Bryan Reynolds suggests two changes lenders should make to help appraisal companies operate more efficiently: Let appraisal trainees do inspections and appraisal firms make assignments.

Listen, lenders! No, I’m not talking about the adorable Listen Linda Kid, although he is absolutely fantastic. But I am gonna rip off his best line: Listen, lenders!

In fairness, I give everybody a hard time: appraisers, agents, underwriters. Today it’s the lending community’s turn — you lenders out there, hear me out.

It’s not news to anyone to say that we’re in unprecedented times. Everybody’s waiting for appraisals. Everyone wants to solve the backlog problem with new ideas and products and hybrids. Everyone has “the solution.”

Let’s look at this for a minute. You know why supervisory appraisers are apprehensive about taking on appraiser trainees? It’s because, what value do they add? If I’ve got to go out on every inspection and hold the trainee’s hand, they really don’t add any value to me as a business owner.

USPAP, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, your states all allow appraisers to send trainees out on their own, after a certain period and once you feel the trainee is competent . But the lending community continues to push back on this. If the lenders are willing to send an insurance agent out to do inspections, why in the world are they not letting me send my trainee out to do an inspection without me?

Lenders, just listen a minute: A lot of these problems would be solved if you let us appraisers do what USPAP, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and our states allow for. Let me teach a trainee the proper methods of observation, and let me send them out. I can hire three trainees! I can expand my book of business!

But if I have to accompany them on every inspection, why would I bring someone on to train at all? Dustin Harris makes the point beautifully on his blog at

“Our clients (AMCs and Lenders) have made it next to impossible to take on a new recruit. Most of the engagement letters I receive have the following little statement attached, ‘The Certified Appraiser must physically inspect the property, all comparables, and complete the appraisal report. The use of Trainees for this assignment is not allowed.’ So, let me get this straight: I can hire and train a new appraiser, but they cannot do anything to help my business grow until they are fully Certified. Gee, sign me up!” —Dustin Harris, The Appraiser Coach Blog

Well said.

Here’s another thing, lenders (and maybe this goes out to AMCs as well): If I want to hire three certified appraisers, and now I can hire three trainee appraisers for each of them, that’s nine more trainees and three certified appraisers. I have an army now! I’m ready to take on lots of work. But here’s the problem: The lender is going to send the appraisal request to the specific appraiser. Why don’t they send it to the firm? Why don’t they send it to me?

For instance, I have an appraiser. Matt. You send an order to my firm, I could say, that’s outside of Matt’s immediate area. He services that area, but that’s an hour drive. Let me send Kelsey! She’s ten minutes away from that property. So let me assign it based on what makes more business sense. Or maybe Matt’s two weeks behind and Kelsey doesn’t have anything to do. Doesn’t it make sense that I, the business owner, make the assigning decisions, for efficiency purposes?

Listen, lenders. We can solve a lot of problems if you do two things:

1. Let appraisal companies make assignments.

Start assigning the appraisal to the firm, and let the firm decide he best person for the job. Think about it. You send over a fourplex. Kelsey’s only done one in her life. Matt’s done 400 in the last three years! Wouldn’t it make sense for me to assign that multiplex to Matt? I as the business owner know how to delegate those assignments a lot better than you do.

So why don’t we look at approving appraisal firms instead of individual appraisers. If you need to vet them, I understand that. But approve my firm, let me hire more appraisers, and I’ll delegate the assignments out responsibly.

And then finally, listen lenders:

2. Let trainees do inspections.

Let me start using my trainees to their full potential. Trust me to choose them, then let me trust them to do the work I assign. This helps you, it helps me, and it helps the communities we serve.

Most of all, if lenders and AMCs don’t make it less onerous for us to take on and train new appraisers, then how do they expect new appraisers to enter the profession? Our industry is aging. We need excited, sharp young people to take up the trade. Which means we veterans are gonna need to show them the ropes. But we can’t do it out of charity. There need to be incentives for all of us — supervisory appraisers and trainees.

Just listen!

