AMC Non Grata
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I’m coining the phrase AMC non grata…
There’s an old, accepted diplomatic term being used by US government folks these days: “persona non grata‘. It refers to a diplomat or other approved foreign nation person being involuntarily removed from the host country, on very short notice. In the most recent case it applies to Russians being expelled from the US due to the alleged actions of their government in the last election.
‘Persona non grata’ got me to thinking. We have instances in our profession where AMC’s become expelled from our businesses. So I’m coining the phrase AMC non grata to describe that action. This has happened with appraisers far more often than AMC’s themselves, and lots of other people connected to mortgage lending, want to admit.
Today, very reluctantly, I decided to invoke AMC non grata with an AMC I have not worked with before who asked me to do an assignment for them, at a rural mountain valley lake in my county, about 25 miles from the nearest interstate highway and other urban areas. It takes about an hour to drive there from my office – narrow two lane winding roads. This particular California based AMC is joined at the hip with one or maybe two relatively small lenders in their home city. The AMC’s only appraiser-experienced key employee is their ‘Chief Appraiser’ whose state license and home is near Hilo, Hawaii. (Read again where this AMC is located.) None of the owners, key managers, or report reviewers identified in their 6 page document are appraisers.
I will compliment this particular AMC because the appraisal assignment coordinator actually called me on the phone to ask about my interest in helping them with the assignment. I was told no other appraiser the coordinator had talked to were willing to do the assignment at this lakefront home. I agreed to do so because I have done enough assignments at the lake to be geographically competent, and unafraid of the potential complexity due to my experience.
The coordinator and I discussed MY policy for what I do not include in reports (license & E&O), just in case these items are normally ‘required’ by this particular AMC. The coordinator agreed that a report could be delivered without those items included. I accepted the request to ‘sign up’ with the AMC, sent them my ‘stuff’, and then accepted the assignment, at a higher than typical lender approved fee and reasonable due date.
Then the fun began.
This AMC includes with their assignments 6 pages of single spaced “thou shall’s” and “you musts” – many beyond normal client or GSE requests. Of course, license and E&O were among those items. I began to realize any report review would be based on a checklist examination performed by those non-appraisers based on the 6 pages (and probably others), and my back end involvement with the report and them a few days or several weeks after submittal would be extremely frustrating. To avoid that situation, a new report template would have to be designed just for this particular AMC, to help get the report through their initial review process. That would take extra time… for a one hit wonder AMC that probably won’t have more than one future assignment per year in my area.
I decided to consult peers to see what experiences they had with this AMC. Most responses were not favorable, and the one that was included a reference to a ‘custom’ report template just for that AMC. That’s fine and makes sense, if enough assignments are forthcoming. I have templates designed for the specialty lender client for whom I do multiple reports monthly.
To be honest, this has been a gut wrenching experience. I don’t like bailing after accepting. But I also don’t like the possibility of what will happen after I send in the report, evidenced by info within the AMC’s own documents, and based on my nearly 16 years in this business dealing with low echelon AMC’s and their minor echelon lenders who think reports have to contain all kinds of items unrelated to the actual valuation process. Most of my current clients are 1st tier local or regional lenders, direct lenders based in other states, or superior AMC’s who respect appraisers for the service provided. I appreciate working for them.
So it was a day where I communicated AMC non grata to this new client.