Appraising in Delaware, the Blog...

August 11th, 2022 11:59 AM

Appraisers need to be able to work with AMCs and have a good relationship with them if they want to keep working with them. Building the relationship can feel overwhelming at times but if you keep find a way to make the following tips a part of your workflow you can reach and keep a high rating with them. 

Stay on top of business changes/updates. Depending on how you have things laid out you will need to update your licensing and your insurance every year, every other year or maybe it’s more time between. If for some reason you miss the update you will have a lull in receiving orders, the AMCs will have to send out reminder emails. It truly just adds more work to both you and the AMC. Also, if you decide to add a new coverage area or take away from what you currently cover it is important to update the AMCs as soon as possible. 

Appraisal updates are the bane of a lot of appraisers existence but it is helpful for the AMCs to get the information and know where they are in terms of closing out the appraisal request. Make sure you are letting AMCs know that the inspection has been scheduled and completed, if there are any delays in setting up the inspection, along with any other issues or questions you may have. The more they know the more they can help you with moving things forward. 

Do your best to not accept an appraisal and then turn it back. Making sure you are reading through everything, reviewing the area and request and being knowledgeable in the request is incredibly important. When you turn back an appraisal you have wasted not only your time but the time of the AMC as well. Don’t take this as a sign to never do this, because in all honesty there will be times you just have to in order to have the best report given - just make sure this is saved for emergencies, and make sure that you are explaining the issues you are having. 

When an AMC reaches out and knows they can expect a prompt response back it makes communication and trusting the appraiser that much easier. When you get requests for revisions or questions about the status of an appraisal, do your best to respond quickly and thoroughly. 

All relationships need communication, even ones in the workplace. If you have a good foundation of communication you can build everything else on that. 

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Posted by Patti Persia on August 11th, 2022 11:59 AMLeave a Comment

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August 5th, 2022 9:08 AM

There are a lot of reasons one might choose a site built home over a prefabricated home or vice versa. What we can tell you is that having a home pre built will have some pros that a site built home just cannot give to you. 

  1. You can be in your home quicker. Site built homes can take 3+ months to build due to a checklist of paperwork, designs, ordering the lumber and getting equipment, along with other things. A Prebuilt home can oftentimes take less than a month. 

  2. Quality control is typically better with prebuilt homes. This is because the home is being built in a controlled environment with craftsmen that do this job every single day. Add in state of the art tools for measuring, tracking and precision of each part and it becomes easier to skip past mistakes. 

  3. There is less waste involved. Manufactured and modular home companies tend to buy materials in bulk which means there is a promise of them coming back, which in turn means they tend to get the best product the material company has. Put this together with the controlled environment and you get less warped studs, damaged wood and in turn the cost to take care of waste is shrunk. 

  4. The cost is much less than a site built home. In some occurrences you can see almost a 50% decrease in pricing, of course this is not always true but even a 20% savings can add up quickly. We have covered a big chunk of what goes into saving but you can also account for the fact that with site built homes materials are often left out in different types of weather, can be stolen or vandalized and have multiple reasons for delays. 

  5. Probably the most important of all of the reasons is safety. Most prefabricated homes are designed for wind safety and energy efficiency. Manufactured homes are subject to laws which make things such as smoke detectors and other safety protocols a must.

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July 26th, 2022 10:21 AM
There is no doubt that the appraisal world has blown up over the last few years with how crazy the housing market is. Add in your regular estates, divorces, etc and it can be overwhelming to look at all the work in front of you.

It can be easy to fall into this pattern of feeling like there is too much on your plate and that you are spreading yourself to thin. In those moments it is always best to remember that giving the task in front of you, whether it is a call, email, report or whatever other things may be a part of your day should be the most important thing to you at that time.

Take one thing at a time and continue to make it the most important thing until it is finished. This is where taking the time to allocate tasks to a level of importance and having a schedule even if it is just a rough idea really tends to work well for you. Things will get done in a timely fashion and they will get done well because it is important to you.

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Posted by Patti Persia on July 26th, 2022 10:21 AMLeave a Comment

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July 19th, 2022 10:08 AM

There are many reasons to love being an appraiser but here are some of our favorites!

  1. You can be your own boss

You have the power to do things in a way that best suits you and it can be rewarding to know that you are in control. This probably flows the most into each of the following reasons more than any other. 

  1. Flexible schedule

You can choose how and when you work. Are you more of an early bird or do you like to start your mornings off slow and work your way into your inspections? Do you want to have someone to help you do your emails and phone calls? How much do you want to work? 

  1. Income

The certifications you have will play a part in your income but if you are able to work longer hours and enjoy being on the go the ability to work will pay out handsomely. 

