Desktop Appraisals Hype

Desktop Appraisals, the be-all end-all of Valuation Hype by non-Appraisers…attempts to make readers believe desktop appraisals are the be-all, end-all of property valuation…

Folks, a ‘white paper‘ was put out by a company in the property title, escrow and servicing sectors, tied to mortgage lending.

It does a reasonable job of explaining what Hybrid appraisals are… which they call “desktop” assignments.

Then this puff piece put out by Clear Capital, attempts to make readers believe these products are the be-all, end-all of property valuation.

Both of these are typical PR pieces, designed to provide information while promoting a specific brand.

Interestingly, neither mention anything at all about the interest of appraisers to actually complete these assignments. Many appraisers won’t do them.

But the proliferation of these products by all lenders tells me that more and more appraisers are biting on them. Looks like it might be time again for someone to conduct an informal survey among appraisers to evaluate the penetration of these hybrid assignments into the appraiser population across the country.

I did a survey a couple of years ago, with this result:

Hybrid Appraisals Survey Results

Excerpt from Stewart white paper “Desktop Appraisal: A Guide for the Mortgage Lending Industry”:

Advantages of Desktop Appraisals
…several advantages:

  • Desktop appraisals offer a significant tool to the array of risk management tools available by filling that gap in between traditional appraisals and the lesser-valuation tools like AVMs and BPOs.
  • Delivery time for desktop appraisals is much shorter…
  • Fees for desktop appraisals are lower than traditional appraisals…

Desktop appraisals are not currently compliant with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac requirements for all first mortgage situations, but these requirements are subject to change…

Excerpt from PR Newswire article:

Clear Capital’s Modern Appraisal Program uses ClearInspect™ — Clear Capital’s new, intuitive mobile app — to guide appraisers, agents, brokers, and other data collectors step-by-step through a property data collection process to ensure quality and efficiency. The results can easily be delivered to customers, government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), and appraisers who may perform a desktop valuation based upon the collected property data…

Dave Towne
Dave Towne

Dave Towne

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

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29 Responses

  1. Avatar Michael Curtis says:

    I fired these low lifes months ago. They were changing my comments and my value and signing my name. Google ClearVal and you can see what they are paying appraisers verses what they are receiving. I did one in CA where the borrower paid the bank $750; the bank paid ClearCapital $375; the appraiser received $35 after responding to 3 “clarification” requests from ClearCapital to try to jack up the value to what the broker thought it should be. By the way, it was an exterior only BPO; broker (or whoever inspected the exterior claiming they were denied access) indicated that $72K in interior repairs were needed. Never again for me. This garbage is what is causing our profession to go down the toilet if we continue to allow this to happen.

    • Michael – I especially appreciate the real world reporting of the fee paid by the consumer. Any claims these are cheaper are just flat out lies. The consumer is charged MORE than most traditional non-complex appraisals; AVM takes 50% and then pays the appraiser less than 5%. That’s outright fraud. We all need to test the waters on new products to see where the bugs lie. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Ross Grannan on Facebook Ross Grannan on Facebook says:

    F$ck clear capital

  3. Wayne Coltrane on Facebook Wayne Coltrane on Facebook says:

    R.I.P. Appraisal Profession

    • Avatar chris says:

      They have always the cheap and faster for REO work or government check ups. We aren’t going anywhere. I have heard this my entire 27 year career.

  4. Nicholas Bochicchio on Facebook Nicholas Bochicchio on Facebook says:

    Gonna have to start seriously squirreling away money. We have no guts as a profession. It’s insane that most fees are as low as they were back in 2000. Now they keep trying to make them even lower with these “new” products

  5. Vincent R Simon on Facebook Vincent R Simon on Facebook says:

    First of all if it says Clear Capital stay Clear of that company. Seriously

  6. Phillip Case on Facebook Phillip Case on Facebook says:

    2 years ago I told Clear Capital to Never call me again. Worst AMC.

