Desktop Appraisal… Should I or Shouldn’t I? 

Desktop Appraisal... Should I or Shouldn't I? 

New wave of AMCs desktop “appraisal” products…

VaCAP has received several emails from members concerning a new wave of desktop appraisals available from some AMCs. These products have an inspection of the property performed by another individual and the photographs and property specific data is provided to the appraiser. The AMC’s are claiming that the entire product is on-line and no written report is needed. They also claim the report is USPAP compliant. They are looking at compensating the appraiser $65 and the report should take approximately 45 minutes to complete.

VaCAP does not have any specific knowledge of these reports, however cautions every appraiser about these products. Please check with your E&O carrier prior to completing this type of product. Your E& O policy may not covered for this product! There is more to USPAP compliance than a finished report. You must fully comply with USPAP, not just the finished product. This includes verification of the data, a complete work file, etc.

Excerpt of AMC’s email

We have a new Axis desktop appraisal product – this is a brand new product that Axis will be releasing to the public very soon, but in the interim we have 1 client that is utilizing this product currently. Please review the details to this assignment, and let me know if this is something that you may be able to assist us with. Thanks! If interested the next steps would be as follows:

  • A survey inspector will be completing a thorough exterior property condition report, and it should be provided to us in the next 48 hours.
  • Link will be provided to the inspection report.
  • 48-hour hour completion from the time the inspection has been provided to appraiser.
  • The entire form is web-based, no special software, no processing or transaction fees. Once you are done with the form, you will download the PDF for final review and to save for your workfile. Upload the PDF to Mercury for the order, and it will be delivered to Quality Control.

See one of the emails sent to VaCAP here or below.

If you are considering completing this type of product, ask yourself these questions.

  • Can I really complete a fully USPAP compliant report in 45 minutes?
  • Am I degrading my years of education, training and experience for $65?
  • Is my liability worth $65?


VaCAP Board
Image credit flickr - Javier Morales
VaCAP Board

VaCAP Board

Coalition of individual appraisers working together to unite, promote and protect the collective interests of all appraisal professionals in Virginia; to promote needed changes in laws, rules, regulations, policies and standards affecting all appraisers in Virginia; to observe and report the actions of regulatory, legislative, oversight, and standards-setting entities of the Commonwealth.

You may also like...

28 Responses

  1. Baggins Baggins says:

    Who exactly is this ‘survey inspector’ of which they speak, and where can I get that job!? 

    Appraisers should understand that this product likely substitutes the inspection duty and puts the inspection in the hands of a quick and cheap unlicensed home inspector or even a simple 1099 monkey picked up on a jobs site, the only working requirements being the ability to answer a few simple questions in a mobile device, aka survey inspector.

    • Elizabeth Morse Rhodes on Facebook Elizabeth Morse Rhodes on Facebook says:

      Bet they make more.

      • Baggins Baggins says:

        This morning I spent over an hour researching the position;  survey inspector.  The most I could come up with was in house positions related to insurance and some nifty out of the box mobile applications, hence the very low skill level required for such a position.  And I speculate the term is used more commonly overseas, since many of the result hits were india and great brttn based.

        This has been the goal of amc’s all along, has it not, to find a way to substitute the appraiser one way or another, so amc’s can claim a larger piece of the appraisal fee pie.  The typical amc motivation remains soley focused as advocating in the lenders interest, a position obviously contrary to the lip service amc position of being a partner to the appraiser.  With friends like this, who needs enemies?

  2. Avatar Chris says:

    They still need our signatures ! Only a fool would go for this !  All in the name of not letting the borrower time to talk to another lender or calm down from an emergency, so they don’t walk away.

    Lenders are worse than used car sales people.

  3. Avatar Koma says:

    Recently in a class someone chimed in on these types of products. They said a fellow appraiser they know made over $150,000 last year doing just desktop appraisals. I just gave a BS grin and said good luck with that. Me personally I do not do them. A client of mine would send over a desktop, I’d decline and boom a day later in would come a 2055 for the same property. Why would you take $65 for a desktop when you get $350 for a driveby?

