How to Handle an Angry Borrower at a Re-inspection

We’ve all been there. We do an appraisal inspection and find health and safety issues that must be mentioned in the appraisal. A few weeks later, we receive an engagement letter requesting a re-inspection. The appointment is set and the borrowers confirm that all repairs have been made to a satisfactory level. The appointed time arrives and you drive to the property in question. Before you even get out of your vehicle, you can tell that the health and safety issues have been minimally addressed but certainly not to the level that would allow for passage.

You reluctantly knock on the front door, and it is obvious from the body language that the homeowner is not happy. He starts in with how inconvenient it has been to fix the issues that you addressed in your appraisal, how petty you were to mention them in the first place, and how he hopes that you will see fit to pass it off this time.  You glance over your shoulder at the unfinished projects, gulp audibly, and search for the words of a reasonable response.

The above scenario is not hypothetical. It happens to appraisers consistently. Those of us who are VA and FHA approved run into it more often than in typical conventional financing but we all deal with the uncomfortable position illustrated. So, how should we respond when a borrower attacks in typical ‘shoot the messenger’ format?

Though every situation is different, I have come up with a response which typically works to defuse the situation and shift the “blame” from the appraiser (where it never belonged in the first place). When asked why I was so picky on my appraisal inspection report, I simply tell the truth (novel concept, eh?). My tactic is typically to turn them back to the entity which created the standards in the first place. “I understand that this was an inconvenience for you. Lenders these days can be pretty picky when it comes to these types of things. Sometimes I wonder why they are so concerned , but that’s the lending world for ya.”

When asked if I’m going to pass off the work, when it is obvious that I can’t, I’ve learned to avoid answering directly. Unless I want to spend the next three hours trying to calm down an ill-tempered borrower, I instead shift the focus to those who actually make these decisions. My typical response goes something like this, “Well, the lender just wants me to come out and take new pictures and write a quick paragraph on what I’ve seen. In the end, it’s up to them whether or not they decide to fund the loan based on what they see.”  This is a simple way to remind the angry borrower who makes the decision to begin with. We didn’t write the rules and regulations. We simply report what we see. In the end, the lender (or the subsidizing entity) makes the final decision on whether or not to accept the loan risks. Again we’re merely the messenger.  Please don’t shoot!

Now go create some value!


Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth.  His two-day workshop will be held on Nov 11-12, 2013 in Las Vegas. His principles and methodologies are also taught in an online, Mastermind group. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.

18 thoughts on “How to Handle an Angry Borrower at a Re-inspection”

  1. So your solution is to blame the lender? Do you think that is what your client would want? I prefer to simply tell them that I’m sorry, but I cannot discuss it with them, and get on with the job I was assigned to do. The same strategy as when they ask about the market trends and the value of their house.

    1. Dave: I think you misunderstood my message (my fault, not yours). My goal here is not to “blame the lender,” but to turn the borrower back to the question he or she is REALLY asking. When my children ask, “Why are you so mean?” what they are really saying is “I dislike the consequence you gave me for staying out past curfew.” Likewise, when a borrower asks “Are you going to pass it off this time?” what they are really wanting to know is whether or not the loan will close. I am simply diffusing the situation by indicating that it is not up to me whether or not the loan closes. Your approach of saying “I cannot discuss it with you,” is fine 98% of the time (and I have used that approach as well), but remember the title of the article was how to handle an ANGRY borrower. Usually, someone who is already upset and is face to face with you does not want to hear, “Sorry, can’t discuss it with you.”

  2. The solution is simple. Ask for all of the receipts for the work that was to be performed as substantiation to include with your pictures of the project areas. You can include these along with pictures for substantiation for the work performed. This should be done anyway.

  3. I recently did a final inspection for completion of improvements (new home)which was ordered the same day it was due (Friday). I happened to have scheduled myself out inspection homes in a different area that day and didn’t get the message till after 5. The owners closed and moved in over the weekend, so I had to contact them for the inspection. I knew they weren’t happy with the value I rendered on the appraisal so I expected hostility. I was right, after greeting them he asked if I was the original appraiser, which I affirmed. He said how in the f@#k could you appraise my house for that value? I said I was simply a reporter and I report the market and the best data available, that’s what the Lender hired me for. I don’t make up data or markets just report them and he said your data is f$%ked. At that point I could see no matter what I said he wasn’t going to be happy at which point he said do you know I had to come up with $30k out of pocket, and I said I feel your pain but again I’m just a reporter. So I finished with the pictures and left (as quick as possible).

  4. I take a much more direct approach. If the realtor or borrower is there at the time of the inspection I point out what I plan on flagging. I did this on an appraisal last week and they had the issues taken care of before I could submit the report. They sent me pictures of the fixes and I put them in the report stating they were ‘after’ photos.

    I think with most FHA or VA work today you are going to have some issues and if it’s a purchase the realtors come to expect it. I had one realtor a few years ago who carried around primer paint and 2×4’s etc. She would make the fixes right then and there.

    It’s interesting to also note that a realtor once told me she had a listing that was under contract three times and each time the FHA appraiser sited different items.

