The short answer is no. When you are
in the appraising business there is no way you can know exactly how much a home is worth. It is easy to argue with appraisers over the dollar amount they give, especially as the homeowner, because we see much more than just a house with four walls - we see
memories, love, hard work and our home. Yet it is much more complicated than that.
could request for 3 appraisers to come look at the home and they could all 3 come up with different numbers. Appraisers are just making educated opinions on the worth of a home. Now that's not to say they shouldn’t all be in the same range (typically within
5%) as each other. If there is one outlier in either direction it would be worth looking into.
the above situation were to play out, and all were within a reasonable percentage of the others you could easily take the average of the three appraisals to come up with a price.
At the end of the day though we must remember that we all see things a bit differently. There will be different ways of calculating the cost, reviewing
the numbers and comparables among other things.
Have you ever wondered what it would
look like to be an appraiser? Well lets just say that no day ever looks exactly the same. No two homes will ever be the exact same, whether that's the area the home is in, the improvements or something else. And depending on the scope of work an appraiser
could be in a small condo in the morning and large acreage farm in the afternoon.
our office we typically have office days and on site work days scheduled each week. On the office days it is mostly writing, researching, and editing the appraisal reports for our appraiser. She must also do research for comparables for the appraisals she
does. Then on the on site days our appraiser is running from home to home and doing inspections. We cover two counties and try to have at least 2-3 on site days a week, although sometimes we can have more when things are busy. At the appraisal inspections
our appraiser is doing a walk through typically, taking pictures, measuring and speaking with clients to get pertinent information.
the receptionist in the office I take care of the smaller things that are done every day and need to be managed a little bit more closely in order to keep things running smoothly for our appraiser. I will handle phone calls and emails, write blog posts, schedule
appointments, pull records and I am always looking for ways to keep things flowing smoothly. I am here to make things as easy as possible for the appraiser.
do our best to work together which is what keeps us on track. When things are busy they are super busy and when they are slow there is always work to be done, whether it’s refreshing the facebook or website or doing research to find clients to work with. Every
day is a bit different because the types of reports and the houses and the people we meet are all unique.
Appraising a home that is new construction
varies throughout the different lenders, FHA and others. They are certainly more in depth than a typical appraisal - so make sure you are charging the correct amount for them! Your time is important. Outside of the time that it takes to do a new construction
there are a few things you can do to help make your appraisal as easy as possible.
Blueprints cannot be the only thing you rely on.
The blueprints that you receive can easily end up giving you a different square footage than might be true for the home.
Gather as much information about plans and specs as you possibly can.
Builders will keep the plans and specifications for a home, with the most diligent ones updating them as things change. This will give you a good
idea of what is being done, what the costs and materials are, among other pertinent information.
Review past new construction appraisals you have done.
There is a small important piece to this - remember to take into account the time between builds as materials will fluctuate on pricing. Otherwise,
if you have a home that was new construction that is similar to whatever appraisal you are working on now you can use it as a foundation for the new appraisal.
Know your requirements.
From FHA to HUD to USPAP each will require specific things from you. Make sure you read through and follow the instructions to a T.
Over time you will get better at knowing exactly who and what you are working with but if you use these tips you will be able to settle yourself
into knowing the baseline of getting these types of appraisals completed.
Let's start with the definition of the word
delegate (Verb): entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself. Often we don’t want to delegate because we want to make sure everything is perfect, especially when it is our business on
the line. But we don’t have to be greedy and hands on everything just to make things perfect. First of all we are all just humans - we will make mistakes. Second of all just because you delegate does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t take a second look at the
work already done. So let's get into it, shall we?
is always a debate about how much work and time it takes to complete an appraisal. If you were to ask the typical solo appraiser you would probably get an average answer of about 7-8 hours from start to finish. Which, depending on what you are charging can
still be quite profitable and doable. I am not knocking that at all - nor should anyone else.
think about the time you can save if you delegate the smaller tasks to someone else. You have your communication with clients/borrowers, this is included but not limited to emails, texts and phone calls. You more than likely have multiple offers coming in
a day that you need to do a quick research on and come up with a bid for. You have bids being accepted and files that need to be pulled together - organizing the file however works for you, pulling information about the home, doing your accounting on the file,
putting the information on the schedule, etc. Then you have your report that can be started and the data entry of simple things that can be done by your employees. Then the cycle of trying to contact borrowers or realtors starts so you can set up appointments,
you have to give updates daily to AMC’s and track all of this so you know where you stand. Then once the report is finished you have to update accounting and track all of that information.
pieces those things may not take more than 5, 10 or 20 minutes but when you want to be moving through 5+ appraisals a week and you are alone those small chunks of time can start adding up quickly. They are eating away at time you can be spent traveling to
the homes for inspections, doing the reports… the real meat and potatoes part of the job. Delegating these tasks can help you streamline and have the ability to say yes to more work which means your name is out there more often and you don’t have to sacrifice
more time and you can make more money!
