West is indeed a W2 EMPLOYER.

      One that would potentially be susceptible to the exact kind of lawsuit that LandSafe/BofA just settled for $36 million dollars if it is not paying ALL of its employee appraisers overtime for hours worked in excess of 8 per day along with all the other employee benefits and requirements employers must assure themselves of.

      The attorneys in that case  have told us they are ACTIVELY seeking appraiser employee situations where compensation may not meet legal requirements, when deadlines and overtime are considered. I have no idea whether yours do or not. Your website gives no hint as to how compensation is determined. Hopefully you are paying for overtime.

      Isn’t it disingenuous to claim Metro West has never completed a commercial assignment in Virginia while your website clearly offers commercial appraisals and your areas covered map includes Virginia? Does this mean that you have no geographic competency there?

      Also, MY state considers you to be essentially the same as an AMC (appraisal company with more than 15 appraisers) and since KenQ identifies your state AMC number there in posts below, I have to assume it is YOU that is posting ‘grossly untrue’ statements.

      Lastly Greg, we post here to help each other as appraisers. YOU have chosen to interject yourself into the  debate. Don’t be surprised when others refute your views. Suggesting Alex or anyone else owes you anything is offensive. It comes across as an extremely thinly veiled threat by a company seeking to stifle appraisers free speech. We are not very susceptible to intimidation here. If that is your experience elsewhere, then you will be sadly disappointed here.

      On another note; who do I contact at your organization about you giving all your employees an opportunity to unionize? Surely you must want what is best for them, right? Feel free to post the information here or contact me direct: Mike Ford, VP/Chairman National Appraiser Peer Review Committee, American Guild of Appraisers (AGA); #44, OPEIU, AFL CIO. You can reach me direct at (714) 366 9404 or our Membership Coordinator at janbellas@appraisersguild.org (301) 220-4100.

      By the way, clicking MY name should take you to my website’s C&R fee pages. IF you are already paying close (say within 10%) of these fees NET to the appraiser I’ll certainly ask all posters here and anywhere else this may be a problem, to stop referring to you as a sweat shop. You can jump to the last page for the C&R fee summaries based on appraiser experience and skill sets.

      Bloggers here are largely Ladies and Gentlemen and I’m convinced if you are already paying C&R they will be among the first to salute you!

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      • Mike,

        There are three states whose AMC statute/regulation language include employee appraisers into their definition of an AMC. For that reason Metro-West had to register in those states. That does not alter the fact we remain a W-2 employee appraisal firm and those three states are in the process of revising their statutute/regulation language to exclude staff employee appraisal firms. At that point we will no longer have to register as an AMC in order to do business in that state.

        We do not outsource appraisal assignments to any anyone who is a non-staff employee, and we decline all assignments outside our staff coverage area or instances where we cannot meet the required turn times. Hardly an AMC business model.

        Secondly, we are expanding our commercial staff, including into Virginia. To date we have not completed a commercial appraisal in Virginia and the statement regarding Metro-West and commercial fees remains false and slanderous.

        Also – folks, I am an appraiser. Have been for over 38 years.

        I am also an appraiser advocate, having owned and managed a regional appraisal firm in Northern California for over twenty years and now travel around the country advocating on behalf of appraisers.

        The full employee comp package for our staff employees equates to nearly 80% of the appraisal fee. We are not a sweat shop and have absolutely zero concerns of being susceptible to a lawsuit similar to LandSafe/Bank of America.

        IBM was never unionized because Tom Watson made sure their employees were taken care of and did not require the protection of a labor union. Metro-West is dedicated to the same principle.

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      • Greg, thank you for taking the time to respond. (there’s no reply to tab under your post, so I have no idea where this will land in relation to other posts)

        The FACT that state regulations make you register as an AMC means …(wait for it) You (Metro West) ARE AN AMC, or its equivalent in the eyes of the state. BTW-the California legislature does not just routinely ‘clean up the language’ to change the intent of laws. Certain parties tried that with AB 624.

        Manipulating state legislation for special exception will not win you any friends among appraisers.

