AMCs Bidding Game

AMCs bidding game

An appraiser’s response to AMCs bidding system.

Recently, we came across an interesting story and thought it’s something fruitful that needs to be shared. If you receive “appraisal orders by email-blast”, you may find the below “template” useful. This was inspired by another appraiser. We encourage appraisers to copy this defacto response or adapt your content to suit your context/circumstances. We need to work together as a group in our efforts to fight AMCs’ bidding system and put an end on low bid appraisal ordering.

Dear AMC,

If your company consistently calls for bid quotes and is unable to assign the order directly right there, that’s more trouble than anything.

When you’re ready to assign me orders directly, with trust, commitment, and work at developing a professional connection, I’ll be around.

If you’re shopping for best fee and turn, among several appraisers at once, I’m definitely not interested.

There are entirely too many clients out there who do assign orders directly at set fees of at least $450 minimum, that it’s just an unwise decision to try and work with anyone else.

Even among those sets of clients, they still utilize bidding processes now and then. I’ll accept some time drain for those, because I know they are good clients who do pay consistent C&R minimums, and I can count on a continued work stream from them, regardless if I play the bidding game or not.

The notion of having an appraiser take the time to log in and compete in a bid war, and answer phones and make comp searches and quick bids right on the spot, that sounds like a real time drainer. I’m in business to develop reliable connections, not chase ghosts.

When you are ready to provide equivalent or better appraisal handling, and present with equivalent or better reliability factors when it comes to minimum fees consistently, and some measure of consistent volume, regardless, then I’ll be around.

I leave building their business and predicting workflow around a giant question mark, I leave that to the new guys and the appraisers who can’t qualify for the great clients I’ve been landing lately.

I find it remarkable that AMCs still are unable to take strong positions with lenders and get the appropriate management authority to manage the process. It does not take this much effort, and this much time drain on a multiple set of appraisers, to place singular orders. I’m too busy appraising, to worry about competing. Too many demands from the ever increasing regulatory body, and ever expanding specific compliance developmental rules, to bother trying to be cheaper or faster.

It is not the appraisers, or the AMCs’ responsibility to save the borrowing consumer a dollar or a day. It is in fact, counter productive to both of our interests to do so. If the lender was competing on quality terms, they’d have a base $550 consumer charge for the appraisal, as a standard minimum, and all borrowers would expect that. The handler gets the $100 for clerk duties. The appraiser gets standard $450. Things run like dang clockwork.

You should try it. It works. I’m not interested in taking time to log in to race to the bottom. AMCs don’t have the same perspective appraisers have. I bounce so many calls and emails like that every day. If I took the time to answer every call and bid every quote, I would never get any work done. In fact, that’s what happened to me last years. Although I drove premium fees of $550 average or better, the time commitment to land those orders was not worth it. Some days I spent 4 hours on calls and email bids, before I ever even started my work. I literally worked 6 months straight without a day off.

This year is different. I give each client one shot. They make it or break it. Don’t waste my time with bidding. Please do renegotiate terms with lenders to get to a $450 minimum standard. And you’ll find I’m not the only appraiser willing to give you priority service.

Anything less than that, I’ll pass.

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35 Responses

  1. Avatar KenQ says:

    Fortunately, I am in a financial position that does not require me to take AMC generated fees. AMC’s that utilize unethical low bid order procedure, such as iMortgage $225 blast offers for 1004 assignments, purposely do so in order to generate more profit for their company. AMC’s who use the low fee blast system do get shoddy work. But doing the right thing would hurt their bottom line.

    iMortgage $225 blast offer

  2. Avatar Diana N. says:

    Excellent commentary. I have turned down 6 requests in the last week because of unreasonable fees. Unfortunately the blasts won’t end because there are companies out there scooping them up for their appraiser clients at $200-250. And there are appraisers out there prostituting themselves for 30 pieces of silver.

    • Avatar Tom D says:

      i believe, based on the current price of silver, that would be approx 10 pieces of silver. the old days, before stealing was legalized, it was 30 pieces of silver. that was a good living.

  3. Avatar ValleyGal says:

    I hate broadcasting AMCs!!!! Clear Capital, iMortgage, Coester, the list is long….

