To Pay or Not To Pay, That is the Question

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Dustin Harris
Latest posts by Dustin Harris (see all)

Should Appraisers Pay to Be on AMCs Approved Appraiser List?Should appraisers pay to be on an AMC’s approved appraiser list? Is this one way to get new clients? If an AMC solicited you, would you check it out? Now, I work for some AMCs that, frankly, you might not choose to work for. That’s fine. It’s a choice we all make. Understand that most of the areas I work are rural, so AMCs are generally willing to pay more because of this. Some AMC are very demanding. Yet, when I meet those demands, I get a lot of well-paying jobs from them.

Recently, a new AMC asked me to join its panel. While I usually respond positively to these requests, with this particular AMC, I chose to reject their offer. Why? That AMC wanted me to pay it for the privilege of working with them. Nope! Yes, I am all about business opportunities. I am used to “lunch-and-learns” in which I pay for that lunch to get new clients. That’s legitimate, as far as I am concerned. So, how is this AMC’s request any different?

I’m not paying this money in a marketing situation like I am with the lunch-and-learn (or some such event). There is no marketing in paying the AMC to get its work. That just rubs me the wrong way. I also know for a fact there were fly-by-night AMC firms that got a few hundred dollars from a few thousand appraisers, then disappeared into the fog. In other words, the solicitation was a scam by a sham company. For these reasons, I threw the solicitation in the garbage. I would counsel you to do the same.

So, should you pay to be on an AMC’s approved appraiser list? That is a decision only you can make. But I made my decision. And my decision was NO!

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 512 below.

Dustin Harris

Dustin Harris

A multi-business owner and residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers. His principles and methodologies are also taught in an online, Mastermind group. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children. Dustin Harris on e-AppraisersDirectory.com

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43 Responses

  1. Avatar Scott says:

    I would never pay. Bottom line is they hire/pay me to complete the work.

    And yet SO MANY appraisers have no problem paying an upload/portal/technology/maintenance fee (or whatever the AMC decides to call it).

    To all appraisers……….Don’t be a hypocrite.

    Everyone of you that pay the AMC’s upload/portal/technology/maintenance fee……you brought this on.

    Now…..they want us to pay to join.

    6
    • Avatar Seneca says:

      Contractors pay Home Advisor a fee for leads to new clients. I even had a listing on Home Advisor (Service Magic back then) during the down times (2007-2012) and received work form the listing. They charged me something like $12. Just build in the tech fee in your fee. Why do free lance appraisers feel like they don’t have to compete for business like any other contractor or why they think they are guaranteed a certain fee? Now I would not pay an up front fee as the article states.

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      • Avatar Scott says:

        Because our work is not like that of a contractor. Our work is more closely associated to that of an attorney or a CPA. It is comments such as you’ve made….that have brought our profession down. “Build the tech fee into your fee”. That is the problem. AMC’s keep charging more, we charge more. Then AMC’s create a new fee and we counter. Your way of thinking is exactly what is destroying the appraisal profession. The AMC’s need to build their fee…..into what they already take from the appraiser. WAKE UP.

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        • Avatar Seneca says:

          My comments have done nothing to bring the profession down. That’s what I’m talking about. You are one of those appraiser that thinks they ride the high horse and everything is owed to them included a high set fee. Last I checked both attorneys and CPAs are paying to get business and it is not just given to them because they hold a license. Take a business class and learn how to run your practice like a business.

          3
        • Avatar dale bailey says:

          While we do like to see ourselves as professionals like attorneys and CPA’s, alas we are not there, nor will we be in the next 10-20 years. we are too splintered and our value is being reduced by automation. CPA’s are being pushed by computer models and seasonal book keepers to provide their work. But they don’t feel it as much as we do because they also have to keep up with tax changes and government regulation. Appraisers have to keep up with Fannie and Freddie. Attorneys have different working models, ie..by the hour or completion of a successful case whey they 1/4 or 1/3 of total settlement.