    1. Joseph I like your approach best, and if done cautiously, I see no confidentiality or policy conflicts. For example-you see the combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector cover laying on the counter below the hard mounted base. It’s an obvious question (just like asking for permits would be)-“Why is this here? Does it work? Would you prefer to try to connect it and see now while I am here, or have your customer pay me $ 200 for a reinspection later? In this instance the agent said he would have it installed that day; called me when it was done and I had an appraisal associate in the area inspect and photograph it and send me the pictures. I disclose that in the report and problem is gone with no one upset.

  5. I’ve found that it helps to tell the homeowner (if present) upfront which items FHA will require and to emphasize that these are FHA standards. I do this in a “giving you a heads up and a jump on getting this done” manner to a certain degree. Most of the time I can come across as someone helping the borrower rather than the obstacle. On the other hand, if I’m looking at a situation which would take years and financial resources to correct, I say as little as possible!

  6. I’ve been there and had some of the worst experiences. I’m an appraiser in a small town where everybody knows who you are and where you work. Borrowers frequently show up at my office to discuss the details of my appraisal. The worst instance by far was a drive by appraisal for a pre-forclosure. The property owner happend to see me slow down to take the picture. A mile or so down the road I noticed a truck had chased me down. He pulled up next to me on a one lane country road and proceeded to cuss me. The conversation ended as he threatened to shoot me and reached for something under his seat. At the point i decided it was time to drive away…and fast!

  7. I find if I encounter an angry homeowner for any reason, I simply excuse myself and walk away. I do not want to be verbally abused or shot and either can happen when you encounter an unreasonable person. It’s not worth the fee or my integrity.

  8. To avoid borrower confusion, If they’re are repairs necessary to meet the lenders guidelines, your always better off to tell the borrower what they are, specifically, before you leave, that way they’re are no surprises. If they dont like whats required, I simply tell them I dont make the lender guidelines and I wont sacrifice my license and livelihood for their loan, they typically understand. Just report the facts as you see them, nothing more or less. Disclose disclose disclose!

  9. Good article Dustin,
    I had a recent one like this. The new front deck did not have any safety railings. 15foot drop off. I called the borrower for a re-inspection and he stated “what for”? I told him, He said Fu*K that.
    I will do it in my own time. The borrower asked why? I stated the underwriter was just protecting the bank from a lawsuit. It was out of my hands. I am just a messenger. The borrower hung up. 2 Weeks later
    I was told to call for an re-inspection. This time the borrower
    was not angry with me! Dustin, I work in rural areas (sacramento foothills). Does this happen to you? I have been chased, verbally assaulted, and trapped in by angry neighbors. why am I taking photos?
    An appraiser was shot a few years back( shot the car. hit her in butt). Once I explain it’s o.k. (who has time to explain?). Some good stories.

  10. Good discussion of a significant real world problem. We ask them when the appointment is made whether everything is actually corrected so that it doesn’t waste their time. If we get there and the work still isn’t done and we are confronted, we play it by ear on how much to say. Appraiser safety is our highest priority! One technique that has had some success is to tell them that our only rule is that we can only make true statements in our reports, and then watch them try to think through what can be said about the carpet that still isn’t installed.

    A classic true story: the appraiser (female) is standing in front of a water heater with the plumber and the water pipes are not hooked up. The plumber with a straight face is trying to convince her that it is hooked up when the pipes a foot away are clearly not connected.

  11. Dave Bateman wrote:

    “1. So your solution is to blame the lender? Yes.
    2. Do you think that is what your client would want?” I dont care.

    I “report” and explain what I observe, I don’t “take the blame” for any client or lender requirements. I simply tell the homeowner “Please call your lender with any further questions” and leave it at that. Never had a real problem like this in over 25 years.

  12. I take a lot of pictures. If a issue comes up, I say its in the pictures. I tell them I can’t lie about whats in the pictures. They get that.

  13. I have a question that I am hoping one of you can help me find the answer to. I am a buyer, the property was appraised by a VA inspector, repairs made and when we ordered the reinspection, it so happened that the original inspector has taken ill. He is not taking orders as it is an extended sick leave. The bank ordered another inspector but they refused the job as it is not much money for the reinspection. This delay has pushed us out of our rate lock on our mortgage. I am compassionate towards the first inspectors situation and understand someone not wanting to come out for the $100 reinspection fee… But any ideas of what we can do now? We are paying per day waiting on an answer.

    1. Susan. Good question and I am sorry are not going to like my answer. Unfortunately, in these types of situations, it is the VA that is in charge. They say who can do the reinspect and if they appraiser they choose does not believe the fee is high enough, they will have to get another person or pay a higher fee. Hope that helps. Good luck.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Scroll to Top

Existing Members

If you have been a member prior to Jan. 1st 2024

Or, click on the right side to sign up as a new member (with a free month and added bonus material) and your existing membership will be automatically moved over and any extra payments credited. 

Or, click on the link below to sign up as a new member (with a free month and added bonus material) and your existing membership will be automatically moved over and any extra payments credited. 

New Members

If you became a member after Jan. 1st 2024 or are an existing member and want to move to our new system. 

Try the All-Star Team No-Risk for 30 Days Free!