Vendor Agreement Controversies & Worst AMCs

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AMC Vendor Agreement Controversies - Bad, Worst & Ugly AMCs

AMC Vendor Agreement Controversies – Bad, Worst & Ugly AMCs

And the winner is…

According to a recent non-scientific survey conducted by AppraiserNews, the World’s Worst AMC Alive is Clear Capital. Honorable Mention goes to Coester VMS and Streetlinks. And the Worst Vampire AMC title goes to AppraiserLoft which is no longer operational.

Excerpt:

We’d also like to note the passion with which appraisers made their votes, describing the many ways that these AMCs deserved their titles!

One final remark: It is sad that so many appraisers still hesitate to go public with their comments about AMCs, (justifiably) fearing that they might lose business, even when that business involves fees that are not “customary and reasonable”.

Click here for the full article.

AMC owns your Workfile…

We have come across some questionable AMC vendor agreements and would like to hear from other appraisers. Has anyone read Clear Capital’s Vendor Agreement or ServiceLink’s Trade Vendor Agreement? Is anyone concerned or is this business as usual?

WORK FOR HIRE: All findings, conclusions, work papers and/or files, and data and all inventions, discoveries, trade secrets, techniques, processes, and know-how, whether or not patentable, copyrightable or otherwise protectable, that are made by Vendor, either alone or with orders, in the performance of the Services or which result, to any extent, from use of Servicelink’s premises or property (collectively, “Work Product”) shall become the exclusive property of ServiceLink. Vendor hereby assigns, transfers and conveys to ServiceLink all of Vendor’s rights, title and interest in and to any and all Work Product, including the copyright thereon…

Here is another floating around…

Ownership and Retention of Work Product. All work product, reports, documentation and other materials created, developed or otherwise produced in connection with Appraiser’s services under this Agreement (collectively, “Work Product”) are works for hire and shall be the property of AMC, except to the extent that any part of the Work Product is owned by or assigned to a third-party such as AMC’s client. Appraiser, however, shall have the right to retain copies of all reports, documents or other information produced or utilized by Appraiser for the purpose of maintaining Appraiser’s work file as required pursuant to the recordkeeping requirements under USPAP, as may be required under any law or regulation, or as reasonably necessary for prudent recordkeeping on Appraiser’s part.

And finally the worst for last…

Clear Capital Vendor Agreement: Vendors shall permit Clear Capital as well as the intended user of the reports and applicable regulatory officials to perform audits at the Vendor’s office of the Vendors products, services and policies and procedures and for purpose of ensuring performance of this agreement and compliance with applicable laws.

No wonder Clear Capital was voted the world’s worst AMC alive. If there are other controversial AMC Vendor Agreements out there, comment and share your thoughts below.

Some good news in VaCAP weekly newsletter:

Interesting news comes from Mel Black. The North Carolina Court of Appeals upholds a trial court’s exclusion of a BPO. This is a very good story on the difference between an appraisal and a BPO. A definite win for appraisers! See the story here.

Image credit flickr - Jesper Rønn-Jensen
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36 Responses

  1. Wayne says:

    I do not have a clue. Why should any of my fellow appraisers work for companies such as this? There was a time that I paid dues to appraisal organizations, I spent time trying to make this a better profession. Really, now I just do not care! Let these silly BOZOs work for chump change for AMCs and national appraisal companies. I have discovered that no matter what you say or do…some of our fellow appraisers will hit their knees…they will slap their mother…they will do anything to satisfy an AMC….You just cannot argue with that stupidity! I will just do my own thing and wish each of you the best! (do they not understand that these companies exist because appraisers allow them to exist?) Join me and stop feeding the parasites!

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  2. Shawn says:

    Streetlinks for sure. What, no Nations Valuation Services?

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  3. Bubba Jay / Retired Appraiser II Bubba Jay / Retired Appraiser II says:

    i agree, Streetlinks was bad. very surprised NationalLink didnt make the list. they were just as bad if not worse.

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  4. Wayne says:

    Gee..Working for Appraisal Management Companies does suck big time. Flipping burgers is a much better career! Trust me…your peers are laughing at you!

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    • Baggins - record setting business losses! Baggins - record setting business losses! says:

      They be calling like telemarketers.  Care to work for us instead?