          IMO it is not the paying of technology fees or even to join a panel that is detrimental. It is the apathy of the majority of Appraisers in the country. Get them off their ass and have them participate and maybe, just maybe, we can create a truly professional occupation. But until that happens, this onesy twosy of appraisers doing what they can to make a living isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans in the long run. IMO—sorry, just felt like I needed a rant on Friday Afternoon!!! Everyone have a great weekend!!!-dpb

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          • Avatar nick says:

            This is where my disconnect is. We primarily do commercial work. The fees are larger and we 110% of the time know more about what we do than the AMCs. We just tell them no or tell them to take us off their email lists then we block them from our domain.

            I wish I could make better suggestions for house appraisers because it hurts to see this. We are professionals up there with CPAs and lawyers (most lawyers don’t know the different between leased fee and fee simple in my recent experience).

            I had a case this morning where both the lender and the AMC reached out on the same property (unusual circumstances), we just charged the same fee. I spoke with the lender, and they were surprised to hear that I can’t even find a phone number or figure out who I’m working for (person) when I get these random ass bids coming in.

            Down with AMCs! I have no hesitation saying this, they are a drain and continue to ruin the profession by providing substandard services.

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          • Avatar Seneca says:

            Been hearing that Rah, Rah speech to get appraisers to unite for 28 years. 70% of appraisers work alone.

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      • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

        Seneca, when 80% of all residential loans get filtered through appraisal management companies (AMC’s), and these companies already take 30 to 70% of what the borrower thinks is the appraisal fee, most appraisers are already paying hundreds a day in fees.

        Seek the truth.

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        • Avatar Seneca says:

          I don’t need a lesson on what the AMCs have and are doing to our industry. That’s not the point of this topic. The point is if an AMC charges you $10 tech fee you charge them $10 more than the fee. 90% of the time these AMCs agree. THEREFORE I PAY NO FEE!!!!. Geeesh. Whining about nothing.

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          • Avatar Scott says:

            Seneca……..you….are the one who is just not getting it. The bigger picture. You are pandering to the AMC. They charge a fee. You up your fee and in your mind…you are not paying a fee. YOU ARE PAYING A FEE. And every other appraiser that plays this shell game with the AMC is paying a fee. You are right…it is a business decision we all make. Again….in the bigger picture it has and will continue to hurt all of us.

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            • Avatar Seneca says:

              No I am not paying the fee. The cut comes out of the AMC’s end when they agree to up my fee to cover the tech fee. It’s a simple business decision. Business 101. But Scott missed that class.

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          • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

            Just because you bid $10 over that $300 AMC fee Seneca, does not mean your not paying a fee. By partnering with the AMC, your already agreeing to pay 30 to 70% of the appraisal fee to them.

            Seek the truth.

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            • Avatar Seneca says:

              Bill doesn’t know the “Truth” he seeks. You don’t have a clue what I get paid.

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              • Avatar Nick says:

                Seneca, by the simple fact that you work with the AMC to begin with, you are complicit.

                Your measuring wheel is stained with the blood of low paying appraisals!

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                • Avatar Seneca says:

                  It’s called making a living. I’m not an empty nester at the end of their career like Bill and Scott are. As long as they pay my demanded fee who cares where the money comes from. Once again you assume I am a low fee appraiser like Bill does. I don’t run under the hopes that AMCs are going away anytime soon because of a few grumpy old men hate them. Because they are not.

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              • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

                Seneca, call it $300, $500, $1,500 or $5,000 per, but either way the AMC is collecting 30 to 70% of the appraisal fee. Call it a win if you mentally want to (bid $10 more for the tech fee), but you are paying that $10 fee and hundreds more every day.

                Good luck, and seek the truth.

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          • Avatar don says:

            Seneca the younger was satirist-philosopher, a long time ago

            Attorneys, Cpa’s, etc. are different in many ways.

            Appraisers defend their product, CPA’s – Attorneys’ defend their client. there’s a great difference defending an open concept against challengers, and defending your finding and conclusions against a market. Most all enforceable contracts require the identification of a client.

            Does the tech fee change ant part of the FHA- FNMA definition of value or weaken the clients identification.

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            • Avatar don says:

              Google keeps appraiser listings, they have wonderful lists available to any who ask. Newspapers, magazines, professional specialty publications keep specialty lists. Lists are available to most who specialize. I keep a list and I sort the list various ways to achieve MY goal.

              Relo companies keep a list based on the successful RE-sale of their inventory and to grade their appraisers, and agents.