  4. Avatar Bill says:

    Clear Capital broadcasts at $260. They are, by far, the worst to work with as a client too. A client can expect to wait upwards to 2 weeks for an appraisal, and it be riddled with errors! iMortgage is a nightmare. They claim to have appraisers completing 1004 for $225, and their people are pushy and incompetent.

    The one thing that is true amongst ALL AMCs is that they absolutely do not employ anyone that knows anything about the appraisal process.

    • Avatar Kevin says:

      Clear Capital sent a letter to inform me that I was being removed from their panel. I guess the reason was that I never accepted any work from them and ignored their emails.?

  5. Avatar No2BroadcastAMC says:

    WE MUST STOP USING ANY AMC that “Broadcast” appraisal requests. PERIOD!

  6. Avatar Jeanie says:

    In House pays terrible fees: $260. They pay about 90 days out. Went to my do not use list several years ago. PCV Murcor sends broadcasts orders at $290 for FHA. I steer clear of these guys but there are bottom feeders taking these jobs at these fees. Check your state’s AMC C&R regs & laws and turn them in to your State board!

    Broadcast orders should be eliminated. They hire the cheapest, the desperate and the most inexperienced appraiser that will do the work. And yet they claim to have exceptional quality assurances!

  7. Avatar Tom says:

    I just reply with a compliance and business statement:

    Low Fee/Unacceptable Statements 2016

    1. Current Fee quoted for (urban/rural property) is not commensurate with professional liabilities; operational overhead with added workflow and low turnaround time.

    2. Turnaround time quoted for the urban/rural property) underestimates time required for the appraiser to comply with interagency (CFPB, FDIC, OCC, USPAP, State of Michigan) appraiser requirements.

    3. Fee quoted for the (rural/urban property) is not commensurate with field data gathering, research and analysis, time and material requirements to justify Liability, Overhead and Stress (LOS)

    • JW JW says:

      You’re giving the average process clerk too much credit.  If the amc employees had to pass definition tests, they’d fail on the majority of your specific reference points.

  8. Trust Real Estate Appraisal on Facebook Trust Real Estate Appraisal on Facebook says:

    Our favorite: Low Fee/Unacceptable Statements 2016
    1. Current Fee quoted for (urban/rural property) is not commensurate with professional liabilities; operational overhead with added workflow and low turnaround time.
    2. Turnaround time quoted for the urban/rural property) underestimates time required for the appraiser to comply with interagency (CFPB, FDIC, OCC, USPAP, State) appraiser requirements.
    3. Fee quoted for the (rural/urban property) is not commensurate with field data gathering, research and analysis, time and material requirements to justify Liability, Overhead and Stress (LOS)

  9. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    A pure Reverse Auction could have been a great idea.

    Example: Lending Tree

    Slogan: “When Buyers Compete You Win”

    What we have however is a Reverse Auction/Extortion Based Ordering Process

    National AMC Slogan: “When appraisers compete you would have won. Unfortunately you (the homeowner) have no clue that we’re hiring the cheapest and least experienced appraiser for you, forcing them to kickback half their fee so that our parent company (a bank) can profit, and then we lie to you on the HUD-1 about your appraisal fee”.

  10. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    Do we have any entrepreneurial extremists out there?  Here is an idea for you.

    Domain:  You can buy it from GoDaddy for about $10.

    Great Web Script:  Set it up to run reverse auctions.

    Invite every appraiser on the planet, AMCs, AVMs, & Realtors to submit their lowest bids.

    You bill a 10% commission to everyone who submits an appraisal inquiry that’s accepted.

    With 500,000+ people and companies racing for the bottom how can you go wrong?


  11. bubba jay / Retired Appraiser II bubba jay / Retired Appraiser II says:

    Quicken Loans/TSI is just as bad as everyone else, (and could actually be even worse), and hasnt raised appraiser fees for at least 5 years now.

    i guess we shouldnt be surprised with QL/TSI’s thinking though. afterall, its the same kind of Detroit thinking that has forced their own town into bankruptcy, has tap water full of lead, has schools in ruins, has a mayor in prison for 28 years for corruption, just today had 13 principals of schools charged with bribery and are being accused of stealing $1M in kickback schemes, and has basically turned the whole town into nothing but a crime-ridden, rotting, disgusting, stinking toilet.

    hey, what else would you expect?

    the bleeding continues . . . . .