    • Avatar Bill says:

      So do hookers!

      Until appraisers figure out a way to present themselves as professionals that provide a valuable service, the profession as a whole will suffer. I believe it begins by appraisers electing not to prostitute themselves to the amcs. Every time an appraiser accepts to do these products for fees less than C&R, with sow and turnaround time that is insufficient for performing a credible appraisal, they have chosen to “prostitute” themselves and cease being professionals.

  4. Avatar BigAl says:

    Only one word comes to mind when I hear about these so called “appraisal” products: PROSTITUTION

    • Bubba Jay / Retired Appraiser II Bubba Jay / Retired Appraiser II says:

      i always referred to these “products” as “A BLATANT TEST OF AN APPRAISERS STUPIDITY.”

      lets face it, the AMC’s are doing what the banks did before the crash of 2007, and that is to pull as much nonsense as they can get away with, usually by finding loopholes in history or law, until someone with authority gets off their lazy keister and actually does something about it, which is usually about a decade or so. this time frame gives AMC’s/Banks plenty of time to make their billions and keep their share holders happy until they can get their hand slapped and find their next loophole. and, the AMC’s are doing this because . . . they are mostly owned by . . . BANKS! what a surprise.

      and, when the next crash happens, or when someone finally does decide to put their foot down, the appraisers will be blamed again, and state and federal regulators will go after the appraisers again, and appraisers will be handed more regulations again, and appraisers will be prosecuted and fined again, because independent appraisers are the easiest targets and cant afford to financially fight like banks can, and sucking money out of appraisers pockets by regulators and lawyers has always been so much easier than banks with their unlimited resources and funds, right?

      . . . oh, and going after appraisers never makes the national news either.

      lets face it – same old BS, just a different pile.

  5. Avatar Steven Sydler on Facebook says:

    no self-respecting appraiser will do these.

  6. Avatar Ralph says:

    If they up the fee to $150 per report and I can get it done 15 minutes.  Count me in!

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      I’ll be happy to do them as well. As all standards rules are applicable, as I am signing it, and it is a valuation product, I’d be happy to run those at $450 a pop. The form may be shorter, but my workfile would be thicker than ever, having to rely on unlicensed individuals supplying a portion of my information.

    • Avatar DianaN says:

      Hope you are kidding.,:(

  7. Avatar Diana N. says:

    The bottom feeders will take this jobs. Booo shame on them. 🙁

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

    so – “someone else” does the “inspection”, and an appraiser does the appraisal.

    if this thought doesnt get an appraisers spidey-senses tingling and stop them dead in their tracks, then they need to quit the profession immediately and should be delivering pizzas instead.

  9. Avatar Bob McKay says:

    As much as I hear all the complaning and disapproval of this desk top product, appraisers will be like sheep and sign up for it anyway. It’s just as bad as the “fair and reasonable fee” issue (total BS). Why is it that I am continually undercut by other appraisers willing work for ridiculously low fees and unreasonable turn time requests? It’s all very sad.

  10. Avatar Divedude says:

    I’ll tell you what I think of desktop appraisals for $65!

  11. If they do not require me to sign my name or identify myself as a specific appraiser, sure thing!


    I’m still responsible for identifying whether the scope of work is appropriate to the specific property.

    I am responsible for “having reasonable cause” to believe the unlicensed ‘trained’ property inspector is competent; or that any market data is accurately communicated and is not misleading. I’m responsible for supporting ALL of my adjustments and not merely making rote adjustments that “look ok.” I am responsible for supporting the exclusion of any applicable approach to value.

    They think 45 minutes is all that’s need for the entire report? It takes that long to develop and run a meaningful 1004MC and to THEN replace it with something else that is accurate!

    Most of all, I am responsible when this phony property “analysis” and unsupportable opinion is not actually developed in accordance with USPAP!

    IF they use a picture of a garbage can with flies buzzing around it to show the stench, I suppose there are those out there that will see a place for it.

    I bet there is little difference between this garbage and the garbage first promoted by First America under its “PACE PRO” ads.

