Let’s be real. There is often tension between real estate agents and appraisers. And there is definitely room to help improve communication between both parties. That’s why this post is relevant from an appraiser’s perspective. Part of me hopes in response someone will write “5 things real estate agents want from appraisers”. I hope this will highlight a few basic and practical ideas for how to better work together. Read over the short list, apply what seems reasonable and let me know what you think in the comments.
5 things appraisers want from real estate agents:
- Photos: Insert 20-25 photos in MLS so appraisers can get a better sense of your listing. Having pictures of the main rooms, a few of the kitchen and bathrooms, some of the rear landscaping and any to highlight remodeling or upgrades can help us visualize the home. Or if you mention there is an addition, please include a photo of the addition. Ultimately, words in MLS like “remodeled” or “upgraded” can mean something different to everyone, so images can help tell a better story. When you take photos for a listing, just think about how snapping a few extra shots on the front end will save you time on the back end from answering questions from appraisers on the phone.
- Concessions: It’s very helpful when you let us know in MLS if there were any concessions paid or given to the buyer by the seller. Appraisers have to list any concessions in the appraisal report, and beyond that consider if any concessions or credits had any impact on the price. In many cases instead of listing out the dollar amount of concessions our local MLS says “CLA” which means “Call Listing Agent”. If your client does not want this information listed for confidentiality purposes, that is understandable, but if that’s not the case, including the amount is one less thing we are going to be asking you about. This will save you time on the phone with appraisers.
- Return phone calls quickly: Appraisers are often working on a tight deadline to finish a report. This means the appraiser is probably hoping to get the report out by the next day or even in a few hours. When you call back right away, it can be amazingly helpful. Of course the appraiser needs to plan adequately too and not expect you to respond in lightning speed (One of my favorite sayings is: Your lack of planning does not constitute my emergency). On a related note, remember if the appraisal is delayed, it can delay closing in light of QM guidelines that state a Borrower needs to see the appraisal at least three days prior to escrow closing.
- Tell the truth: This probably goes without saying, but please tell the truth. If appraisers get incorrect details from you and end up using what you told them to help shape an opinion of value, that’s not good. If you didn’t know, what you say and think can really matter because you provide an insider look at the market. This means if there were not multiple offers, please don’t say there were. Or if the property had some issues not listed in MLS, let the appraiser know what was wrong when asked. Sometimes I’ll call a Listing Agent for a recently closed sale and I’m told very confidently it was a fixer, but then the Buyer’s Agent will tell me it was a total remodel (this is where including photos in MLS can make a difference). At the same time, it’s understandable to forget an older listing. The same thing happens with appraisals because they all blend into one after a while.
- Manage Irritation: It can feel like an inconvenience to talk to appraisers – especially when you’re really busy. But if you’re giving off an irritated or “I’m too busy for you” vibe when appraisers call, it’s time to find a way to be present and pleasant for the conversation. Talking to appraisers is simply a part of business. Appraisers should be respectful of your time too, but remember that appraisers are not calling to bother you, but rather do their job. Keep in mind they are also trying to get information from other agents for the comps they’ll use to appraise your listings. If they cannot glean insight from agents for those properties, it could potentially harm your deal. By the way, check out 7 things real estate agents should know about appraisers to glean some context to help understand appraisers.
- Upgrades: I’m adding an honorary item #6 in light of my friend Joe’s comment below. Appraisers really do want to know about upgrades directly from the Listing Agent or owner. I’ve written about this before, so I did not include this point above, but it is definitely a top-notch item. How has the property been upgraded in recent years (think inside and outside)? Make a list and give it to the appraiser. If it’s relevant, read more about information to provide the appraiser during the inspection.
NOTE FOR APPRAISERS: The appraisal industry is not known for its exemplary people skills. I hear continuous feedback from the real estate community about appraisers who are impersonal and come across as very anal. It’s okay to be introverted or focused on work, but at the same time the appraisal industry needs to freshen up a bit on communication skills, stop incessant complaining and be proactive about building a better reputation. It’s still possible to remain neutral and unbiased while being nice. I have nothing but love for my colleagues, but appraisers can do better (which can be good for business also).
Questions: What do you think of the advice? If you are a real estate agent, what advice do you have for appraisers? Feel free to comment below.
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Sad that you even have to mention #4. Great post Ryan!
Ryan Lundquist says
Thanks Lori. I wish that wasn’t the case, but that’s how it is. I would say the overwhelming majority of agents are honest.
Joe Lynch says
How about a list of upgrades for the appraiser? We need to report updates to kitchens and baths for every house we appraise. A list of work done to the home helps us create a picture of the home we see for the reader of our reports who is often located across the country.
Ryan Lundquist says
Hey Joe. I absolutely agree. I just didn’t include that one since I’ve written about it before https://sacramentoappraisalblog.com/2013/04/22/what-type-of-information-should-you-give-to-the-appraiser-during-an-inspection/. I’ll actually link to it in the post though because it’s definitely one of the top items appraisers need. Thank you.
Bill Schlack says
This sounds a lot like what we need from our clients. Pictures save a lot of words. Plenty of good ones are pretty inexpensive in the digital age. Use words to identify what each picture shows – tell me what I’m looking for in each picture. When you want the job done smoothly, get us ALL the information before we start and promptly when we ask for it along the way. When you want it done quickly, have it ready before we start so we only have to do it once. Hiding important info once even if it works for you that time (& it probably doesn’t) slows down every future job as we look for what wasn’t disclosed.
Ryan Lundquist says
Well said, Bill. I appreciate your take – especially as someone not in the real estate industry. It just goes to show that full disclosure and excellent communication is something important in probably every field. Thank you.
Brandon Lee says
It’s sad how you are degrading appraisers in your post. A real estate appraiser can save you thousands and can inform you the best market value of a property by their experience. They are all not about just phone calls and photo collectors. Becoming a real estate appraiser is much more than that.
Ryan Lundquist says
Hey Brandon. I have no idea what you are talking about. There is no degrading here, and my body of work and message certainly shows otherwise. Get your facts straight my friend.
Eric Rahn says
Sorry I’m late to the party here.
For me, a big #7 would be: don’t assume I don’t know the area just because my office isn’t within a mile from the subject property. Realtors and homeowners don’t seem to understand that we have wide coverage areas and we know every market in them.
And I’d like to add a little tidbit about people skills, because I find them somewhat lacking from agents too. A lot of times, I work with agents who are sweet as pie to my face, but horribly rude to my office manager when she calls to schedule an appointment. One thing I shouldn’t have to mention (but sadly do) is if my report doesn’t reflect the value you’re looking for, don’t call me after all is said and done just to harangue me about what a lousy appraiser I am. Believe me, I have nothing invested in taking your precious commission away from you.
Ryan Lundquist says
Sorry for the late reply here. I’ve had some health issues and I’ve been away from my desk. I’m just finally starting to get back (not even fully back yet).
Thanks Eric. I appreciate your take. Yeah, you don’t need to live in a neighborhood or zip code to know the market there. That’s for certain. Thanks for your comment on people skills too. There is some bad behavior out there. Let’s be better.