        “Secondly, we are expanding our commercial staff, including into Virginia. To date we have not completed a commercial appraisal in Virginia and the statement regarding Metro-West and commercial fees remains false and slanderous.”

        Greg, You MAY just want to recheck your Webster’s for the definition of “slanderous” before bandying it about.

        Its possible you meant LIBELOUS, and even there you’d better check local jurisdictional laws before accusing someone ELSE of it or you could find yourself being accused of libeling someone.

        Im confused by this website.

        Are you, or Metro West in any way affiliated with Joan Trice’s Collateral Risk Network or Allterra Group where you are advertised as an instructor? Is THAT what you mean by “advocating for appraisers”?

        Most appraisers familiar with CRN, and REVAA and similar AMC advocacy groups would not really consider them to be appraiser advocates; but you can claim to be whatever it is you want to I guess.

        If the total compensation package for EACH appraiser is about 80%, then I’d be impressed. 20% overhead is pretty low. On the other hand if you are including “benefits” that don’t apply across the board to ALL appraisers, then that too would be disingenuous, wouldn’t it?

        As for you having zero concerns about a LandSafe/BofA style lawsuit, I guess you would know best having been an executive at LandSafe/BofA before the recent settlement. Presumably you helped design Metro Wests system to avoid repetition of similar pitfalls.

        If Metro West is dedicated to treating it's employees so well that they have no need of being unionized, then I applaud that. If more businesses followed similar models, then I would happily be out of a 'volunteer second job'.

        Having said that though, I have my doubts of the veracity of your claims.

        For instance:

        http://appraisersblogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Josh-McKerman-MetroWest-Metro-West.jpg

        I don't know if that jpg will post properly or not but the link above includes a post attributed to your own Josh McKernan VP of Expansion operations in response to someone that was offended by only being offered a 53% split.

        Its a pretty rude response Greg. Frankly it just gratuitously nasty and insulting to the appraiser it was addressed to.

        Is THIS the business model that you feel will preclude people from even wanting to unionize?

        FaceBook commenters don't seem very impressed by the business model Greg. I think you folks have much bigger PR issues to deal with than to try to intimidate individual appraisers like "Alex" or web site hosts over independent posts.

        A reputation dependent upon suing people or trying to shut them up when they exercise their right to free speech isn't much of a business model. Don't take my word for it though Greg. Go visit the site linked above. You'll see several people that were approached to 'find people' seem to be having second thoughts.

        Last item: When you advertise for commercial appraisal work in Virginia, will you also be disclosing that up until now (03/06/16) anyway that you have ZERO corporate appraiser competency there? Seems like something clients might be interested in.

        Good luck in your personal endeavors Greg. You'll forgive me, and others though if we continue to hold the belief that MW is nothing more than an AMC disguised to look like something else.

        PS IF you would like some (possibly) free legal advice about your business model, you may want to contact Eduard Meleshinsky (eduard@bryanschwartzlaw.com). While your employees may not be interested in unionizing, ANY that feel they 've been pressured into working overtime 'a la the LandSafe appraiser employee business model' might be interested in contacting him. He's an associate of the guys than cleaned BofA and Landsafe's clock for the $36 million.

        I hear they are looking for similar cases.

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  5. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    You realize what low life scum suckers AMCs really are when you’ve mistakenly referred to an Appraisal Sweat Shop an AMC and offended them.

    This reminds me of the time Howard Hughes replied to a reporter: ““I’m not a paranoid deranged millionaire. Goddamit, I’m a billionaire.”

    Has anyone seen my subatomic hair splitter?

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  6. KenQ says:

    Metro-west is listed as an AMC in Illinois, Registration #558000157

    And also in CA, AMC# 3000102

    Apparently, they were looking for staff appraisers in Virginia … Not a lot of positive comments here and here

    And another poster on FB yesterday:

    06/2014 William Fall Group, Metro West, & Forsyth addressed the Federal Resreve to be considered as “fee appraisers” rather tham AMCs. This is so that these firms could receive preferential treatment with lenders regarding processing of appraisals. Ironic that these firms have formed a coalition to be treated as appraisers under the law, yet, when assigning orders they do not want to provide the actual appraiser doing the report fairly. I hope these types of companies are fined and put out of business as there primary objective is to maximize their profits.

