Appraisers Travel Average 13 Miles, Says AMC Trade Group

The average driving distance for an appraiser completing a job for an appraisal management company (AMC) was 13 miles in urban and suburban areas this year, according to a new study conducted by an AMC trade group, the Title Appraisal Vendor Management Association (TAVMA). TAVMA’s membership, which includes some of the nation’s largest AMCs, tracks a number of metrics; including the distance appraisers travel to evaluate properties. The association polled its membership on travel distance for the first of what it said will be quarterly travel distance reports. TAVMA said AMCs provide about 60% of all appraisal services in the country, after the May implementation of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). The code creates barriers between real estate agents and lenders and the appraisers as a measure to ensure accurate appraisals. One method of establishing that arms’ length distance is to order appraisals through AMCs, although it’s not a requirement of the Code. Many real estate professionals are critical of the Code, claiming out-of-market AMC appraisers — sometimes driving as far as 50 miles to conduct an appraisal — and are unfamiliar with the local conditions, creating faulty appraisals and hurting business. “We polled our AMC members in light of unsubstantiated statements that AMCs send out-of-market appraisers great distances to value properties,” said TAVMA executive director Jeff Schurman. “Based on what our members are reporting to us that’s simply not the case.” TAVMA said AMCs generally use one of three methods to control appraiser travel — geo-coding, zip code to zip code mapping, or order form directions not to exceed specific distance parameters. Steve Haslam, CEO of the StreetLinks National Appraisal Services AMC said distance isn’t the only factor in evaluating an appraiser’s performance, adding many appraisers in large markets are limited to smaller, specific zones in a region. “That an appraiser services a particular area, how often, and how recently are three critical selection criteria that AMCs use in selecting the most appropriate appraiser for an assignment,” he said. “Does this mean that in Montana or Wyoming, some appraisers aren’t driving further than 13 miles? Of course not…The nature of the business is that appraisers sometimes travel outside of their own neighborhood — but that doesn’t mean outside of their sphere of professional expertise.” Write to Austin Kilgore.

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