Why Ask the Question if You Don’t Like the Answer?

I was asked a little while back to do a personal appraisal on a home. Our new customer was looking at the possibility of selling his home and had heard that I did great work from a neighbor who had also recently utilized our services. I was honored by the request and of course completed the appraisal to the best of my ability. I felt confident in my work and expected my customer to be happy as well. However, the angry phone call I got a few days later proved otherwise. 

He was enraged because he thought that his home was worth more than the value I listed on the report. He was being very nitpicky about the report and talking about the price per square foot and how it was not comparable to the other comps I had used. At one point he told me that it seemed that he could have done a better job without my help. To give you the reader’s digest version, I was on the phone with him for forty-five minutes. 

I am sure that you all have had similar experiences throughout your careers. But every time I have related experiences, I cannot help but wonder why anyone engages an appraiser if they are just going to argue about the value in the end. Now, I am fully aware that I make mistakes and if there is a mistake that I have made that causes an incorrect value to be reflected in the report, then I welcome that feedback and will get it fixed right away. But in this case, there was nothing incorrect in the report. He simply just did not like the value. 

While I wish all of my customers would leave happy with their final product. My job, ultimately, is not to please people – it is to tell them the price that their home is most likely to sell at based on my data. He never had a complaint about my lack of professionalism or a lack of thoroughness in the appraisal. The truth is (and I told him this), no one is forcing him to list his home for the price that is listed on the appraisal. Just because my data indicates one number, does not mean that someone would not be willing to pay more for the home. I completed the job I was asked to do by telling him the value that was most accurate based on the data I had. Now, he gets to choose what he does with that information. 

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 269 Tell Me Again Why You Hired An Appraiser?



11 thoughts on “Why Ask the Question if You Don’t Like the Answer?”

  1. I tell them I’m just a reporter, I report what the current market says and correlate the data. I try to make it as impersonal as possible. I say if they have any better data that what I found they are welcome to offer it. I don’t “make” or “not make” deals.

  2. Anthony J Powell

    A 45-minute phone call is a waste of time. yours and theirs!
    Price/’Scope-Of-Work’ of a ‘private’ assignment includes ‘educating’ the client; before, during and after the appraisal. Their ‘demeanor’ (rude, abrupt, disrespectful) is irrelevant.
    “This is the result you want” (Market Value?). “This is what I do and how I do it”. “Any questions?”
    Then present the report in person, and answer every question.
    Facts Are Facts!
    It’s on the client/user to justify every challenge to the ‘facts’ in the report.
    They are free to be civil, respectful, professional
    Or Not . . .

  3. My observation is most clients say they want a “good” appraisal. However, in their minds a “good” appraisal is an appraisal which credibly convinces someone else of the clients hoped for value

  4. I just finished with exactly the same experience. This is for a home that a family of 5 adults grew up in and mom and dad passed away and they think the home is worth a fortune. Unfortunately the home was a custom-built home with only 7 foot high ceilings and broken up in the fashion that many homes were built in the 50s and 60s. The beginning of the assignment she said I came highly recommended is one of the best appraisers in the Valley. She said what I gave her was a piece of crap. She said she didn’t look at the comparables she just didn’t believe the value the value. She also said that her real estate agent who she been arguing with did not like the report. I met the agent of the home which was on a small acreage with outbuildings. He was driving a Mercedes. I thought he must be a very successful agent but not someone that I knew in our small community. I asked him where he was from and use from a large city several miles away. I said you must be doing well in this good market and he said no I just got my license I work for FedEx full-time. I felt that I should tell the owner she should hire top-notch real estate agent and not some part-time person. Anyway she said, I guess I’ll send you a check. I can tell you as soon as the check comes I will return it to her and ask her to use it to hire another appraiser that will give are exactly the same results. Doing private work in many cases is not even worth the hassle.

  5. I had one a couple of years ago that I actually gave the money back, just to avoid the potential of them turning me into the state. I do a lot of private work and generally weather the abuse, but I was turned into the state twice in 2014 (both dismissed) for “value complaints”. By the time you address handling the complaint you are money and time behind. Part of the job, I always ask if they have market information that I might have missed…….

  6. He wanted to give your appraisal out to all the prospective buyers and when you did not hit his opinion of value he got angry because he can’t use your appraisal to influence buyers, agents and the next appraiser coming on behalf of the bank, most likely. Why else would a home owner want and pay for an appraisal if he/she thinks they know it all, already?

  7. That is the wonderful thing about our job, we just have to give the advice and nobody needs to take it. Calls like this used to bother me, but not so much any more. Appraisal makes your skin thicken over time.

  8. I had one get mad like this also. I told them that mostly is based on sales in area that are most similar. They said it is sad that is what appraised value is based on sales in area. They don’t want an appraisers opinion an value most of the time I have learned. They just want their opinion of it put on paper.

  9. Before l leave, I always ask the homeowner if they know how an appraisal works and how we come up with the value. I then tell them the appraisal will answer the question “if I put this house up for sale TODAY, what would it most likely sell for?” I then briefly summarize comp selection,hopefully one bigger and one smaller, adjustments, and how this data points to a value range. I highlite that l don’t make up a number, the recent sales in the area do. Then I explain how current market conditions and the amount of homes for sale in their area, affect values by comparing to what happens to prices of avocados (as an example) when they are in abundance and how prices go up when they are scarce. During this conversation l usually find out if they are expecting too much for their home and without ever talking about value of their home I might have to give a bit more education. I find that a few minutes spent educating them avoids misunderstandings, anger at the result and wasting time later. I always tell refi’s they can call me AFTER they receive their copy from their lender if they have any questions. I try to put the homeowner mentally in a buyer’s shoes. We are emotionally connected to our properties so we all need someone to bring us back down to earth. And l never reveal the value of their home during all of this. Above all, l discover if they are reasonable or not. If not, l know to add more details in my reconciliation.

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