Go Away, Appraisers…

Go away appraisers

“Do they just want us to go away?”

Appraisers Feeling Like Travis… Does anyone remember the Pepsi commercial awhile back that featured Jeff Gordon getting revenge on a guy named Travis from Jalopnik? Watch the commercial below to refresh your memory if you don’t.

“Stop sir! This never works! Stop”! Travis yells from the back seat!

As Travis’ car was being chased, Travis knew that what was going on wasn’t logical and didn’t make any sense, and it made even less sense to him that his driver didn’t stop the car right away. What Travis didn’t know was, his driver had a hidden agenda. Travis had no idea that his driver and many, many other people had a hidden agenda.

Appraisers are feeling like Travis nowadays.

Capped fees, increasing costs, insane liability, USPAP, absurd revision requests, untrained reviewers, out of state reviewers who don’t know the markets they review, scope creep, more education requirements, appraisers trying to ruin each other, inspect this and inspect more of that, longer hours, less sleep, more stress, the list goes on and on. Last year, appraisers were getting emails from their state telling them that they also now had to spend their time writing letters to all their AMC’s, informing them that their licenses were about to expire. Appraisers’ scope of work now includes doing their states’ work too? Is taking the loan app and pulling credit right around the corner for them too? Appraisers know they can’t take an order from an unlicensed AMC, but wouldn’t it be nice if the state did their own job, and sent out their own emails telling the unlicensed AMC that if they send out an order they will get fined? Why again, is the monkey getting thrown on the appraisers back again? Now appraisers have to accept scope creep from their own states too?

“Stop sir! This never works! Stop!” appraisers yell from the back seat!

Nowadays, it isn’t that hard for appraisers to feel like they are totally helpless in a car chase, and their driver might have a hidden agenda.

The question has been raised before – “Do they just want us to go away?”, and at this point I think appraisers need to believe it might be true. Considering all the catastrophic directions things are going with how outrageous USPAP is written, how outsiders are still allowed to control how little appraisers get paid, how outsiders are still allowed to retain a great deal of control over an appraisers business, and all the extra requirements that are constantly being dumped on appraisers on a daily basis, how can appraisers come to any other conclusion?

I personally try to keep up with as much information as I can, and the majority of the information I see coming from my state agency is all about prosecutions and convictions of appraisers. Who would want to stay in any business where all people see are outsiders with influence not doing something that may actually help them, but instead are constantly focused only on hurting them?

Appraisers are logical people. We have to be, it’s our job. Constantly hammering appraisers with so many things that are not logical, only pushes them away even further. If someone goes to get their car worked on, the mechanic charges them for their time. If the mechanic is asked to do more work, they bill for that time too. Attorneys do it, trades people do it, any business is free to do it, and it should be done. But not appraisers. Nobody should be expected to work for free or as little as most appraisers are getting nowadays, all things considered. Look at a plumber – they get paid well for their time, and all they have to worry about is getting their clients’ shoes wet.

A plumber does their work by a code book that changes once a year. Appraisers have no code book to follow. Appraiser requirements can change daily, often without any notice, and they are sometimes different from lender to lender. If appraisers don’t keep up with and meet all those moving-target requirements, then they are in violation USPAP. A violation of USPAP means they can get prosecuted, and right or wrong, could have to spend thousands of dollars because of it. Really?! Does anyone not understand how difficult this job is getting nowadays? Then on top of all those requirements and all that liability hovering over their heads, they are allowed to get pushed into a bigger financial hole every year. Why?

Why is all this allowed to happen? Why is nobody willing to stop the bleeding? Is this how we expect to keep good people? Is this how we expect to attract new people?

