We Need More Appraiser Drivers!

Michael Ford

Michael Ford

General Certified Real Estate Appraiser at Michael F. Ford Appraisal
Over 28 years appraising all property types and interests, in Southern California real estate. VP/Chairman National Appraiser Peer Review Committee, American Guild of Appraisers, #44OPEIU/AFL-CIO. - Michael Ford on e-AppraisersDirectory
Michael Ford

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We Need More Appraiser Drivers!

Powerful ‘uncles’ gave us the vehicles, but we need more drivers!

Stand up for yourself and oppose those things that are wrong in our own profession and the related lending industry.

Come on people! As grateful as we are for general members, we also need a few more “spark plugs.” People that not only see the problems, but that are also willing to do something about them. OPEIU and AFl-CIO can help in the regulatory arena tremendously. But so much of what we do is ‘down in the trenches’. It requires OTHER appraisers that understand USPAP and appraisal principles and who are willing to TELL state officials when they are wrong! Some state coalitions do this well (LA, VA, NC), but many do not, for a variety of reasons. Equally important we need coordinated national pressure to get anything meaningful done.

Some examples:

California: Yeah, I know, but I’m kinda busy with national issues. We need someone to push CA into adopting C&R ENFORCEMENT rules rather than referring us all back to CFPB who in turn doesn’t even have a link on THEIR site for appraisal (fee) complaints. Or, at least help me to do so. We stopped AB 624 but there is MORE skullduggery in the offing we are already hearing rumors about.

Oregon: Teach THEIR Board USPAP! Seriously. They were trying to fine people for not meeting turn times, as a USPAP violation! TWENTY FOUR PER CENT of the AARO (Government Regulatory Officials) members they contacted for advice ALSO thought the same way! AARO itself needs some attention now! When THEY give states advice it looks like there is a 1 in 4 chance it will be WRONG!

New York: They drafted a pretty decent AMC law and they NEVER PASSED IT! What’s up with that? Also we need to fight to make sure they don’t dump the appraisers must be paid within 16 days provision!

New Jersey, Minnesota, Illinois and how many others: Ongoing reports, and evidence, of punitive mindsets rather than protective of the public views. They are using fines to balance budgets rather than as educational and or enforcement tools! Minnesota enforcement officials also need appraisal principles refresher classes when they start using phrases like “everyone knows you always adjust…” for things like wooded areas in proximity — regardless of market data to the contrary apparently.

Massachusetts, Florida, DC, Maryland & California: as well as any other states that “pile on” charges AND fines for appraisers fined in their home states for home state work! I can see other states being aware of and perhaps restricting licenses of those fined for work they did in their home states. But to also fine them in the secondary license states that were not at all involved is abuse of power! Sincerest apologies to V.T. in Virginia for not having the time to help you on this one! One of the worst abuses I’ve seen yet!

Give me just 25 people across the United States that are such ‘spark plugs’ and we can eliminate MOST of our problems in just one or two short years! Look how much (a very few) State Coalitions, and AGA have accomplished already in the past one to two years! We won’t rewrite all laws in that time, but we can sure as hell make a dent!

This is not hyperbole or braggadocio. It’s offered as proof that a few people CAN make a change! I, with others I recruited, have DONE this in the past. 1986-1990 Redondo Beach, CA – we created the groups that replaced 4 out of 5 crooked council members. Even before that we ‘maneuvered’ them into positions where they had to create new board member positions for CITIZENS interests and ultimately made them rewrite their entire Community General Plan! Oh yeah, we hastened the retirement of the Harbor Director, City Manager and embarrassed the hell of out the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers so badly THEY had to return to Tennessee and redo their hydrographic studies completely. Redondo Boat Owners Association, Harbor Users Rights Committee, National Water Users Rights Committee, Citizens General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) opposing local power players, etc. Not to mention the peripheral issues we were dragged into because we were EFFECTIVE!

My friends & peers, I LIKE writing, but I’m not here for that purpose. I’m trying to DO something.

AGA with its bigger, more powerful ‘uncles’ gave us the vehicles, but we need more drivers!

Come on people! Join me, http://www.appraisersguild.org, email Jan Bellas Janbellas@appraisersguild.org or call (301) 220-4100.

Michael Ford

Michael Ford

Over 28 years appraising all property types and interests, in Southern California real estate. VP/Chairman National Appraiser Peer Review Committee, American Guild of Appraisers, #44OPEIU/AFL-CIO. – Michael Ford on e-AppraisersDirectory

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9 Responses

  1. anonymous for now says:

    I have one to think about…  Why are the bigger AMCs allowed to complete appraisal assignments with staff appraisers??  Question: are AMC’s not considered agents of the lender?  If so, then they are not independent and it is a violation to complete appraisals in-house.  I realize that the lenders don’t care – they order an appraisal, and it doesn’t matter to them who completed the assignment as long as a report is received that meets their requirements by the due date.  Do the AMCs market themselves as AMCs or as national appraisal companies?  Can an AMC registered as an AMC is those states that regulate them aslo act as an appraisal company?

