Appraisers Just Say No to Certain Assignments From Certain Clients

Appraisers Just Say No to Certain Assignments From Certain Clients

Some appraisers just say no and refuse to do assignments for low echelon AMCs fishing for cheapest and fastest appraisers…


A very experienced Chief Appraiser, Mr. Greg Stephens, for the largest independently owned appraisal company in the US, Metro-West, has had an article published in National Mortgage Professional magazine, about the state of affairs concerning the so-called “appraiser shortage.”

You can read the article here.

While this article reveals important details based on appraiser population facts, there is a glaring omission. The omission is relative to “why” certain mortgage lending assignments are being delayed. It is different, and perhaps more important, than just the raw numbers of appraisers.

There are two additional factors that affect appraisal report production in a timely manner:

  1. Certain appraisers across this country refuse to do assignments for low echelon AMC’s who fish for the cheapest and fastest appraiser, and who then provide extremely poor appraisal review services by poorly trained non-appraiser personnel; and
  2. certain appraisers refuse to do assignments for a large national bank lender who happens to be the #3 mortgage loan provider in the US. This lender has the reputation of treating appraisers shabbily, plus piling on additional reporting requirements. That attitude and their conduct has been discussed in various places, such as forums, blogs, podcasts, peer emails and newsletters, for many years. As a result, some appraisers just say no when that lender becomes known prior to accepting an assignment.

Mortgage lenders have been slow to realize these critical factors that have negatively impacted appraisal report production. It’s not just the fact that there are 20% fewer appraisers today than were operating pre-2008. It’s also related to extremely poor business practices by certain elements upstream of appraisers.

Fortunately, appraisers are becoming much wiser. They are finally realizing that they are ‘worth’ much more today than they have been in the past – in terms of fee for service. Appraisers are realizing that being treated poorly is a very valid reason to just say no to certain assignments from certain clients.

Bad practices are correctable. It’s hoped that the ‘upstream’ entities will take a hard look at procedures, policies and practices, really begin to realize appraisers are an ally to help make their lending business successful, and make necessary changes.

Dave Towne
Image credit flickr - nuitcorbeau
Dave Towne

Dave Towne

AGA, MNAA, Accredited Green Appraiser - Licensed in WA State since 2003. Dave Towne on

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32 Responses

  1. Avatar Koma says:

    Just the fact that this AMC honcho left out one of the facts of what’s going on between appraisers and companies like his is proof they aren’t and won’t listen to us. We need to change course of what’s happen with our profession.

  2. Avatar Eric Morse says:

    Why can’t Dave say the name of the large national bank lender he is referring to?

    • Eric I’m not sure Wells Fargo is number Three. *g* Is there a worse one?

      Greg points out interesting tidbits or “factoids”, which when considered by other appraisal professionals across the country raise completely different concerns.

      First off, is the National Appraisal “Congress” even still operating? Rumors abound this past week that it has collapsed and no longer exists.

      Greg’s views and positions are not those of an unbiased analyst. He, along with Forsythe; a few AMCs, and the so called Five Star Group that would benefit from a larger supply of low skilled, limited experience low paid trainees have a self serving reason for promoting the myth of appraisal shortage and their narrowly focused ‘solutions’.

      THEY will profit more greatly if all the regulators and administrators disregard common sense and allow THEM to train a whole new cadre of (low paid) appraisers by eliminating just a few of those pesky rules designed to maintain appraiser integrity and competency. Obviously none would be ‘meaningful’ rules. Just ask them. Heck, who even knows why we have those meaningless pesky rules in the first place, anymore right? I mean USPAP and such.

      If stakeholders and ‘others’ are concerned about whether there is a shortage and need to know how to solve it why not talk to the one group that knows the answer definitively? Other appraisers!

      The ONLY growing shortage evident is in the number of appraisers still willing to accept the ultra substandard / inadequate fees and unacceptable work conditions the folks like Metro-West and other “national appraisal” firms of their ilk are willing to pay /require.

      By the way, if local area competency is an essential element to a good appraisal, then how exactly does a ‘largest national appraisal’ firm meet this requirement? Will their regional offices in other counties really know who is best for a specific assignment? Or, will they merely do what ALL OTHER appraisal MANAGEMENT firms do? Assign it on the basis of licenses and low fees with fastest turn times? They may meet technical conditions to be called an appraisal firm instead of what they really are (AMC) but their function is only nominally different from any other AMC. Employee appraisers? Sure. How much are those “salaries” again?