    Draw your own conclusions. AMC or ASS (Appraisal Sweat Shop) … same difference!

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    • Tom D says:

      ehhh, the ASS could go for a certain group of appraisers also.  asses working for ass.

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    • Good job KenQ!

      The posting (about MW not being an AMC) contained false information and should be retracted and Greg Stephens should apologize to all bloggers and posters here for such irresponsible communications on a public forum.

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      • KenQ says:

        Thanks Mike!

        An appraiser I know who happens to be an ex Metro-West appraiser told me that he had to complete at least 10 appraisals per week, with 24hr TAT for a measly 50% cut of the NET appraisal fee collected!

        He hated working for them. Too much stress for a low paying job. He didn’t last long… I think less than a year. And he didn’t get health insurance or the other benefits they mentioned. I don’t know the whole story but I know he hated MW.

        Is this really a company an appraiser would want to work for? Josh McKernan is still the Assistant VP of Expansion operations, even though Don Rousseau (CEO MW) agreed that McKerman response to an appraiser recruiter was unprofessional (letter below).

        Was McKernan promoted after insulting the appraiser? Probably!

        http://appraisersblogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Josh-McKerman-MetroWest-Metro-West.jpg

        Greg Stephens admits that they are expanding into VA…”we are expanding our commercial staff, including into Virginia”… which is no different than what Alex posted. He never said MW completed commercial appraisals in VA. He simply stated that Metro-West is “ENTERING the Virginia Commercial world”…in which Stephens took offense.

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        • KenQ, You should have your friend contact Eduard Meleshinsky (eduard@bryanschwartzlaw.com). Its ok to say I suggested he contact them.

          Eduard looked very hard into whether FEE appraisers would have a viable class action against lenders or AMCs nationally; and concluded it would probably be too complex to interest most firms because each states laws are different and Dodd Frank is a little ‘thin’.

          Now what REALLY interested him was non fee EMPLOYEE appraisers being asked to perform to unrealistic quotas or necessarily working long hours in order to hit those quotas without also being paid overtime. Now  Greg Stephens said he has ZERO concerns in this regard, but that is exactly the type of thing that LandSafe/BofA were nailed for.

          By the way, how DOES one consistently do USPAP compliant, good quality appraisal work with 24 hour turn times and ten a week? Not a shot at your friend. Its a comment on any business model that would require it.

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        • KenQ says:

          Mike, I sent him an email with a link to this post. Told him to share his experience with MW. I’ll tell him about Eduard M.

          I don’t know how anyone can complete this many USPAP compliant appraisals in a week. 3 to 4 per week for me and I’m maxed out. 10? No way!

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          • Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

            I agree Ken,

            FNMA and sweat shops have been taking & tolerating so many short cuts for so many years they really DO believe most people can do two a day start to finish.

            Part of the problem is we have many appraisers bragging how they do 2, even 3 a day! Never heard one yet that can do two (URAR/UAD w/MC) a day start to finish in eight hours ALL BY THEMSELVES.

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          • KenQ says:

            My buddy emailed me back and this is what he had to say about Metro-West:

            …hated working for metro west, 24hr tat, high volume, very low pay around 45% cut, amc deals so appraisal fees were low to begin with, crazy stips, etc. quit working for them & quit appraising shortly after.

            yep, you can share this with whoever you want just keep me out of it…

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      • Pssst! AppraisersBlogs Gurus, how come we can’t reply to a reply?

        KenQ knows of an appraiser that the LandSafe lawsuit guys would LOVE to contact. Then again, I think they already have MW on their radar.

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        • Pssst Mike…. I increased the threaded comments from 3 to 5 🙂

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          • Mike Ford, CA AG; SCREA, AGA, GAA, RAA Mike Ford, CA AG; SCREA, AGA, GAA, RAA says:

            Thank you! 🙂

            Lessee now if I do my sums and cipherin’ right  that means we can reply to the reply of the reply to the reply to the original post, or did I forget  to divide by the square root of the hypotenuse of a right triangle x Pi r Unuh?