  1. Work-Life balance

Making your own schedule is a huge perk to having being an appraiser and owning your own business. In our office we tend to schedule inspection days and then office work days for our appraiser. We will make changes depending on the workload and market but typically our appraiser has plenty of time to catch up on work or things she needs to do personally while also making sure she gets out to do her inspections. 

  1. Challenging work

You are always finding new ways and new information for the appraisals you do. You will have some unique homes and you will also have varying markets to work with. The days are never quite the same and so you are always kept on your toes. 

  1. Diverse opportunities

The amount of people you will work with and the types of homes is never ending. There are so many different avenues you can go down. You can always find something new to do in the appraising world, the limits truly seem endless.

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Posted by Patti Persia on July 19th, 2022 10:08 AMLeave a Comment

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July 13th, 2022 9:49 AM

There are certain characteristics that are needed in every job to really flourish, and being an appraiser is not an exception. There are certain things that you need that will put you above and beyond your competition. It is a mixture of brains, personality and the ability to want to know more all the time. Lets take a deeper dive into them!

  1. Curiosity - yes it killed the cat but it will absolutely be useful as an appraiser. It will help you be ready to investigate, dig and find every bit of information possible for the appraisals you do. Lets be honest, it’s not always the easiest to find all the data you want or need and being able to dig deep will be what keeps you going on the hardest investigations for as much information as possible. 

  2. Unbiased - It’s the baseline of all the work you do. In order to have integrity and uphold a trustworthy business you must remain unbiased for each and every appraisal you conduct and write. 

  3. Organized - Your ability to organize runs through the entirety of your business and office, from time management to delegating to keeping all of your work in an order that allows you to complete your work in a timely manner. If you aren’t organized the amount of time you will spend trying to remain organized will eat up your time for inspections and writing reports and handling employees. 

  4. Tech-Savvy - It is no surprise that being good with computers, phones, tablets, apps and all of the other new fangled technology out there will keep you on track, give you the best information right in the palm of your hand and will help you stay organized. It’s not the strongest requirement but as the years roll on you will see more and more of it so when possible take time to learn something new. 

  5. Flexible - Things are ever changing in this field. You will have to be diligent in keeping up with the latest information. Not to be outdone by your flexibility in schedule. We have busy times and we have slow times. Being flexible with your schedule, especially during the high highs is increasingly important to keep up with your local needs as well as AMC’s. 

  6. Patient -  When it gets down to writing up the report you need to be able to be thorough and precise. There is no rushing in this career, especially when it comes to making sure you are researching everything at your disposal as well as when you are transferring that information over. 

  7. Self Motivated - Most appraisers start off on their own and if you are not able or willing to push yourself to look for work, keep up with the calls, emails and odds and ends, do the deep dive for information and keep up with the work schedule you place you will not succeed in the world of appraisals. 

  8. Analytical - Every appraisal you do will be different. You will have to search through tons of information, especially in the early days of learning, and critical thinking will be an absolute need for everything you review and place in the reports. 

Appraising is fun and it has a lot of benefits but, as with any job, you really need to think about who you are and if you fit into what is needed to become an appraiser. If you think you embody these characteristics or others like them maybe appraising is where you need to be.

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Posted by Patti Persia on July 13th, 2022 9:49 AMLeave a Comment

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July 6th, 2022 11:18 AM

When describing neighborhoods it is quite easy to use subjective language. The neighborhood is family friendly or maybe not so family friendly. The neighborhood is crime ridden. That neighborhood is rich or poor. 

While those statements may be true to some it is not always true to others, which means it’s subjective. This is a big no no in the appraising world because, as appraisers, we are supposed to offer an objective view of the home and location. There are actually some specific verbages that we cannot use. 

For example “the community the home is in is luxurious”. The old saying is - one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and it rings true here. There will be some people who look at the community and say that's not good enough but there will be people who look at it and say it’s the most beautiful community they have ever seen. This type of language isn’t helpful in explaining the home or the location. 

Ways to stay away from subjective language can start with reviewing the fair housing act. Also, sticking with facts such as the architecture, school ratings, unit styles, condition of the housing, location of schools, stores and other conveniences can help keep you away from subjective language. 

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Posted by Patti Persia on July 6th, 2022 11:18 AMLeave a Comment

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June 29th, 2022 9:52 AM

In our last blog we explained why you need to keep work files for each appraisal you do. Now it is important to figure out exactly what needs to be put in them to help you pull out how you got to the final appraisal number for that specific appraisal. 

Remember these files will not only help you on the off chance you have a claim filed but having notes and information at the ready can also help with repeat appraisals, appraisals in the same area or if you had an appraisal that took more work due to unusual circumstances you will have information to fall back on. 

