If discrimination is committed by appraisers – as the news headlines would suggest – fellow appraisers and real estate agents say they rarely witness or experience it.
A survey of appraiser members and non-appraiser members conducted by the National Association of Realtors found that only 3% of the 2,353 respondents reported witnessing or experiencing discrimination in an appraisal.
According to the 2022 Appraisal Survey, which was conducted in May 2022, the most likely sources of bias were race or color at 2% each, with respondents reporting things like appraisers telling them they were trained to “routinely deduct 15% in value from homes owned by Black people” and instances where the appraiser “valued a home at 1/3 less than actual value after meeting the homeowners.”
While the vast majority of respondents did not report witness or experiencing instances of appraisal bias, only 33% of all respondents reported that the most competent appraisers are being selected in their markets some of the time, and only 20% said that this is the case most of the time. The top two issues in appraiser competency cited by respondents were appraisers being asked to appraise outside their areas of expertise in terms of location (42%), and third parties searching for “the cheapest and fastest appraiser” (41%).
Another issue with appraiser competency could be appraisers’ apparent lack of familiarity with valuation tools. Survey respondents were most comfortable with desktop appraisals and least comfortable with automated valuation models (AVMs). However, 63% of respondents still rated their comfort level with desktop appraisals as a “1” or “very uncomfortable.”
Overall, nearly all appraiser respondents (97%) have conducted an in-person appraisal and 79% have conducted a desktop/drive-by appraisal. In addition, 11% of appraisers cited evaluations (non-appraisal opinions of value) as an appraisal source, while 8% said they had used “other appraisal methods,” which included various hybrid approaches or an exterior appraisal.
The surveyed appraisers reported that the greatest challenge with their business was appraisal management companies, with 54% of respondents selecting this option. Other top challenges cited by appraisers were expanding regulations/interpretation of regulations (30%), pressure from real estate agents/brokers (27%), fee pressures (27%), and high demand for appraisals (26%).
For non-appraisers, the greatest challenge was lack of inventory, with 66% of respondents selecting this response.
In addition to citing AMCs as their greatest challenge, appraiser respondents also said that they frequently caused delays, with respondents writing things such as: “AMC add countless days and or weeks to the process by shopping for lowest fee and/or quickest turn time.”
And: “Get rid of the AMCs.”
Other appraisers attributed delays to incomplete MLS data, responding with comments like: “More complete MLS data. Agents are sloppy with photos and data.”
Non-appraiser respondents voiced complaints of their own about appraisers:
“Appraisers are far too opinion based and not fact based,” read one comment. “If they do not live in an area and have a bias against it shows too much in appraisal.”
“Appraisers need to have to answer to someone,” said another. “We had an Appraiser go MIA and almost cost my buyer a deal.”
But some also took issues with AMCs and cited the companies as a major source of disruption, while other felt better wages could help attract more appraisers to the business, alleviating some of the stress on the current appraisal workforce.
According to the survey, the median cost for an appraisal is $500, with 71% of respondents reporting a cost of $400 or more. The majority (54%) of appraisers feel they are fairly compensated for each appraisal, while 40% feel they are not fairly compensated.
Overall, 46% of all respondents said there are no delays in their market with completing appraisals. When it comes to addressing appraisal delays, more educational opportunities for new appraisers was the top ranked solution among all respondents, followed by new technology, shorter mentorship/training period for appraisers, and hybrid appraisals. Among appraiser respondents, more educational opportunities for new appraisers was also the top ranked response.
Even though less than 50% of respondents reported no appraisal related delays, the survey found that the median number of days it took to receive an appraisal report from the lender was 14, with 60% of respondents reporting that it took 11 days or longer.
While non-appraiser respondents reported that the appraisal has “some impact” on the transaction, only 47% had ever had a transaction fall through due to an appraisal. Of those who have had a transaction fall through due to an appraisal, 74% reported that the appraised value was the issue, followed by appraiser lack of knowledge/use of inappropriate comps (39%), buyer unable to cover gap (35%), and seller refusal to adjust price (34%). Only 4% of respondents cited appraiser bias for potentially discriminatory reasons as the reason why a transaction fell through as a result of an appraisal.
At the height of the pandemic home buying frenzy, it seemed almost every offer included an appraisal gap clause if the buyer had the funds to cover the potential added cost, but 43% of non-appraiser respondents reported that their clients do not understand what an appraisal gap is when they first begin working with them, and over a quarter (28%) said only some of their clients understood what an appraisal gap was.
It appears buyers are more familiar with appraisal contingencies, with 69% of non-appraiser respondents reporting that some or all of their clients understand appraisal contingencies.