              When a lender, keeps a list he can resort, and resort perfecting the list for HIMSELF, and redistribute it as a RED or A BLUE or a BLACK list.

              Whose list do you want to be on??

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      • Baggins Baggins says:

        Home Advisor is not all that. Check out this website disclosure on Site Jabber. Thousands of one star reviews and the hits keep on coming. Site Jabber is where you turn to after you realized you’ve been duped by clever internet marketing and the site which duped you then censors any criticism. Always check out Site Jabber and some other sites like Yelp and BBB first.

        https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/homeadvisor.com

        Dude from Home Advisor tried to call me about appraisal leads just last month, they need someone to fulfill all the inquiries they get about appraisal services.

        Lining up the service before you have lined up the vendor. Then whipping out any gullible vendor you can find to assure the referral fee. Denying negative reviews if the vendor pays premium membership, leaving them hanging out to dry if they don’t. That’s Home Advisor. Run Away!

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        • Avatar nick says:

          and if I might add. If you have people reaching out to you through those sites, they’re what we call pedestrians at our firm. They don’t know what they need, they don’t know how appraisals work, they don’t know a lot. You want to deal with the hand holding, knock yourself out. They also tend to go from 0-10 at a moments notice ….why?….because they have no f’ing clue. They just know what they think the number should be because they checked Zillow.

          1
          • Baggins Baggins says:

            I told the Home Advisor guy; Oh No! Please do not put up any advertisements on my behalf and I do not want any public exposure or leads or appraisal orders which do not come directly from a mortgage lender.

            I don’t need to make the sale over and over again. I’m not raking super supreme premiums. I’m fine with the day to day normal routine of working with one or two lender clients, and completing only direct assignment mortgage lending appraisal requests. Or sometimes if I get lucky, an reo now and then too.

            It’s like clockwork. Get one done, get another within a few days. Sometimes I have more, sometimes I have less. Just keep doing 2 or 3 a week forever. It’s a job and predictable workflow reduces stress substantially. I no longer want to juggle, boost, work overtime, or have as many orders as possible. I use no assistants or outsourced services what so ever. My business plan lately is to never have to answer the phone. It’s been pretty great so far. I mean I’ll return a call from a realtor or panel manager or someone like that. Otherwise my goal is to never talk to anyone I don’t have to over the phone, and field as few of emails as possible. To have a reliable predictable schedule like a normal working individual. It’s nice, it’s real good.

            Thanks Nick!

            1
    • Avatar dale bailey says:

      As a note, I quote them my fee and add that any technology fee is to be added to my quoted fee and they typically do this. So I am getting my fee and they are passing it on somewhere else, but not to me.

      1
  2. Blake Kernea on Facebook Blake Kernea on Facebook says:

    I feel like it’s not a stretch to request that you pay me for a specialized service. Having me pay you for potential service is just crooked.

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  3. Tom Markoski on Facebook Tom Markoski on Facebook says:

    Appraisers will. After all they’ve been paying AMCs with accepting discounted fees post-2008.

    2
  4. Avatar Nick says:

    AMCs have continued to provide expensive unnecessary intermediary services. We just don’t work with them, just say no. That is not the way and eventually when you have no clients other than AMCs you’ve given up your livelihood. At that point, go work for a bank; I have a few friends who left the AMC grind and now work for the bank as a bank employee in their division. Much better that way than for an AMC that doesn’t understand and puts appraisers and their licenses at risk. No intermediary with their own agenda, just the banks ha.

    1
    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Many appraisers are blissfully unaware that the same lenders whom they work for through amc’s, those same lenders also utilize direct assignment distribution channels. Often the A paper, low ltv’s, and staying with same lender refi’s are what is sent through the direct assignment portals.

      But you can bet they won’t select you for direct, if you’re already doing the amc side work.

      The amc appraisers always wonder, why can’t I catch a break? Why is this amc work always so difficult? Why can’t I make headway with better fees with amc’s? It’s because the lenders know all about how those appraisers folded already to amc’s for half rate, they see them coming 10 miles away. Amc appraisers get the leftovers which the direct assignment panel guys either bid up, bid out, or would not accept. That and the C paper and lender company swap overs, high ltv’s, all of that. As they are already at the end of the line with no hope and no future, struggling to get to that upper 10th of amc vendors whom actually do get a lot of work, they always take on the challenge and accept the orders. Cart and carrot routine.

