Careless Order Takers?

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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Order Takers? AQB Advocating For All The New Garbage Products

Appraisers were simply order takers…

A friend that refers a lot of commercial work to me forwarded the following communications from an AMC. He’s been telling to ‘go away’ for some time now. This time he played along to see exactly what it is they are hustling.

I’ve redacted my friends name and eliminated excessive line spacing and repetitive email signatures. I also bold highlighted references to John Brenan & AQB communications. Otherwise it’s as copied from my email.

We’ve all heard enough about hybrids so you can either read the copied emails or skip them.

It’s the article from John Brenan of AQB that I want to address.

Now, I happen to like Mr. Brenan, even if he is wrong about a college degree being required to be an appraiser. Heck, he’s from my state! He was even head of BREA out here once upon a time; and he and I are from the same home town. His article that really prompted this one is titled “The Changing Landscape of Residential Appraising” (also embedded below).

It’s John’s third paragraph that touched a nerve. Possibly he would prefer to reword it with 20/20 hindsight.

I’ve been around for long enough to remember faxed orders.

We were never engaged by faxes with only an address and a phone number of two for access.

Back then appraisers simply knew to call to set up an inspection, then prepare an appraisal report using the longstanding “1004” form.

“Although some appraisers may wax nostalgic for those “good old days,” it’s important to remember that such experiences from the past painted many appraisers as "order takers" or “form fillers.” Those examining the role of appraisers in that light often found it easy to dismiss the role of an appraisal and, ergo, the appraiser.”

I assume John is merely referring to designated C&I appraisers contempt for residential appraisers at that time.

I don’t know anyone that accepted an order in this cursory manner. Nor was there ever a perception expressed then that appraisers were simply order takers. Not that I ever heard. Not even through the S&L crisis and RTC. We were referred to as dishonest, but not careless order takers.

I don’t know anyone that accepted an order in this cursory manner.These misinformed views held by Mr. Brenan may well account for the lack of respect he has for the residential side of our profession, and to some extent his elitism about general certification.

In different parts of the country, the process may have varied slightly, but everyone I know always verified what they were dealing with BEFORE accepting the order or setting a fee. The reason was that without computers back then, when you selected the wrong potential comps before going into the field it cost you an entire lost day of work.

Do that a couple times and that pre-appointment consultation became second nature.

That process may have been as simple as looking the property up in microfiche, local (hard copy) MLS Books, and CMDC to see if it had been marketed recently; and to possibly gain insight as to what was involved with property characteristics.

If an order form other than our own was used, we automatically sent our reasonably detailed form out and asked that it be filled out. Specifically portions about remodeling or added SF since purchase, pools, view or other special amenities. We also checked our own 3×5 index cards (filed by Thomas Guide Coordinates or zip codes) to see if we had other relevant files on hand.

For existing good clients, we MAY have called the loan officer direct and asked them to get the answers for us to avoid delays from sending faxes to clerical support. This was a common practice in the good ol’ days… and not one person ever considered it inappropriate.

In some cases the L.O. suggested we ask the borrower or listing agent direct. [Keep in mind John that at this point no one had even quoted a fee].

On calling the contact person, we verified if there was nothing unusual, no remodeling, or if there was, the extent of it. If the property appeared to be as reported, then we quoted our fee and let the borrower or agent know that we needed to collect a check or cash for the fee at the time of the appointment, unless they’d prefer to drop it off at our office before we scheduled the appointment.

I’m not going to pick on every following paragraph of his letter. I think they speak for themselves. AQB appears to be advocating for all the new garbage products… while reminding us it is our obligation to assure that the garbage products are fully USPAP compliant.

As usual, AQB won’t take a practical approach and say there is no way you can make these sows ears into silk purses. Not if it is hypothetically possible to offer something called a hybrid evaluation.

How we do them for the $50 to $100 that the price fixed lender/AMC consortiums have decided they will pay, is our problem.

Nicely done AQB. Doesn’t it hurt to straddle that razor thin wire?

Following is the email that started all this.

COPY SENT TO ME.

“Good morning gentlemen,

Check out this new product… An agent performs the inspection ($25)… and this information is provided to the appraiser to pull comps and derive an indicated value ($75).

There is also a link from an Appraisal Foundation member who makes this sound like a great opportunity… What kind of training and experience does an agent have? Why would an appraiser rely on an agent’s inspection?