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  7. Wayne says:

    Hey…trying to respond on this site is a complete and total waste of time. I have tried to write a very honest and sincere message to my fellow appraisers but it just wastes time. Find something else to do!

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    • Wayne, the email address you are entering is wrong ….@aol.com.com and so you are being flagged as a spammer. I manually approved your comment and corrected your email address on your last two comments. I also emailed you regarding the account we created for you on the blog in January. If you do use the login system, you won’t have any issues commenting. You can reply to my email if you need help with anything else. Thank you!

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      • Wayne says:

        Hey….

        I am sorry. I am no computer guru. Please accept my apology because I could not see how many palm trees were on the test. My purpose was only to tell my fellow appraisers that there is a lot of money to be made if you look in a different direction than AMCs. Really, I do not care, just got back from Las Vegas yesterday…Carnival Dream in April, Carnival something or other in July…..You guys just do your thing…I wish you well!  There is some reason that only 5 or 6 people respond to these sites….Some are starving and some are not!

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        • Wayne, please don’t be snide. How many websites will have the administrators personally intervene to make sure your posts get seen?

          You do have much you could contribute should you choose to do so. We’d like to hear it. I happen to agree with refocusing on non loan work.

          As for cruise ships, some of us forego our vacations to try to solve problems in our profession. My last one (not one penny charged to the Guild) was Las Vegas NV to speak before APB/TAF. My next will likely be Arizona to speak before TAF. The appraiser that operates this site works a full time appraiser job and then in all that ‘extra time’ so many of us have, writes articles and maintains this blog.

          Last item-you DO realize cruise ships are almost all registered with ‘Flags of convenience’ which means they do not have to meet ANY of the USCG requirements for sea worthiness, or health and safety laws, right? There is a reason so many of them have horror stories about ecoli and “Moctezuma’s Revenge” being such a frequent occurrence.

          Liberia, Panama, Sierra Leone, Dominican Republic, Bapu Botswanna are not reknowned for their health and safety records.

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  8. My only request is that you verify the facts before posting hearsay.

    To qualify as a full time employee with benefits Metro-West requires completion of 20 appraisals per month.

    There has never been a quota requirement of 10 appraisals per week.

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    • Mike Ford, CA AG; SCREA, AGA, GAA, RAA Mike Ford, CA AG; SCREA, AGA, GAA, RAA says:

      Greg, by “you” I assume you mean that generically. Counter claim is also noted. The appraiser referenced says you folks had a ten per week quota; you indicate in your post the quota is 20 a month. Just so we are all on the same page here.

      It’s a BLOG Greg. It’s not a court of law. More specifically, it is an Appraisers Blog where appraisers come to discuss issues of concern to us all. YOUR comments are nothing more than hearsay as far as anyone else is concerned. You are essentially an anonymous typist to everyone else, CLAIMING to be who you say your are.

      If Metro West is so insecure in its reputation that you have to start throwing words like slanderous around, false, etc., then perhaps they should actually START treating appraisers the way you say they do.

      By the way, I used to do one appraisal a day… regularly, start to finish (before computers). LONG before all the added bs. Now each one is more like 8 to 12 hours…and remember in Los Angeles just the drive across town to the SF Valley from South of Metro area is 1 1/2 hours each way. So that’s 3 hours out of 8 just driving and NOT counting seeing all the comps.

      That can take another 30 to 60 minutes ON AVERAGE. Of course there is the subject property inspection itself.

      How long for the inspection? Used to be 30 to 45 minutes on average, now it’s longer. Measuring to ANSI;  Big house; two story 5,100 sf with lots of articulation, inspect interior, verify appliances are working, review the lease for the solar panels and determine if they are an positive, neutral or negative influence on value, take photos, double check for smoke detectors and monoxide alarms; Don’t forget to have the owner retract the pool cover so that can be inspected as well. Same with the spa cover. Also need to open the down hill gates to inspect the separately air conditioned “utility room” built under the at pad-grade level patio. Let’s see now. Oh yeah, let’s explain to the owner why we have to carry in a 12′ foot high step ladder across his custom carpet and marble flooring so we can climb into the attic.