      Those panel application letters are coming daily sometimes and I suspect there may be more vendor managers then there are vendors themselves at this point.  New ones keep springing up because they hear how lackluster their competition is and dare to dream they could ‘manage better’.

      The managers ultimate guide to running a viable and successful amc:  Poll your amc employees.  Ask them how many aspire to elevate their career to actually become an appraiser in the future.  Offer them that carrer opportunity under the same terms as you offer your independent network vendors.  If the majority do not wish to be appraisers at some point in the future, fire everyone and start over.  Obviously the business modeling is counter productive to the shared interests appraisal management companies and appraisers are supposed to have with each other.   As I keep on telling you guys;  The majority of problems facing the appraisal management industry are rooted in improper and unjustifiably imbalanced allocation of funds.

      Talk about the worst most god awfully misdirected marketing campaign in real estate history.  The appraisal management company soliciting for panel appraisers, while simultaneously bragging about exponential record setting business growth and accolades for most profitable this or that.  (with no attention and absolutely no mention to having increased appraiser compensation alongside for ALL of their panel appraisers.)  From an appraisers perspective, they might as well have stuck a hot iron through the PC screen and branded my face like a cattle.   Those amc manager guys are writing all these real estate articles lately.  As if we need to hear from the next marionette.

      “If you want to know who is oppressing you.  First identify whom you are not allowed to criticize.”

      Appraisers for hire.  We have experienced record setting business losses over the past decade, shed nearly every new employee and apprentice, been denied reliable earnings potential, been undercut by the least qualified participators in the industry, been denied reasonable communication with other licensed professionals, have to appease unlicensed middle manager telecom employees in violation of ethical management rules to get ahead of peer competition, and have been unduly burdened with excessive regulation so that high level wall street lenders, hedge fund purchasers, and vulture capitalists from all nations could be shielded from justice.  Please join us for brunch in Vegas.  We’ll hear from amc managers, top lobbyists, an ethics dissertation by the former head of Goldman Sachs, and then we’ll all go gambling on the strip.  This years special topics include;  How to outsource otherwise ethically required duties, maximize your income (again), and this years special attraction;  Appraising in hostile SJW environments and avoiding trigger words.

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  5. TOM D says:

    once again, all the complainers have come out of closet.  unfortunately, there wasn’t anything left for me to say cause i’m just a happy appraiser having read these same comments over the last 15 years.  come on everybody, let keep the oars rowing on this cruise of the damned.  i love going in circles.  great group of bloggers here, but i fear our small number will only be a snack for the zombies.

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  6. Baggins - Article 1, Section 10. Baggins - Article 1, Section 10. says:

    This job is supposed to be about misery loves company.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  What I’d really like to see is a tech person amc whistleblower.  They’re the ones who pull the silent strings.   Why do they attack this website?  And what’s with all the ‘fear of amc’s’ commentary floating around lately?  If I start being afraid of intermediary nerds in office cubicles, please take me out of my misery.  I still feel for them though, and to this day still constantly give up my time to educate managers on ethical process.  Some advice has materialized, most has not.  But I keep trying.  Worrying about how middle management will react is an excercize in futility.

    “By using this appraisal you agree that the appraiser is now in total control of the originators business decisions, the originators operational procedures, the borrowers purchase decisions, the borrowers selling decisions, any and all state disposition of work quality, all distribution of funds, and the party whom assigned this appraisal order takes personal responsibility to cover any and all expenses of the appraiser under any and all circumstances at the appraisers sole discretion from now to double dog infinity for ever and ever, not withstanding any court, legal, national or international tribunal decision, oversight board, legally obliged or responsible party, any officer of the court, state, federal, or otherwise, and also you relinquish your everlasting soul as collateral to guarantee to the appraiser you will comply with this agreement.  Your soul will be returned upon the appraisers parting, as long as you have complied with the terms of this agreement and have not taken a variable profit rake in violation of TILA & RESPA.”  Care to sign?

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  7. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    One good thing came from those bastard AMCs and HVCC.  They gave me a business model to copy to pull the same stunt on another industry.  Extortion is a great thing when your being the one cashing in rather than the one being extorted.