  • The engagement letter

  • Notes about any communication given to the borrower or the AMC for the appraisal (having emails available online or printed out is ok)

  • Notes about the inspection - they should be clear, informative about the state of the home as you saw it the day of inspection and if you have pictures available that is a good addition to the file

  • Comps - even if they were dismissed by you. If they were not used it is good practice to have a reason they weren’t used. 

  • Records from MLS or local information that is pulled. This would include any information you may have taken from other websites. If it is not a typical website you would use daily it may be a good idea to print it out or Pdf. it. 

  • Notes of double checking information along the way

  • Dates on everything! 

  • A note of where to find the full appraisal or a print out of it

While you may never have a need to go back for a lawsuit against you, having the information handy and easily accessible is going to give you peace of mind and the ability to give a proper and full picture of how you made your final decision. It is better to be prepared and never need it than to need it and not be prepared. 

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Posted by Patti Persia on June 29th, 2022 9:52 AMLeave a Comment

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The short answer is no. When you are in the appraising business there is no way you can know exactly how much a home is worth. It is easy to argue with appraisers over the dollar amount they give, especially as the homeowner, because we see much more than just a house with four walls - we see memories, love, hard work and our home. Yet it is much more complicated than that. 

You could request for 3 appraisers to come look at the home and they could all 3 come up with different numbers. Appraisers are just making educated opinions on the worth of a home. Now that's not to say they shouldn’t all be in the same range (typically within 5%) as each other. If there is one outlier in either direction it would be worth looking into. 

If the above situation were to play out, and all were within a reasonable percentage of the others you could easily take the average of the three appraisals to come up with a price. 

At the end of the day though we must remember that we all see things a bit differently. There will be different ways of calculating the cost, reviewing the numbers and comparables among other things.

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Posted by Patti Persia on June 21st, 2022 9:58 AMLeave a Comment

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here is no doubt that the things that we consume/buy such as gas, food, homes, etc fluctuate constantly. What are the driving forces behind them? How does it all connect with appraising? 

It’s all about math and calculations. Every single thing that we purchase has a price that is set by supply and demand, quality, cost to make among other things. And each company has to calculate this information alongside what their hard/soft costs for the company to determine their pricing. This plays exactly into what we need to do as appraisers so that we can afford the costs of the job and still bring back money for our families. 

What are hard and soft costs? Hard costs are the things that are always there and never really change (they follow the typical increases but you can plan these out). Think about your office rental, payroll, MLS/AMC Fees and other bills. The soft costs are harder to plan for, they are your gas (to and from the inspection sites), taxes, paper and ink fees, etc. It’s easiest if you go back and look over 3-4 months of costs to get an idea of what your costs are. It can be in depth and take some time but it is honestly worth it, especially if you are new to the business. 

It’s also smart to think about the competition. You don’t want to be the lowest quote but you typically don’t want to be the highest either. Most people will look for someone in the middle because the saying “you get what you pay for” is so true! You just don’t want to outbid yourself.

When you add these together you can begin to piece together, which won’t happen overnight, a pricing for your appraisals that will get things paid and also allow you to bring home a check. Obviously, over time you will be able to have more wiggle room in your pricing because you will have the time and work to show that you know your stuff! You may be surprised how much a $10 - $25 increase can help you out in the long run and when you have proven your worth your customers will be willing to pay the money. 

June 1st, 2022 10:25 AM

Have you ever wondered what it would look like to be an appraiser? Well lets just say that no day ever looks exactly the same. No two homes will ever be the exact same, whether that's the area the home is in, the improvements or something else. And depending on the scope of work an appraiser could be in a small condo in the morning and large acreage farm in the afternoon. 

In our office we typically have office days and on site work days scheduled each week. On the office days it is mostly writing, researching, and editing the appraisal reports for our appraiser. She must also do research for comparables for the appraisals she does. Then on the on site days our appraiser is running from home to home and doing inspections. We cover two counties and try to have at least 2-3 on site days a week, although sometimes we can have more when things are busy. At the appraisal inspections our appraiser is doing a walk through typically, taking pictures, measuring and speaking with clients to get pertinent information. 

As the receptionist in the office I take care of the smaller things that are done every day and need to be managed a little bit more closely in order to keep things running smoothly for our appraiser. I will handle phone calls and emails, write blog posts, schedule appointments, pull records and I am always looking for ways to keep things flowing smoothly. I am here to make things as easy as possible for the appraiser. 

We do our best to work together which is what keeps us on track. When things are busy they are super busy and when they are slow there is always work to be done, whether it’s refreshing the facebook or website or doing research to find clients to work with. Every day is a bit different because the types of reports and the houses and the people we meet are all unique.

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May 16th, 2022 12:01 PM

Appraising a home that is new construction varies throughout the different lenders, FHA and others. They are certainly more in depth than a typical appraisal - so make sure you are charging the correct amount for them! Your time is important. Outside of the time that it takes to do a new construction there are a few things you can do to help make your appraisal as easy as possible. 