      What do YOU think Greg? another hour? 1 1/2? two? It DID take awhile longer to jot down all the solar data so an intelligent analysis can be made. Oops still need to take photos of the view amenities. (keeping track? Only 2 to 2 1/2 ours left)

      Driving up to the house it became apparent neighborhood investigation beyond published data was needed. All the roads are cracked. Even those obviously just slurry coated. For those experienced in earthquake land and soil MOVEMENT areas road cracks like these are alarm bells. Visually checking neighborhood influences (like Porter Ranch gas well proximity, or soil slippage / immediate area land slides, and interviewing neighbors). Stopping to take pictures of the 2″, & 4″ to 6″ wide cracks all over the neighborhoods roads, climbing down the hillside to photograph cracks in raw soil and apparent slippage there too. OK, stopped to interview three residents about soil movement and purchase motivations as well as to ask when THEY became aware of the gas leaks (before, during or after escrow). Average 5 minutes each, total 15 minutes plus the agent I had to call in the field.

      This comp drive actually WAS an hour and a half since I had to drive back down the canyon, around the flats to the next canyon over to the east and then back up again. For some strange reason the north uphill ‘connector road’ has a big canyon running right through the middle of it. That’s ok, I already calculated and hour for it above

      So that leaves 2 to 2 1/2+- hours a day to research property (either for this assignment or the next days), communicate back with you folks to let you know more than 50% are complex…on the outside chance you folks even care. A half hour? an hour? Only 15 minutes? OK.

      Property research is cyclical. I do it at the end of the day before the next days assignment so I know what issues to be on the lookout for, but it still counts as time spent on one assignment. Either way 1 to 2 hours isn’t unreasonable if I’m claiming to be thorough, is it? FULLY researching the ownership interest that exists so that I understand the nuances of how it gets from whatever that may be, to the fee interest required to be appraised? Actually comparing the deeds legal description with the plat map to identify discrepancies.

      Now, I know SOME appraisals are no more than about 15 minutes research for comps, but NOT MOST of the time. Let’s say one to two hours to do a THOROUGH job, print out MLS for them and then try to contact agents; you DO still do that don’t you Greg? Miraculously let’s assume they all call back the same day. Hmmm. Only 1 3/4 hours left if I estimate nearer the low end on a couple items above.

      I still have to research the market impact of any stated concessions; look up zoning maps and confirm the actual zoning and cross check with development standards to make sure what’s there really IS legal or legal non conforming…or otherwise. Some days we get lucky and it’s only 15 minutes; others it’s longer. Double check H&BU; and actually perform abstraction (or extraction if you prefer) on the comps to determine & document land value. Quick check of Craftsman or Building-cost.net or similar. (Who has TIME for M&S anymore; assuming you can afford it working for 1/2 pay?) So it takes an hour to an hour and a half. Boy am I glad it wasn’t a rental property!

      Now as near as I can tell I am about out of time in my 8 hour day. It WOULD have been nice to be able to write the report up and turn it in, but that would take longer.

      I GUESS I’ll just have to work OVERTIME in order to qualify for those other 27% of benefits that get me to 80% of gross fee, right Greg?

      Since (according to ‘Josh’) Metro West reportedly hires only certified appraisers, I have to assume i’ts in anticipation that the scenario just outlined above may not be all that uncommon. Otherwise licensed appraisers could be doing it, right?

      Now, I write reports up with about half boilerplate and the other half original text to each report. It takes me anywhere from 4 to five hours as a rule. You see, I actually ANALYZE when I say I do. I suppose I COULD hire clerks to do the drudge work, but then I’d be depending on NON certified appraisers to do MY complex work properly. Anyway, near as I can tell, I’d have to hit you up for about four hours overtime.

      Greg, you can argue that this is not a typical assignment. I will counter that it is, since I AM a certified appraiser and I DO seek out work that is commensurate with my license level. Since Metro West only hires certified appraisers I assume you’d pay them proportionately to the complex assignments too. This one is a $1,500 SFR form report (to the appraiser). It’s based on three work days being allocated if needed. A clerk cannot do it.

