Why Do Business & Let Them off the Hook?

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Mark Skapinetz
Latest posts by Mark Skapinetz (see all)

If Feedback is Negative, then Why Do Business & Let Them off the Hook?

If it’s bad feedback and the people or companies are terrible to deal with, what are you complaining about if you choose to work with them?…

“They are who we thought they were, and we let them off the hook.” That was the sound bite Dennis Green said after the Chicago Bears came back and beat the Arizona Cardinals in a football game in October 2006. It will forever go down as one of the best sound bites ever in NFL history and to this day its replayed over and over.

To me, this quote is not only amazing (I’m a Chicago Bears fan) but it’s also so true in many aspects in my appraisal career.

See we all should know who we are dealing with when it comes to our clients. We should be asking others about them, doing our research on them, get feedback, good or bad and make a decision. If it’s bad feedback and the known people or companies are terrible to deal with, what are you complaining about if you choose to work with them? If you know who they are and how they operate, then why do you continue to do business with them? If they are good to deal with in many aspects then all should be well.

This is an ongoing and constant trend within the appraisal profession. Appraisers ask about a company, get feedback and make a decision to work with them or not. Many different opinions result from this. Some have good experiences and some have bad depending on where you reside. But in the end, it’s YOU that has to be the judge of the experience. Only you can truly make a decision whether or not a company is worth working for or with. Again everyone is different. Some appraisers are better than others, some just do what’s needed and some go the extra mile. Now don’t get me wrong. When 90% of the reviews or feedback is negative and you choose to accept an assignment and later get stiffed or have issues, who is to blame?

I’ll give you an example. For a couple years, many were discussing a certain AMC and their issues. As time went on, more issues were coming out and the writing was on the wall. For many appraisers they stopped working with them due to the feedback they were getting from other appraisers about non payments, late payments, and a variety of other issues. After some time the company went out of business owing millions to appraisers that they would never see. Even after all the signs were there, after all the posts about this company not paying and having issues, after all the articles written, many appraisers had absolutely no clue until it was too late. So late that some appraisers were still doing work for this company while they were practically done.

So ask yourself.. Did you do your homework on this company? Did you take the feedback seriously? Was this about a paycheck? Was this about just getting a job to do? Ask yourself the hard questions and answer them. What did you do to ensure that this client was acceptable to work for?

They are who we thought they were… and we let them off the hook.

To me, this quote means this: If you know who these companies are, if you know how they operate, how they pay and how they treat others, then why are you willing to let them off the hook and do business with them? Ultimately it’s your decision, however if they are what others are saying, you have no one to blame but yourself.

I’ll throw out a suggestion. Get online and get into some groups for appraisers or better yet, start reaching out to appraisers in your area and make some friends. Forming relationships with other appraisers in your area is one of the best ways to keep up with information. You will be surprised just how much other appraisers are willing to help, share info and willing to meet up and talk. I for one am friends with about 10 appraisers in my area, we meet up occasionally to talk shop and when I need help or someone to bounce an idea off of, one of them will always answer the phone and talk it over.

While some are not fond of social media and may not be on it, I would highly suggest that you at least get on some to follow what is going on out there. Here are some groups to consider becoming a part of that are made up of or run by appraisers:

Facebook:

  1. 100% Real Estate Appraisers: This group is for independent appraisers, has over 2600 members and is full of topics relating to the profession, knowledge from many appraisers, answers to many everyday questions and reviews of potential clients. (You must be an independent appraiser to join the group)
  2. Appraiser Client Search: This group was specifically created to answer questions about potential clients and has over 1,200 members in it.

Non Facebook:

  1. Appraiser Forums: For those not wanting to be on Facebook this forum has numerous threads that you can ask questions and or seek information on many topics.
  2. Appraisers Blogs: While this is not a group or forum, it’s a Blog to keep up to date with various issues and topics. They are also on Facebook.
  3. Local Appraiser Groups or Organizations: Become a part of your state organization or local groups. Develop your own if need be and get involved.
  4. Podcasts: We all have a way to listen to podcasts these days. Many of these offer a plethora of information. My favorites:

The more information you can obtain from various resources (online or in person), the more informed you will be making the hard decisions especially when the narrative is by appraisers for appraisers.