  1. Blueprints cannot be the only thing you rely on. 

The blueprints that you receive can easily end up giving you a different square footage than might be true for the home. 

  1. Gather as much information about plans and specs as you possibly can.

Builders will keep the plans and specifications for a home, with the most diligent ones updating them as things change. This will give you a good idea of what is being done, what the costs and materials are, among other pertinent information. 

  1. Review past new construction appraisals you have done. 

There is a small important piece to this - remember to take into account the time between builds as materials will fluctuate on pricing. Otherwise, if you have a home that was new construction that is similar to whatever appraisal you are working on now you can use it as a foundation for the new appraisal. 

  1. Know your requirements.

From FHA to HUD to USPAP each will require specific things from you. Make sure you read through and follow the instructions to a T. 

Over time you will get better at knowing exactly who and what you are working with but if you use these tips you will be able to settle yourself into knowing the baseline of getting these types of appraisals completed.

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Posted by Patti Persia on May 16th, 2022 12:01 PMLeave a Comment

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May 2nd, 2022 10:10 AM
Cloning and Templates are incredibly similar and can be widely used in the appraisal world. The first thing to look at before choosing which you want to/should be using is what exactly each is.

Templates give a basic outline of what you would be using in your report. The larger pieces of writing, the standard wording and calculations. You probably have a handful of them – 1004, 1073, 2055 and maybe a few others. You may even have ones for specific AMC’s that you know you use on a regular basis.

Cloning is a report that has already been finished and you clone everything over to a new report. This would be used when you have two homes in the same community. And while this can be helpful at times it can hinder how well your work is being done. It’s probably the quicker way to transfer information but the quality of the work can outweigh the efficiency.

Templates keep things streamlines while also making sure that you are checking and double checking the information you are putting in your report. Giving you good efficiency AND quality at the same time.

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Posted by Patti Persia on May 2nd, 2022 10:10 AMLeave a Comment

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March 24th, 2022 11:58 AM
When doing a report for a purchase sale agreement you can see anywhere from one date to two, three or more depending on the situation – and sometimes figuring out what date to choose can make you take pause.

When in doubt I always like to try and think of it this way, a contract isn’t truly a contract until the date it is signed by both parties. If only one party has signed, then it’s just a piece of paper with a signature and some words. Once there are two signatures both parties have agreed and the document becomes an active contract.

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March 4th, 2022 10:29 AM

Let's start with the definition of the word delegate (Verb): entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself. Often we don’t want to delegate because we want to make sure everything is perfect, especially when it is our business on the line. But we don’t have to be greedy and hands on everything just to make things perfect. First of all we are all just humans - we will make mistakes. Second of all just because you delegate does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t take a second look at the work already done. So let's get into it, shall we? 

There is always a debate about how much work and time it takes to complete an appraisal. If you were to ask the typical solo appraiser you would probably get an average answer of about 7-8 hours from start to finish. Which, depending on what you are charging can still be quite profitable and doable. I am not knocking that at all - nor should anyone else. 

Now think about the time you can save if you delegate the smaller tasks to someone else. You have your communication with clients/borrowers, this is included but not limited to emails, texts and phone calls. You more than likely have multiple offers coming in a day that you need to do a quick research on and come up with a bid for. You have bids being accepted and files that need to be pulled together - organizing the file however works for you, pulling information about the home, doing your accounting on the file, putting the information on the schedule, etc. Then you have your report that can be started and the data entry of simple things that can be done by your employees. Then the cycle of trying to contact borrowers or realtors starts so you can set up appointments, you have to give updates daily to AMC’s and track all of this so you know where you stand. Then once the report is finished you have to update accounting and track all of that information. 

As pieces those things may not take more than 5, 10 or 20 minutes but when you want to be moving through 5+ appraisals a week and you are alone those small chunks of time can start adding up quickly. They are eating away at time you can be spent traveling to the homes for inspections, doing the reports… the real meat and potatoes part of the job. Delegating these tasks can help you streamline and have the ability to say yes to more work which means your name is out there more often and you don’t have to sacrifice more time and you can make more money! 

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Posted by Patti Persia on March 4th, 2022 10:29 AMLeave a Comment

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January 25th, 2022 11:20 AM

Small changes can make a big difference in the overall picture but it’s not always easy to do. We, as humans, get stuck in our ways and can hinder small, but important changes in how we work. We use excuses like “it only takes a second” or “I’ve always done it this way” to get out of simplifying things because we think it won’t make a difference. 