      I too have spoken with Jim Park in person and by telephone. While he may (or may not) have concerns that we are not getting enough trainees he did not share those concerns. He seemed much more concerned at the time with the decline in perceived integrity held by and for many stakeholders including appraisers; but he does not need me to attempt to put words in his mouth.

      Greg, if you and other stakeholders want to eliminate the shortage and solve 90% of all other related appraisal issues at the same time, THEN RAISE THE FEES PAID to a reasonable hourly equivalent for the amount of work required for the average appraiser to complete a fully USPAP compliant appraisal and report. Somewhere in the $580 (trainee rate) to around $1,080 (certified required but not overly complex eight hour estimated job) is about right. You want a study or analysis? Is there something you don’t comprehend about Dodd-Frank? or C&R fee Proposal.

      Mike Ford, AGA, SCREA, GAA, RAA, Realtor®
      VP / Chairman, National Appraiser Peer Review Committee

      American Guild of Appraisers, #44OPEIU / AFL-CIO

      (301) 220-4100


    • Baggins Baggins says:

      link posted in next post.

      Well, you don’t know what you don’t know….  Best to stay well informed.  Knowledge is power.  Dare to read that website…  There is a whole word inside the little box which is real estate appraisal.  Make no mistake, we are inside a little box.  Dare to expand, but do so very carefully.

      The game is afoot, and has been for quite some time.  What I take away from the Stop Foreclosure Fraud website, continues to be the same.  Fines based on income would provide a lot of market corrections.  These guys get away with it, and they do so routinely.  Dare to look, but remember, once you look, you cannot unlearn what you have learned.  Mers, clouded title, RICO, fraud, robosigning, federal investigations, ceo pay and penalty risk vs reward, there is so much there, information begging to get out.

  3. Avatar Jeff says:

    Im with you Koma With the shortage of appraisers that was created by bureaucrats they are going to site new regulations and big business is lurking on how they can capitalize on the profession and push out the privatized appraiser. Metro West is one of those companies. The interesting fact is that Fannie Mae probably has a large number of appraisers on their pay role already which is where a percentage of appraisers went. And the AQB instead of realizing they caused this will now make additional regs to fix the issue so they think. Instead of going back to pre 2007 requirements. The AQB is only going to look at changing requirements when big banks squak

  4. Avatar Mr Raymond says:

    Items #1 and #2 are valid reasons for refusing appraisal work from these AMCs. There is NO shortage of appraisers. Its more appraisers are seeing the light and the unfairness of the AMC business model. It is no friend of the appraisers, who are doing work in the lending arena. However, just saying NO is a first step to modifying or deleting the AMC model.  The greater question: what plan does the Guild, CaVap and other appraiser groups have to unite appraisers and bring greater exposure to this professional slavery. Again, I ask: how can appraisers working under AMC business model be doing impartial, objective or unbais appraisal work when the lender/amc’s and lender interest groups control the ENTIRE lending appraisal process from beginning to end. lets all get real now, its not happening.

  5. Avatar Carl says:

    Thanks for the article Dave. And this just in time because apparently an AMC run by an appraiser sent out a letter to its panel appraisers stating there is “price gouging” going on in the industry right now, and that appraisers are not charging customary and reasonable fees. Funny how all of a sudden AMCs are a big advocate of customary and reasonable fees.

    Appraisers are being selective…. and it’s about time. Maybe we should start an AMC blacklist and ask appraisersblogs to publish it for appraisers.

    • Mark Skapinetz on Facebook Mark Skapinetz on Facebook says:

      What AMC and I want this letter.

    • Avatar Clint says:

      There was an article with the worst AMCs published on here.  I’m sorry I don’t have the link.  Just in case anyone would like to know my opinion of the worst ever AMC is….


      Appraisals are reviewed by a bunch of clerks who don’t read the report, but just use a program to check through the appraisal report to make sure all their stipulations are met.  When you have explained reasons for deviating from their exhaustive list of stipulations you will still get a three page revision request asking for it to be explained all over again because the clerks have no clue how to read the report or where to look for the explanations.  I have done several assignments for them, always regretting it….same old BS on every assignment.  So I told my staff the next time they want an appraisal it is going to come with a heavy fee or they can find someone else.  I would guess there are a large number of Appraisers who feel the same way about these types of so called appraisal management companies.