If the plan is for them to go away like the vinyl record and the cassette tape, then so be it.Appraisers are some of the smartest and most ethical people I know. Appraisers have discussed in forums for many years, all the problems they face, how their problems can be fixed, and what product these problems are starting to produce. Has anyone listened? No. Why doesn’t anyone seem to care? Appraisers have no choice but to wonder if it’s all being done on purpose. How can they think otherwise? If the plan is for them to go away like the vinyl record and the cassette tape, then so be it. Appraisers will have no choice but to accept that and move on. But until appraisers are convinced that someone, somewhere, is willing to help them, then the profession will continue to find that it has forced even more people out.

Are appraisers crazy to think this way? Maybe. But after looking at everything that is going on, how could appraisers not come to any other conclusion?

If there isn’t a hidden agenda and the plan isn’t to slowly kill this business, (and consequently every other businesses affiliated with this business), then someone sure is doing a rotten job making appraisers think otherwise.

Travis’ short little nightmare finally came to a happy ending. Let’s hope the same happens for appraisers someday.

The bleeding continues…

By Bubba Jay more recently known as Bubba Jay / Retired Appraiser II

Image credit flickr - Janus Sandsgaard

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15 Responses

  1. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    Alas, I do believe that appraisers have found their very own “Thomas Paine”.  If only you had a website named “Common Sense”, dedicated to enlightening appraisers whom are without a clue.  In a few short sentences you have managed to capture the daily fears, the agony, and the disgust that every appraiser in America feels today.  Truly this is one of the most accurate and to the point articles that I have read since walking away from the cluster puck of a “profession”.

    I raise a toast to our very own Thomas “Bubba” Paine!

    • bubba jay / Retired Appraiser II bubba jay / Retired Appraiser II says:

      thank you very much RA!  you made my day.

      my very first piece!  i just may have to do that again – it was fun!  anyway, i can now add “Author” to my resume.  🙂

      woo hoo!

  2. Avatar Deb says:

    While I myself have tried to retain a positive outlook and tried to stay away from the negativity and the cumbersome stressful “stuff” that has made this job so difficult lately – I give up.  Honestly, I do not believe in this career anymore. The giants win here – Giants meaning the feds, the state, the too big to fail loan officers that still are in control of “their numbers” , the untrained AMC reviewers….etc.    The AMCs were brought in to protect the public – this is laughable – are the guys making the rules in the trenches of this job?  Where are the real protectors for the public – when Mr. I’m too big to fail loan officer, still sends out text messages , calls, emails from himself or his loan staff – or better yet educates the borrower on what to say at the door – to tell you lowly appraiser what the numbers are to make this loan work?  No where. That’s where the protectors are, no where.  These people don’t care about integrity.  They care about selling money – that’s it.  Consumers are just a path to make the money, to sell the money, to keep the money flowing.  Why in the hell should they have appraisers ?  Woe is the appraiser that stands up to the giant LO – that giant can and does ruin careers.  Amazing how the checks & balances put into place to protect the consumer have not achieved any of it intended purposes.  And so on and so on….too much .No longer do I see this as my career.  For the bright side, there are other career paths and I am off to one of those very soon.  Now, I can see my appraisal career as a means to an end.

    • Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

      Welcome to the land of 30,000 Deb; 30,000 intelligent appraisers who chose to walk (or run) away from their once beloved “profession”.  Not only is the grass greener on the other side of the fence, it’s arsenic free and you don’t have to pay the farmer’s thug 50% of your earnings each month to dine on it.

      Best of luck to you.  I assure you that ANYTHING is better than the JOB that you are currently stuck in.

  3. Avatar nomadMarine says:

    I have been at this for 45 years and there have always been fears of our being slowly pushed out of our profession. It has changed a bunch no doubt but I see a bright side to everything. Truly creative people don’t simply depend on one source of income and they burn some shoe leather getting out and finding other clients. Lawyers, CPA’s, lenders not Federally tied in etc. If you want to work in the federal area then be prepared for constant change and over regulation. It’s the government stupid. I was in the Marine Corps and know full well that when you are subject to a decision in DC making or breaking you prepare to be broken and broke. We are a tiny cog and the reason we exist at all is so that when things go south the lenders have someone to point to who should caught it. We are the whipping boy and always will be. We are still in charge of our businesses and may do as we please with the direction we take it. If you hit  a headwind with the AMC’s and can’t get paid well for your work. Turn away from that work and generate new work. I only work for 2 AMC’s and I get fair fees and turn around time and stips are rare. I suggest you pair down the pain in  A clients and find new outlets. I think you will find new found freedom and love your work again.

