Appraisers, are you a trusted resource?

Serving the public as a trusted resource of information

A call this week from an out of state homeowner prompted me to write this post today. Actually, it was not just thisShould appraisers be a resource to others particular call but the culmination of many that got me to thinking that many appraisers may not be doing all they can to provide helpful information to homeowners and users of our appraisal services. Today I wanted to talk about how we can do a better job of answering questions and being a trusted resource and how this may lead to more business opportunities.

Appraisers are not trained this way

It seems that appraisers are trained more about the X’s and O’s of producing appraisals than explaining the process of our business. Some will say that it’s not our job to tell people how or why we came up with the value we did, but I disagree. I have not always been this way so I understand the mindset some appraisers are still in.

You see, the calls I previously mentioned were from homeowners on the other side of the country. I started asking myself “why are people calling someone in a totally different state to answer their appraisal questions?” and the only answer I could come up with was that the local appraisers doing the work were not making themselves available as a resource of information for the very people they were doing the work for. Most of these callers would tell me that they tried to call the appraiser but they would never call them back, or the answers they gave did little to help them understand why their home didn’t appraise for what they thought.

A change in mindset

As I explained previously I have not always been focused on this concept of being a trusted resource for those having appraisal related questions. My mind was changed when I started blogging and learned about the “they ask, you tell” philosophy of doing business.

By answering people’s questions about how and why we do what we do, we are providing a valuable and trusted resource to local clients, such as real estate agents, that may want to use our services in the future or, in the case of a homeowner, we are helping them to understand why their home didn’t appraiser for what they thought. Providing helpful information to homeowners can aid them in making home improvement decisions, which is invaluable to them.

We can talk, just not about value

Many people, including appraisers, feel that they cannot or are not required to talk to those having questions. This is totally untrue. What is wrong with explaining to someone that the value you arrived at was based on such and such sales or listings?

If we are able to be successful communicators to the public and those using appraisal services they will gain a better understanding of how appraisers see things and they will have a better view of what we do. But, because we are generally not good at this, we are often seen as rude and out of touch with the market.

In reality we are very knowledgeable about what the market sees as value and what items add value in a home. We also have much more detailed information about sales than the average consumer does due to the level of investigation we put into an assignment.

Blog not required

I hope that I have not given the impression that in order to provide this helpful information to others that you have to start a blog. This is the method I have chosen and found to be useful for my business.

There are numerous other ways that appraisers can pass along helpful information. They include something as simple as answering a questions someone asks, such as one from a homeowner. In the case of real estate agents, it can be in the form of speaking at their sales meetings. Agents always have good questions that no one has ever answered for them, and who better to give them the right answer than the appraiser?

The last way that appraisers can be a valuable resource to others is through social media. I have answered questions people asked on various Facebook groups and other social media platforms and this is something that is easy and requires little effort.

If you become a trusted resource of information to others they will feel comfortable about referring business to  you, and that is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Question

Can you see where answering questions and being a provider of helpful information would help the public’s perception of our business? My challenge to you is to not avoid that next call from the homeowner or agent but to pick up the phone and answer their question and start being viewed as a local trusted resource to the real estate market. Please leave a comment below and let’s keep the conversation going. As always, thanks for Reading.

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Comments

  1. I think finding the right appraisal service can really help you out. I like that you mention changing the mindset. It probably would help people understand what is going on and what can be done about it. It is hard to not talk about appraising when that is your job and you need to address that to people.

    • Thanks Charles for your comments. I see that you appraise personal property. I think being a trusted resource is something every business person who wants to gain the trust of potential clients should aspire to.