Robert

From: Brittany Condrey [mailto:bcondrey@ativaluations.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 9, 2018 2:24 PM
To: ‘Robert@[Redacted].com’
Subject: Work in California

Hey Robert,

Do you have experience in desktop valuations, or are you interested in learning more about our alternative desktop product?

Please let me know as we have a need in Los Angeles and surrounding counties.

Or if you aren’t interested please let me know so we don’t bother you in the future.

Thank you,
Brit Condrey
Vendor Relations Specialist | QC Auditor | American Title Inc., an Assurant company
p: 508-655-0342 x1118 | Monday – Friday 9a-5p EST | ativaluations.com

This message may contain confidential and/or privileged information. If you are not the addressee or authorized to receive this for the addressee, you must not use, copy, disclose, or take any action based on this message or any information herein. If you have received this message in error, please advise the sender immediately by reply e-mail and delete this message. Thank you for your cooperation.

From: Robert [Redacted]@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 09, 2018 5:45 PM
To: Brittany Condrey
Subject: RE: Work in California

Good afternoon Brittany,

Yes I do have experience. What kind of fees are associated with this product?

Respectfully,

Robert [Redacted] SRA, AI-RRS, IFA, CREA, Green Certified
Designated Member – Appraisal Institute

On Jan 10, 2018 8:03 AM, “Brittany Condrey” wrote:

Good morning Robert,

Thanks for getting back to me.

Our report is done in two parts:

Exterior Only Property Condition Report & Photos: Completed by a real estate agent/broker in lieu of a traditional inspection.

The second portion of the report will be completed by you on our proprietary web form, typically in about 45 minutes to an hour. You will select/grid the comps and assign the value.

Key points:

These USPAP compliant HVRs should only take 45 minutes and we have some vendors who are cranking these out in 30 minutes if data is easy to obtain. We understand that in a less populated market that is not the case and could take up to 1.5 hours.

Most appraisers charge $50 to $75 since they don’t take very long. The turn time for this product is 48 hours after order offer.

Please click here for a sample and quote a fee you feel is customary and reasonable for your market if you are interested in working on this product.

If you would like more information about desktops and USPAP, please click here to read an article written by John Brenan, Director of Appraisal Issues at The Appraisal Foundation.

Thanks,
Brit Condrey

From: ROBERT – Sent: Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 3:32 PM – To: Brittany Condrey

If I’m currently a real estate broker and appraiser can I complete the whole report?

How much is the real estate agent fee for their portion?

From: Brittany Condrey – Sent: Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 1:13 PM – To: ROBERT

Robert,

You are welcome to complete the inspections as well, the fee for those is $25. If you’re interested, please respond directly to this email with the following 4 items attached so we can get you added to our vendor network:

Appraiser License(s)
E&O declarations page
W9
Fee, coverage, and direct deposit form ß link – please complete and return (you set your own fees, we pay within 30 days)

*Finally, a FREE 2 minute background check must be completed through our vendor OneSource (Your social security number is NOT required. If you prefer, you may enter 9 nines on the form in place of your SS#). Click Here to access the background check form.The background check results will come directly to us.

Once we have these 5 quick items, we will be able to activate you in our system and send instructions for accessing our platform and reports.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Brit Condrey

From: Robert – Sent: Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 10:17 PM – To: Brittany Condrey

Brittany,

This is ridiculous… $25 to an agent for an inspection and $50-$75 to an appraiser for comps and the report. How can this be USPAP compliant?

I don’t know of any appraiser that would jeopardize their license and insurance with a product like this.

Respectfully,
Robert

On Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 7:28 AM, “Brittany Condrey” wrote:

Hi Robert,

I appreciate you getting back to me and have removed you from our contact list for desktop appraisals. I just wanted to share this article housed on the Kansas Real Estate Appraisal Board’s official website written by John Brenan, Director of Appraisal Issues at The Appraisal Foundation. I think you might find it interesting.

If you would like to join our appraiser network for future traditional orders in your area, please feel free to send/complete the following:

Appraiser License
E&O declarations page
W9
Fee, coverage, and direct deposit form ß link – please complete and return (you set your own fees, we pay within 30 days)

A FREE 2 minute background check must be completed through our vendor OneSource (Your social security number is NOT required. If you prefer, you may enter 9 nines on the form in place of your SS#). Click Here to access the background check form. The background check results will come directly to us.