Image credit flickr - Art Poskanzer
Mark Skapinetz

Mark Skapinetz

Mark Skapinetz is a Real Estate Appraiser in Marietta GA with extensive knowledge in Residential Appraising.  He is President for the American Guild of Appraisers (AGA). Featured on Podcasts as well as published interviews in Valuation Review. He is the creator of the 100% Real Estate Appraiser Group, Skap The Appraiser and co-creator of Appraisal Forum & Festival (AppraiserFest).

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar Ralph says:

    Good points do your due diligence! I think the reason many appraisers kept doing work for Coester is the same reason that when I started in this business I worked with appraisers who flat out refused to learn the sketching software, they still insisted on drawing the sketch with graph paper and pencil. Some people just never will adapt to change!

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  2. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

    Other than suggesting Dustin Harris Mark (“I complete 4 to 9 appraisals a day, I love AMC’s”), good advice.

    Seek the truth.

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    • Avatar Mark skap says:

      Thanks Bill. I appreciate it. I do disagree with you however on Dustin. You may have your beef with him however he really helped me begin my transformation in business and I respect him a lot. We can have a disagreement on him but that’s not what the post was about. Again thanks

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      • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

        I agree “that’s not what the post was about”, but your headline “Why do business & Let Them off the Hook”, in my opinion clearly applies to the coach who rubs shoulders with the corporate elites at the expos, pimps his services (pending corporate buyout ?), and is a constant voice of support for the AMC model. I have no specific beef with the coach (I prefer chicken), but just find to often he is on the opposite side of reality (example, “Never had a Raise in 20 years? BS / completes 4 to 9 appraisals a day, etc.).

        Seek the truth, and go make up a value.

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        • Avatar Mark SKAP says:

          actually the title of my blog is “they are who we thought they were” on my site. I give blogs freedom to change things in the title if need be to fit and my blog content is directed to a certain issue regardless of the title. It doesn’t apply to the coach or anyone else but clients and being informed of issues and getting information. Please don’t take the content that easy to read and make up your own content for other purposes. I take all comments and criticism equally and when wrong I’ll say so. But I will stand by my words and work when taken out of context just because of a title or another’s agenda. I do believe this article is about being informed of clients and doing your homework. Not bashing others. Does it state working with Dustin Harris? No. So I don’t understand why my words and article are being used to bash someone that it has nothing to do with?

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          • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

            Not trying to pick a fight Mark, but it was you who referenced the coach first. If you are going to eat your own soup “If it’s bad feedback and the people or companies are terrible to deal with, what are you complaining about if you choose to work with them?”, then with many seeing his actions in a negative way (rubbing shoulder with Joan Trice, support of the AMC model, his completion of 4 to 9 appraisals a day, ect.), perhaps you are not taking your own advice.

            Although the intention of the blog in part may focus on say the choice for an appraiser to work with company A, or AMC B (do your research), in general, the theory still works outside of your narrow example (via your comments / choice to work with the coach). If many an appraiser disagrees with one of Dustin’s principles (again, he supports the AMC model) but yet you see the benefit of his services outweighing the many negatives (panel of his peers), then that’s your individual choice to do business with him.

            Again Mark, not trying to pick a fight but only offering an opinion of value.

            Seek the truth.

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  3. Avatar SB says:

    Why should we allow Dave Biggers and Corelogic to get off the hook? We certainly “knew who they thought they were”.

    Might be the Greatest CON ARTIST job in the history of the Appraisal Industry, all facilitated by BULLSH*T LIES and promises.

    Waivers, order fees, bifurcation…….. it’s truly staggering how much money they have STOLEN from us.

