Recently, I’ve been tossing around the idea of listing the
top things not taught in appraisal school, but that would result in a very long
blog post. Therefore, for this post, I
will describe what I consider to be the most important skill not taught to
Often when I’m appraising a home, or speaking to real
estate agents about appraisals, I hear stories of how the last appraiser came
to the property, looked around, said almost nothing, and left quickly. I know that appraisers must work fast if they
want to earn a decent living in this business, but time spent talking with the
owner or agent is a corner that should not be cut. Speaking with homeowners and agents is one of
the most important parts of the appraisal process, yet the subject is often
overlooked in appraisal school. Some
appraisers never feel comfortable with such interaction. Consequently, they may tend to avoid speaking
with clients altogether.
with a homeowner or agent is one of the appraiser’s best opportunities to
obtain valuable information about details of the property that might not be otherwise
observable. The homeowner may know
things like how long ago the furnace was serviced, the costs and timelines of
upgrades or remodeling, and features that first attracted them to purchase the
home. All are things that an appraiser
might not identify on a normal walk-through inspection, but they are also things
that may alter the outcome of the appraisal.
The inspection is also the best time for the appraiser to
earn the trust and respect of homeowners by being courteous, professional, and
knowledgeable. As with any appraiser,
there are many times where I deliver a value opinion that is not what the
homeowner wanted, expected, or hoped.
However, I believe that the time I spent getting to know the owner during
the inspection could be the best way to reduce the possibility that the owner
will second guess the conclusion or complain about the service.
A good example of a conversation likely saving problems
later came from a recent appraisal done by A Quality Appraisal for a divorce. At the inspection, the owner spent a lot of
time talking about the great view that the property has. He is proud of the view and he should
be. However, it is a view that happens
to be characteristic for the area because the majority of properties in this
hillside neighborhood enjoy a very similar outlook. In most appraisals, little time is spent discussing
a typical view or things that are not significant factors for comparison. However, since I knew the owner was proud of
the view and would be looking closely at my analysis of it, I was able to go
into greater detail in this section of the appraisal and likely reduce
questions or hard feelings later. If I
did get questions about the view, I would be able to direct the client to the
appropriate section of the report.
Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the
conversation? Let me know in the
comments below. (As of the publishing this blog post, the comments section is not
working but I am told that the website developers are working on a repair.)
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