Have a great day,
Brit Condrey

Gosh guys, one of the drawbacks in sending out this kind of stuff is that it gets forwarded to people like me. If you don’t want me reading it, using it, commenting on it or making fun of it –THEN DON’T BE SO CARELESS AS TO ALLOW IT TO BE SENT TO ME!

 

Image credit flickr - James Cridland
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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18 Responses

  1. David Wimpelberg on Facebook David Wimpelberg on Facebook says:

    The AQB, and ASB, do not advocate for products. The AQB simply sets appraiser qualifications, and the ASB sets standards. That’s it.

    These types of “products” have always been permissible, and have always been done, since licensing was instituted. It is just more in focus now because certain types of clients are pushing them on a larger scale.

    It’s also important to note that in its most basic form, licensing deals with FRTs. GSEs are NOT FRTs. Therefore in most cases you don’t need an appraisal for the properties in question.

    I personally have no issue with performing appraisals in the manner described. However, the $50-$65 fees being pushed aren’t even in the ballpark of profitability, therefore I just give s blanket “no” to these clients. I do, however, accept assignments that involve no inspections for of clients, such as for court related matters, as the compensation matches the work required.

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    • Respectfully, not 100% accurate David. Early in the existence of USPAP most states had laws saying in effect  “No matter what euphemisms you use, an opinion of value called by any other names is still an appraisal and had to conform to USPAP.” In the early days in my state (and most others) it didn’t matter whether it was for an FRT or not. If you were licensed. An Evaluation in California performed by an appraiser WAS an appraisal. Admittedly, that’s changed over the years.

      Now that TAF is in the business of selling R.E. Appraiser education courses (including one on evaluations) they have no incentive to tell people up front that while you can do these things; the ability to do so in a USPAP compliant and economic manner that suits most required turn around times is virtually impossible. If they did that, then why would anyone take John’s courses?

      I agree absolutely that we can do these types of assignments. They can even be done credibly and in compliance with USPAP, but as your own last paragraph says-not for anything near the kind of fees being offered. That being the case; isn’t time to end the pretense? People like yourself that fully understand the parameters don’t need anyone else to tell them they can or cannot do something. You already know.

      Many others don’t.

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  2. Ralph says:

    The sad thing is, all the awful appraisers who work for $200 AMC fees will jump to do these, race to the bottom!

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  3. wontobey says:

    An appraisal by any other name is still an appraisal when it will come to who’s accountable. Also, so far AMCs have required these to be completed on their proprietary cloud based software & the appraiser has zero control over their signature & seal used to complete the report. The signature issue alone should be a show stopper for all appraisers but sadly, it is not for some.

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  4. Xpert says:

    These USPAP compliant HVRs should only take 45 minutes and we have some vendors…”

    Since their forms are USPAP compliant, then it surely means appraisers don’t have to be. What a joke!

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  5. realrose says:

    David, As an MAI designated appraiser (27 years with MAI, 39 years as an appraiser), who specializes in litigation appraisal matters and who has testified in court in many complex assignments, I would have you discredited by the opposing attorney in a heartbeat if you were testifying on a value where you didn’t inspect the property! I have done several appraisals where the property owner did not allow access, or the property was destroyed by fire, landslide or other calamities, making it impossible. I asked the owner for photographs on file to assist me in reconstructing the physical attirbutes of the property during my appraisal process, and I have prevailed in every court appraisal I have ever done because I am detailed, ethical, and provide USPAP compliant reports.The reason many of we C&I appraisers are looking down our noses at many residential appraisers is because their training is limited to filling out a form without understanding what they are doing, due to poor training, little training, or a cursory education that doesn’t deal with complex real estate situations. I think a four year degree should be manditory to get an appraisal license because we play an important role in the security of depositor’s money in the federally insured banks, or in a real estate transaction that is funded by anyone, especially federally insured banks! A thorough knowledge of the principles and procedures is available to appraisers thru the AI. If you want to be respected in this business, take this course, and make sure your continuing education includes coursework that involves new challenges, case studies and situations that are complex. There is no room in this business for simpletons, so your standards are well below what is needed for court work. I just love to help the opposing attorney tear simpleton appraisers a “new one”, and teach someone like you a lesson that the body of work needed to prepare and testify as an expert witness in appraisal (residential or commercial) requires a qualified person with relevant experience to perform such work. If you continue to do work for such low fees, you degrade our profession. They issue driver’s licenses in every state to anyone who can pass the test, but that doesn’t mean they are all good drivers! The same applies to litigation appraisers, so just watch yourself because one of these days you will lose your license, or there will be no more appraisers because the banks got rid of the standards we are supposed to uphold, then we’ll be in another depression because banks relied on a computer or your work, and you relied upon another person to give you a virtual report of what you were appraising. Kind of like the “blind” leading the “blind”. Do you have to hold your nose or take a shower after you do these types of “evaluations”. Just remember, if you have an appraisal license you are not even allowed to say at a dinner party what you think the home is worth or you have violated USPAP and the standards and ethical provisions of the law. As far as I am concerned, I would turn you into the state if I saw your work, based on how cavelier you sound, thinking you are entitled to lower the standards of this profession which are already well-established. We appraisal “snobs” call appraisers like you whores for the lender, so this is a warning to you since you think your license gives you the right to degrade experienced, knowledgable and ethical appraisers, you will lose your license, then you can go wash dishes in some restaurant, or welcome people at walmart because that is just about the value of what you have to contribute to society.