    I think more importantly, these larger AMCs are controlling the work flow in local markets.  At least a majority of the largest lenders use AMC’s, and the majority of the larger AMC’s are currently using, have used, or are considering the use of staff appraisers.  I was one of these AMC staff appraisers many years ago, and have recently spoken with another AMC regarding their staff appraiser position.  This is how it works – incoming orders from lenders are first offered to the staff appraisers, who are “encouraged” to select the “straight forward/cookie cutter” assignments.  Those assignments not taken by staff appraisers due to complexity, time requirements, expanded scope of work…, are then offered to the independent panel appraisers.  When volume is lower, staff appraisers are “encouraged” to accept more complex assignments.

    Basically, this creates the situation where an appraiser has to work for an AMC as an employee in order to get the majority of lender work, or scramble for table scraps/leftovers.  Is this not the very definition of Restraint of Trade?

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    • Baggins low income Baggins low income says:

      An additional point to that regard to ‘anon 4 now’;  If borrowers pay the same cost for appraisal services, but the actual service cost is less than they actually paid, wouldn’t the surplus qualify as a junk fee, under existing regulatory stature?  It is supposed to be illegal to pump up loan service charges with variable scaling, while never returning any cost savings from reduced cost of appraisal services, back to the borrowing consumer.  aka;  unearned fees. /  For your personal comments, well, I’ll tell you like the rest of the appraisers;  Know Your Client.  Some clients use the systems you speak of, but others do not.  I roll with companies whom don’t cherry pick to staff, and instead run on limited sized, well vetted approved panels, with near rotational distribution, or it’s equivalent.  These days I’m the cherry picker, and I don’t even have to try.  The difference between me and staff is this; if a tough one comes around, I have to take it or risk losing the client relationship, and I get the full $450+ fee every time regardless.  So you win some, you lose some, but on the over all balance, because there is no corporate entity or owner whom capitalizes on any left over surplus, the compensation per order remains reasonable and fair, with a steady supply of work, to boot.  If you’re working with anyone other than that client type, it’s time to either diversify away from ML work, or market more to get better positioning.  You know what they say;  a drop in the bucket.  For every solicitation you put forth to lenders directly, for every amc order you upcharge for the additional bureaucratic overlay, and such, you have made a difference and planted the seed of change.  “The world is what we make of it, and the only thing necessary for injustice to triumph, is for good men and women to do nothing.”  Or something to that point….  You pick your poison in this industry, but you are never forced to consume what may be served to you that particular day or with that particular order.  The benefits of the free market principals and principals of substitution, is a principal which applies to all, not just to the privileged.

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  2. Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

    Anonymous, there is no regulation against an in house appraiser completing an appraisal assignment. Not sure where you got that idea from. What there IS a rule against is that anyone ordering that in house appraisal may be connected with discretionary loan decisions concerning it; or in a commission position dependent on that file closing.

    That’s the whole point of having a firewall between loan production staff and administrative processing staff (including appraisal ordering). WHY would an AMC not be allowed to have their owns staff do an assignment? Are their appraisers more (or less) susceptible to pressure than you and I are?

    Your second question is (I think) the real issue. National “Appraisal” Companies ARE marketing themselves as both AMCs and appraisers. Some are franchise shops; some are panel referrals in the true sense of an AMC and some are whatever they can pretend to be that enables them to enhance THEIR position in the “assembly line appraisal industry”.

    These would be the same ones that are trying to get AQB to modify entry level requirements; and lenders to modify inspection requirements so trainees can inspect. Off how the AMC lobbyists support these specific appraiser factories proposals isn’t it? AMC lobby groups SUPPORTING traditionally sub par fee paying appraisal mills.

    What could go wrong?

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    • Baggins low income Baggins low income says:

      And that ‘firewall’ is wholly inadequate.  The idea that there will be decreased risk, rather than more risk, in this new system is illogical at best.  It’s obvious to everyone who dares to look at this point, that an unlicensed amc or even non-amc distribution clerk, is not an equivalent substitute for an individually licensed person.  At least when the MB’s would pressure appraisers within the realms of direct distribution, the appraiser could make a complaint against that individuals license.  Such an action is no longer possible in the amc group business licensing realm.  Appraisers are individuals, and are subsequently inadequately positioned as a constant, and they dare not try to go against a corporation.  Only if Erin Brockovich herself were to serve each and every individual appraiser whom would seek to complain against corporate amc entities, would this system even have a remote chance of being sustainable and fair for the long haul.  An individual earnings stressed appraiser vs the corporate amc entity whom stressed the appraisers earnings in the first place….  David vs Goliath, and it’s no surprise the amc industry is boasting about great regulatory positioning and success.  Appraisers are definitely afraid to lodge complaints against them at the state level.  I know I am.  The one time I called and complained, I was sure that the amc rep, whom sat on the appraiser regulatory board, had probably called the amc manager whom I was considering filing a complaint against.  Even though the amc manager had already made a clear statement they would not pay for the report they had already received, and I had no further contact with them prior to calling someone at the state, a simple tentative call to the state, resulted in immediate payment….  Coincidence?  Maybe, but probably not.  And here is the chill factor many appraisers may be blissfully unaware of;  The amc rep on your state board, may coincidentally be employed by the same amc whom you may seek to complain against….  Food for thought.

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      • Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

        Don’t buy into the cover story about why a firewall was implemented. The sponge firewall does precisly what it was designed to do (absorb appraisal fees); and with remarkable efficiency.

        If only Trump could find a way to build his Mexican Wall so that generates billions every year.

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We Need More Appraiser Drivers!

by Michael Ford time to read: 3 min
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