      Appraisers can avoid a lot of problems with improper and unfair appraisal order distribution with one simple but firm rule: The panel manager must have an appraisers license themselves. Treat those clients like gold, the rest are replaceable dime a dozen. The best lenders always hire an actually licensed appraiser to run the appraisal distribution department. Some hire more than one. The jokers of the industry allow people to get promoted to appraisal management, despite never having worked a day of any actual appraisal tasks in their entire lives, no hope of ever having a professional appraisers license themselves. They’re just replaceable people and they are truly all hot air, turn on you in a moments notice, just incredibly difficult to work with. It’s fine to have a myriad of non licensed people in regular administrative and day to day positions, lenders are not expected to hire licensed appraisers for all of that. But for the head honcho whom administers the appraiser panel, whom says thumbs up or thumbs down to any individual appraisers panel status, that person must have an active appraisers license or you can predict with one hundred percent certainty, something will go wrong, probably sooner than later.

      2
  5. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

    Considering the author has said in the past that he can churn out 4 to 9 appraisals a day (with virtual assistants from the Philippines), and seems to support or dare I say love the AMC business model, why would he worry about a $50 yearly sign up fee when with AMC fee splits he could be paying $2,250 a day ($250 x 9 = $2,250)?

    Ignoring the stack of Benjamins you pay everyday in AMC fees is laughable when the articles focus is about the cost (pennies) to sign up.

    Business guru fail.

    Seek the truth.

    No animals, or small children were hurt with the posting of the above comments. The opinions expressed above are those of Bill Johnson’s alone even though in this current cancel culture environment many support in silence.

    9
    • Baggins Baggins says:

      It’s not a news article.

      It’s a self promoting remember me piece.

      It’s what we’ve come to expect from the coach.

      That and long winded obscure pontifications to justify ethical shortcomings, like when he was trying to defend mass hybrid fulfillment.

      Ahhhhh, the Coach!

      I like the guy. It takes quite the pair to so shamelessly self promote on this consistent of a long term basis. This Philly lawyer guy though, he won the war of who’s the best coach. Different direction and all. So funny.

      1
  6. Avatar Scott says:

    And we often wonder how the AMC’s got away with it in the first place when they started charging all the BS and add-on fee’s in addition to the fee they already take from us.

    As someone in the above thread put it “You are one of those appraiser that thinks they ride the high horse and everything is owed to them included a high set fee”.

    Yep. I worked hard for my licenses and pay a lot every year to keep them up.

    You can’t fix stupid.

    3
    • Baggins Baggins says:

      The problem with driving fees up with amc’s, is that they operate on the margin.

      The amc and appraiser fee is not firmly tied to a single consumer. But rather is a group operational funds pool.

      If you drive up the fee somewhere, the amc in turns drives down an appraisers fee elsewhere to cover the appraisers fee difference and also to keep their profit margin as high as possible. If you manage to win, some poor succer appraiser elsewhere is likely to lose. I can’t justify that in any sense, and therefore reject all amc work on principle alone. I asked for roughly 8 years, every amc which came my way, how do you bill, is it cost plus? None ever answered yes, cost plus. None ever had reliable fixed fees. That’s when I just gave up on amc’s in general.

      When you work for an amc, someone always gets the short end of the stick. It is hard to justify any engagement with an amc, unless the amc operates on a cost plus basis, or passes such increase costs directly to the consumer. (but then you hurt the consumer, because that consumer would have paid less had they engaged with a lender whom did not utilize amc’s). As they contract with lenders large scale for volume, usually that’s not the case and the amc’s almost always operate on the margin instead.

      They still contact me frequently, you simply can’t stop amc’s from contacting you as an appraiser. They are telemarketers and appraisers are their only customer base, they recycle the contact lists infinitely. As one amc falls away, two more always spring up. Now when they ask me to please quote this: My response is always the same: What is the most you are willing to pay, and your longest tolerable out time?