When you work in an office that is sending out multiple emails a day small changes can save you a lot of time. Think of it this way - in our office we tend to send out, I would guess about 20-30 emails a day. They all come from the same two or three templates typically with the occasional one that needs to be totally revamped for one reason or another. Prior to templates each and every email had to either be copied and pasted after looking it up or typed out over and over. Right there, the template saves time. But even with templates things can be missed, spell check is wonderful but it does not catch everything. 

I personally have spent plenty of time going in and fixing the mistakes that spell check has caught over and over. I have read the templates and found issues with spelling or other things and just have a mental checklist to fix it each time. One day I decided to go in and fix all of the mistakes I found and do a thorough check. It may only save me a few seconds per email but when you look at the time saved over a course of a month or a year it really does add up. 

Of course there are plenty of other ways to save time - apps, having a set schedule or way to do things, finding a workflow that is good for you and many more. I would recommend taking the time to just do it. Every few months review how you are working, see if there are easy changes to make and work smarter, not harder.

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Posted by Patti Persia on January 25th, 2022 11:20 AMLeave a Comment

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December 16th, 2021 11:29 AM

As appraisers we are constantly unsure of what we might walk into when inspecting a home. We all have our own stories and lives to live and work through. We may be walking into the home of a deceased person while their children or spouse are trying to work through what they left behind. Or maybe you are walking into the home of someone who hoards things. And while those are few and far between it happens, you just never know. 

You aren’t there to judge the circumstances they may be dealing with - you are there to make an assessment of the home as a structure and be “cold and calculated” in your inspection. That does not mean you must be cold and calculated to the person sharing their home with you though. 

All it takes is 30 seconds and a few kind words and you can certainly still do your job and give them peace of mind and maybe even take away some of the heaviness they are trying so hard to handle. Kindness is easily the quickest way to brighten someones day.

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Posted by Patti Persia on December 16th, 2021 11:29 AMLeave a Comment

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December 2nd, 2021 11:34 AM

One word, two letters and it can be a complete sentence in a conversation. It’s powerful for such a small thing, right? I mean, let’s be honest, there aren’t many - if any, words out there that can pack that much heat and literally only take 2 letters to do it. But I’m not a Etymologist or linguistics instructor so that's not exactly what we are here to talk about. What I want to dive into is how “No” can be a good thing and how letting people say no can get us exactly what we want. 

We start when we are young, it’s one of the first things toddlers learn to say and use (very) regularly in speech - No. Our old, (not so) deeply hidden lizard brain loves to be in control, even as youngsters. And to be honest it does not go away over time. In control is a nice place to be. 

There is a book written by Chris Voss, who was a lead hostage negotiator for the FBI, and it talks about how phrasing for someone to say no but in reality say yes can change the outcome for the person asking the question. One of the examples that comes to mind is if we are running early for our appraisals we could call and say “Can I come early to the client” - the only way to answer that is with a “yes” if that's what we are hoping for and it feels a lot less powerful and in control than if we ask “would it be a problem if we came by early?”. This is where they can get that power of the no but they really mean yes. 

It’s not an exact science but I do believe that there is a lot to be said about how we say things, both in the tone that is used but especially in the words. 

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Posted by Patti Persia on December 2nd, 2021 11:34 AMLeave a Comment

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Communication is key in our daily lives, it helps us move forward, get things done and conquer each day. Without communication we would be constantly running into our friends or families plans, misunderstanding them and generally having a difficult time. 

We see it all the time in the appraisal world, even when we have good communication the clients want to know everything. They want to know when appointments are scheduled, when the inspection is done, when you think you will be getting the report back among a number of other things. And the emails ping in daily asking you about all of these things can get overwhelming, especially if you are working without an assistant. 

Shouldn’t they trust you to get the work done when you promised? Isn’t it annoying that they are constantly breathing down your neck? Sure! It would be a big fat lie if I said no. But the saying “one bad apple ruins the bunch” is true. We may be doing all we can to get our work submitted in a timely manner and we may be updating as much as possible but even still the emails come in because at some point someone cut corners and now we must all be reminded. 

So while it can be difficult and sometimes angering to get an update email for the 4th or 5th time just grin and bear it. Communicate as openly as possible and keep doing the hard work you know you can do. Also, it doesn’t hurt to ask for more from the clients who tend to make working for them a little more difficult. Ask for an extra $50 or $100 when you know that your time will be taken up by questions and revisions and emails that might not actually be needed. Your time is precious, get what you deserve. 

Posted by Patti Persia on November 23rd, 2021 9:12 AMLeave a Comment

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November 15th, 2021 9:43 AM

In the appraising world these 3 words come up often to say the least. We sometimes tend to use them interchangeably - more often than not because in the non appraising world they can be to an extent. It’s easy to get caught up in that cycle but when the lines need to be clear at work here is how they break down. 