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    • Baggins - Mirror Images Baggins - Mirror Images says:

      You’re the constant protagonist. You don’t really mean that. It’s your LemonySnicket picture, it’s like distorting your world view. The business model of corruption and greed is as old as time itself. Go your own way, but please be kind and rewind if possible. Ethics is the greatest gift this industry gave any of us, and those whom reject the message are their own worst enemies, whether they know that or not.

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  8. At what point do we ALL say enough?

    When they insist on unlocked pdf, xml or ENV formats that facilitate recipients in removing portions of appraisal reports they don’t like? Too late.

    When they blacklist appraisers for refusing to make post effective date contract analysis changes? .

    When they set the fees we charge?

    When they change the scope of work after assignments are completed?

    When they LIE to borrowers about how much the ‘appraisal fee’ is?

    Now we have several that think THEY own MY professional work product? Like HELL they do!

    Any, repeat ANY appraiser that assigns all ownership rights to their appraisal is foolish and MAY be inadvertently violating USPAP by not taking reasonable steps to assure that the appraisal is used only as intended and is not used for purposes that are unintended and potentially misleading.

    This would include the unintended resale of portions of the appraisers professional research, development and intellectual property to uninvolved third parties…for example folks like CoreLogic; Clear Capital or any others to use in any manner and context that they choose.

    The ONLY solution to this is to push back and let these companies know that you may like to do business with them but that you are contracting ONLY to provide USPAP compliant appraisal services for a loan and you are NOT relinquishing your rights of ownership associated with a professional work product! Further, START COPYRIGHTING YOUR APPRAISALS! Learn how and DO it. The FNMA Statement of Limiting conditions now has me responsible to far more downstream “users” than I ever intended. Its not a stretch to think that some aspiring attorney will eventually seek the appraisers E&O “deep pocket” when some unauthorized study based on our reports inconveniences some unintended user that relies on it for some unintended purpose.

    If MY work products are used to build a $400 million dollar data corporation then I want my share! ANY firm requiring this as a condition of employment should be boycotted 100%. Further, consideration of class action suits need to be considered. Restraint of trade? Fraud? Misrepresentation? How much should this practice ADD to the necessary C&R fee?

    Since borrowers usually pay for the appraisal, have THEY been informed it will be used by third parties for their own commercial interests? Should borrowers have been compensated for the unauthorized use of appraisals THEY paid for that were subsequently used by data aggregators? When CoreLogic said they based a study after reviewing over a million appraisals they were acknowledging such unauthorized use. Seems to me that SOMEONE owes an AWFUL lot of money to a whole bunch of borrowers and possibly appraisers as well.

    Check with your attorneys people!

    This one item got me so angry I don’t even want to comment anymore on MY submissions for worst AMCs (First American and any affiliates; CoreLogic, LRES and whaever old LSI is calling itself these days Knight or Black Knight or whatever).

    It WILL be a topic for Guild attention in the immediate future! YOUR thoughts?

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  9. PS- Start sending the Chairmen and Executive Boards of these companies clients copies of the contracts they want you to sign as a condition of doing appraisals for their firms. Lets see if the lenders KNOW what their agents are doing!

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  10. Raymond says:

    hmmm…interesting comments and I agree with all or most. The bigger picture is that the appraisal profession has lost all control and/or influence on the lending appraisal process to our very clients.  Lenders and lender interests groups control the ENTIRE lending appraisal process. Appraisers look like pawns on a chess board. We have been operating under the closest thing to professional slavery. The question or dilemma for appraisers, is how or when can the appraisal profession ever regain this lost of professional control?????? To say nothing about professional respect.

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    • Raymond the ‘how’ part is easy to state-more difficult to implement. First, ALL of us need to join our state appraiser coalitions in states that have them.

      We ALSO all need to join the American Guild of Appraisers and use the clout of it’s 13 1/2 million member ‘parent’ union(s) (OPEIU AFL-CIO). Even NAR only has 1.2 million members. Our challenge is in getting many more appraisers to become a part of it so that national leadership considers ALL our issues to be THEIR issues.