    • Baggins - The truth is out there Baggins - The truth is out there says:

      They just want you to think that. TSI recently folded and laid down at least a 400 to 500 base in Colorado. If they’re driving down fees elsewhere, it may be to recover the fair fees paid in other locations. Some amc’s with national flat rate engagements try to pull that move.

      There will always be companies whom promote ‘target fees’. Who wouldn’t promote target fees? I constantly email out that I’ll need $800+ in order to hire an employee. That’s my target fee but not necessarily my target bid. Somehow we meet in between.

      For the record, you’ve simply got to hit the wall as many times as it takes to land better clients. In the final hour who cares about cordiality any more?

  12. Avatar Lindsay says:

    Soon enough Nationwide. Soon Enough!

    I received an order with $350 as a fee. I accepted the order and asked for $450.00 plus due to any additional scope of work that is in a addition to what the Board website states. I did not receive an e-mail with an acceptance. I clicked on the link and saw Nationwide Property & Appraisal Services: Unfortunately, this assignment has been cancelled. We look forward to working with you on the next one!

    Not long now you will be begging for $450.00 to be the lowest fee.

    • Avatar Diana N. says:

      Lindsey. I have had the same responses with Nationwide. I don’t even bother anymore. Just remember, it’s  their loss when seasoned appraisers don’t get the assignments.

  13. Avatar Diana N. says:

    I just got a request from Clear Capitol for a full 1004 on a $1.6 million ppty with the whopping fee of $250.00 I told them they should be ashamed of themselves. But I have noticed the client for a lot of these is our old friend JP Morgan Chase. Didn’t they screw enough appraisers through ES ??

    • Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

      Question for all “Am I bound by ANY degree of confidentiality when an order I do not accept comes in?”

      If the answer is no, then anytime some asshat AMC sends an order like Diane received, maybe we should post it in public AND insure the owner gets a copy of it with the inquiry “Did they tell you the appraisal fee was only $250, or did they charge you significantly more?” “My firm declined this fee because we cannot provide competent service for 50% fees.

      • Baggins Baggins says:

        A vitally important comment Mike.  Enter phone shopping, fee bidding, spam shotgun requests.  Those ones typically do not come with lender information.  Amc’s have cleverly implemented data protection in this regard, so only appraisers willing to actually work with them, will know which lender originated those requests.  By demanding direct assignment as a primary avenue of distribution, appraisers implement their own checks and balances systems, assuring accountability up the ladder.  Sometimes companies can not place and must bid and shop, that’s o.k., just so long as it’s not the primary first choice for order assignment.

  14. Baggins - The truth is out there Baggins - The truth is out there says:

    It’s exceptionally important to know what the consumer billing is for that one. Most of the relatively newer appraisers don’t have the important perspectives from having worked with lenders directly. Although appraisers cannot bill contingent based on final end value, that is still how many lenders structure the up front consumer appraisal services fee. Before there was this new system, the lenders would simply up the appraisers compensation based on their own up front consumer charges which were scaled to home price. Nobody played these games where it was supposedly good business practice to hoodwink the appraisers and borrowers. This industry is not regulated.  What would the point spread be if you only got 250 on a 1.6m? How do you like the idea of a realty agent getting 2.5% points on that (40k), while the appraiser gets one and one half of a ten thousandth point instead? .015% / If the agent gets 40k, and the appraiser gets 250, that would indicate the sales agent has brought 160x more value to the table than the appraiser. Something is not adding up here. Help me with that math. Better yet, help them.  Ha!

    • Avatar bill johnosn says:

      I think your ratio is a little low Baggins. I was offered $300 for a $1,300,000 purchase where the agent was both representing the buyer and seller (got to love those negotiations). His 5% take was $65,000 as compared to the appraisers $300. In that case I guess he was bringing 216X more value to the table than the appraiser.

      • Baggins - The Truth Is Out There Baggins - The Truth Is Out There says:

        Well, I never was good at math. Probably explaining why I used to settle for anything less. Not anymore bro, not anymore. If they ask me to turn it back, I’ll jump ship like the rest of them. I’m a forward thinker that way, but please do not confuse me with a progressivist. I’m strictly conservative libertarian. Appraising is all about simple formulas, and if you know appraising like I do, you know those formulas are always flexible. As the late and highly esteemed Roger aka; Mentor aka JSmith used to say;  “You need that wiggle room.” That guy gave me so much great information about appraisal process and how to better position myself, it’s remarkable. The first 10 years of an appraisers career is the build up phase. After that, it’s make it or break it, and if you’re positioned right, you can be in the drivers seat. You just have to remember to put yourself there, because nobody else will do that for you.

      • Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

        Not to mention that the agent’s liability was 216,000 times lower than that of the appraiser Bill.

    • Avatar Diana N. says:

      I probably should have stuck to the brokerage end of the business, I could have retired by now 🙂 and it would have paid for a lot of happiness.

  15. Avatar B G says:

    I ignore all “fee & turn time” emails. I answered a few in the past and NEVER got an assignment. I told them to remove my name from their list. I have a handful of “deserving” clients. I refuse to spend one minute on anyone “shopping” for cheap service. 

  16. Bottom line, any business entity is trying to increase productivity and profit, especially appraisers. Any increase in productivity or profit by an AMC comes at the expense of the appraiser! Just recently, a well known AMC that I had been working with for years, who paid higher fees than most, started asking me to do things like get permits for a property at no additional fee or time to complete the assignment. The sq.ft. of the house was consistent with sq.ft. in tax records. Because the homeowner did not have a copy of any permits, it became an issue with the lender and the AMC, trying to impress this new client of theirs, promised to get the permits – at my expense and time.

    That said, I’ve decided not to take work for AMC’s anymore. Their business model is to generate income from the appraisers and impress their clients by offering more services at the appraisers expense!

  17. Baggins Baggins says:

    Since the time of this article, I’ve probably got a hundred or more additional response letters. All somewhat unique, borrowing from each other in what I consider an evolving argument. Perhaps when this rush dies down (been 3 years already), I’ll put together a compendium of all these responses, appropriately redacted. If more appraisers took the time to write back, we’d make more headway. If all appraisers took the time to demand removal from lists, the spam game would be over. I was accidentally copied the total appraisers list for some of these bids the other day. Guess the number…. Over 50 appraisers contacted for each individual bid quote. As a group the amc’s have been absolutely devastating to the appraisers operational efficiency.

    Some of the more illustrious contact tales lately include; MB’s directing borrowers to scout an appraiser and giving them supposed approval to find the appraiser themselves. Amc’s continuing to solicit despite clear notices to stop over the course of months and months at a time. Larger counts for number of appraisers copied in shotgun requests. A more common position from appraisers they refuse to answer the phone. The use of amc tech departments to force the emails back into the inbox despite the appraisers use of the spam button. Email issues such as legitimate emails not going through due to other appraisers use of spam disposition. Senior amc managers getting on the phones in last ditch efforts to source appraisers. Lenders swapping amc’s on a dime actually believing the next one can source the appraisers. Stories of over 2 month delays before the appraiser is even assigned to the order.  Contacting appraisers randomly nationally shooting for the long shot. Identifying an appraiser undercutting here whom may not have been even licensed in this state. A few companies getting with the program and upping the base standard to 700+ to finally capture dedicated appraisers. Direct assignment clients readily allowing bid ups and auto approval at the peak consumer disclosure figure normally intended for add on services and such. Direct assignment companies needing to also sub end of the line work to amc’s since many appraisers failed to distinguish between a direct client solicitation and an amc solicitation for panel application request. Days and weeks where 50-100+ bids are routinely deleted from email. Need to utilize call blocker to stop aggressive repeat amc callers. Identifying that some companies are selling appraiser contact list, also likely through automated process which ties into auto telecom systems. Continued statements of amc’s taking losses and continued refusal to raise base fees permanently. MB’s playing the emotional card to try and pick up singles for those deals about to fall apart.

    You’ll like this one from literally just yesterday, excerpt from the mb direct solicitation; Scenario;  tugging heartstrings, if we can’t source an appraisal our buyer will be homeless. Partial response: Mortgage companies whom work with amc’s have been putting appraisers out of house and home for a decade, so you won’t make any headway with the feelings and homeless buyer argument. – If you want immediate coverage, simply adjust your approach advertise to appraisers you’ve moved to higher permanent base fee direct assignment in house, and you will get appraisers attention. If you’re down to mass emailing for a single order, solutions are necessary.