Price (noun): the amount of money expected, required, or given in payment for something. This is what the seller is asking for when selling a good or service - in our case the home that we are appraising.  Let’s say we have a motorhome we want to sell and we want to ask $30,000 for it. That does not mean it’s worth it and it does not mean that is what we will get but that’s what we would like to ideally sell it for. 

Cost (noun): an amount that has to be paid or spent to buy or obtain something. This is what the buyer is looking for/willing to pay for a good or service. Imagine you are out in the city on a hot day and you are thirsty and all you can think about is water. Then you come up on someone selling ice cold water out of a cooler for $2.00 a bottle. What is that water worth to you? Probably much more than the $2.00 at that point but either way you buy it just to cool down. 

Value (verb): estimate the monetary worth of (something). This is what the buyer and seller are willing to agree on as a fair price for the good or service. We make choices daily based on what we think the value of things are. Think about the bargain shoppers out there who will visit two, three maybe even four stores to get their grocery shopping done for the best deals. Or the people who will drive an extra mile or two to get gas cheaper. We choose what we buy and where we buy it based on the value we place on these things. 

Just like most things in the world these days this is not all just cut and dry but will hopefully help you keep things a little more clear in your mind when doing appraisals.

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Posted by Patti Persia on November 15th, 2021 9:43 AMLeave a Comment

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November 1st, 2021 10:12 AM

When the borrower sticks around for the appraisal they can sometimes have questions or you may have information for them that could help in the long run, especially for repairs that may need to happen. Each and every appraiser has their own way of handling this situation and it really just depends on what makes you more comfortable. 

I think the easiest way to make a decision if you are on the fence is knowing your audience (borrower). Do they seem laid back and easy? Do they seem like they may get annoyed? If it’s the first one then by all means go for it! But if they seem like they could easily get angry it may be better for the lender to be the messenger of the news. 

The one pro that we can easily see from being able to tell the borrower what may need to be repaired is that we can give them exactly what we will need to see. This means we can save ourselves a trip or two in the end because they won’t have a ton of questions and things won’t be overlooked as easily. 

This is definitely one of those questions where there is not a right or wrong answer, it’s more about how you feel about the borrower and how they will react. 

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Posted by Patti Persia on November 1st, 2021 10:12 AMLeave a Comment

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October 19th, 2021 10:56 AM

Most appraisal offices are small - meaning that it’s typically just the appraiser or maybe an employee or two. When you have such a small office your returning clients (typically AMCs) and the clients that will refer you to others (the personal appraisals) will be looking for top notch customer service. Of course they want an appraiser who will do the job the correct way and not miss things but it’s so much more than that. 

If you are not good at customer service you aren’t going to keep clients. And I know that customer service can cover a wide range of things that you have to do and remember but if you make it an every day practice it will start to become natural. A few easy steps you can take are as follow:

  •  Address people by name as much as possible

  • Use please and thank you 

  • Follow up with people when needed

  • Show up on time to appointments

  • Turn in work on time

  • Make sure you are checking in with clients to make sure they don’t have questions

I don’t know about you but I like feeling like I am welcome to ask questions, especially when it has something to do with a job that I don’t know much about and if we are honest not everyone can tell you what an appraiser does - nor should they have to. Being a kind, prompt and open person will make life easier for you as the appraiser and it will make your clients want to work with you. It doesn’t take much to stand apart from others when you continuously work on your customer service.

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Posted by Patti Persia on October 19th, 2021 10:56 AMLeave a Comment

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September 7th, 2021 1:09 PM
Please review the blog below for a bit of insight into how getting comps can potentially go incredibly wrong.

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Posted by Patti Persia on September 7th, 2021 1:09 PMLeave a Comment

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August 25th, 2021 11:51 AM

You may not think of appraising as a scary job, especially here in little ole Delaware. We are supposed to be quiet and peaceful. We work mostly in Sussex County and get a few jobs here and there in Kent County and it’s probably more likely that you will see Amish or farm animals or beach goers than people who seem scary. But we also have to work jobs sometimes that aren’t always the easiest of situations and not everyone is excited to have people looking at their homes - it is supposed to be their safe space. So how do you feel about your appraisers protecting themselves? 

I, as an assistant, am fairly new to the appraisal world but I can promise you that it didn’t take long for me to hear a story about another employee being out doing work and trying to get pictures and someone attacked the car that she and her husband were in. I know that I myself have been out taking pictures alone and thankfully I was in a great neighborhood and everyone I encountered was incredibly friendly but that is luck. 

I don’t know that I fall one way or another on the side of having a gun on me or other workers in the appraisal world packing heat but it’s definitely something to think about. Even if it’s not a gun, when you are walking into a situation that is unknown and you are probably alone you should have some type of plan in place for emergencies. Be safe everyone and let us know your thoughts! 