9 replies
  1. Aaron
    Aaron says:

    If they allow appraisers to send out trainees, the independent appraiser will disappear overnight. There will be a few big appraisal shops in each city. If you aren’t one of the old-timers/establishment, you will be forced to work for an appraisal shop. This has happened in other industries. Large corporations don’t want to work with individual appraisers. They want one contact for all their needs. I hope you all don’t keep pursuing this matter. It is not good for the average appraiser.

    • John
      John says:

      I agree with Aaron. This happened in the past. The favorite larger appraisal firms and became buddies with all the main lenders and got all the work. Honestly the whole shake up when AMC’s came in was the only way I was able to get a start and get work. Now I only work for AMC’s that pay well, and I am on with the VA and good local lenders.

    • Jaydee
      Jaydee says:

      So then Aaron what is your suggested solution? If a trainee under my supervision, is now competent according to me, the supervisor. Why would the AMC or Lender be allowed to bar and restrict his/her ability to do the inspections? I’m still ultimately responsible for the content of the reports until he/she is licensed or certified. You’re part of the problem. Be part of the solution.

      • Mark Roberts
        Mark Roberts says:

        I will not spend all the time needed to train an associate trainee, go out on the first 100 inspections, and then accompany them on the rest, only to create a competitor when they leave my firm. The solution is four year college programs in appraising and economics after which the appraiser has a certification and a degree. The professors would be the trainers in that case. There is no economic incentive for me as a business person to train associates in the current regulation environment.

  2. Keith Thurman
    Keith Thurman says:

    I have trained many appraisers in the last 35-years. Given the current rules, you have to make a decision whether you are an appraiser or you are a trainer. I have found that with two trainees it is very difficult – if not impossible – to adequately oversee them, run the office AND be an appraiser. I have decided that I will continue to train because I get fulfilment out of it. I also have found it to be profitable when it is done right. The trick is to understand that you will not be able to complete as much personal work as you could before you trained, which will make you less frustrated when your trainee needs guidance.

  3. Levin Messick
    Levin Messick says:

    The lenders want to keep control. of who works and more importantly to keep a hand in the appraisers wallet. They believe that everyone in the business should be a profit center for the lender. Since they own most of the management companies they basically have achieved that. Lastly, they don’t really have any respect for you. .”Appraisers will do what they are told when we tell them to do it- they always have and we will ensure they always will”. From the lips of a bank president to my ear 25 years ago. I fired him and his bank and sought work where we are appreciated.

  4. Josh Hatfield
    Josh Hatfield says:

    Great article and replies. It gets old turning down more assignments than I complete in a week. I’ve had a few people asking me to sponsor them, one an old friend that has an excellent work ethic, morals and is smart. I’m at the point I want to do my part to keep our profession alive, make more money and scale back on my workload a bit. Bryan Reynolds article speaks volumes of truth and so does Jaydee. It doesn’t make any sense as a business person to sacrifice their current operation, volume and reputation to train someone when the “RULES”; made because of the housing market crash in 2008-2010 inherently exterminated “appraisal shops”. Why, because of the huge volume subprime market lenders having appraisal shops completing appraisals and hitting their target for all of their no doc loans, doomed to default from the start. Firewalls have been in place since to stop communication between the appraiser and lender. As such, capitalism can be an option, again. On the other hand, there will inherently be more competition for us as appraisers but I’d rather deal with learning how to grow being pressured by more competition than watch our profession go to the way of the buggy whip maker.

  5. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    It has taken me over 2.5 years to train my current trainee. She is more than able to complete inspections and reports on her own. But, the required time that can be applied to the experience hours does not relate to the actual hours that go into a compliant report. She is currently waiting (its been 5 weeks now) for the state to audit her workfiles. It has been a lot longer process than either of us thought when we started this. I honestly don’t know why anyone would do this. A huge hit on my bottom line and productivity.

  6. Diane Friebel
    Diane Friebel says:

    This article is asking that things go back to the way they used to be. I totally agree with this “solution”. Back in the 90’s that was the way things were handled, and my business is still going strong. It was never pushed out by the “Big Firms”. If your product is a good one, your clients will continue to reach out, AND they will be that much happier because your firm can handle more work.


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