      In general I have found that the worst clients to work for are those who require the appraisal be uploaded in an ENV file format.  That format allows for the clerks to use a computer program to check through the report without having to actually read it.  The best AMCs will accept PDF and XML files, and I know they actually read the report because I rarely get revision requests from these clients.

      I think what needs to be done is the industry needs to ban ENV files to force the AMC to read the entire report.  Second the AMC should be required to be geographically competent for each market they serve.  This should prevent unnecessary revision requests; saving time in the appraisal process. Third the AMC should get paid directly by the lender.  The fee for the Appraiser’s service has nothing to do with the fee for the AMC’s service.  Fourth the Appraiser should get paid directly by the lender or borrower.  Fifth the consumer should not pay for the AMC’s fee.  The AMC provides a service to the lender not the consumer, and the AMC’s fee needs to be kept out of the borrower’s closing costs entirely.

      Some may argue that getting paid directly by the borrower or lender will put pressure on the Appraiser to hit the number or create a buddy system with the lender and Appraiser, but I say that is BS.  I do plenty of appraisals for attorneys, private clients, Realtorsand I get my fee directly from the client.  As long as you have integrity you will be unbiased and impartial as required by USPAP regardless of who is paying the bill.

    • Carl, Appraisersblogs already allows US to post bad AMC names. We cant ask them to accept primary liability for making decisions about who goes on that list.

      Coester VMS; Rels /CoreLogic, Black Knight/LSI, LRES and so many more. Add as many as you’d like.

      IF appraisers are willing to put THEIR name or at least initials and state, (EX; MF/Ca) along with a brief explanation why they are considered bad I can personally guarantee that the American Guild of Appraisers will publish the list on our website.

      Let me know by feedback here whether this is something many want or not.

  6. Avatar Wayne says:

    I have never owned or operated an AMC. However…I suspect that this type of company has expenses such as rent, utilities, salaries, etc. They earn ZERO from me. I suppose it is my fellow appraiser who picks up the tab for these parasites. Why do you do that?

  7. Avatar bubbe says:

    Remember – you are selling YOUR time!  It is very limited. Charge accordingly.  Someone once told me “If you have a $10.00 head you buy a $10.00 helmet.  What is your’s worth?

    • Mark Skapinetz on Facebook Mark Skapinetz on Facebook says:

      Unfortunately you can charge whatever you want but the AMCS have so much power now they tell you what the fee is. With the proposed changes to education by the SPINELESS APPRAISAL FOUNDATION it’s gonna get worse. They reduce requirements and you have more inexperienced appraisers entering the profession which leads to cheaper fees and shit out of luck for the good appraisers. It’s amazing. We deal with people’s investments, their retirements, their biggest asset and they want to reduce requirements? Why do the the AMCS can make more money by creating more appraisers so they don’t have to pay more? Disgusting. The AF IS SPINELESS. THEY are giving into the AMCS and what they want. It’s disgusting and they don’t care. AI AND AF. Lol. What jokes.

      • Mark the educational requirements were never lowered. Seriously. The unnecessarily increased educational degree requirements were scaled back to allow other pathways. Specifically for tenured experienced appraisers.

        The elimination of experience requirements by alternative path is where the real problem is. We keep hearing that no college educated “professional” is going to ‘waste’ three or more years to start earning professional fees due to high student loans, etc..

        Therefore we need practicum courses and other chicanery in lieu of experience to fast track them to certified levels in their first week or so in the business. No ‘reasonable’ person would expect the grad to wait three years to achieve significant earning potential.

        I guess AQB never heard of medical school, doctors and interns. Sure glad my heart stint was put in by a greybeard rather than a peach fuzz doctor with only ‘practicum’ coursework.

      • Baggins - You can't sell the salesman Baggins - You can't sell the salesman says:

        It’s just an illusion you know. “Their fee”, aka, their target fee based on their target desired income. And if there is no limit to their rake there is no limit to their desire to drive the fee down. But when it comes down to it, just about every distributor out there regardless of type, will choose fulfilling lenders terms over forcing discounts for increased income. They’re ‘taking losses’ in places like CO, OR, TX; aka; are continuing to run with ineffective self defeating imbalanced business models.

