Neutral, Unbiased, & Not an Advocate for any Party

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Neutral, Unbiased, & not an Advocate for any Party

Not because they are racist, or because they are biased… but because they feel they can no longer be that “independent, neutral” voice that we have always been counted on to be…

The issue of declining an assignment based on the homeowner’s race has come up among appraisers.

I believe the core issue is one of Appraiser Independence.

How many of us have arrived at a property to have an agent or homeowner make comments that caused us to reconsider whether we should proceed? Comments regarding a “number needed”, comments that seem confrontational, comments that call into question our qualifications or competence? I know I have left a property only to contact the client from my car to withdraw, as I felt like no matter what, my report would most likely be challenged, maybe even reported to my appraisal board, and because of those comments I could no longer do my job in the “neutral, unbiased way” I always do.

The point being that race of anyone in the transaction is NOT a value factor, just like the “number needed” is NOT a value factor. So why would anyone feel the need to bring it into a conversation, unless they intended to make it a factor?

Honestly, I have never thought about race in any way as I go about my job… until now. The way that this issue has been placed squarely on the shoulders of Appraisers has made us ALL have to think about it, possibly in ways that will restrict our ability to continue to do our job as the one person in a lending transaction that is NEUTRAL.

If I withdraw from an assignment because of Appraiser Independence issues, does that mean that another Appraiser after me may be less experienced or less qualified? Perhaps. And how does that benefit anyone?

Aren’t we all after the most qualified Appraiser? Will this issue make a non-black Appraiser less qualified to appraise the home of a black homeowner? Isn’t that being racially biased?

I’m sure we all as Appraisers have been almost “brainwashed” (for lack of a better term) to be “neutral, unbiased, and not an advocate for any party”. At least that’s what I was trained to do.

I’m not claiming that none of these complaints about appraisals are accurate, they may very well be. But it appears to me that no one is listening to both sides of the argument in order to accurately determine a course of action.

That’s what I’d like to see happen. And in the meantime, if comments are made regarding race in any way during the course of an appraisal, it just may cause the Appraiser to respectfully withdraw. Not because they are racist, or because they are biased… but because they feel they can no longer be that “independent, neutral” voice that we have always been counted on to be.

By LadyT. The author is a Certified Residential Appraiser.

Image credit flickr - David Forsman

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar Dave says:

    You couldn’t be more accurate. I refuse to appraise a property where I am deemed a racist because I gave my honest opinion of value. I just ask the client to reassign. It’s call protecting your backside.

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      But if race was not a factor, and peoples reaction to independent opinions can not be predicted, how can you know this in order to request reassignment ahead of time? Caring and compassion can go a long way, there are human interests behind every real property interest.

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  2. Avatar Dave says:

    You are absolutely correct! Its better to withdraw from the assignment than to be labeled a racist. Nothing will destroy a person today than to be called a racist for just stating the facts. We live in such a political correct, nutty society. If an appraiser wants to proceed, it’s best just to ask what number do you need for your loan and just cave in to societies demands. Beat getting sued.

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  3. Avatar Jeanie says:

    LT, well said! I couldn’t agree more.

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  4. Avatar don silva says:

    I cannot say anymore, after 36 years in the business, just had to call it the end. This use to be a great way to make a living, but in the past 12 years, it is disgraceful as to what has happened. We have to pay , EXTORSION MONEY TO GET BUSINESS FROM AMC’S, who know nothing about what we do and are suppose to know what they are sending us so they, GET THE MOST QUALIFIED APPRAISER for the assignment, just say to you, “”look I got a bunch of orders and don’t care who gets what”””, I have to get them assigned.:””” We had are GOD GIVEN FREEMDOM TAKEN FROM US AND CANNOT TALK TO CLIENTS OR POTENTIAL CLIENTS, HOMEOWNERS OR MORTGAGE PEOPLE. But we can be threaten by real estate agents to “”””HIT THE NUMBER FOOL””” or I will put the word out on you and you won’t do business in this place anymore”””.
    “””””AINT’T THAT CUTE””””–what a way to treat an appraiser, try pulling some of that $%^& with an attorney… My advise for people who want to come into the appraisal profession, get in to real estate physiatry, less chance to getting sued.

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Inalienable god granted rights. They can only be relinquished willingly, or temporarily suppressed by force. I refuse amc work across the board based on ethical principal. Pilfering the fee before it is paid to the person actually doing the work and pocketing the difference is consumer fraud. There is a lot of fraud going around these days, yes sir.

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  5. Avatar Justin says:

    Even my much loved show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver showed the appraiser example where the lady switched the homeowner to a white guy and the appraisal was many thousands higher. I’ve been appraising for 38 years and I would bet that of the 3 appraisals done for that lady – one if not all three are incorrect with unsupported market conclusions, which could easily be identified, but its easier just to call them racist. The appraisers are wrong not because they are racist – they will be wrong due to the sorry state of the expertise of the appraiser and the quality of the report, which is a direct result of the mortgage industry developing, leading and accepting poor quality reports and an appraisal industry that can’t see the value in bringing real quality to the table. Appraisers if you don’t bring quality to your profession, then who is expected to?

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  6. Avatar VA says:

    Perfectly stated, LadyT.

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  7. Baggins Baggins says:

    Unsubstantiated complaints against appraisers are common, this is an interesting thing to look into. In our appraisers group once, an appraiser at the state agency described roughly 2,000 active appraisers in our state, and how the regulatory office took in roughly 1,000 complaints on appraisers yearly. Although most are dismissed as not having merit, many others still do get through the gate to official investigation status, representing a substantial worry and time drain for appraisers. It’s just the go to out for many mortgage lenders and amc’s whom are otherwise reluctant to deliver or affirm difficult news. The appraiser is always placed on the defensive, as if the merit of who’s complaining carries more weight than the truth of the matter. How to define advocacy in the regulatory setting.

    The best you can accomplish is to handle this internally with the client before the issue escalates further. It’s a fine line to walk but can be navigated with application of consistent ethical principal. Race can simply never ever be a factor. Appraisers can prove race was not a factor by proving they are using consistently applied logical research methods.

    This is how the market reaction works, this is the range for this segment of the market, and here is my research to prove it. Reasons why I never adopted automated methods, still remain manually focused, never outsource, never utilize typing services, approaching the final report in a somewhat more self contained rather than summary manner. At least post topical overviews of research within the report, that can go a long way to answering the critics. While regurgitated stats and analysis charts are more likely to miss the mark or confuse, the hand written narrative often provides better laymen understanding of the appraisal problem, and solution.

    Also this issue highlights the benefit of comp searching before order acceptance, because once an order is accepted, the appraiser has already confirmed the duty to the client, both the fee and willingness to continue should have already been established by way of at least basic topical research. In my workfile I label this as introductory, and then after actually accepting, perform the same tasks again, just more thoroughly. I rarely withdraw but I often decline.

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Neutral, Unbiased, & Not an Advocate for any Party

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