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Posted by Patti Persia on August 25th, 2021 11:51 AMLeave a Comment

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August 19th, 2021 11:41 AM

Whether we want to waste less time, paper or money, having multiple monitors will help in a number of ways. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how it can help in the appraising business but nonetheless it may take a quick read and reminder of all of the benefits to get you to finally make that jump. And of course now you should know the answer to the question is YES (here’s why)!! 

  • You are absolutely wasting time by toggling back and forth on one screen. If you took the time to calculate all the time you have spent trying to get the right screen and added it up for the year I bet you could have lent that time to something much more important

  • You are wasting time trying to get the correct information to and from different pages, not to mention that you could be mistyping information. Obviously the last part is probably not on purpose but we are humans and we make mistakes and can easily forget things when we are transferring numbers and other information. This extends back into more time wasted when you have to fix these mistakes

  • You will be more likely to have the best and most concise information at your fingertips if you can look over multiple pages at once 

  • You can save money on paper, ink and potentially much more by going paperless if you have multiple screens up for yourself and your employees. When you can easily see everything at once you don’t have to print out much, if anything at all. 

So if you have one monitor I would highly recommend getting more! It’s not unheard of for people to even more than just two but start slow if you need to. We promise you will not be unhappy! 

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Posted by Patti Persia on August 19th, 2021 11:41 AMLeave a Comment

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August 12th, 2021 11:44 AM

Bidding in the appraisal world will be something that, for the foreseeable future, we will always be able to talk about and debate. It is something that you might not be 100% sure about and it can be tough to figure out the ballpark pricing that you want to use. You don’t want to go too low and not be paid what the job was worth but you don’t want to go too high and lose out on the job - especially if things are slow.

So what do we do? We listen to our gut. Obviously when times are slow and work is a bit more scarce we have to sometimes go on the lower end of things and when the market is moving and grooving we can increase our prices. But the question we always try to ask ourselves at our office is - how are we going to feel if this price gets approved? Are we going to wish we had asked for more because the job is more difficult than normal? Or are we going to get excited about it because we are getting paid what we deserve. 

Again, you have to be smart and use that brain but your gut will typically lead you in the right direction. Your gut knows your worth and when you have been in the business as long as we have you come to know your area and the work it will take to complete things. Know the market, know what you are worth and know how you want to spend your time. When you bring all those together you will typically end up happier with your work. And the best part? The more your listen to your gut the easier it gets! 

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Posted by Patti Persia on August 12th, 2021 11:44 AMLeave a Comment

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August 4th, 2021 11:23 AM

Appraising is a business that includes busy times as well as slower times and it’s always a good idea to have a back up list of “to do’s” for the times when there is a lull in the work coming in. Especially when you have employees working underneath you that are there to help out. You are paying them, usually hourly, and you want to get something out of that. 

The list doesn’t have to be incredibly specific but should give an outline of the most important things to work on and then it can trickle down to the less important stuff that usually won’t get touched by most, if any of your employees, because every slow down picks back up. 

Here are a few things we do around the office when things slow down for us:

  • Checking the accounting and following up on any overdue payments

  • Blogs

  • Updating E&O, coverage, upcoming vacation times and other information with AMC’s 

  • Update email templates

  • Update social media

  • Organize folders

  • Delete/Organize files that are no longer used

  • Clean office area and desks

  • Check in with other blogs to see what peers are saying

Anything that can help things move smoother when the appraisals start rolling in and allow your employees to be an asset to the company are always worth adding to the list. What are some of your back up list items?

There is not much worse than doing all of the prep work and driving to a home for an appraisal only for the borrower/owner to say they don’t want to move forward with the appraisal and the bank or AMC should have notified you. Things slip through the cracks from time to time for sure but in my time as an appraiser's employee I have seen it happen enough to know that you have to have a plan in place to figure out what to charge. 

It is totally unfair to yourself and your company to quote a number that is lower than the manpower you put in. Think of it this way, you can’t just go into a lawyers office and ask them to draw up a document for you and back out halfway and not pay. The lawyer will ask for payment for what they did at the VERY least - and that's if you are lucky. Sometimes they ask for a certain amount up front and you won’t get that back. 

Why are we different simply because we are in a different business. The prep work for an appraisal which can include pulling information on the home, entering it into your accounting, pulling comp information, doing data entry with information you were able to find, etc. can take up a good chunk of time. Add in the driving time that you may have saved - which will include gas and wear and tear on your car and if you aren’t charging for the work you put in you are losing out on money that is rightfully yours. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for what the work was worth. Appraisers work hard each and every day and it is truly a disservice to your business, yourself and any employees you may have to not be paid for the work done. 

Posted in:General
Posted by Patti Persia on July 22nd, 2021 11:19 AMLeave a Comment

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July 16th, 2021 11:48 AM

As someone who has worked in customer service her entire adulthood and who is now in the role of assistance/receptionist in an appraising office I have noticed that going the extra mile is always the best policy for clients. It doesn’t matter if it's an AMC, personal appraisal client or just someone you might be talking to in passing about your job. 

Making people smile will not only make their day better (and yours too) but it will leave a lasting impression. When someone is a pleasure to talk to and can make you feel noticed or remembered there is always a piece of you that wants to go a little bit above and beyond what you might typically do. 

So how do you do that? Is it worth the time and energy? Isn’t it awkward? Might it come off as insincere?  So many questions… But it can all be as easy and quick as a question or statement that will only take a few extra seconds. Here are some examples:

  • “I see you are in Chicago, I’ve always wanted to travel there to see the sites and eat some deep dish pizza”

  • “How’s the weather for you today?”

  • “I love your name”

  • “Happy Friday!” or “Hope you have a great weekend”

  • “You are always so helpful, it was great speaking with you again”

These can be used over the phone or via email and they are all just a little something extra to make sure people know that you notice them. Some days you may need to fake enthusiasm, we all have down days, but you just never know what kind of an impact the words or actions will have on the people we talk to. 

I can attest to the fact that most people do not take the extra time to say a kind word, I have been guilty of it in the past. We want to be as streamlined as possible, we don’t want to extend ourselves past what we are required to do, we are introverted - the list could go on and on. But on the receiving end, I always remember the people who take the extra time to make things a little more personal and a little less robotic.

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Posted by Patti Persia on July 16th, 2021 11:48 AMLeave a Comment

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Let’s say your house was on sale for $1, would you buy it? Absolutely but how often does that happen?! Now let's say you want to sell your home and you put it on sale at $10,000,000.00 would it sell? Maybe but probably not. 

When appraisers come out to inspect a home and give it a value a lot of people think that they can just magically make a number appear that works for one side or the other. They believe that because a buyer is willing to pay X the appraisal value should come out close to, if not right on whatever X is. 

The truth of the matter is that everyone has a different opinion of what that final X number should be. You could place 10 people in front of a home and ask them to give a price they would be willing to buy it for and you could easily have thousands of dollars difference between the highest and lowest bidder. The job of the appraiser is to come in, look at everything and hopefully come in at a price that would be somewhere in the middle of those 10 numbers. 

Even then though, it is not always that easy because the market is ever changing. Right now we are in a sellers market through and through so the typical selling range is higher than normal. At some point this will change and we will be in a buyers market and then at some point after that we will be somewhere right in the middle but it will never last. So when an appraiser is coming out they are looking for the market value, not just some made up number that looks good. Market value is defined as “…the most probable price which a property should bring in a competitive and open market”. 

So yes, it may be possible to buy the house you want for an incredibly low amount and you may even get lucky enough to sell a home for way above what it should be worth but it’s certainly not probable. And while it is nice to stay in the clouds of possibility for a little while appraising will always be the anchor that holds you to the probable.

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Posted by Patti Persia on July 9th, 2021 11:55 AMLeave a Comment

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July 1st, 2021 11:38 AM

Working with AMCs is not something you can easily get past in the appraisal world these days. Here are a few tips to help you get more requests, better pay and a higher rating with the AMCs that you are using. 

1. Update them Frequently

Being routine in your updates, say for appointments or completing inspections, so that they are always in the know. You can choose to do them at a specific time each day or you can find someone to help you with these (perfect reason to hire an assistant!). Keeping your AMCs up to date will make their lives easier and will help you build a good relationship with them

2. Be Ready to Say Yes

Be ready to take on any report they might send your way if at all possible. 

3. Keep You Work Manageable (Know Your Limits)

Don’t say yes to more than what you can do in a timely manner and don’t make your coverage area too wide. If you take on more than you think you can do you will run yourself thin and your turn times and work will struggle. And, it is much better to have a small area that you cover and can become well versed in rather than a larger work area and you know little about the areas. Also, when you are covering a larger amount of space your appointments will inevitably end up being further and further away from each other, taking time away from you completing the reports. 

4. Respond Quickly and Completely to Revision Requests

Scores will be given out on how many revisions you get and how quickly they are fixed. AMCs do not want to have to continually resend requests for updates. Most of all, be polite and professional when responding. They will thank you for this. 

5. Keep Your Profile Up to Date

Knowing when your insurance/E&O and license update and make sure you let the AMCs know when they change. Also, let them know when you are coming up on breaks/vacations where you will not be available to take on new work. Depending on how many AMCs you work with this can be timely so if you have an assistant have them do the work for you!

Posted in:Appraiser and tagged: appraiserappraisalAMC
Posted by Patti Persia on July 1st, 2021 11:38 AMLeave a Comment

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