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    • Avatar Mark skap says:

      So what you’re saying is if you had a multi million company and were ready to retire you would pass up financial stability for you and your kids and more on a product you created from scratch for all the people that bought your product? Who said he owes you anything? Did you contribute to the product? Did you build it? He owned the company and was made an offer he couldn’t refuse and I’m sure you would take it too. Btw this post has nothing to do with ALM. It’s about clients. ALM is not a client. It’s a provider. You could go to another provider if you want to.

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      • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

        Not trying to hijack the topic Mark, but…..

        Mr. Biggers said “Let me be clear however: Any database we build for sharing comps will not be a database for us to use for our own purposes. The data is yours. It isn’t ours. We don’t want to sell it, use it, move it, share it, or do anything else with it other than manage it for you. (We’ll also put in place full controls to prevent others from misappropriating it.)”

        The system was built, info was shared, used, moved, sold, & misappropriated.

        Or how about the press release detailing the sell of the Mercury Network to Serent Capital.

        “Dave Biggers, founder and Chairman of a la mode, was equally enthusiastic about the transaction and the future for both companies. “We conceived, built, incubated, and eventually spun off Mercury Network entirely inside a la mode, with one clear purpose – to protect appraisers from the income-robbing effects of the HVCC and its aftermath, by providing lenders with a compelling alternative to the draconian and ultimately ineffective vendor management models in vogue at the time. We succeeded wildly in that effort, and the industry is better for it. As we now pass that torch to Mercury’s staff and to Serent, we’re confident they’ll continue to push Mercury even further. We’re very excited about their future, and of course ours as well, as we’re now able to deploy new resources and focus even more specifically on the appraiser’s side of the lending transaction.”

        Say what you mean, mean what you say.

        Seek the truth, find the truth, and judge others by the truth (Bill Johnson 12/13/2019).

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        • Baggins Baggins says:

          Interesting and thought provoking. Appraiser software providers and those whom take in and manage any portion of glb protected appraisal data should be required to be entirely regulated, similar to appraisers.

          Individual licensing for every single person whom works with appraisers and has any control over appraisers, appraisal processes, distribution of appraisal requests, administrative appraisal review, etc. Having access to any appraisal report data whatsoever should also require individual licensing, especially through the software and data management realms where data is consolidated. Answering conflict by blaming the appraiser is standard activity and normal go to conflict resolution. Appraiser independence is a total myth. Data management companies have purposefully put far more tools in the hands of those whom work with appraisers and have purposefully omitted such tools from use by the appraiser. The systems are designed to conceal fraud and leave the appraiser clueless as to what happened.

          Every one of these appraisal data management systems is tied into capital corporations in one way or another. There is an obvious conflict of interest and they clearly stand to gain unfair leverage and positioning over their competition in whatever segment they may lie, by having such access to protected appraisal report and appraisal result data.

          Per the article. Knowing whom amc’s are. Knowing they do not return cost savings to consumers. Knowing the integrated conflict of interest is present and ethics in billing is an overlooked activity… One questions the ethics of any licensed individual whom works with them in the first place under such circumstances.

          Which amc’s out there have a strict cost plus approach and honestly select based on merit, not fee, with absolutely no financial incentive to drive down appraisers fees for variable opportunistic unearned fee gain. The pertinent question to ask any amc is what is their standard fee for their services, do they bill their services to the lender directly and apart from the appraisal fee, and what was the consumer charged. Only quote your fee after those facts are established.

          profiteering: the act or activity of making an unreasonable profit on the sale of essential goods (or services) especially during times of emergency

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  4. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

    How about the businesses / governments we have to deal with.

    2020-2025 Strategic Plan Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers (California).

    Recent Accomplishments 2018-2019.

    ……… “The Bureau amended its regulations to clarify Bureau Investigators do not complete appraisals or appraisal reviews”

    Mike Ford mentioned this the other day, but to see it in writing as an Accomplishment is scary as hell.

    Seek the truth.

    2
    • Avatar Mark SKAP says:

      You’re right. Like the article was intended. Do your homework and make up your mind on who to interact with. Stay in the know. Gather information.