      You DID say appraisers are W2 Employees, right? You MAY want to rethink that ‘zero concern about LandSafe/BofA type lawsuits,’ Greg.

      Because by your OWN statements, compared with MY own experience I’d agree with the original article that you either DO run a sweatshop (20 a month required for benefits), OR you are grossly underpaying your employees; claiming you only keep 20% of the fee while in fact you are taking 47% of it for anyone that does not meet quota!

      Greg, DO keep posting though, OK? I am certain you are convincing almost all who read your posts of the righteousness of your views and the inherent integrity of your employer.

      A true PR coup!

      PS. If there are ANY Metro West “employees” out there thinking of joining a guild or appraisers union, please let me know. I don’t THINK they’d be foolish enough to violate U.S. Federal laws prohibiting retaliation for attempting to organize, (you OR me) but if they are, we DO get copies of lenders black lists whenever we have need of them, and we could all retire on the eventual settlement. Also, note the attorneys email link in other posts on this thread. They’d LOVE to hear from you!

      Contact JanBellas@appraisersguild.org or myself at mike@mfford.com

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  9. Pat Turner says:

    Am I mistaken or is MW a member of NAC?

    what are they organized for?

    who are the other members?

    ask Phil Crawford.

    while we are surreptitiously making legal threats, etc. can we say restraint of trade, price fixing, anti-competition, etc. ?

    why else are their meetings, at least in the past, BEHIND closed doors?

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    • Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

      Pat, appraisers need to be VERY concerned. THESE (NAC) are the people that have managed to get the ear of the TAF. WorkingRE recently featured a proposal by NAC that on the surface looked as if it could benefit us all, except when you see the time envelope and work load requirement they propose for trainees. It fits multi state appraisal firms very nicely because they have slave labor for 90 days rather than until “the trainee is deemed competent or qualified to inspect on their own”. Its NOT an unreasonable proposal but it DOES seem geared for the sweat shop model.

      I ‘d FIRE a trainee if after 30 days they could still not be trusted to properly inspect a house and or adequately augment their inspection with MANY digital photos. If I lead someone by the hand through 15 to 20 inspections they damn well better be able to properly measure a house and identify significant site features!

      What bothers me about NAC & Five Star Group (Mortgage Brokers) is they are held out to be the voice of all appraisers working with lenders when they appear to represent primarily Assembly Mill Appraisal Shops and franchises that specialize in taking advantage of newcomers. Even at AGA we make no claims about representing ALL appraisers. We’d LIKE to, but simply put, we do not. No one else does either. Only appraisers that actually join organizations can be honestly said to be represented by those organizations.

      Not even AI, as they so frequently claim.

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  10. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    It appears to me that AMCs and ASSes will think twice before they pop up on this website trying to defend their actions. They seem to have the foolish idea that their work is clandestine and completely undercover when in fact everything about their operations is known to the public.

    Thank you Alex for bringing this one to our attention. Thank you AppraisersBlogs for providing court room for this trial. Thank you AppraisersBlogs commentators for a speedy prosecution.

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  11. Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

    RA-sort of like the  e-version of being tarred and feathered and then run out of town on a rail. Now if we could only go back to doing that with REAL politicians, but that’s a topic for some other time and place.

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  12. Discount Baggins Discount Baggins says:

