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Learn To Turn Down Assignments

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Terrel L. Shields

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Arkansas
Many of the problems brought to the forum seem to relate to the complexity of a given assignment and ramifications thereof regarding USPAP or most commonly the things we used to call "supplemental standards"- things required by specific lenders. Often the original poster neglects to inform us of which standard applies. Fannie is not FHA is not VA. And private parties are not the same as a regulated lender operating under Interagency Guidelines. So sometimes we end up shadow boxing imagery foes.

Posters oft come here hoping to solve a problem with a particularly tricky property, assignment condition or worse, a complaint or conflict with a lender. Sometimes we aren't very helpful. Central, in my mind, is competency and complexity. No one is competent to appraise all property types, let alone every individual property. Some appraisers are reluctant to turn down any assignment. Some, once they accept a complex assignment are reluctant to throw in the towel and hand it back. The lenders can compound this problem by appealing to our egos. I suspect we all have "bit off more than we could chew" more than once. The result is too much work for the remuneration paid. Or worse, a questionable report.

Neither USPAP, lenders nor (intended or not) users of our work are very forgiving. So, I suspect more appraisers should turn down more work and hand it off. If you don't have a guru to help with a complex assignment and are unwilling to learn how, spend the extra time needed and didn't charge enough, send it back, even if you've already invested hours or even inspection time.

I've done some complex properties in my time. I often figure those are low pay for time spent, but when you have sufficient sales, you may spend lots of research time, but that beats not spending much time researching because you can't find any sales to research. I've appraised hangars. Long, painfully slow appraisals because each assignment is a start from scratch problem, BUT typically in a two county area I have sales and understand the nuances of leased land.

OTOH, a unique property - an entire airport, a rodeo arena, racetrack, etc. where comps are rare, those are no-brainers. Run with the wind. Send them back. For the residential appraiser the same applies. That clunker MH? ADU? Repair shop with home? Don't waste your time, throw them back! Lenders have found appraisers are all too willing to suck it up and do the lender a favor to the point they think appraisers will do any complexity of appraisal for a flat fee. The assignments with inadequate comps are lose-lose situations. There's no way to create a tight value without good comps. Walk away.

We are only going to earn premium fees if we demand them. The more difficult it is for lenders to place an order for these crappy properties then the more they will have to pay. The payoff for turning down an assignment is less liability and less time spent beating your head against a wall. And keep the lender informed. If you stumble on an assignment with an ADU, second house, extra acres, costs to cure, etc. call the client and explain the problem. Demand more time, more money or evoke the competency provisions and send it back. But don't sit on it for a week hoping it goes away on its own. That is inviting the ire of everyone else with a dog in this fight. Keep them informed.
 

AMF13

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
Well said. Don't work cheap. Unless that's all you're worth.
 

Obsolescent

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Minnesota
Look before you leap. Do a little research before blindly accepting it and if it looks too complicated either toss it back as a no, or toss it back with a fee increase. I was fortunate to have a circle of MAI's to bounce things off of for which I am truly appreciative.

Every once in a while we get duped and take something that turned out to be a nightmare because of some unknown until you got to the property (and, consequently, turns into a money loser) but as for me, it doesn't happen that often so I consider it the cost of education and when the next one came down the pike I was better prepared to handle it.

I always told my kids to get out of their comfort zone and bite of more than they can chew - that they'd rise to the occasion. Can't advance or get better in one's comfort zone.
 

Mark K

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Indiana
I always told my kids to get out of their comfort zone and bite of more than they can chew - that they'd rise to the occasion. Can't advance or get better in one's comfort zone.

Truer words never spoken.

If you're happy with the status quo, the world of F/F mortgage work for example, that's fine. Personally I get bored to easily.

Years ago I decided that I'd be the guy that people called because nobody else wanted to accept some bizarre assignment. I'd figure out how to do it and learn with the proper help or by educating myself. Nowdays, the strange ones aren't so strange (to me) and they are financially rewarding. I still turn down my share but not for reasons of complexity. Usually it because of the attitude of the caller, the short time frame, the mention of the word 'bankruptcy', or the nasty divorce case destined for court from a lawyer that thinks I should work for cheap.
 

Elliott

Elite Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Oregon
Shhhh. That's a secret you learn with experience. The problem is when your putting two kids through college, an appraiser tends to take on all assignments and gets the clunkers. When you have the luxury of having plenty of dollars in the bank, your mortgages paid, and your retirement funded, you can get particular, and there is no better feeling. Being an appraiser is best done by someone who doesn't need the money.
 

norapp

Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
I have learned that not accepting an assignment I have qualms about is in most cases the right decision. I recently told a senior review appraiser at an AMC that I did not know what to do with a potential order. That it was beyond my expertise and I was sure there would be someone better equipped to handle the assignment. I was lectured to never admit you are incompetent. I was stunned. I never said I was incompetent but that is how my words were twisted. This appraiser then pressured me to take the job. Apparently they had no one else. It really struck me how even those who work as appraisers within an AMC will spout the company line. Not every assignment should be accepted because you feel you can't say no. When you run into an issue the AMC will not have your back.
 

Riick

Elite Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Delaware
I have learned that not accepting an assignment I have qualms about is in most cases the right decision. ,,,,, When you run into an issue the AMC will not have your back.
I'm increasingly picky about the assignments I'll accept, and *still* get caught with junk that eats-up too much time.

You can be sure that a AMC will not have your back. Why should they: They're merely a conduit.
Nor will the Lender will not have your back; *YOU* are supposed to be the expert they're hiring to inform and (as necessary) protect them.

If you don't think you can do an adequate job, or believe a good job would require lots of heavy lifting/analysis, ??
Then walk away, or take on the job, at a fee equal to the amount of time you estimate, or, on an hourly basis.
.
 

Terrel L. Shields

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Arkansas
on an hourly basis.
I understand the problem banks have with good faith estimates but many complex assignments cannot be accurately estimated on how long they will take. If the lender adamantly demands a fixed bid, then I'm going to set their hair on fire. I would rather let someone else do it.

because nobody else wanted to accept some bizarre assignment. I'd figure out how to do it and learn with the proper help or by educating myself
I've grown beyond the desire to expand my knowledge for the sake of learning:)
 

Tim Hicks (Texas)

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Texas
When I was younger, I would accept all assignments. Some for just the challenge. Geodesic homes, log homes, earth homes, manufactured homes I would attack them with fury. Now, not so much. With changing landscape of underwriting and finger pointing, it is just not worth it. Rural properties on acreage seem to all have some appraisal problem that just isn't worth it (small home on large acreage, more workshops and barns than anyone else, etc). Let the young ones have them. Sometimes no fee is worth it.
 
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