  4. Avatar Bryan says:

    I can go to an unlicensed Doctor – I’m not breaking the law.  I can use an unlicensed real estate person – I’m not breaking the law.  I can get my hair cut by an unlicensed barber – I’m not the one at fault.  I am not responsible for everyone else’s legality – just my own – until it comes to accepting an appraisal order.  Why should we care if they are licensed?  We can take an order from a communist dictator to appraise his castle but not an unlicensed AMC? Who comes up with this stuff.  As long as we perform our job per USPAP we should be able to do it for whomever wants to utilize our services.  That being said – I still have some amazing clients that appreciate the work I do so until that changes I’m thumping away.

  5. Avatar Renee Williams says:

    In so many ways WE have allowed this to happen to our profession. Do you think lawyers or doctors would allow this? Of course not. We are isolated, unorganized and they have used us to pit each other against each other! We can’t even get more than 6 – 8 people to come to a “Meeting of your Peers” in our area once a month for 90 minuets to discuss our profession and local issues. I was hoping the Appraisal Institute would help to rally appraisers together but I don’t see that happening. Love the article, now let’s figure out how to stop the madness!!

    • Boycott AMCs Boycott AMCs says:

      You have no idea how correct you are Renee; unfortunately the vast majority of appraisers cannot grasp this basic idea.  In the words in Glenda the Good Witch: “You’ve always had the power..”.  Appraisers have had the power to correct their situation from day one…if only.  If only they had the guts to organize for one purpose and one purpose only…boycott AMCs.  Even if a mere 1,000 appraisers would ban together to promote a boycott they would gain some media coverage and we all know that rebellion against a just cause entices a larger rebellion.   Enough of my spitting in the wind.

      Does anyone have a towel?

      • Avatar Rene says:

        As you know, the problem is none of us is willing make a stink because we need a paycheck! Perhaps we should organize a Union….. Interesting idea! Originally they fought for reasonable hours, proper pay for work, proper treatment of employees….sounds good to me!

    • Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:


      I understand the concept of nobody wanting to “make a stink” because they need a paycheck but it doesn’t sit well with me.  I gave up everything: the appraisal firm that I spent 20 years building and a great deal of my retirement funds because I refused to be raped by AMCs on a daily basis.  I could have rebuilt my client base doing work for attorneys but to be quite honest I would rather have a fire hose shoved up my petunia and turned on.  What I can’t understand is how people can put up with the abuse they clearly complain about daily for over six years and do NOTHING.

      If you can’t endure a little pain appraisers (by doing other work while you boycott) consider other options.  There are many other options for people who are creative.  One option that comes to mind is contributing $20 each to produce a professional documentary that exposes the rape of your profession.  That’s 1.2 million dollars IF everyone donated.  IF homeowners had a clue what was taking place perhaps you could convince them to boycott AMCs.  They certainly have the power to avoid banks who use (or own) AMCs.  If the documentary was done well you could easily fire up a few hundred thousand homeowners….that’s where the media comes in.

      IF I were still in this God foresaken business and someone proposed contributing towards a professional documentary to expose their plight I would donate $100 in a heart beat.  I suspect that $10 would be too demanding of average cry baby appraiser though.  It’s easier to wallow in self pitty.

      I apologize for the harsh words but the apathy of the “profession” still disgusts me.  That’s why I quit at age 48 and ran like L.

