Knowing Is Half the Battle

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In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the State of Idaho shut down, my company and I took a remote appraisal assignment. Because of the local stay-at-home order, we ended up having the borrower take the interior photographs of this property. He grumbled and complained, but eventually did as we asked. A short while after we had submitted the report to our client, I received an email from them stating that they had received a complaint from the borrower that we had overcharged him since he had had to take the pictures, and asking if they could get a partial refund for the photos that had been taken.

           This can be a tricky situation. On the one hand, what this man said was true – we hadn’t taken any of the interior photos, and having him do so was an inconvenience to him. But on the other hand, when you consider the back and forth we had to do with him to get the pictures we needed, it would have been easier to just drive out there and take pictures myself. Nevertheless, I took the complaint into consideration, and looked at everything we had done to make sure we hadn’t done anything out of place. I ultimately decided that we hadn’t.

           My client received a moderately long, carefully worded email, explaining to them why I’d made the pricing decision I had, and why I was not going to grant the request of a partial refund in this case. I opted to educate and inform – in a professional manner, of course – rather than make the requested price adjustment.

There are times when I decide to just take the cut in order to preserve a long-term relationship with a client, and it’s important to know when the time is appropriate for that. However, there is also something to be said for charging for your expertise, not just your labor. Sometimes knowing is half the battle! 

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5 Comments on “Knowing Is Half the Battle”

  1. Pingback: Knowing Is Half the Battle - Appraisal Buzz

  2. Do you think the lender, or AMC gave back 5, 10, or who knows 20% of their fees based on this product type? Of course not, so why should you? Considering the borrower was probably locking in savings of $250 a month for the next 30 years ($90,000), I would have told him and the client to “suck it up buttercup”.

    On a side note, considering the borrower has a financial interest, I really hope the signing appraiser did a live walk through versus taking the borrowers word that what they sent you is current and accurate.

    Seek the truth

  3. Wise advice. Providing information provides a better understanding and maintains a good working relationship.

  4. I’ll say it: I would have kept all of the fee. The camel’s back was broken a long time ago, for me. That would have pushed me into a nuclear response that would have more than likely ended the business relationship. I keep listening to Dustin because I hope to work myself through the fact that I can’t stand most of the people in this industry. They play know it all or just plain stupid. Then, the appraiser is supposed to make it all better. Often, I cannot make it better by way of the value being higher. This kind of semantic complaint (Sorry Dustin) but, it’s one more reason I won’t be accepting photos of a home, in place of my own inspection.

  5. I see this as similar to a drive-by assignment. Often lenders will ask for a drive-by assignment and suggest that the price should be something like 40% lower. That’s crazy IMO. When I do a drive-by, I save a little time at the inspection, but I have to spend more time saying how I support the condition estimate of the property. I might have to explain what I could see from the road, explain that had photos from the MLS in a recent sale, explain that I did or didn’t speak to the owner, explain what learned from other sources, and explain what is uncertain. That is extra work that almost accounts for me not having done the inspection. Hopefully when remote assignments become more normal, appraisers don’t forget this and just accept the much lower fee. We are still doing the work and taking the liability regardless of how detailed the inspection is.

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