    I had an amc default servicing manager pretty mad at me for refusing to even bid. She said we’ll gladly pay more since your services are at a premium now. Their base fee was still 300. I said that’s insulting and I would be available when the base fee increased but I refuse to even bid for a company whom promotes the 300 standard. Rebuttal was something about cost of living cheaper elsewhere. So she had a self defeating argument. Which is it? Am I temporarily at a premium rate or am I dealing with likely permanently increasing cost of living issues? “I’ll be available when you get that base minimum fee up substantially.” She answered with the typical we have thousands of appraisers on panel whom do accept at those rates. And I went for the kill and struck to the heart; Well, call those guys instead what are you doing on the phone with me? Shame, I would have worked with a default servicer exclusively instead of the origination client if they would have just struck that deal. I would have dropped my premier direct client for that amc whom works with multiple default servicers if they would have just agreed to a fair deal.

    And he piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the rage and hate felt by his whole race. If his chest had been a cannon, he would have shot his heart upon it.


  18. Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

    That was a year and a half ago. Updated for inflation minimum net $550!

  19. Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

    I read somewhere yesterday that Mercury is beta testing a bulk competitive bid ordering system. The mere fact that its designers and operators think that is a good business model is enough to maybe boycott it.

    Frankly I’m pretty close to doing the same for ALL residential 1 to 4 unit loan transaction work. They want a shortage? Give it to them! Apparently they will not learn the lessons of the past no matter what we do. Let FNMA collapse…again.

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Yes, I personally viewed an email a friendly appraiser copied me, ‘potential assignment’ first to bid, something like that.  Broadcasting with Mercury?  Sadly it’s true.  Probably just a coincidence that came on the heels of corelogic acquisition announcement.  E appraise It is running mercury now.  Um, sorry, I meant first american, er…..  wait, that’s corelogic now.  I think that’s right.

  20. Avatar Tom says:

    So, IF there’s a shortage of Appraisers as stated by the BANKS AMC as they systematically lower the Appraisers FEE while UPCHARGING the Consumer and or Bank Client, all the while this is not a matter of record on the HUD-1. Is it me or is this like an NYC Mafia shake down?

    Is it me or is this like an NYC Mafia shake down? Do the Banks in order to sell MBS loans need the AMC or the Appraiser?

  21. Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

    The temptation to accept all ridiculous orders and to then wait right up until five minutes before the deadlines before cancelling is SO strong….

    Something like “Dear Sir, I miss read your order when I received it. I thought you were offering $2,500 not $250. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered the error. Regrettably I am unable to perform USPAP compliant appraisals at the corrected low fee and have no alternative but to withdraw from the assignment.

    Hopefully this will not inconvenience anyone.



    • Baggins Baggins says:

      In a purely limited engagement between appraiser and amc, certainly yes. It’s important for appraisers to be the professional though, as there is always a real person behind the order request, a real customer whom may have everything on the line. Of course we understand this and may level some sarcasm towards the process, but it’s unfortunate that amc management seems to prioritize their own operational needs over that of the consumers as a consistent rule. Appraisers provide services for consumers and lenders. Amc’s are different though, they provide services for lenders, and merely substitute the lenders services for appraisers. As stated in another appraisersblogs article; amc’s are not part of the valuation profession. Do you think lenders realize by this point that when they select amc’s, they literally have excluded half of this nations appraisers?  It’s not on purpose, but of personal choice of the appraisers themselves because they’re not idiots and refuse to be taken advantage of. It’s a lose lose, higher risk, fewer servicers, less reliable remote location oversight, higher financial risk factors, estrangement of previously loyal independent vendors, the list goes on. Some amc’s are great, but not all of them.

      Per your argument regarding agency with this other defaulting amc story; Here you go, TAVMA clearly defines that for us on pg 2.

      I guess it’s refresher after refresher month. This is TAVMA, and appraisers should know the positions of associated companies whom they may provide services to. A classic scenario of flexible positioning with biased intentions, where the argument is not fixed, but rather cherry picked for what works best in their interests at the specific point in time. “Where is my lobbyist?” Who will help me navigate this system? Kid Rock 2018!

      TAVMA RE: Interim Final Regulations Implementing Section 129E of the Truth in Lending Act



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AMCs Bidding Game

by AppraisersBlogs time to read: 3 min