Why do appraisers take so long to finish the report?

You had an appraiser come out to your property last week and the appraisal is still not complete. It’s been 10 days!! What is going on? Here are some reasons why the appraisal might be taking so long.

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  1. Liability: Appraisers have to support the value in the appraisal report and be liable for that value, so appraisers should take their time to finish a job right (within a reasonable time frame of course).
  2. Juggling Work: Keep in mind appraisers are likely juggling many different appraisals at any given moment. This means all files in an appraiser’s briefcase are probably not being worked on every single day. If an appraiser only had your house to appraise, it would be easier to finish the appraisal sooner.
  3. Complex Assignment: If your property is complex, it may take longer to finish the appraisal since there is simply less data available for comparison. Most of my lender clients want appraisals back in 7 calendar days, which is usually very doable. However, when a property is out-of-the-ordinary for some reason, it’s nice to have more time. Sometimes upon inspection the appraiser will find out the property is much more challenging, so that can warrant a need to renegotiate the due date. I find most private party clients for divorce or “Date of Death” do not operate on the same time table as lenders since it is much more common to have easily 2-3 times as long to complete assignments.
  4. Extra Days with the AMC: Appraisals for lenders are often ordered by AMCs (Appraisal Management Companies). The appraiser might have completed the appraisal in a timely manner, but it could have sat in the hands of an AMC’s processor for an extra day or two on the front end and then an additional day or two on the back end as the appraisal goes through the AMCs quality control before the report is actually sent to the loan officer.
  5. Client Timeline: If the appraisal was ordered from the lender, find out what the actual timeline was that the lender gave the appraiser. After all, the lender may have given the appraiser 14 days. If a client gives an appraiser a long leash, the appraiser is likely going to enjoy the luxury of more time.
  6. Busy Schedule: If an appraiser is incredibly busy, that may unfortunately push back deadlines. That’s never ideal, but it happens in every industry.
  7. Lack of Professionalism: There are of course examples where an appraiser simply mishandles time or an appraisal, which can cost a client money. There is no excuse for that.

Advice for hiring a real estate appraiser:

  • Ask the appraiser when the report can be in your hands (before you hire the appraiser). Be sure you are on the same page about deadlines.
  • Let the appraiser know when you specifically need the report.
  • Have realistic expectations about time.
  • Get something in writing about when the report will be completed. The appraiser likely has an order form that you can fill out (get a copy of the order). Or you can always talk via email back and forth and use that conversation as your agreement.
  • If you need something right away, you might want to offer to pay a “rush” fee.
  • Be leery of “fast and cheap” appraisal marketing. If you have a delicate situation and you do have the luxury of time on your side, find an appraiser who will take more than 24 hours to appraise your property.
  • Sometimes clients might say something like, “I know the report will be in my hands next week, but can I just get the value now?” The value ultimately comes at the end after all research has been completed.

I hope this was helpful.

Question: Do you have any stories to share or any questions? Let me know.

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  1. says

    Great points Ryan. On occasion I have finished reports up on time and found that they sat on the processors desk for a long time. I like the idea of a “rush fee”. 😉

    • says

      Very true, Tom. Thanks for sharing that. I’ve sometimes had a real estate agent wonder why I was calling so late in the game, but then I say I just received the order. Lenders sometimes hold the file for the longest possible time until they know all of their ducks are in a row.

    • says

      When you are an appraiser who is VA, FHA and USDA approved, work can sometimes pile high especially if you are known for a 24 hour turn around time. Dont even get me started on new constructions, the amount of time and work that goes into it; not to mention most all prudent information is always missing.

      • says

        Thanks Vincent. I just quoted a turn-time of 10 days from the date of inspection for a divorce appraisal. It’s not that the appraisal will take 10 days because the property really isn’t complicated. But I am juggling other work on my desk, and I have to meet those deadlines soon too. Moreover, I do need to spend a good chunk of time with this report in case I end up testifying in court. A divorce appraisal with a 24-hour turn-time is not something I would do. Not only could details be missed, but it might not look good for the client on a court stand to see an inspection date of yesterday and a report date of today. An accusation of the appraiser rushing through the report could be made, and that doesn’t serve the client well. Sometimes it is possible to get appraisals done very quickly, but other times it’s best to simply take more time. Consumers simply need to ask appraisers what their current turn-time is. Maybe it’s a matter of days or maybe it’s a couple of weeks or more.

  2. Frank Fortner says

    90% of a real estate appraiser’s job could -and should- be done by a database. These parasites have colluded to maintain their hold over the transactionary process while investing a bare minimum of time and effort. Email your governor today about creating a database for and an office extension from the county assessor’s office that handles appraisals.

