Using Your Ladder to Open the Attic Scuttle Door

What if the attic scuttle opening is in the middle of the room?  How to use your ladder if there is nothing to lean it against?  In this video tutorial, Dustin Harris, The Appraiser Coach, gives a helpful tip on how you can use your ladder to not only climb but also open the scuttle door.

23 thoughts on “Using Your Ladder to Open the Attic Scuttle Door”

  1. Very informative as usual, but I didn’t realize the appraiser needs to bring a ladder. I always require the borrower or whoever is the contact, to provide access. If no stairs and they don’t provide ladder, I mark report subject to gaining access to attic.

    1. This is a business decision, And one that I have started to employ more frequently lately. I carry a ladder just in case, but it is rare that I need to pull it out.

    2. I disagree i do not carry a ladder. I am not a home inspector. The homeowner should provide ladder and open the access point themselves.If you do not feel safe with their ladder do not do it. I have used a selfie stick. The appraiser has enough liability if i scratch their floor drop the scuttle door on a vase or if i fall, I am out of work. If the subject has a drop stair no problem. As long as you take on more requirements, the more they will dump on you. It is your business decision. When you say I did not access the attic and here is why most lenders accept the safety factor. This is my opinion and has worked for 20 years. It is an opinion.

  2. Hi Dustin,
    I read your blogs from time to time and they always have good info. Can I propose a topic of discussion? Market consolidation and anti-trust implications. CoreLogic recently acquired Landsafe and they happen to own Rels so now all appraisals going through Bank of America and Wells Fargo are under one AMC? How can this be? Seems like too much influence with one AMC. The first thing that Landsafe now known as CoreLogic did after they were bought out was to cut appraisal fees from $310 to $284. Anyone care to comment on where this is headed?
    And also, umm, just saw your taxes on your site, you make what??? Now if only Trump could release his taxes.

    1. The big money Paul comes from the transmittal fees charged to the appraiser (delivery, technology, etc.) that have become all to common. Corelogic bought FNC, Inc. (Appraisalport) for over $400,000,000 and was valued way more than Landsafe (BOA) $125,000,000. Prior to the sale Appraisalport typically charged $10 to the appraiser, but after the sale they increase their fees 40% (and their profits) $14. If you really want to look at the numbers read the press release as it relates to A la Mode selling off their Mercury Network division. They indicated they do 20,0000 transactions a day and if you apply the $13.50 fee that’s typical, you have a division within a division that grossed $270,000 a day. Thank you Mr. Biggers for acting like you wanted to be on the appraisers side after HVCC while collecting nearly one hundred million dollars a year from us. Sell out.

      1. Not sure how selling a profitable company is a sellout, but I have always found Mr. Biggers to be an advocate for Appraisers.

        1. After implementation of HVCC Dave Biggers seemed to be on the appraisers side by way of releasing a study of fees as compiled by his company. This was ground breaking as it clearly could separate the fees paid by non AMC clients to help establish C&R fees. As someone who has paid over $20,000 dollars in software fees (non Mercury Network), it was appalling in my opinion to charge the appraiser an additional $13.50 per transaction. With 20,000 transactions a day via the Mercury Network (read the press release) at $13.50 per over 7 years, the fact that Mr. Biggers may have grossed $600,000,000 to $700,000,000 off the backs of appraisers, in my opinion, makes him a sell out.

          1. Yeah, it’s too bad Appraisers have no choice about whether or not to use Mercury network and pay for a service that was created and built by an entrepreneur. Oh wait…

        2. understand that appraisers have a choice in choosing who they work for, but we have NO choice when it comes to what system our clients choose to use. If overnight (post HVCC), the majority of my clients used his system (which most did), I could either pay his ransom, or drop the clients and lose income trying to find new ones (difficult circa 2009). Although the ransom payments totaled ($10,000 +), it was financially cheaper to keep them then it was to drop them and find new ones. Mr. Biggers was making a profit selling his software ($20,000 from me and counting) and saw an opportunity to jump on board to take a piece of the appraisal fee for himself instead of offering the service WITH the $1,000 software fee we are all ready paying. I believe Mr. Biggers played a role (small or big) in setting the stage for the multi-billion dollar industry that has been established by way of stealing a portion of the appraisal fee, from the appraiser. My two cents are worth a dollar.

    2. This is a trend that I worry about as well. Unfortunately, I have not yet found the right guest to adequately cover this topic. Are you that man, Paul? As for my taxes, Trump and I share the same accountant.

      1. I sure wish I was the guy to address this topic but am not. I sure hope you find someone because this consolidation will surely crush us soon.

  3. Jeff McMurchie

    Do any appraisers besides myself ever talk or be concerned about the possible asbestos (vermiculite) that falls down on our heads when inspecting some houses that are pre 1970? FHA requires us to view the attic, are they willing to supply us with Hazmat suits so we dont inhale and get whatever is up there on our skin? Absolutely not!. I clearly think this is a health hazard and we should be not inspecting attics. I wonder if FHA has ever heard of OSHA? Hmmm, its a government work environment regulation, we must be immune to applying it to our inspections, has anyone read that? We appraisers need to be aware and voice our opinion about FHA requiring appraisers to inspect the attic for this reason. Remember there are not many of us left, let some non-appraiser inspect it with a Hazmat suit.

