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[Appraisal Contemplations] Where We Stand In the Land of Bias

Appraisal Contemplations is a column written by native Californian and a certified real estate appraiser, Aaron O. Thomas. He began appraising in Arizona and eventually ended up in San Diego where he owns and runs San Diego Appraisers [1]. His firm specializes in greater San Diego County area residential properties and his clients include mortgage brokers, CPAs, lawyers, businesses and homeowners. Aaron is very outspoken and passionate about real estate appraising. Colleagues on Appraisers Forum [2] have long known him as “Tucson Appraisals.” Good thing it’s too warm in San Diego to have the wool pulled over his eyes to the unethical business practice of the day: “comp checks [3].” Like me, he experienced a growing frustration in recent years with the form-filler mentality that many appraisers and users of appraisal services have embraced.
Jonathan Miller

I received a phone call from a home owner yesterday complaining about the last appraisal that was done on his home. He didn’t think the Appraiser should have utilized all bank owned comparables and that the comparables were inferior in condition compared to his home. After complaining for several minutes, the home owner finally said that he would give my information to the new finance company since the last refinance did not go through with the previous one. I told him it would be great to have the business, but I could by no means promise that I wouldn’t use bank owned comparable sales.

The reason I tell this story is because I knew that I had to respond in a way that did not take the side of the home owner or the Appraiser. Why tear down another appraiser for a report I have not seen? After all, don’t most home owners think that their home is gold? I am by no means saying that there was nothing wrong with the appraisal. My point here is that too many Appraisers are ready and willing to tear each other down in the name of more business with little proof or no proof that what people are saying about the “other” Appraiser is accurate. Another thing I see wrong with this picture is that this information mostly comes not from another licensed Appraiser, but from someone who desperately needs the loan to go through.

I can sum up this entire situation with one word; “biased”.
If I am getting these types of phone calls, I am almost positive others have as well. I just hope other Appraisers return the same professional courtesies I extend to them. Our industry sure could use more people that extend a level headed approach to have the awareness of where they themselves stand in the midst of the circle of bias that we are constantly surrounded in on a daily basis.