    Appraisers make a very good living, and the reason your appraisal takes forever is because they are on vacation. Notice that even the author makes the case in the comments that it *looks better* to take longer.
    Just like realtors, the amount of money they make per quantity and difficulty of work is insane. Thanks to the ridiculous apprentice system, they can even collectively decide whether they want market competition, and how much. These crooks need to go.
    My lender’s appraiser is charging $400. That means that even if it took him a full 10-hour day to do the job, that would be $40 per hour. I would be shocked if it could be proven that my appraisal actually took 10 hours of the appraiser’s time. Again, referring to the author’s own comments, it can clearly be done overnight. The appraiser I got stuck with is taking 8 weeks.

    This isn’t just silly – it’s expensive. I’m paying rent and storage while I wait around for this clown to be done dragging his feet. Call or email your governor and your statehouse. You’re being had, and it’s time to cut these scammers out of the equation.

    • says

      Hi Frank. Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it. I’m not sure there is anything I can really say about your situation other than I hope things work out well for you. I get you are angry and I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you find some peace soon. If there is anything I can do for you, I am happy to help.

      My comment about rushing through a report in 24 hours is meant to convey that it is NOT a good idea to do that. If you read the context of what I was communicating in that comment, it was clearly not meant to say this should happen. Not only could an appraiser miss something if he/she was rushing the report in that way, but it’s actually a bad look when on a court stand. That’s what I was intending to communicate rather than what is technically possible.

      An 8-week turn-time would be very long in my market, but I have colleagues in other states where that is more commonplace because there is a shortage of appraisers. Lately appraisers have been inundated with work because of purchase and refinance volume, so it has been an issue lately to get reports finished quickly. In my market it seems like 1-2 weeks was more common recently and it’s getting back to maybe 7-10 days for many appraisers as appraisal volume has lessened recently. Honestly, part of the issue, whether we like it or not, is some lenders are offering fees that are too low. I actually wrote about fees and turn-times in a recent post in case it’s relevant for any onlookers. I think there is some good insight there in the post and comments for what is going on in the industry right now. http://sacramentoappraisalblog.com/2016/09/20/5-things-to-consider-about-higher-appraisal-fees-and-longer-turn-times/

      Again, I hope your situation turns around. Honestly, I would be very frustrated about waiting 8 weeks if I was in your shoes too.

      • Frank Fortner says

        I’m pretty furious about my situation. Like I said, this is costing me money. I do not see why property appraisal should not be a service of the county assessor’s office. I am in touch with the governor’s office, which appoints the members of the state’s Real Estate Appraiser Qualifications and Ethics Board, with the objective of making this happen.

        I’m also looking to repeal the statutory requirement that a realtor sign off on deed transfers.

        I feel like I’m being ripped off by white-collar professionals who do nothing to add value to the process.

        I can see that you’re an engaged professional, but I can’t for the life of me see what in particular it is that you folks do that couldn’t be covered by an underling from the assessor’s office with a check list and a tape measure using a spreadsheet. They already go around checking out properties to adjust tax values. It’s just an applied formula.

        The guy that appraised the house I just sold cost me $8K in an upswing market. The guy that’s supposed to be appraising the house I’m buying is costing me two months in wasted time. I’m extremely hostile to your profession right now, and I intend to harm the profession in any way I can because of the irritation it has caused me.

        • says

          I hear what you are saying, though keep in mind if all appraisers were under the umbrella of the Assessor’s Office, there would be two big issues:

          1) The Assessor’s Office exists to levy taxes. Bottom line. That’s not why mortgage appraisals are ordered. Moreover, there are many other reasons why appraisals are ordered beyond just getting a loan. Do we really want the government to give us appraisals for all the moments of life such as divorce, estate planning, litigation, loans, bankruptcy, getting a loved one out jail with a bail bonds company (who needs an appraisal in many cases), etc…?

          2) The Assessor’s Office sometimes struggles to keep up with their own work. How would we expect them to be more efficient if we added something like this on to them? The government certainly isn’t a poster child for efficiency.

          Keep in mind value is not just about crunching numbers on a spreadsheet, but about interpreting the motivations of buyers and sellers in a market. It’s easy to think it’s just about numbers, but value is about numbers and emotions. That isn’t always easy to quantify – particularly when we are outside a cookie cutter tract neighborhood. This is why online valuation websites can be far off the mark when the property isn’t actually seen and when knowledge of the local market isn’t actually used.

          I know you are venting and here I am making a few logical points. I just wanted to send them as an FYI. In no way do I mean to fan to flame your anger. I really hope your situation improves. Best wishes.


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