Appraising: Perspective

Written by Bill Waltenbaugh, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

I once had a compliance inspection that had to be completed while my parents were visiting. Wanting to get the inspection out of the way, I scheduled the appointment for as early as possible. To take advantage of the time my parents were in town, I asked my father to accompany me on the inspection. When we arrived at the property it was too dark to take photos, so we parked at the end of a long driveway and waited for the sun to come up.

Several years earlier my dad had a heart valve replaced. Now, I don’t know much about mechanical valves but I do know they make a rhythmic ticking sound very much like a clock or metronome. Believe it or not, when it’s quiet, one can clearly hear the sound of my father’s heart at work.

While we were sitting in this driveway, waiting for the sun to come up, I heard my father’s heart working… tick… tick… tick. After a few minutes, I looked over and asked, “Does that sound ever bother you?” He responded, “What sound?” I said, “The sound of your heart ticking!” He just smiled and replied, “It sounds good to me!”

Our opinions and interpretations are often the result of our life experiences. However, our outlook may change when we take the time to consider things from another person’s perspective. Hearing a constant ticking might be bothersome to some, but to others it’s a sweet, sweet sound.

When it comes to valuing a property for mortgage lending, one’s success depends upon the success of others. The appraiser needs the client, the client needs the appraiser and the AMC needs both. Without each other, we have nothing. However, probably now more than ever, it seems like everyone is at their wits’ end with one another. The appraisers are frustrated with the lenders, the lenders are frustrated with the appraisers and both are frustrated with the AMCs.

Appraisers often feel like they are being stipulated to death. Standard guidelines are expanding and lenders keep adding more specific requirements and requests. If it’s not an extra comparable, it’s an extra photo, comment or addendum. Justifiably, appraisers feel like they are required to provide more and more for less, and without extra turnaround time.

On the other hand, given the current regulatory environment, lenders are being extra vigilant. They need to make sure all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed. To accomplish this goal both automated and manual processes, such as AVMs and desktop reviews, are being used to check every report for reliability. The more processes and eyes used to examine a report, the more questions and concerns will be raised.

As the chief appraiser at Kirchmeyer & Associates, a national AMC, I have the opportunity to see both sides of the story. As an appraiser, I can relate to the frustrations of the position. As an authorized agent to the client, I also understand the concerns of the lender. When I take the time to examine a concern or request from both sides, I can easily relate to the frustrations of both. What seems simple and trivial from one perspective is actually a major concern to the other.

So what is the solution? The short and simple answer is communication and common sense. But just because a solution is simple, doesn’t make it easy to implement. With all of the new rules and regulations, appraisers are being extremely cautious. As such, stalemates can occur over the most trivial things. I’ve managed disagreements over adjustments that didn’t even have an impact on the final value. Everyone is so caught up in being correct, they lose sight of the overall purpose of the assignment.

I’m not sure things are going to get better any time soon. Everyone is still too concerned with covering his or her own assets. However, if we’re ever going to get past the current hypersensitivity prevalent in the industry, we need to start understanding and appreciating each other’s perspectives.

Most Popular Articles

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

Log In

Forgot Password?

Don't have an account? Please