    I’ll remain mystified how an outfit that does nothing more than pick up and distribute orders, can compete with a true independent.  It’s not that hard to print everything, keep a bunch of clip boards, and do your own turbotaxes each year.  I know how to pick up a phone and make a sales call.  I know how to do that over and over again until I get the desired results.  Why I’d pay someone else 20% or more to lift up those responsibilities?  The problem with sweat shops, is they have all their eggs in a few client baskets.  The pressure to play advocate is higher with them than perhaps any other outfit out there.  I’d rather take my chances on the 100% indy circuit.  When it comes down to it with the larger industry, it is me vs the other individual salesman.  Orders are out there, and I’m too busy negotiating fees upward, to have time to deal with cuts and splits.  The benefits of sole proprietorship should not be over looked.  The principals of substitution always play in my favor, or I don’t play at all.  Appraisal groups hardly have the protective and insulative presence which benefited appraisers, like they used to have.  You would need to line up with a group firm to get more affordable insurance, protection from this and that, access to their connects.  But with fnma master list approval, outsourced typing, xml review, group health care plans, separation from lenders, etc, etc, I don’t see the shine on that kettle anymore.  I always said that I’d require the 90%, and demanded opt out of the other beni’s packages anyways.  Now I chill all nice like on my wifes insurance via union, and the pressure is off.  Unions are the absolute best, and good for the family planning.  A well run union is the absolute winning play for most people.  Go figure.  If I were to even look at a group firm, I’d first need assurance they don’t play favorites, and all orders are assigned equally amongst all staff.  That’s the insider play with those outfits.  Who’s cherry picking and who’s not?  At least as an independent, I can upcharge the left overs.  Something much more difficult to accomplish when you’re tied up with a group firm whom promises complete fulfillment to their lender people, usually at flat rate.  Now that may not be an amc, but from where I’m sitting, I don’t care about the definitions.  The important difference to me is the ability to get paid what I’m worth or not, and the ability to negotiate on my own behalf.  As the old saying goes; If you can’t trust anyone else to do it right, do it yourself.  I’ll be happy to join with MW and any appraisal firm, when I hear they assign rotational, have set splits for all group members, offer opt outs and cash in leu of some beni’s, and have lender billing per order at $700 or better.  It’s all good to take a rake, but I think most of these outfits forgot to keep up with inflation or something.  How many times can 400 dollars get split? There is a more friendly word for these companies; Order farmers. They dig up orders, and farm them out. That’s an order distributor in my book. The amc labeling deal is dying quickly. There are the appraisal workers, and everyone else whom is involved with distribution. Don’t blur the lines because it’s obvious who is who, regardless of definition. A nationally run distribution company should not circumvent amc rules state to state. Only local singular state companies should even be able to consider skirting amc rules. All distributors whom deal over state lines in any fashion, should fall under amc rules.

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  13. Wayne says:

    Hey Mike,

    Somehow I just now noticed your post. I agree that the administrators of this website are great! They go above and beyond to allow non-guru type of folks like me to be able to post! I may be color blind or something but some of those security photos were not visible to me! Oh well…they fixed all of that and were extremely helpful!

    You and I both are the 30+ year veterans in this appraisal business. I admire the fact that you are working very hard to improve this profession. I have butted my head like a goat for decades trying to improve this profession also. I have given up the fight! I am close to retirement and this new group of appraisers seem determined to go to Expos, Pay dues to any silly organization, work for any AMC or National Appraisal Company. They seem determined to let someone else determine their fees instead of standing on their own two feet and making that decision. They cannot wait to pay for newsletters and assistance from coaches. They cannot seem to market their own services without assistance. Any AMC, RELO or National appraisal company, FHA, VA, whoever and whatever comes down the line with bullshirt crap…they just gobble it up like a hungry dog! I am sorry but I really do not feel sorry for them! They are much smarter than me!

    Now as far as the cruise ship thingy! LOL…..I absolutely love to travel. The very best value for your money is to take a cruise. Of course it depends on when and where you go. Price 7 days on Carnival to the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Cozumel as opposed to 7 days to Honolulu, HI. Now I will be leaving from TX and you from CA but compare any of those vacations to London or Germany, etc.

    All of that really does not matter! The US Valuation Profession Fact Sheet (Dec- 2015) indicated that there are a total of 76,800 actual appraisers as of that date. This group of folks (YOU and ME) are supporting a number of regulatory folks drawing a salary in 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, Samoila Islands. Not only that we support all of these DAMN AMC employees, Employees of the National Appraisal Companies, we support those drawing salaries from each appraisal organization…then we pay for stupidity such as newsletter, EXpos….on and on and on! Are we a stupid group or what? You guys/gals play that game…I will go on vacation! LOL

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