OK, let’s face it: real estate appraisers are in the service business. We provide a service – real estate appraisals. We provide those services to anybody willing to pay for them. That’s what service providers do. To which you say, “Dustin, you have a deep grasp of the obvious.” Well, let’s go a little deeper.
Part of what I do is stay in touch with local real estate brokers and appraisers. Some of us have a local restaurant we frequent. At the front door is a sign letting all patrons the management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone. I’ve never seen this restaurant refuse service to anybody. You don’t make money turning away customers, but the management of the restaurant reserves that right.
That realization got me thinking; do appraisers have the right to refuse to provide service to any potential customers? I surely hope so! And it is a right that I think sometimes we do not exercise often enough. Let me give you an example. To keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in real estate appraisal across the country, I spend time on Facebook and the other social media. Sometimes the comments on those forums can get really heated, with appraisers accusing clients, AMCs, lenders, other appraisers, and so forth of the most awful actions. AMCs are a favorite target of the vitriol on these forums.
Against the AMC industry in general appraisers hurl the accusations that the AMCs fees are too low, their turn-around times are too short, their stips and too frequent and stupid, and with their ROVs they send sales that are utterly not comparable. Clearly, they are just trying to force the value up to support the broker’s inflated listing price (thus inflated commission). Whether these accusations are true or merely appraisers’ pet peeves is irrelevant for this discussion. So let’s get to what’s relevant.
For the purpose of this blog, let’s assume these accusations are true. Let’s assume AMCs are Satan’s malevolent spawn. OK, there is not much we can do about that. But instead of bitching at them (uselessly and irrelevantly, by the way, since the lenders want their services), why don’t we just fire them? Why don’t we just refuse to provide them service, just like the restaurant does? Why don’t we take off our frilly pink tu-tus, put on our sweat- and grease-stained overalls, and get to work getting clients who recognize the benefits of our services?
This is not to advocate firing all of your clients between now and tomorrow morning. It does mean, however, sitting down with a list of clients, ordering them by the amount you billed them last fiscal year, and then firing the bottom 10%. Then it means the next time one of the surviving AMCs calls with a rush job and a low fee, you professionally reply that it will take X amount of days, and the fee will be X amount. This will get their attention.
If, after three more assignments that AMC sends your way it is clear they are not willing to compensate you to do the job correctly, then fire that AMC, too. Mules are generally stupid. But you hit one up-side the head enough times and they will generally do what you ask (if, for no other reason, so you don’t hit them again). AMCs may be smarter than mules, but they won’t change until they have a reason to change. And if you keep taking their jobs with low fees and short turnaround times, they are not going to change. And whose fault is that?
It’s OK to vent on social media forums. But venting (a passive activity) must give way to action, otherwise nothing will change. So refuse service to those who are not worthy of it. Then, actively seek out those who are worthy of it and provide it to them.
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: