Tips for working with appraisers when they’re really busy

It’s been taking appraisers longer to get their reports done lately. Have you noticed? In many parts of the country appraisers have simply been flooded with work, so quick turn-times have suffered or vanished. In light of this I wanted to give some tips for working with appraisers during times like these. This is really geared toward appraisals for loans instead of private work (divorce, estate, litigation, etc…). Anything else you’d add? Feel free to comment below.

Working with appraisers - sacramento appraisal blog - image purchased and used with permission from 123rf

Tips for working with appraisers when they’re really busy:

  1. Turn-times: Sometimes agents say, “We really need the appraisal in three days because that’s when contingencies will be removed”. But the appraiser just got the order yesterday and the lender may be giving 7-10 days to complete the file. For whatever reason the appraisal was simply ordered way too late in the loan process (not the appraiser’s fault).
  2. Communication 101: If an appraiser emails you, I highly recommend emailing back. The appraiser may be trying to save time by avoiding a phone call. Or if an appraiser calls you, just call back (even if you don’t like to use the phone). These days it seems like good business etiquette to try to communicate with people in their preferred method. I know that sounds petty or even offensive, but it’s true. Obviously if an appraiser is asking a million questions via email, just email back and say, “I’d love to chat, but let’s make this a quick phone conversation instead.”
  3. Don’t call incessantly for status: It doesn’t help speed up an appraisal when everyone is asking for status updates. On a practical note, keep in mind appraisers don’t owe status updates to anyone but the client.
  4. Information up front: Take a few minutes to answer common questions and get this information to the appraiser (preferably during the inspection). I recommend using my Information Sheet. Sometimes agents wait to share information about the property until the value comes in too low. Why not be proactive instead about telling the story of the marketing of the property on the front end of the transaction? This just might save time in the transaction too by avoiding challenging a low appraisal.
  5. Offer a rush fee: If lenders or AMCs are concerned about turn-times, one of the best things to do is offer a reasonable fee to begin with AND also a rush fee. Right now many appraisers are still getting blasted with low-ball appraisal fees from Appraisal Management Companies. During such a busy season appraisers are frankly turning these orders down and gravitating toward working with clients who pay better fees and are easier to work with too. The truth is some AMCs are spending extra days or weeks searching for an appraiser who will take a lower fee (and then blaming appraisers for taking too long). Remember, a Borrower might fork out good money for an appraisal, but how much of the fee is the appraiser actually getting? If you find an AMC is scraping way too much off the top, maybe it’s time to do business with a lender or AMC who is actually paying the appraiser a reasonable fee. On a related note it seems like the market is experiencing an upward fee correction since appraisal fees have been undercut by AMCs for years.
  6. Longer escrows: It can be frustrating that turn-times change because we like to think they’re set in stone or always less than a week, but that’s what markets do. I find something similar has happened with contractors locally as many are absolutely swamped. In short, it might not be a good market to promise a 30-day escrow.
  7. Do repairs up front: If an appraiser is busy, the same appraiser may also need more time to go back out to the property to verify repairs were made. If you know there are obvious repairs, it might be a good idea to have the owner make them in advance so you can avoid a re-inspection. If you are concerned about repairs, reach out to a local appraiser or a loan officer before the property hits the market so you can maybe glean some wisdom.
  8. The little stuff: Some of the most common repairs are actually installation of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms (in California). Even if the appraiser doesn’t care about these things since they have nothing to do with value, a lender may be asking the appraiser to verify they are there. As an FYI, it’s been law for 5 years in California for CO alarms to be in most residential properties, yet this is still one of the top repair issues.

I hope this was helpful.

Podcast with 2 Agents: By the way, last week I did a podcast with two local real estate agents (The Two Jakes). You can give it a listen below (or here) and check out iTunes or the Worley Real Estate website.

Questions: Anything else you’d add? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear your take and any stories you have to share.

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The market is definitely maybe going to do that one thing in the future

The market is doing great. It’s about to crash. Values are fine but they’re slowing. Actually, the “bubble” popped two months ago. Right now there are some strong opinions about real estate trends. It feels a bit manic to be honest as some say the market is tame while others say it’s beginning a downward slide. In light of this, I hoped to kick around some ideas together. What do you think?

36852833 - businessman holding a glass ball,foretelling the future.

A few things to consider when the market begins to slow:

  1. Don’t let headlines become your talking points: It seems like sensational headlines and stories can become our talking points if we’re not careful. It’s easy to let this happen in our personal lives, so two weeks ago we were offended by Ryan Lochte, this week it’s Colin Kaepernick, and next week it’s going to be some other person or situation. I’m not saying these things don’t matter, but only that it’s easy to get swept up in the latest headlines. The same thing happens with real estate articles and opinions. It’s easy to hear something and swiftly conclude “the market is doing this or that,” without really fact checking our local market. My advice would be to let local data inform our market statements.
  2. Be careful about predicting value: It’s really not the job of real estate professionals to predict what values will do in the future. If I asked you to predict exactly what Apple stock will be worth in one year, could you be precise? Or tell me how consumers will feel about Netflix in 5 years from now. Or let’s keep it simple. Who is going to be President in two months? You get the point. Everyone is asking where the real estate market is heading, but the most honest thing we can say is, “I don’t know what the market is going to do. My crystal ball is broken. But I can tell you in depth what the market is doing right now and what it seems poised to do in the immediate future.”
  3. Know the seasonal trend: Almost every single year in the later summer the real estate market slows down and the real estate community tends to freak out. What is happening? Has the “bubble” popped? Is the market starting to turn? It’s as if we are disconnected from seasonal trends and thus treat any slowing like it’s something totally unexpected. Like I said two weeks ago, weighing a slowing market is like stepping on a scale at the right time of day. Frankly, we have to be able to answer questions like this: What does the market normally do at this time of year or during this month? Does it take longer to sell? What happens with sales volume? Does monthly inventory usually go up or down? Do prices usually soften or increase? Answers to these questions can show us how the seasonal market usually behaves and then help us interpret whether a current slowing is something normal or not. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Unless we see something that indicates this is more than a seasonal slowing, it’s probably an okay idea to consider this a seasonal slowing.
  4. Preaching the market is going to change: For those preaching a coming change in the market, here are a few questions: What is going to cause the market to change? When is it going to happen? And by how much will values decline? In reality it’s a given that at some point in the future the market is going to change. Why? Because that’s what markets do. They go up and they go down. While I’m not a huge fan of predicting real estate, I guess if someone has a platform of change, I’d rather hear some specifics because otherwise preaching change seems like prophesying something inevitable. Know what I’m saying?

I hope this was helpful and relevant.

Video Market Screencast: In the following video I talk about seeing the seasonal market and what the market was like in 2005 when values began to decline. I hope this will be helpful and maybe even a game-changer for some. Watch below (or here). Yeah, it’s not short, but maybe watch it in the background while working.

Questions: What is point #5? Did I miss anything? Which point resonated with you the most? Do you think what’s happening now is a seasonal trend or is it something else? I’d love to hear your take.

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