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    • David Wimpelberg on Facebook David Wimpelberg on Facebook says:

      Are you off your meds or something?

      I never once stated that these reports were actually use in the courtroom. I never stated that I did not do my research, requiring any and all information about the property that the client has, which includes a summary of relevant interior information, including photos, upgrades, etc. I never stated that I don’t go down to the municipal office to view the building/planning file on the property, which includes surveys, permits, plans, variances, etc. I never stated that I don’t review the deeds in these cases. You just assumed that and went off on an unprofessional rant.

      Fact is, in the real world, not all properties can be inspected at certain points in time. An example I may do this is in a contentious divorce where property access is currently not permitted with an order by a court, and an attorney may need to get a ballpark figure in order to know whether to settle or proceed. There have been cases where the other side’s estimate is even less than the underlying land value, readily established in the marketplace. Therefore, that no inspection appraisal has great value.

      If they decide to proceed, a full appraisal will be ordered. In the 20 years since I started doing litigation appraisals, not once has the preliminary appraisal been presented in court. It would not matter anyway, because there are typically two pages of narrative relating to the level of inspection, data collections, and disclaimers related to potential issues if the data collected/received is not accurate. Plus they would have the appraisal with the inspection completed.

      This is not lowering standards.

      FWIW, I am very familiar with what goes on at the state level, and typically know all the board members from downstate here in NY, know the investigators, have recommend RAs to state (those who do the reviews on file that the state needs reviewed), and have presented issues before the board that were subsequently implemented in the regulations.

      You need to work on your reading comprehension and your attitude.

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      • Baggins - Q Anon Jr Baggins - Q Anon Jr says:

        She’s on like that nearly full time Dave, but showing signs of improvement. At least this rant it was not all the fault of trump supporters, or perhaps she just forgot to mention that. You’re in the cross hairs now. Weaponized media is real, it does strange things to peoples minds. Q Anon ought to have this sorted out shortly. Internet; currently on fire.

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    • David Wimpelberg on Facebook David Wimpelberg on Facebook says:

      BTW, it’s not your job to discredit someone’s else’s appraisal in a court case. Once you do that, you are an advocate, not an appraiser.

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  6. KELLY JAMALI says:

    So I do all the work. Assume all the liability and all I get is $75. I think I can do better waiting inline for food stamps. Pathetic. Im turning this company in to my local state Representative office to demonstrate the carelessness occurring in the appraisal profession. So sad!

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    • Baggins - Q Anon Jr Baggins - Q Anon Jr says:

      There is no greater objection than absence. They get so many rejections, they’re using form letters these days. I know of one appraiser, who’s tried out some of these.  She’s got a great handle on ethical compliance, perhaps views held by yesterday more than today but relevant and reliable none the less. She says 4 hours minimum. I want to do the driving part for $25 dollars. If I could get paid 25 dollars to drive by and snap a picture of a single home, that’s not bad. If I have to call, schedule, and go inside, we’re going to have to move back to my standard minimum of $150 inspection though. If I have to develop a workfile with that, add $200. If I have to submit any sort of detailed report beyond a single page, add another $200. I don’t know, my standard minimum turn time is 1 week. Add $150 for any rush service less than 7 days. Now that I’m dealing with new forms and such, let’s tag another $50 on there until I can personally verify if there is time savings or not. I’d bet those appraisers whom blow hot air about being experts in their market which is why they can flip 2 a day, I’d bet those guys would go for this. Add chauffeur and outsourced data typing services costs of course. Datamaster is going to have to come down real real far on their price to accommodate this one.

