In yesterday’s American Banker, a column submitted by an executive and board member of ATM Corp. of America in Coraopolis, Pa., which provides settlement service technology to mortgage lenders called: Appraisal Managers Can Take the Pressure Off suggests that appraisal management companies can reduce inflated appraisals because they eliminate contact with the lender so they can be thought of as a buffer for appraisal pressure.

They claim that:

Appraisal management companies were introduced in the 1980s, in part to provide lenders with a way to secure unbiased appraisals.

While I don’t question their genuine conviction that they believe what they are saying, it is amazing how far off the mark they are.

Its been my experience that one of the problems with AMC’s in general is how detached upper management is from the appraisal process, understanding the problems and issues appraisers face every day.

Of course this article is targeted to a publication whose primary reader is their client base.

AMC’s are physically unable to perform true qualitative reviews for their reports. They can measure turnaround times and perform “electronic” reviews, flagging reports for exceeding guidelines. But someone sitting in a cubicle in Maine, doesn’t know the market, block by block in Idaho like a local lender would.

It gets worse. The quality of the reports, which can’t be measured by AMC’s in qualitative ways, are submitted by appraisers who are generally at the lower end of the quality spectrum. Why? Because the AMC is the middleman and the lender still pays the same appraisal fee. They get a piece of the action. The good appraisers are generally unable to afford to work for AMC’s without cutting costs or taking shortcuts that directly impair the quality of their reports. Of course there are always exceptions.

Specifically in our market, you can’t believe the quality we see for reports completed in this manner. They are usually not worth the paper they are written on.

Articles like this in prominent publications are misleading, and because of the lack of a unified voice for the appraisal industry, no one challenges it. After a while, repetition leads to a false sense of truth and the appraiser ultimately loses.

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