        There is a helpful empowering statement appraisers can make; “When they call you, they need you. Price accordingly.” Follow w/ refusal to bid and demand they tell you the maximum allowable fee payout first instead. These fee control systems only work if there are two willing parties, operating within very narrow confines. Jump out of that bowl. Appraisers need to unflush themselves and head for dry land. I tried to play nice, I really did. Those days are over. Feelings have nothing to do with it. It has never been and will never be the appraisers responsibility to save someone else a dollar or a day. They’re free to cut discounts on their end if cost of service is a concern, and that is my official rebuttal.

  8. Baggins - Full Circle Now Baggins - Full Circle Now says:

    The issue remains a problem if improperly allocated funds, and self defeating business models. When an appraiser gains ground in one area, the appraiser elsewhere loses. A direct consumer to appraiser billing structure with strictly mandated seperation of amc fees would solve this. Trust me when I tell you; These amc’s would not work this hard at driving down fees to save the consumer a dollar or a day. Just yesterday I got another amc solicitation bragging about their accolades, record setting business growth, and their desire for more appraisers on panel. Talk about the most misdirected marketing campaign in the history of real estate. Worse than selling ice to eskimo’s, would you also care to build the amc’s success, at your own expense? Improperly allocated funds will soon result in more vendor managers than appraiser vendors, and in some locations that’s already happened. Their solution is to hire more people and make more calls. It’s not working any more, and never will work again.

    On a somewhat related note: Coumo and bribery. Geesh, does this scenario sound familiar?

    Ex-Cuomo Aides Charged in Federal Corruption Inquiry

  9. Avatar TOM D says:

    corruption? well, at least when i started it seemed like the garden of eden.  today it is a bad life choice for anyone to consider.  i wont’t let anyone new join this cruise of the damned. trainees? the caption might think i’m rowing too slow being soo old. pass the gruel mike!!!

    • Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

      Gruel? GRUEL?!

      Spoiled seamen (and appraisers) today think eating every day is some kind of a right!

      Bah! Back in MY day all we got was hard tack once a day; salted pork bits on Sundays and weevils for protein the rest of the week.

      Now this younger luxury generation thinks their entitled to gruel!

      Whats next, bread? Fresh water?

  10. Avatar Ralph says:

    I receive about 10 AMC requests per week, which all start out, “Please give a quote for your best fee and turn time.” I used to email back stating, “Please provide me with your highest fee and most reasonable turn time” but I never heard back, so now I do not even waste my time responding. This is the business model AMC’s have perpetuated and anyone who is just a half way decent appraiser declines this garbage all day long. Again, how do you pay a trainee a split of a split when companies like Metro West pay $250.00 fees and less and are now screaming for a new army of cheap labor.

    I just read a national article that the appraiser shortage is gumming up sales across the country. One lender & AMC accused an appraiser of price gouging, since the lender needed a RUSH to close the sale. The AMC fee was $625, the appraiser charged a $1,375 rush fee, total paid by the borrower was $2,000, the lender accused the appraiser of price gouging. I would argue that the buyer did not lose the sale,  they had already moved out of their apartment) and the appraiser completed their job. Is this not the definition of a free market where supply & demand is paramount?

    • Avatar raymond says:

      Ralph you how do you pay a trainee on a fee split when the amc/lender only pay  $225. The answer  is that you don’t pay them and don’t take the appraisal request. The amc business model is no friend  of the appraiser. The amc were designed for and by lenders and it the closest thing to professional slavery.

      Appraisers need emancipation.

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Funny how the relative pricing argument does not extend to the variable 2.5 to even 4 points some sales agents may demand. That point spread usually covers much more than a thousand dollars of variance. Amc’s have been price gouging customers for years.

  11. I say no to all management companies and all origination mortgage lenders except private/hard money. I have been doing this since 2009. Life is much simpler and less stressful with non lender/private clients.

  12. Avatar Raymond says:

    scaling back lender appraiser educational requirements and/or qualifications, is just another means by amc/lenders and lenders interest groups to increase the pool of appraisers and to keep appraisal fees (and their costs) low. Lets get real, that’s one of the motives. dumb it down folks.

  13. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    Just “SAY NO” to EVERY AMC on the planet and you’re on the right track appraisers.  Until then…you’re all considered “spineless bitching bottom feeders”.

    Sorry…but I call it as I see it.  None of you are being paid fair fees ($800) by AMCs…that makes you all bottom feeders.  Boycott AMCs and shut them down…then you can truly can name your fee and obtain it.