      FYI AGA is NOT a partisan guild. I happen to be an unpaid republican volunteer union organizer. I know some of our members are democrats, some are independents or other parties. We try to avoid being mired in the “either or” miasma of partisan politics.

      Raymond, few state organizations can compete effectively with the competing interests of the AMCs and sometimes even the AI which has previously gone before the TAF and claimed to speak for all appraisers best interests, above even their own (Redondo Beach, CA).

      ASA, NAIFA and a few others have been actively involved and seeking to reclaim our profession.

      The reason you (and all of us) need to join state coalitions and the Guild and become involved is that this is a never ending fight. Hate to say it, but almost as soon as we win a hard fought victory of any type, the self serving parasites start another issue’ practice or proposal that needs to be beaten back.

      A year+ ago CaCAP, AGA, ASA and others including the TAF helped suppress an already passed Bill in California called AB 624. The California Labor Federation was able to make a single call and get it buried in appropriations for over a year where we all expected it to ‘die’, but CaCAP wrote a few months ago indicating it was possibly coming back. We need many more volunteers to keep on top of things like this; but too many appraisers simply don’t have time. They are limited to 24 hour days unlike my own 30 to 48 hour days.

      So called ‘Reconciliation forms” (often title company subsidiaries or affiliates) are infamous for providing appraiser job killing BPOs to which appraisers are asked to reconcile THEIR value opinions! Generally our standards don’t let us play that game; or at least not economically at the fees offered because we DO have standards and steps we must follow.

      Independent appraisers simply can’t take on huge title companies and win as a rule. THAT is why you need AGA, VaCap, CaCAP and others.

      The “When” part of your question is “when we have at least 20% to 25% of all licensed appraisers participating in SOME type of politically ACTIVE peer group or the American Guild of Appraisers.

      If you are wondering, we DO have a spot for you! Call Jan Bellas (301) 220-4100.

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Several updated hud1 forms had line item entries for amc charges. That boat sailed but many think we should call it back to shore and put that in there. But then how to skirt junk fee rules?

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  11. Ralph says:

    Worst 3

    1. Valuation Partners, I did about 5 or 6 appraisals for them back in 2010, was not paid called several times and was told they were having difficulty paying appraiser all over the country.  My only solution was to withhold delivery of a multi million property until payment was received.  Valuation Partners was screaming for the report calling several times a day, since their client a large bank was screaming at them, I held firm and my check was sent express. After that I never did another report for them and I believe they are no longer in existence.

    2. Clear Capital, simply awful, never did one order for them and told them to simply remove me from their panel 3 yrs ago as I sick of being sent 10-15 order requests a week w/$225 fees and them having them call me asking me why I did not even respond.

    3.  Street Links, I last did work for them 3 yrs ago and only if the fee was right, seems they have a lot of licensed appraisers, but for their clients who require a certified appraiser and for FHA, I could charge a decent fee.  My last report was a single family and they sent me a list of 50 additional sales, all of which were condos as it was obvious that their client wanted a lower value.  I said sure I’ll analyze each sale for an additional $50.00 per sale.  They then escalated it all they way up their chain to Tampa.  They would not agree to my request and I would not agree to their’s, in the end I ended up charging them an additional $250.00 for a few paragraphs of comments.  Simply not worth the time and headaches.   I have since fired all AMC’s, make much more money, have far less stress and more free time to enjoy life.

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  12. Nick says:

    Blacklisted AMC’s we avoid at all costs due to their predatory practices, failure to pay C&R and never ending scope creep are as follows (no particular order):

    1. StreetLinks

    2. Valuation Partners

    3. Clear Capitol

    4. CosterVMS

    5. AMCLinks

    6. Nations Valuation

    7. TSI

    8. Dart Appraisal

    9. Allstate Appraisal

    10. Lincoln Appraisal & Settlement Services

    11. Corelogic

    12. Pro-tech

    13. Metro-West

    14. Frost & Associates

    All the above AMC’s are bottom feeders in our industry and do not care about appraisal quality or the public trust, much less their appraiser “partners”.

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    • Wayne says:

      Gee Nick, I could not agree with you more! I do not blame you at all. What if each of these companies offered me three times the normal fee and kissed me on the ear…I would absolutely refuse to work with them! Appraisers have five times as much work offered than we can accept. Tell these jerks to take a hike! I have no problem making a living without an AMC…can an AMC make a living without us?