      Like you always say. SEEK THE TRUTH. well Bill, are you seeking the truth and the right information or are you just always here to complain about everything and the coach?

      3
      • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

        Seeking the truth, bringing to light the truth, and judging others by the truth (see Dave Biggers own words, Dustin Harris’s support of the AMC model), is not in itself complaining, but rather is bringing to light the reality of ones (others) actions.

        You are shooting me the messenger, while making a choice to work with those who many believe have questionable appraiser policy beliefs. Work with who you want, but don’t be surprised if others in part partially judge you by the company you keep.

        Seek the truth and when exposed, take action against the offenders instead of the messenger. Order by end of day for free shipping.

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        • Baggins Baggins says:

          If someone were to post a series of the Dave Biggers email letters he sent to tens of thousands of appraisers back in the day, post those sequentially online for public digestion and easy blog linking. An online repository of those emails would provide necessary perspective.

          What a contrast from then vs now. Save the dream. Today, the dream is one only a few still dare to remember. Specifically I would like to reference; 10/19/2010, JUST IN: “Customary and reasonable” fee regulations. (info@alamode, Dave Biggers).

          Back when there was a promise of fining amc’s 10,000 dollars the first instance, and 20,000 dollars EVERY SINGLE day thereafter if the offense continued, for what is now just daily commonplace activity for nearly every amc in existence. When Mercury systems was being positioned to capture all the work which would be immediately redirected away from amc’s with the implementation of C&R rules. “Please advise when the fictitious cfpb interpretation of safe harbor rules pertaining to DF REG Z on C&R will be rescinded, when appraisal fees will be properly and distinctly separated from amc billing.” Accountability? Who continues to enable these unethical arguably illegal practices? Who has profited from these companies, disregarding so many long standing ethical principals to do so?

          Appraisers whom work with and promote amc’s are still invited over a decade later to reconcile those points. From what limited data we have, it appears 3 out of 4 appraisers do not work for amc’s, and many amc’s are quite likely to be raking more than half of consumers fees as unearned fees. Approximately 15% of all appraisers are raking the lion’s share of all mortgage lending work, which amc’s handle roughly 80% of ml work. An undeserved disproportionate amount of amc orders because they provide a thing of value to the amc by way of not being concerned with fair consumer billing and discounting without regard to the management rule and consistency in billing regardless of the client.

          The solution is not ‘more income’, ‘better efficiency’, some typing service. The proper solution is a higher quality more detailed work product, better positional defensibility, better ethic in customer dealings, starting with ethics in billing. Sure pick your clients carefully but recognize under some engagement situations, notions of a higher ethic are unobtainable under many current conditions. The untenable positioning of the amc industry was why appraisers wrote all those letters which got C&R rolling. And it passed! Then behind the scenes amc trade groups circumvented the law and outpaced legal efforts to appropriately fine them out of business. Inconvenient history.

          All that being said. Picking clients carefully starts with avoiding distribution companies whom do not have clearly established and transparent billing practices for their limited scope of services.

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  5. I know the company Mark is referring to. We started posting here in AB around 2014 or 2015 when some of their earlier abuses became apparent. Like their operating an AMC in Virginia with no license when one was required. Or their claim to have originated the one size fits all national appraiser fee (FTC was surprisingly silent on that one).

    I also know that Mark at considerable sacrifice and risk to himself and his personal financial security stood up to that particular abusive AMC. He beat them in court, and eventually helped, or directly caused them to collapse completely. This was no small accomplishment. Even the State of Virginia chickened out instead of prosecuting that AMC for operating there without a license. Apparently, it would have cost too much!

    The issue in Mark’s article is highlighting the need to hold people & the AMCs they run accountable for their actions. His article reaffirms the need to be selective in the clients we choose.

    (Disclosure – Mark is the President of the American Guild of Appraisers. I’m assuming he was speaking for himself here; though I know The Guild would directly endorse his message anyway).

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Why Do Business & Let Them off the Hook?

by Mark Skapinetz time to read: 4 min
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