  4. I can’t imagine a 300lb 65yr old appraiser climbing up that ladder, or a lady appraiser in a skirt or dress. That’s a disaster in the making.

  5. I thought I was the first genius to come up with the selfie-stick trick, but Tony beat me to it. 🙂 I have always been a little leery of ladders, so I even use the selfie-stick for drop-downs – those things can be rickety! Usually, the homeowner can find a broom or mop so I can prop the scuttle open with one hand and take the picture with the other. But in an empty house, I’ve taken to borrowing closet rods – they aren’t usually permanently attached. I even use the selfie-stick for creepy crawlspaces!

  6. I’ve been using that collapsible ladder since they first became available in the early 2000’s. You can refuse to enter the crawl space, either above the ceiling or below the floor, over safety issues. I’ve done it regularly. These days, I don’t do mortgage origination work, so it’s no longer an FHA issue. However, when I observe the premises, I do as good a job as can be safely done. In one case, I did as Dustin demonstrated in the video: Pushed up the scuttle, climbed the ladder (and I’m 70 YO and +50 overweight). When I moved the scuttle out of the way, above my head was a huge hole in the 1/2″ particle board decking which had been concealed with roofing felt. Needless to say, that homeowner didn’t get a loan that day. (Got the pics to prove it.)

    W/R/T AMC demands, it’s your own fault. They say, “We’re gonna charge you ten bucks to steal your report data and forward it to your client.” You respond by bellyaching in forums. Why not say instead, “I can’t forward this report to you, Mr. AMC, because you aren’t my client. So unless you produce a letter of agency from ABC Bank for me, I’ll send the report directly to them.
    Oh, you want me to use a portal? Too bad. Unless that’s the client’s portal, I can’t do it because of confidentiality.”
    Just say “No.”
    “No” to low fees; I determine my fees, not the client.
    “No” to requests for corrections (unless it’s really an error.) Only mistakes require correction.
    “No” to 60-day delays in payment. You want a 20-page report in 48 hours, and you can’t write a check in less than two months? I don’t think so. I will begin your appraisal on receipt of my $600 fee. Have a nice day.

    You don’t have to take the crap they’re handing out. They need you more than you need them.

    1. With just under 10,000 thousand appraisers in the state of CA, 1,000 + within my single county, and 5,000 + within a few hundred miles (Southern CA), good luck with your take it or leave it attitude in my area Jim. My expressions within various blogs are not empty chatter, but are for education purposes to show others what is going on outside of the area they may not cover. On a local, regional, state, and federal level I’m attempting to make positive changes.

  7. What model is your ladder? I can’t locate one that light. I listened to your ladder video but still not able to find one.

    1. Or use the extended and climb. I don’t know what model it is but it’s the 12 1/2 footer. I probably exaggerated the weight. Sometimes I don’t know my own strength. 😉

  8. As a ‘lady appraiser’, I would never dream of wearing a dress to do an appraisal, especially not an FHA appraisal. But I do agree with the sentiment that we are not home inspectors and should not be inspecting attics. It would be more effective to insure the integrity of a home if a home inspection was just required for every FHA loan.

  9. With regard to fairness and appraisers, it can be summed up in one word. Power. Who has it and who doesn’t.
    With any relationship, when one party has more power than the other, it is a matter of WHEN not IF abuse will occur. It is human nature.
    The problem that appraisers are confronting, is that they have little to no power in negotiations with AMC. The AMCs are an Oligopoly and the appraisers are interchangeable cogs that machinery of production. That it is, and always was, the plan of the UAD. Make the data set uniform ( interchangeable), so that the appraiser’s increasingly are a commodity.

    Until appraisers are willing to collectively bargain, fees for appraisers will decline, liability on the appraiser will increase has will the informational demands.
    Do you think that airline pilots, teachers, football players, etc… make more $ and are treated better by their employer because they are in a union? The answer is somewhere between “Yes!” and “Hell Yes!” Do you think the traveling public is safer because airlines can only work pilots for limited amount of time per day?

    It is time for every appraiser to realize that this is not a free market. It is a government protected monopoly/Oligopoly with regard to lender work.

    Appraisers can either learn to collectively bargain and demand an appraiser Bill of Rights, or be relegated to high-priced Walmart workers.
    or go find another line of work

    1. David, every time I bring up issues that effect me and the thousands of other appraises within my region (Souterhn CA), I’m singled out as a(an) (fill in the blank), instead of being taken seriously. No appraiser wants to get on board to help the masses (those areas that pay $225 to $350), but instead they want to boast about their $700 fees and how they can say NO on a local level. My beef with Dustin, is that the tone of his blogs and or podcasts often don’t represent the masses, but are more tilted toward his world of the top 1% of the 1%. If appraisers can’t agree to the problems, then there will never be unity.

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