  6. Avatar nomadMarine says:

    Now I see a bit of levity in most things so don’t get mad I am just telling a story. Being Irish helps. There was a saying when I first arrived on the appraisal scene in 1972. The question is ” why is it better to have a puppy than an appraiser? The puppy will stop whining when it grows up.”

  7. Avatar Tom D says:

    i call this the cruise of the damned.  now you have written the itinerary for this cruise. absolutely one of the best work description i’ve read, although i might have used the word “stealing” more.  This is a great article to be passed around.

  8. Baggins Baggins says:

    The lenders will get what they want soon enough.  Like many before me, I’m seeking the exits, and it’s undeniable that this industry will eventually only be populated with drones and yes men.  Every instance of thoughtful and dynamic solutions with appraisal development are met by staunch resistance from the automaton drone underwriters whos only job these days, is to apparently regurgitate XML dissemination warnings as absolute hardline stips that appraisers must correct.  Like I have this underwriter now, who’m demanded I go out of the comparative area, to furnish additional active.  So I did that, and adjusted out.  Then they immediately issue a second stip, that because my MC and above grid only state 1 active in the comparative market range, I have to adjust those figures.  Essentially violating appraiser independence and demanding I expand the comparative area, to suit their interests.  Thanks to the SunTrust underwriters for being the next in a long line of offenders, regarding violating the principals of appraisal independence.  I talked to the distributor manager, and he threatened to remove me from the approval list.  I did not have the heart to tell him the truth of the matter, that it is I who will eventually replace him.  I’m playing nice to the bullying for now, because they’re all behaving this way lately.  If you thought amc’s were bad for the industry, just wait until you deal with XML intensive underwriting.  You’ve probably dealt with that already, if you’re a busy appraiser.  Most likely, I’m writing this comment to nobody, because most appraisers whom are worth anything, have already left this business.

  9. Great article Bubba!

    As to ‘why’

    Legislators want to appear to address politically correct issues without offending supporters and lobbyists. This produces bad or ineffective legislation and facilitates hidden agendas.

    Federal regulators like to pass the buck to states that do not uniformly enforce rules or even uniformly understand them. They simply ‘require’ adherence but rarely include effective oversight that produces uniform results.

    ‘Banks’ or other lenders want cheap overhead in all areas including regulatory adherence and normal prudent operating overhead. They don’t want to pay for professional in house appraisal departments. They hire AMCs thinking delegation is the answer.

    AMCs want as much money as they can make. They have an effective monopoly to all intents and purposes. Other than haphazard AIR enforcement, few states care about how they operate as long as they pay their fees.

    AMCs compete in a shark infested environment. Fees are already fixed in a range from $550 to $650 by competition between lenders and AMCs (but appraisers are excluded from these fee ‘negotiations’). Where they cannot compete on the basis of lowest fees AMCs compete by either offering decision makers kickbacks, or by offering more services that they require from appraisers but which lenders don’t usually ask for. Alternately  they require all certified panelists so they can (illegally) coerce conversion of conventional appraisals to FHA appraisals or other marketing reasons. They add their own ‘scope creep’ to the lenders specific requirements (such as listing comps or a specified number of comps beyond the three it usually takes to form and support a credible appraisal opinion).

    Buyers know they cant get out from an appraisal fee except where lenders actually include it as part of a no closing costs deal. Unfortunately many are simply uninformed of why an appraisal is needed. They understandably want the lowest cost appraisal.

    Together these are the main reasons why we are faced with the negative conditions that affect our profession today.

    PS- There is NO QUESTION that many states are following misguided perceptions of ‘USPAP enforcement’ resulting in more coerced consent agreements by appraisers accused of wrong doing, but who have never had an impartial, USPAP complaint review of their work performed before the state leaps to these frequently unsupported, accusations. By coercing settlements they can temporarily backfill lost license revenue from declining numbers of appraisers. Its circular and short sighted thinking, but bureaucrats tend to care more about today than three or four years from now.


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Go Away, Appraisers…

by Guest Author time to read: 4 min