Small changes can make a big difference in the overall picture but it’s not always easy to do. We, as humans, get stuck in our ways and can hinder
small, but important changes in how we work. We use excuses like “it only takes a second” or “I’ve always done it this way” to get out of simplifying things because we think it won’t make a difference.
When you work in an office that is sending out multiple emails a day small changes can save you a lot of time. Think of it this way - in our office
we tend to send out, I would guess about 20-30 emails a day. They all come from the same two or three templates typically with the occasional one that needs to be totally revamped for one reason or another. Prior to templates each and every email had to either
be copied and pasted after looking it up or typed out over and over. Right there, the template saves time. But even with templates things can be missed, spell check is wonderful but it does not catch everything.
I personally have spent plenty of time going in and fixing the mistakes that spell check has caught over and over. I have read the templates and
found issues with spelling or other things and just have a mental checklist to fix it each time. One day I decided to go in and fix all of the mistakes I found and do a thorough check. It may only save me a few seconds per email but when you look at the time
saved over a course of a month or a year it really does add up.
Of course there are plenty of other ways to save time - apps, having a set schedule or way to do things, finding a workflow that is good for you
and many more. I would recommend taking the time to just do it. Every few months review how you are working, see if there are easy changes to make and work smarter, not harder.
As appraisers we are constantly unsure
of what we might walk into when inspecting a home. We all have our own stories and lives to live and work through. We may be walking into the home of a deceased person while their children or spouse are trying to work through what they left behind. Or maybe
you are walking into the home of someone who hoards things. And while those are few and far between it happens, you just never know.
aren’t there to judge the circumstances they may be dealing with - you are there to make an assessment of the home as a structure and be “cold and calculated” in your inspection. That does not mean you must be cold and calculated to the person sharing their
home with you though.
it takes is 30 seconds and a few kind words and you can certainly still do your job and give them peace of mind and maybe even take away some of the heaviness they are trying so hard to handle. Kindness is easily the quickest way to brighten someones day.
One word, two letters and it can be a complete sentence in a conversation. It’s powerful for such a small thing, right? I mean, let’s be honest,
there aren’t many - if any, words out there that can pack that much heat and literally only take 2 letters to do it. But I’m not a Etymologist or linguistics instructor so that's not exactly what we are here to talk about. What I want to dive into is how “No”
can be a good thing and how letting people say no can get us exactly what we want.
We start when we are young, it’s one of the first things toddlers learn to say and use (very) regularly in speech - No. Our old, (not so) deeply
hidden lizard brain loves to be in control, even as youngsters. And to be honest it does not go away over time. In control is a nice place to be.
There is a book written by Chris Voss, who was a lead hostage negotiator for the FBI, and it talks about how phrasing for someone to say no but
in reality say yes can change the outcome for the person asking the question. One of the examples that comes to mind is if we are running early for our appraisals we could call and say “Can I come early to the client” - the only way to answer that is with
a “yes” if that's what we are hoping for and it feels a lot less powerful and in control than if we ask “would it be a problem if we came by early?”. This is where they can get that power of the no but they really mean yes.
It’s not an exact science but I do believe that there is a lot to be said about how we say things, both in the tone that is used but especially
in the words.
Communication is key in our daily
lives, it helps us move forward, get things done and conquer each day. Without communication we would be constantly running into our friends or families plans, misunderstanding them and generally having a difficult time.
see it all the time in the appraisal world, even when we have good communication the clients want to know everything. They want to know when appointments are scheduled, when the inspection is done, when you think you will be getting the report back among a
number of other things. And the emails ping in daily asking you about all of these things can get overwhelming, especially if you are working without an assistant.
they trust you to get the work done when you promised? Isn’t it annoying that they are constantly breathing down your neck? Sure! It would be a big fat lie if I said no. But the saying “one bad apple ruins the bunch” is true. We may be doing all we can to
get our work submitted in a timely manner and we may be updating as much as possible but even still the emails come in because at some point someone cut corners and now we must all be reminded.
while it can be difficult and sometimes angering to get an update email for the 4th or 5th time just grin and bear it. Communicate as openly as possible and keep doing the hard work you know you can do. Also, it doesn’t hurt to ask for more from the clients
who tend to make working for them a little more difficult. Ask for an extra $50 or $100 when you know that your time will be taken up by questions and revisions and emails that might not actually be needed. Your time is precious, get what you deserve.