    • Avatar Wayne says:

      To Retired Appraiser…

      Why do you or I care if our fellow appraisers want to work for peanuts with an AMC? Heck, if we can keep them busy doing that crap they will not have time to take on the decent assignments. I am not trying to brag…but we do NO AMC work, NO mortgage broker work, NO Relocation work, NO FHA work…gee we sure are picky! With all of that we still turn down several requests each day. HOW many assignments could we be offered if we went after the general market? No way!  Really…I no longer care what my fellow appraisers do. If they want to work for chump change…I could care less. If they want to pay Thousands in dues, publications, etc. again…I do not care. One $500. residential fee will pay for me to take a seven day cruise. Two of those reports and I can pay for my lady friend to join me. For the same amount I can go on a deep sea fishing trip to Belize.  A Las Vegas trip is about 1/2 the fee of one residential assignment. Why do you want to pay dues to an organization that promotes designations that you do not have? Especially when the general public does not have a clue what that designation means? I will go fishing…you pay dues!

      • Avatar Wayne says:

        Hey Retired Appraiser; Ok…sorry for my previous rant! Really…I find myself in a bad mood at times and I think you can relate. I wish all of my fellow appraisers the very best. Sometimes I get so mad that I make statements that I should not. Do I think AMCs suck and are parasites on this occupation…Yes, I do! Do I have a problem with anyone attempting to earn their living by exploiting myself or my fellow appraisers? Yes I do! Why should any of us have to support an AMC that adds Nothing to the transaction?

        I do not by nature want to be rude. However when one of these crap AMC companies call me I just cannot help but tell them that they are not needed in the transaction and do not call me again! There are many such as I that feel the same way…there are many that have zero work unless they bend over for an AMC. We are not only exploited by the AMCs but then the numerous appraisal organizations hop on to the cart for a fun ride! They are so damn silly as to promise that if you pay dues, earn a designation that you will be frolicking thru the tulips with all the increase in business. Those that have been around a renewal cycle know that this is JUST CRAP! There are so many things that need to be changed in this occupation! Damn, I am happy that my career is near the end. My sincere message is that some of you are being ridden like a rented mule and do not have the ability to see it! Stop, take the blinders off and really look at this occupation….may change your outlook and your life. This silly and simple message is offered to my younger friends…..folks trying to make a career are disappointed. and many just do not care….we have made our bed! We are the pawns of others and at this point have no choice. I hope that some of my peers…get a grip! LOL…I doubt that I will ever see any change!

  14. Baggins - invaluable perspective from time Baggins - invaluable perspective from time says:

    Default servicing amc rang me. Boldly still sending out at $300. I said what a nightmare. Response something about cost of living relative valuation. Funny part was that defacto rebuttal was followed with statement they are currently ‘paying a premium in this state. Same old rebuttal from me. I can’t build my business around a question mark, cannot hire without reliable clients, and they must get the base fee number up to an acceptable minimum. They said all come at 300 and they will approve if I bid back. But that’s code word for getting undercut at the first moment I could be subbed for someone cheaper. I even said I’m willing to work for less on default since I like the default work more. (I know crummy, dirty, but hey, nobody bothers me.) My demand was a permanent base raise minimum to 450 to engage. That’s not too much to ask. Back to the defacto rebuttal again; Have network of 80k appraisers, etc. “Well, call those guys then and I’ll be available when you get those fees up.”

    It’s such a simple sales rhythm and simple sales concept. We need reliable minimums and when every single order gets bid up, it’s time to raise the base minimums permanently. The fact they don’t is a consequence of national modeling and flat rates. Sad part is they probably just poached my fav reo from this other amc w/ 400 flat minimum. Even then, not enough and they lost the client with constant delays and bid ups. So the large scale amc steps in, runs the national model and ‘takes losses temporarily in one local to promise flat rate nationally’. Code words for permanent freezing of base fees. They’re sending the managers on the phones lately trying to source appraisers. I had a borrower scouting for an appraiser per guidance from the lender. Apparently their national amc has held them 2 months just waiting for the appraiser to be assigned via big box national amc. Yes, it really has gotten that far out of control that the mb’s are asking borrowers to scout for an appraiser on behalf of the third party amc. Perhaps if the amc and appraiser were not splitting a 600 base.

    I had one the other day that runs the base before split at 400. “That’s an interesting number, but I think you forgot to include a fee for your amc side. $400 was the minimum 20 years ago.”


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Appraisers Just Say No to Certain Assignments From Certain Clients

by Dave Towne time to read: 2 min