Not all appraisers are created equal. Going the cheapest route can often lead to a poor quality appraisal, which may have serious consequences. Aspen Appraisal Group (AAG) gets many calls from prospective clients asking, “How much do you charge for an appraisal?” We don’t blame the client for asking this question, as it is certainly a valid one, but it may not always be the most important one. The old saying, “you get what you pay for” holds true in the appraisal profession, just as it does everywhere else. Here are some important qualifications and attributes to be aware of when considering which appraiser to hire:
The Consultation: One of the biggest complaints we hear from clients about past experiences with appraisers is that the appraiser was in too much of a hurry. Many comments sound something similar to “The appraiser was at my house for only 10 minutes and he barely asked me any questions. Then a few days later, I received my appraisal via email. It was a 25 page report and I had no idea what I was looking at or how the value for my house was determined.” At Aspen Appraisal Group, it is imperative to us that our clients understand the information we provide in any appraisal report. This is what separates us from most other appraisers. When we are hired, we take the time to get as many details as possible about the property at the initial inspection. Equally important to the initial inspection is the consultation that takes place after we deliver the property valuation report to our client. We make ourselves available to go over the entire property valuation report and any applicable FHA guidelines, making sure that our client understands everything in the report and that we answer all questions to their satisfaction. This service is included in the appraisal fee, and is something that our clients have praised us for over and over. Check out our Google Business page, Yelp reviews, our Facebook page, and our Testimonials page to see what past clients have said.
Technology: Our use of technology definitely sets us apart from other appraisers. We use Disto Laser measurers and iPads at all inspections. Using these tools ensures that we take the most accurate measurements of a client’s floor plan, which results in a much more reliable value opinion and property valuation report. It also saves our appraisers a substantial amount of time, which means our clients receive the finished appraisal sooner. The technology we use also ensures that our appraisal inspection is much more thorough, as every field in the iPad appraisal form must be filled out entirely, eliminating any guess work or missed items. As we walk through our clients’ homes, we take our time to measure accurately, take photos, and note all of the features, conditions, upgrades, and other characteristics of the house, making sure we get every piece of information we can. Once the fieldwork is done on the iPad, the information is automatically uploaded into our office appraisal software. This important step eliminates dual data entry (and thus unnecessary typos and mistakes) and saves a significant amount of time.
Appraiser Experience and Licensure: Often, an appraiser who has just been licensed won’t have a client base but is eager for work. They offer much lower fees in an effort to get business, often lacking the competency and experience with FHA guidelines that is required. This, in turn, results in an inaccurate appraisal and a wasted expense for the client. At Aspen Appraisal Group, we recommend finding someone with a minimum of five years of experience as a Licensed or Certified Residential Appraiser, or we recommend making sure that the appraiser has a mentor with these same qualifications that will be involved throughout the appraisal process. Aspen Appraisal Group has several Certified Residential Appraisers with far more than five years of experience, and adhering to FHA guidelines is among our core values.
Geographical Competency: When appraisers are slow and looking for work, they are sometimes willing to appraise properties outside of their normal area of expertise. This can lead to a poor property valuation report due to the appraiser’s lack of familiarity with each neighborhood’s individual characteristics and nuances. We stay within the geographical areas we cover, and have for years. We have also developed a network of the most experienced professional appraisers in our surrounding areas, and we can refer our clients to these professionals when necessary.
Support Staff: There are many “one man shops” out there, in which the appraiser is the only one on the staff. That appraiser is responsible for answering all phone calls, emails, bookkeeping and accounting, marketing, bill paying, and business errands, all on top of providing appraisals for the clients. This often leads to distractions that can compromise the accuracy, timeliness, and trustworthiness of the appraisal. At Aspen Appraisal Group, we have a full staff that handles the day-to-day operations of an appraisal firm, enabling the appraisers to focus on what they do best—appraise. We get many clients stating that they are very happy that a live person answered their phone call and was able to focus solely on the conversation. We at AAG have built a firm that is tailored to provide reliable appraisals with outstanding customer service.
Ask the appraiser for their full name and license number: Check Utah’s Appraisal Board website to see if the appraiser has been disciplined. If they have, this may be a red flag that they have cut corners in the past or possibly worse. Aspen Appraisal Group is an advocate for using technology and systems to reduce the appraisal completion times. That being said, cutting corners on the steps that are integral in producing a detailed, supportable appraisal report is something we do not compromise. Make sure that you work with an appraiser who is committed to FHA guidelines and Universal Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).
These are just a few of the things that set us apart from other appraisers. When dealing with the valuation of our clients’ large investments, we strive to provide a valued appraisal service our clients can trust.