      To date, not a single answer… What great companies to work for. Amc’s are more predatory than any predatory lender ever was to borrowing consumers. They’ll hang you out to dry in a heartbeat and you either pay to play, or you don’t play.

      1
  7. Avatar don says:

    Seneca the younger was satirist-philosopher, a long time ago

    Attorneys, Cpa’s, etc. are different in many ways.

    Appraisers defend their product, CPA’s – Attorneys’ defend their client. there’s a great difference defending an open concept against challengers, and defending your finding and conclusions against a market. most all enforceable contracts require the identification of a client.

    Does the tech fee change ant part of the FHA- FNMA definition of value or weaken the clients identification.

    0
  8. Usually, I don’t respond to ads soliciting payments from me for AMC work OR background checks. When I do respond its not usually overly polite.

    AMCs are paid by their clients to find the best appraiser (or at least competent) appraiser FOR EACH SPECIFIC ASSIGNMENT. My paying them doesn’t enhance that in any way. It could be argued that pay to play supplants their legal obligation to assure that only USPAP compliant appraisal reports are delivered to their GSE employers.
    I also pay for a background check every two years when I renew my state certification for $1,000 a pop.

    I feel no compulsion to pay Joan Trice, CRN, or anyone else for services they market to their customers as being ‘free’. By all accounts, she’s a nice lady and reasonably well informed for a non-appraiser but she is not a member of my immediate family, a dependent or recognized charity I choose to donate to.

    There is still no shortage of appraisers-though many of us have chosen not to pay anyone to ‘play’. I’m doing quite well with non GSE work.

    4
  9. Avatar SB says:

    If you are not getting at least $700 appraisal order in this market.. you are an AMC sucker.

    Do not use XOME either its a complete RIPOFF.

    3
    • Each area is different, but most of mine start at $1,000 to $1500. I’d probably accept $750 for not overly complex.

      My friend’s AMC offers $350-$400. Been a very long time since I did one of those.

      4
      • Baggins Baggins says:

        Direct mortgage lending where I’m at is $500-$600 with a standard 2 weeks turn time. Have a new one who pays $750 standard and jumps to $950 if rental form is included, pays $450 for desktops and drive by’s. Insane 4 day turn times including weekends so I only take one of their orders at a time.

        It’s nice. It’s easy. Low stress and that works best for me. Strangely enough I still prefer the lower paying client because the longer standard 2 week turn times are so much easier to work with. A standard 2 week turn time for direct assignment lenders is in my opinion, golden.

        0
  10. Jamie Humphrey on Facebook Jamie Humphrey on Facebook says:

    I get enough clients without having to pay a fee.

    2
  11. Avatar Ralph says:

    I’d never ever pay to be on an AMC list, they should have to pay a retainer to me if they want me to accept their work and it’s on my terms! Meaning you can take that low fee and 48 hr turn time and stick it where the sun don’t shine!

    2
  12. Avatar Tom Riggins says:

    I do not do any work for AMCs any more. My client base either has their own appraisal department or order through a portal, such as Mercury. In the case of portal fees, I simply add that to my fee quote. I work in a rural area so don’t have the competition others might, so I can see the choice of methods to generate business should be up to the individual. I constantly get calls from AMCs because they can’t find an appraiser in my area. When I refuse they used to sometimes get angry or nasty, but apparently more appraisers are doing the same thing so I usually get a polite thank you for your time now. Someone elsewhere is overlooking a good bidding opportunity. Having done commercial work in the past, I in those cases routinely built travel time and cost into fee quotes. Residential appraisers can do the same. Please do, I am getting tired of AMC calls.

    1
  13. Avatar raymond says:

    Paying a small tech fee is probably Ok, but to pay $ to be placed on a AMC list, is as someone stated, a “pay to play arrangement”, which is very questionable issue in terms of ethnics.

    1
    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Being put on an amc’s call list on purpose sounds more like punishment than a reward.

      Day 1: Get approved.
      Day 2: What’s your fee and turn time. Waste my time, never send me direct orders. Flood my email with teaser bid quotes. Call me repeatedly even though there are no actual orders assigned to me. Repeat to infinity until:
      Day 3: Remove me from your lists immediately, it’s just not working out.

      0

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To Pay or Not To Pay, That is the Question

by Dustin Harris time to read: 1 min
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