Real estate agents just don’t get it, and how appraisers can do something about it
A complaint I often hear among my real estate appraiser friends is that real estate agents just don’t get it. The “it” has to do with understanding appraisers and appraising, including common issues like what makes a sale a comp or how far away and how old a sales comparable can be. I’ve written in the past about the differences between a sale and a comp, so I won’t go into that here, even though it is important. You see, the bigger issue I believe is that of communication between the appraiser and real estate agent.
Communication is key between any two parties for each to understand what the other one does. Since I am an appraiser I am very interested in making sure that real estate agent’s know as much about the how’s and why’s of appraising so that miscommunication is kept to a minimum. With that being said I want to offer up some suggestions on what appraisers can do to facilitate this exchange between these two important parties to the real estate transaction. These are some of the things I try to do, but I’m sure there are others that I haven’t mentioned that may also be helpful. So if you would like to share something you do please leave a comment below.
Speak at local real estate offices
I believe speaking at local real estate offices is the most important thing I chose to start doing years ago. By doing this you are able to meet the agents in your area and start a more meaningful business relationship. I’ll be honest, before taking it upon myself to start speaking at local real estate offices I kind of had a bad attitude about agents because it seemed like they were trying to go against what the appraiser was doing. I soon discovered that this just wasn’t the case.
I found out that most of the agents I came into contact with did not understand how or why appraisers do certain things when completing an appraisal assignment, but they wanted to. The agents I spoke to were very eager to learn the process that we go through when choosing comparables and in coming up with adjustments. After I explained to them the basic process, taking into consideration appraisal and lender guidelines, they could understand why I came up with the value I did, even though they may not have liked it.
In addition to helping agents understand more about appraising, getting to know them by speaking at their offices has helped them to see me as a trusted advisor because I am willing to take the time to explain things. This has resulted in me getting numerous referrals from them whenever they run across someone who needs an appraisal. They are willing to pass my name along because they know I will take care of their customer and in turn it helps them to look good.
Answer common agent problems or questions in my blog
Speaking to agents in person is my number one goal because of the personal relationship you develop, but another way to help them is to answer common questions they have or address problems they have encountered. Ever since I started blogging I’ve tried to follow the blueprint that Marcus Sheridan came up with. He started blogging for his swimming pool company by answering questions people had about the different types of in ground pools that are available. If I can answer common questions that agents have about appraisals then I can be of benefit to them and help make their job easier.
I have agents ask me questions all the time about how appraisers choose comparables, how we calculate the gross living area of a home, or if something can be included in the appraisal like a storage building. I believe that if one agent is curious about this then there has to be others that may have the same question. By addressing these issues through my blog I can reach more people and be more helpful on a larger scale. Another great benefit of this is the ability to be found on Google by local agents in the Birmingham, AL market who have a question about appraising. I have met numerous agents online by answering questions they had and then spoke at their office to talk in more detail about specific issues they were facing.
In addition to covering topics on my blog I also seek to connect with agents online through social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Social media is good but it’s only the beginning and my main goal is to take the relationship offline so that I can get to know them better, and be of greater assistance to them.
These are just a couple of the things that I do to help agents understand the appraisal process so that they DO get it. I think an informed agent is a better agent. It helps them to understand the appraisal process so that they can price their listings more accurately based on similar guidelines that will be used in the mortgage appraisal for the sale. If they can price the home more accurately to the market then the chances of the deal falling through is reduced.
If you’re an agent is there anything else that appraisers can do to help you understand the appraisal process better? If you’re an appraiser is there anything that I have not mentioned here that you do to help agents in your market? I would love to hear some fresh ideas on how to make sure that agents do get it.