  7. Avatar Raymond says:

    I don’t do AMC work, but a few years, CC email me a request to do an appraisal on a $4-6 million estate. Their proposed fee $350 and 1 week. LOL. I replied, via email: my fee was $4,000 and 5 weeks. CC called me and asked if I intended to say $400. I replied: NO and the quote is only good for 48 hours. Quite laughable. BTW, I didn’t get the assignment. lol….

  8. Avatar certresidential says:

    Good article Dave. Yes, AMC mouthpieces with vested interests in the products are tooting the Hybrids as all good to go, totally USPAP compliant products – because they’re what lenders want – and don’t ya know, we just gotta give them what they want or die. They are trolling and infiltrating Appraisal blogs, forums and Appraiser FB communities.

    Villigence and awareness is a good thing, otherwise, before you know it, like these propaganda pieces going out in press releases, they will have Appraisers convinced, believing everyone in the Appraiser communities are embracing them.

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      That’s been going around a lot lately. fake news is everywhere. So much so that people whom still subscribe to syndication completely don’t even know the majority of what they see on tv and read in the paper is paid for corporate approved messages. If Goebbels were alive today, he would be so proud. People are so fully immersed in self interested ideals they don’t even understand how they’re being used by the corporations they blindly serve. Some things are more important than money. But you got to make, like, business decisions, focus on the bottom line, disregard ethic and logic to get there, it’s o.k. to shut someone else down as long as you win, and all of that nonsense.

      • The yellow-tinged journalism of William Randolph Hearst’s creation has finally been perfected. He’d have considered Goebbels nothing more than a heavy-handed, government piker. The real talent is convincing those that are being conned that the news is real, and the ‘obvious solutions’ is the readers own ideas.

        • Baggins Baggins says:

          Clever industry specific language can be bedazzling to the laymen. For those in the know, it’s like, over the top and all hype.

          “Revolutionary”? Hardly. The typical problem in this day and age is an enormous body of under informed consumers. If you have it for sale, someone will buy it. Price and value have nothing to do with it.

          “Values with value”. Think about that for an additional few seconds and if you can make sense of that, please do keep me informed. How about; “Pricing with prices.” or how about; “Food with nutrients”, “Employees with a job.”

          Let’s be honest about the ‘advantages of desktop appraisals’. It’s awesome for lenders, sought after by scammers, a gift of manna for investors, and is somewhat helpful to regular mortgage lending consumers if they don’t mind getting walked into deals with absolutely minimal to absent realistic protections in place. Full service appraisals provided by quality licensed individually accountable help? Who needs that?

  9. Stan Smith on Facebook Stan Smith on Facebook says:

    Steer clear of clear capital

  10. Bobbi McGettigan on Facebook Bobbi McGettigan on Facebook says:

    Fired them years ago. Bottom feeders

  11. Douglas Harbold on Facebook Douglas Harbold on Facebook says:

    Clear Capital sucks ***

  12. Avatar certresidential says:

    Funny thing about such opaque companies is the lengths they will go to to make themselves appear to be transparent

  13. Avatar Certresid says:

    A good point to consider was mentioned..the Appraisers would be using Clear Capital or another AMCs online software. Should the Appraiser and AMC decide to part ways does the Appraiser have access to any work file completed, is the signature that the Appraiser uploaded to sign the reports destroyed or kept on file and who then has access too it? Seems that should corrects need to be made or values challenged the AMC has a free access to all with the online software, hence all reports completed.

  14. Avatar Bob McGee says:

    I’m a real estate agent who was recruited by CC to do the inspections for clearinspect. I did about 8 hrs. of online training and one test case and then quit. Lots of software and technical issues. Data got lost in review, reviewers have differing opinions on what type of photos are required and the whole system is dependent on a strong cell phone signal while on site to process photos. Won’t work while in a basement or weak cell zones….common in suburban Baltimore. That means some or all photos (upwards to 50) have to be processed when you get to a strong signal area from the photo storage gallery. App uses up a lot of storage on phones internal system and may require a SD card to augment, First test case took over 3 hrs. on a 2500 sf three story townhouse before time spent on corrections. Too much brain damage for their estimated average fee of $70.


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Desktop Appraisals Hype

by Dave Towne time to read: 1 min