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  13. Chris says:

    Clear capital is a joke….i’ve filed complaints against them, JVI, Coester, AppraiserLoft, ES, and yet….it gets you nowhere here in MD !!!  But these types of AMC need to be punished viciously and they’re not….completely disgusting !!! All they want are robots working for peanuts…….Here are some other terrible AMC’s…..TCV, Solidifi, Allstate, Norman Hubbard, NVS, In-House, ISGN, and my favorite worst is…..A TIE….SERVICELINK AND SOLUTIONSTAR….OMG….RUN AWAY !!!!

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  14. Yash says:

    This is the absolute worst AMC ever!!! they try to negotiate the vendors down to the lowest possible fee and bother the sh*t out of them to the core as if their job is to baby sit. it’s ridiculous ! ! calling and texting, even emailing them ALL DAY! who wants to deal with that…stop feeding this company! they are not worthy! using vendors hard working money to buy big fancy buildings!

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  15. Raymond says:

    well we ALL know why the AMCs are crying…”shortage of appraisers”. what they don’t say is that the shortage is because more appraisers are beginning to say “NO more to AMC”. This business model of professional slavery conducted by AMCs must end.

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  16. Raymond says:

    just received this email fro street links:

    As a StreetLinks/Assurant Valuations appraiser partner, you’re eligible for discounted education options through McKissock, LP, a leading provider of professional education. McKissock’s beneficial online appraisal courses allow you to focus on developing new career skills at your convenience.

    What a joke. I don’t know why I’m on the email list. I have not done any work for SL. I guess McK has some type of arrangement wit SL.

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  17. Baggins Baggins says:

    Well Ray, the amc’s got exactly what they themselves promoted; Ready substitutability. It would appear they had such poor business planning, they simply never thought about the appraisers being able to substitute the amc. Fun factoid 2016: Many lenders have sought to assign direct, but because the appraisers did not respond, those same lenders whom would have assigned directly end up using amc services. ‘We let appraisers input their own fees’ is industry code for a free for all undercutting system. Focus on what they charge the lender. Demand a reasonable static minimum ALL appraisers can count on for ALL orders, demand direct assignment, or pass. Amc’s have micromanaged themselves to an irrelevant status. That was their business decision.

    Alamode could have saved this profession but they chose not to.  When they were in charge of Mercury they could have simply allowed appraisers options to sort away amc’s vs direct assignments. The new Mercury owners could still do that to this day, but choose not to. I’m on long term vacation with Mercury because there is no user controls which lets me shield myself from amc’s. There is no user control which lets me solicit non amc members of Mercury directly. There is no user control which allows me to reject all orders presented which do not comply with my standard minimums. Mercury in my opinion, could have been a tool for justice, but it failed to deliver. The majority of controls are lender and amc focused. My business is not a truck stop motel with a permanent vacancy sign where just any drifter can come stay a while.

    Imagine if Mercury identified and had user controls for amc vs direct assignment, had digital controls allowing appraisers to accept or reject the lender panel solicitation request up front, allowed vacation settings per individual client, automatically stopped requests if the request was not to the appraisers standard minimum, allowed variable fee setting per client and client type, had guaranteed accurate total fee billing notes mandatory including; amc, lender, and consumer billing, stated rate lock expiration dates, stated specifically if they have in house review or not, allowed maximum open order settings, etc, etc. I had a mercury order which I was ‘not allowed’ to type any free writing notes. Reasons to never buy the upgrade package until they get their act together. It’s the software providers whom allowed amc’s to be out of the box telecom endeavors. One cause of this proliferation is our own software providers failed to protect us and pandered to the larger profit base of lenders instead.

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  18. Gov Cuoma says:

    Gentlemen, AMCs are out to make a buck, no doubt. Yet, they have a mission to earn a living. Typically 25% of a $600 or $150 ought to go to the AMC. Any more to a ‘distributir’ is greedy. That seems fair enough , right. The problems come in when the AMC tries to mico manage the process and stiffles the creativity of the appraiser’s work. After all, they are independent contractors who are self employed. So lets all get along now, OK?

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