  2. Colleen Stone says

    I am not able to find the exact discussion topic I should be posting on so I hope you can still answer this. We have had our home appraised for a FHA Reverse Mortgage. The area we live there are numerous roundhouses and geo-dome homes. Our’s is a roundhouse. Now, the appraiser listed five recent sales of non-roundhouses and one roundhouse that just recently sold. The FHA Underwriter is now asking for an additional roundhouse sale as a stipulation before the loan is funded. To be completely honest, there hasn’t been a roundhouse or geo-dome home sold in the area other than the recent one in four years. There just haven’t been anyone here in this area selling that type of home. What do you think is going to happen to this loan. What happens when you can’t find exactly what they have requested in the way of another roundhouse sale? Thanks so much

  3. Mark Buhler says

    Excellent points Tom. I think that the missing component in this equation is education. Realtors, homeowners and appraisers need to be educated on what exactly can and cannot be discussed. Dodd Frank has built a wall that some appraisers interpret as zero communication allowed, which is incorrect.
    We can talk about anything….except “value”, which is a nebulous term-what exactly does that mean? Homeowners and realtors can discuss with appraisers the components of value-things that add value to the home. Just don’t blurt out…”I need this house to appraiser at $385,000″ or the ever so sly realtor speak…”we should be fine on this one…right???” Some appraisers may take any slight comments as undue influence.

    Appraisers-lighten up! Many homeowners have refinanced multiple times before Dodd Frank and its only been verboten for the last six years to mention the value that you need. Politely inform them that this is not something that you are allowed to discuss with them. If they need further explanation, refer them to the Financial Reform Act, signed in July 2010. That should keep them occupied while you finish your inspection…or put them to sleep!
    Loan officers-please let your borrowers know that telling the appraiser the value needed could result in a cancelled appraisal, if the appraiser decides to walk out due to undue influence and value pressure. Do not coach them to drop hints about the value needed

    Realtors-you know the drill. The appraiser has the purchase contract, they know what value you are looking for. In the end, the property will be appraised for what it is worth–no more, no less. If all parties involved were made aware of the current rules, this discussion would become a non-issue. Now…can we talk?

    • You bring up some very good points Mark. I think the process of educating agents and loan officers provides an excellent opportunity for appraisers to provide value to these users of appraisal services. If we can educate and inform this will contribute to our becoming a trusted resource.

  4. Tom Molinari says

    Thanks Tom. A great post but I wonder why I am not seeing any comments on this topic.

    Appraisers are a valuable resource in the real estate industry but often get a bad reputation for not being available to discuss the appraisal process with agents and homeowners. Unfortunately, because so much appraisal work is in the mortgage world, we cannot discuss anything about any specific assignment with the homeowner or agent because they are not the client or an intended user. Homeowners and agents who do not understand this concept perceive appraisers as being aloof or uncooperative. This situation can be rectified by being forthcoming during the inspection or in an engagement letter that explains the rules of communication.

    But when completing an assignment where the homeowner or an agent is the client or the intended user, there is a great opportunity to demonstrate our knowledge and training. When I deliver a non-lender report to a client via email, I tell them to take some time and read over the report and then call me if they have any specific quations that I can answer. Often times I will just call the client a few days after delivery just to see if I can answer any questions. Nothing can be better for generating new business than demonstrating our knowledge of the local markets and being willing to communicate with clients after the check has been cashed.

    • Thanks Tom for your thoughts. Even on mortgage appraisals I think it is ok to discuss non value related questions that the owner or agent may have. We are allowed to talk about some things, however when it comes to value that is off limits.

  5. Being a valuable resource is critical in any business, and it’s definitely something appraisers can do. As you said, thankfully there are many ways to do this rather than a “one size fits all” model.

    • I agree Ryan. This topic is not just for appraisers but anyone who sells a product or service, and there are many ways to accomplish the same goal.

  6. Great post Tom. I agree that providing helpful information will help the public’s perception of our business. I see this first hand in my appraisal business. I have four appraisers working for me. All of these appraisers have been trained by me, all produce appraisals that are very similar, and all the appraisals are quality checked by me. There is one difference, the appraisers in my company who are more shy and less willing to communicate at the inspection of the property are the ones who get questioned the most often when the appraisal is done. The only thing that I can link this to is that when you don’t answer homeowner questions with confidence, they will not trust your appraisal.

    • Good point Gary. I’m a little shy myself by I can see where the more confident we are in our answers the more at ease the homeowner will be.

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