      “Learn to read my standard fee billing map.” Q

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  7. So much good information posted and then we diminish it with personal attacks. Im not always successful in tempering my statements to deal with the views rather than the persons. For that I apologize to any so treated.

    I disagree with RRs statement about 4 year degrees. Maybe 25 years ago with Hoskold and Inwood financial tables this may have been necessary but not anymore. Would advanced algebra be helpful? Sure. Or, I can just use eXcel.

    Is algebra/college necessary? Nope. Is it required to assure  broader foundational education? Again no. I first read Dante’s Inferno in the fourth grade; and routinely read Michener, Uris, Homer and a host of others by the 6th.

    Education takes many forms. All an appraiser needs is relevant education and that can be obtained from the AI, ASA, NAIFA, McKissock and a host of others including community colleges.

    I’m reminded of my time as a senior appraiser at IRS. One of my two best friends & associates was an MAI; & the other was a former Alabama enforcement official. The MAI correct my punctuation and I corrected his spelling. “Bubba” corrected us both.

    Two of us spoke English and a tiny bit of Spanish; Bubba spoke Southern, and a tiny bit of English. We still maintain contact – though Bubbas hard to understand sometimes. My going to college wouldn’t help that any.

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      We need people who can build homes and understand mechanical systems and how labor costs relate to real property. Going to college is not going to help, customers (students) just learn to cheat more effectively. College has become pay to play. This industry needs independents whom do not subscribe to the submissive structure of employment based cultures. If a person does not understand the components of a home, how can they be trained to apply relative value to those components? The last thing we need is another math whiz kid or tech guy in this industry, we need general contractors and lots of them.

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  8. Baggs, good point. For decades it has seemed that college teaches that morals and ethics are for suckers. At least subliminally. What we really need are people that are generalists that soak up diverse information. People whose mothers, fathers and or spiritual leaders instilled a strong sense of doing the right thing even when the wrong thing is easier or more monetarily rewarding

    They may or may not have degrees. Background experience in real estate sales, construction, law, title insurance underwriting and even surveying can be directly useful to appraisers.

    Give me a former roofer, or pool contractor, or soils engineer (engineers often need ‘tempering’ to see market perceptions rather than absolutes). In a rural area, someone with experience installing septic systems is of more value to me as an appraiser than the NASA scientist and astronaut. (apologies to Eileen and husband Steve!!!). 

    My favorite team of eight trainees were all ALTA land inspectors. Some had degrees – some did not. It made no difference.

    Much more so than a degree in geography (though even that can be useful in land use analyses), and especially more relevant than degrees in literature/liberal arts, medicine, and physical education.

    Most of us would think a degree in math, economic or statistical analysis would be extremely helpful, but in reading many arguments for regression and Big Data, it appears that some leaders in those fields believe computerized data replaces all else. 

    They understand the phrase “Location, Location, Location” to mean “the area you have to increase the market size being considered in ordered to obtain meaningful numbers of datasets.” No matter that the results are wrong as long as the process math is right.

    They miss the much more important underlying fundamental concept. That the location is finite.

    In their arrogance, they think they can assign deviation ratings that somehow justify invalid data’s use. Need proof? Compare the national median home price to that of your specific primary market area (City of County). Both are presumably correct. But aside from showing generalized trends, neither tells you what your neighbors house overlooking the ocean (or hog farm) is worth.

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Nice, great and necessary perspective. The specialty requirements of this industry is only limited by the real property itself. This is real property. We analyze the wild, zany, and unpredictable approaches of salesmen and their customers, in highly diverse settings. Don’t forget straight up incompetency or aggression. The regression and pure numerical extraction approach presumes the standard MV definitions are always valid, that people are always well informed. The hard truth of market participation is there are many winners, many losers, and a few lucky participants whom are even keel. This is why simple descriptions like it’s an art not a science are necessary to properly describe the appraisers participatory position, and why field specialties beyond just math and tech matter a great deal. We qualify data not just on data, but also on other sometimes non measurable difficult to disclose factors. We analyze real property on the basis of real property and all the complex human factors behind that.

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Careless Order Takers?

by Michael Ford time to read: 8 min
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