Majority of Reviewers Had Very Limited Field Experience
I’m a Certified General Appraiser that started appraising in 1984, almost 40 years ago! Spent the majority of my career appraising both residential and commercial properties in a major metropolitan market. I had my own appraisal firm for a number of years, prior to the AMC model which dissolved years of relationship building with clients large and small, almost overnight! Like most of you, I really enjoyed appraising and was proud of my profession. AMC’s changed the game and appraiser’s had no say in the paradigm shift. Of course there are those that say they no longer do originations work or agency work but the reality is, in most markets it’s near impossible to make a living exclusively with private clients. I personally, don’t know anyone that can.
I’ve spent the past 15+/- years doing review work, one year for an AMC and 14 years split between two of the largest lenders in the US. An eye opening experience is an understatement! It was my experience that the majority of reviewers, FNMA included, had very limited field experience. Which is painfully obvious when they request baseless revisions for “more or better comps”. As the OP so eloquently states “As anyone who has been an appraiser for more than five seconds can attest, you use the best comps available. There were no “better comps” to be used.” To make matters worse, they almost universally are delusional in thinking they know everything about every market in the US! Appalling, actually as well as insulting to the local boots on the ground appraiser.
When CU (Collateral Underwriter – pet peeve, use of abbreviations without explaining them in the first use!) was first introduced, as reviewers, we had access to it. Unfortunately, appraisers did not. Many reviewers just copy/pasted the “rules” that fired and sent them to the appraiser as a revision request. The appraiser’s response, often times, was not important, the reviewer was justifying their existence. Statistics were kept on how many revisions as a percent of total reviews completed, were used in your annual performance review. CU had access to FNMA’s entire database of appraisals performed for sales and refi’s. So when an appraiser uses a comp that has been used before in another appraisal, CU flags any and all differences in ratings, which is a direct result of revision requests that question condition, quality, room count, GLA etc. Market conditions adjustments were FNMA voodoo, varying wildly between comps used by the appraiser and the FNMA model adjustment with no rationale provided – Paradoxically, they didn’t have to support their model adjustment!
I was laid off this past February as the rising interest rate environment was having a significant impact on mortgage application/appraisal volume. I’m 63 and many around me were saying this is a great opportunity to retire. The problem was that, it was not my decision or on my terms. In addition to being a Certified General, I also hold an MBA in Banking and Finance. I say this not to impress, because that and $3 will get you a Starbucks, rather to make the point that layoffs are indiscriminate. A great deal of reflection and soul searching has ensued. I’m no longer proud to say I’m an appraiser. After reading the OPs ordeal as well as many similar tales, I really don’t think I want to be an appraiser anymore. When it affects those around you and your own health, it’s time to move on. Life is truly too short to be answering misdirected, unqualified and meaningless questions from someone that’s not qualified to lick your measuring tape!
Cheers to appraiser’s mental and physical health!