Appraisal Volume and Appraisal Quality

I do around 4 times as many appraisals as my competitors. That’s not a boast: I’ve done my research, and it’s the truth. People in the real estate appraisal industry know how much work I get through, and the question they always ask is, ‘How do you do so much without cutting corners?’ They seem to think that because the quantity of my work is so high, the quality must suffer. Well, I can promise you that this is not the case.

I like to imagine a successful real estate appraisal business as being like a three legged stool. The top of the stool – the seat – is your actual appraisal business. It’s supported by three legs: technology, human resources and systems. Each leg is incredibly important. Take one leg away and the whole stool collapses. What I want to focus on today, and really the key to efficiently running a real estate appraisal business, is the second leg: human resources.

The secret to getting so much work done, whilst maintaining high standards, is the law of delegation. Now, a lot of people out there don’t like to delegate. They’re the chief appraiser, the boss, the CEO: it’s their reputation on the line when work goes out, so they want to do everything themselves.

That’s fine. If that’s the way you want to operate, I have no beef with that. Just keep in mind, there will always be a limit on just how high you can go and how much work you’ll be able to get done with that particular model. I’ve spent a lot of time studying the greats – the most successful people in our world – and I found that, without fail, that they did not work alone. They surrounded themselves with a high quality team, made of people all pulling efficiently and effectively in the same direction.

appraiser-assstanceWhen it comes to delegation, we need to divide appraisal work into two parts. I call the first part ‘assembly line work’, which includes tasks like data entry. This is easily delegated, to an assistant or to a program. The second part is ‘analysis work’: making adjustments, choosing comps, weighing various comps, and so on. This is where real estate appraisal becomes more of an art form.

Now, you can still delegate analysis work, but this is where the most crucial part of delegation comes in: quality control. I delegate a lot of my work, but you’d better believe my fingerprints are still all over the work. I double and triple check absolutely everything that goes out of my office. I’m obsessive about it because I’m the boss, and it’s up to me to make sure the highest standards are maintained.

I put a lot of effort into quality control, but you know what? It still takes much less time to do this checking than it would to do every piece of assembly line or analysis work myself.

Do I still make mistakes? Of course I do; I’m human. But I am absolutely positive that I don’t make any more mistakes than my competitors who don’t utilize this approach. I’m also positive that, if you ever want to reach the heights of the real estate appraisal business, you need to understand the crucial importance of the art of delegation.

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 004 – Increasing Appraisal Volume Without Decreasing Quality. 

18 thoughts on “Appraisal Volume and Appraisal Quality”

  1. It should be mandatory that every appraiser be coached by the coach so with the added efficiency instead of 80,000 (+/-) appraisers in the good old US of A, the same work could be done by 20,000. Only with the appraiser coach can team be spelled with an I (Teaim?, Tieam?, Teiam?). Lets hear it for canned phrases, boilerplate templates, MLS pictures, the word stairs in the sketch, open accessibility to ones digital signature, and Mondays only office visits. If only the 40,000 +/- appraisers lost since 2007 knew the secret.
    Seek the truth.

  2. I am a 1 man office and do 7-8 appraisals per week. You say you do 4 times as much (more if you are referring to offices with more than 1 appraiser). So that is at least 28 appraisals per week and you say that YOU double and triple check absolutely everything that goes out of my office. BS. You wouldn’t have time to do that, do your podcasts, your emailed stories such as this and on and on. And you do appraisals too? Baloney. There’s not enough time in the day. I think your just another one of those “look at me I’m great” gurus whose making more money selling your program of how we can all be like you than you make on appraisals.

    1. Ken:

      I said I do around 4 times what my COMPETITORS do. I have looked, and there is no Ken in my area. 😉

      By admission, you reveal why you are doing 7-8 appraisals per week. You are a 1-man office. I think you have missed the entire point of the article, my friend.

      1. Dustin, when you work a single county like I do that has nearly 1,000 licensed appraisers, and also have around 4,000 within a few hundred miles (a few other counties), doing a first name search to find competition doesn’t cut it. You won the location lottery. Turning squares into to circles.

        1. Bridget Monholland

          This is too funny! I am new to the All Star Team and found Hertz comment in the playbook hilarious!

          Dear crotchety appraiserasaurus’,

          Thank you for constantly reminding us of how not to be. Where would this profession be without you??

          Thanks,
          Bridget

          One of the reasons appraisers have a lack of respect is because they don’t respect one another. Here’s a thought: If you weren’t so busy trolling your volume would increase. I know you have years of experience and I’m certain you are an excellent appraiser but the fact is; You don’t know what you don’t know. So many appraisers do so many things that do not have to be done by them. These processes and ideas may or may not be for you but didn’t your mother teach you, “If you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” I truly believe that we can learn SOMETHING from everyone. For example, maybe you don’t hire an office manager or an assistant but you hire someone to handle the trolling for you. This way you don’t lose your crotchety status and you can continue to do what you do best. It’s a win win!

          I challenge you to step outside the box and use forward thinking. What if? What if he’s onto something? Anything? Maybe scheduling blocks of time rather than specific times. Or spending time on your business rather than in it. There has to be something you can take away from all your time spent here.