    President Trump & or Congress better cut FNMA and Freddie Mac loose from conservatorship real soon and make it clear to ALL their investors & insurers that there will be NO BAILOUT next time.

    Interesting how the ‘product’ is offered and adopted before the alternate standards that would permit its use are in place.

    USPAP compliant?My ASS! I defy them to send me a true copy of the online form for review.

    The only thing I like about this is that they undercut Firs Americans garbage $75 product by $10!. Cant wait to see who eventually winds up doing these for $25!

    FNMA would be better off just using ZILLOW-at least they don’t pretend to be accurate!

    • PS: downloading a pdf of the final report for my work file does not meet either my states record keeping requirements OR those under USPAP. A work file is

      (1) required to have or link to all of (retrievable) data sufficient to reproduce my work product; and

      (2) to include EVERYTHING I considered and developed in arriving at my opinions and conclusions. My notes, calculations, research, analyses, EVERYTHING!

      USPAP compliant? Sure it is.

      45 minutes to complete? Uh huh. 8 hours x 60 = 480 minutes in a working day. Divided by 45 (no bathroom breaks or answering client phone calls for other work folks!). Why that’s 10 a day or 650 a day for ten times the liability! Unless of course it takes more like 2 hours in which case its only $260 a day!

      I bet the new college grad appraisers are going to jump all over each other trying to get this one!

  12. Avatar Diana N. says:

    Mike, couldn’t have said it better myself.  We should all go on strike and let them use their machines and Zillo do the reports, then let’s see what happens 🙂

    • Avatar Koma says:

      Diana N., That’s the next crash and I can’t wait to see them try and pin it on us. Let’s see them hold the machines

      • Avatar Diana N. says:

        You read my mind… Have a good weekend. 🙂

        • I’m still not a huge fan of strikes despite being a union organizer.

          On the other had I urge ALL appraisers to start branching out into other non FNMA loan work or non loan work.

          Residential appraisers, it’s time to up your game and take some income courses and start gaining experience doing apartments, Look into ALL non lender appraisal opportunities.

          Pretty soon you wont have a choice. As more and more evals are used there will not be enough regular conventional appraisal work to keep you busy.

          Don’t wait until the last minute!

          • Avatar Ron Ariba says:

            So in the comments above comments there is no respectable appraiser that would complete a Desktop Restricted Use Appraisal for a nontransactional mortgage for $125+?

            • Ron. It’s all in the details. Yes. I WILL do what is no more than a COMP CHECK for $125 if it does not purport to be anything more than it is and I can attach my own pre printed certifications; scope of work and disclosures, assumptions, etc using language I know that will meet ALL the requirements of USPAP.

              The “report” portion should be no more than one line after an address saying “I think the value as defined is xxx as of. No adjustments. No verification date, No nothing since its all out of context anyway.

              This conclusion and opinion is subject to ALL the certifications, limiting conditions, assumptions and or hypothetical conditions and drastically reduced scope of work that is itemized and explained in the following five or six pages of preprinted boilerplate. My final disclosure would be “In the event that a credible opinion as to the market value of a specified & specifically identified interest in the property is desired, then a real appraisal is recommended.”

              For $125? No problem. They get 15 or 20 minutes of my time. No recourse. But that’s not what is wanted. They ant to perpetuate the fraud that the investor is being given something more reassuring than it really is or should be.

  13. Avatar Diana N. says:

    Don’t know about anyone else, but I sure as hell wouldn’t.


Leave a Reply

We welcome critical posts & opposing points of view. We value robust & civil discourse. You may openly disagree, but state your case in an atmosphere of mutual respect, in which everyone has a right to a particular view about the topic of conversation. Please keep remarks about the topic at hand, & PLEASE avoid personal attacks. If the poster gets you upset, it is the Internet, you can walk away from it.

Personal attacks harm the collegial atmosphere we encourage on AppraisersBlogs.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

xml sitemap

Desktop Appraisal… Should I or Shouldn’t I? 

by VaCAP Board time to read: 2 min