  3. It is all about hours spent on the appraisal from receiving the order to sending the order to the client. I have one lady that receives orders, enters the order in the system, and schedules appointments. I have two processors that collect and enter data to the order and a part time office manager that makes sure I get paid and that I pay everyone. I typically complete 18-20 residential assignments per week and one to two commerical ( I love farm appraisals) It is my assumption that the total hours spent on the appraisal is more that if I did everything 7-8 assignments per week by myself, however I hate data entry. I do not like searching public data for plats, deeds, tax information. I should have mentioned that I am dyslexic so data entry is a real chore for me. It takes me three times as long to enter data that the ladies I have hired to complete this task. What I really love is Math and working with the data once it is accumulated. Nothing leaves my office without my analysis. Everyone has a business model that works for them, I get to do what I love to do and to provide employment for some really great people that I like to work with. In a small company like ours the employer knows the ones he works with better that in a large office environment. I try to provide a better work place that other offices in my community. My whole staff has the week week between Christmas and News years Day off and are paid double time. Everyone need more mone around the Hoildays. We have each person a laptop so that if a child or other family member is sick the employee can work from home. We use alamode and are waiting for cloud based titan, I hope that it works as well as the hype. My employes all have school age children, this will allow them the be able to get the work completed and stay home on spring and fall breaks, and have only two days to scheduld child care in the summers. I on the other hand my typical week is 60-75 hours, however this is by choice. I see each home personally and finish reports after supper. My I-pad is the heaviest thing I pick up, I get to be outside every day and do what I love every night. Life is good!!!

  4. I delegate and use the latest technology. Took my business from 30-40 appraisals/month to 80-90 appraisals a month and with better quality. As Dustin says, you are who you surround yourself with. Pretty simple concept. If you are a one man shop, that’s fine but don’t get upset because you are working extra hours and not making enough money. It’s how you want to choose the direction of your business and, more importantly, your personal time for yourself and/or family. I’m a successful, happy appraiser with a lot of extra time. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Thanks for all the great advice Dustin.

  5. I’m on the complete other end of the spectrum & have been for 20 yrs. I am a 55 yr old grandmother & an appraiser of 25+ years. I work out of a home office. I do everything myself. I complete 4-6 appraisals a week. I only accept high fee complex appraisals from AMCs/lenders & most of my work is for individuals & attorneys. Some days I do 3-4 inspections & some days I never get out of yoga pants or leave my office. I am 10 steps from my hot tub & 20 from my pool. I go scuba diving when I want & I am completely independent from any client. I am not responsible for any one else’s financial well being & I chose my clients & have more work available than I could ever do. I have very little overhead & I do everything as simply as possible. Many years ago I ran a large appraisal company & decided it wasn’t for me. I am thankful every day that I am able to have a career that I love & excel at on my own terms. I will never make a ton of money but my stress level is low & any mistakes that leave my desk are my own.

  6. I’m not asking a loaded question here; I certainly don’t mean for it to come off that way. I have much respect for you and what you’ve been able to achieve. Dustin, how much time do you spend reviewing the work of others in your office before you sign off? I gather you use trainees. I’ve read where you follow your states rules. I’d like to think I could do the same thing; though at the moment I’m a one man office.

    1. Don, your question should not have been “how much time is spent reviewing the work of others”, but what work is being done by others? Is the appraiser (Dustin) defining the neighborhood search parameters, thus the pool of potential comparables, or is a non-licensed office staff employee determining the market area? If the staff employee is determining the search area, they are in essence establishing the available comps. Are they in charge of narrowing down or eliminating the collection of comps to a workable amount (10, 20, 30)? Does Dustin take up to 30 comp pictures per assignment so post inspection in the eyes of his office staff he will have his final 3, 4, 6, or 9 comps to input? Does his office staff pre-comp the final 3, 4, 6, or 9 comps that will be used? Is Dustin reviewing ALL pertinent comp data to establish which sales are locationally, physically, and functionally, the most similar, or does his review simply entail a review of what was already pulled and input by his office staff? Does his non-licensed office staff pull from the market paired sales analysis information to determine adjustments? Dustin said that (I) do four times more work than his competitors, but in reality his I is a team of people.

      Seek the truth.

  7. Don

    Thank you for your professional tone. The question is difficult to answer because every report is different. The amount of time I spend on the actual report and checking over it varies. Some reports can be as little as 30 minutes another reports can be as much as over an hour. Needless to say, I am heavily involved in every report that has my name on it. As the article indicates, it is my name on the line. I think sometimes people who know just a little bit about my business model make assumptions that are incorrect. I am not one that will slough off important aspects of report writing to others and be hands off. Not worth the liability.

  8. Looking at it from the perspective of the hired help, I totally agree with you Dustin.

    For around 5 years before I went off on my own, I basically did all the research, writing up, and corrections on every appraisal my boss got. He did the inspections and communication with the clients.

    It worked extremely well in his favor because I am young, fast, and able to work well with little to no direction from him.

    In every business I believe it’s pertinent to delegate because otherwise there is no way you could ever scale beyond your own capacity.

  9. Dustin. You have nailed it again. Keep up the good work. We have about 10 people in our company and 2016 was busiest year since 2003. Praise Jesus.

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