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Cheap Appraisers – Should I Risk It?

November 5, 2014 by Bostedo Appraisal Services - the Pittsburgh Appraisers

Well, the short answer is no. However, we will go into the subject in more detail and explain with the long answer.

If you haven’t worked with an appraiser before or it’s been a long time much has changed. You may not realize that all appraisers are NOT the same and can be as different as night and day depending on their experience, education, and familiarity with your market area. This was exasperated in the early 90’s with the advent of Appraisal Certification.

Anyone who’s had an appraiser horror story (there are plenty of them) because they hired the cheapest appraiser will tell you it’s simply not worth the risk. So don’t wait for your own horror story to be a learning experience and wake-up call when hiring an appraiser for your needs.

Prior to Appraisal Certification an appraiser came up through the ranks so to speak in Pennsylvania usually by starting in the Real Estate profession acquiring a sales license. From that point after learning the market as a sales associate with a major or not so major Real Estate Company the next step was to get into the appraisal field as a trainee. Within this time period the appraiser trainee would sit for their Broker’s exam to acquire their Broker’s license. Prior to certification in Pennsylvania an appraiser needed to have a Broker’s license to be able to appraise property in Pennsylvania.

Once the new appraiser had their Brokers license they were able to go out and appraise property. Not to different today with certification. However, prior to Certification, a lender would not hire an appraiser without a minimum of 3-5 years full time in the business not counting any training. This meant the new appraiser had to continue their tutelage at their present employer for a minimum of 5 years before there was any thought of going out on their own.

Then came Appraisal Certification. When an appraiser had to become certified the banks looked at this as though all of a sudden the appraiser with 25-30 years experience was on the same playing field as the newly certified appraiser. This is so far from the truth. Would you let the Doctor who just passed their State Boards treat your life threatening illness or the Lawyer who just passed the State exam defend you in court? How about hiring the Real Estate Appraiser that has only been in the business a few years appraise your home in a crucial life situation?

It can be easy to get tempted by those low fee appraisers. It seems like just a formality anyway. However, when it comes to hiring a professional appraiser for such an important job remember that you often get what you pay for!

It’s not worth trying to save $50 on the cost of an appraisal when there’s a good chance you may not receive the quality report you deserve if your main hiring decision was simply to go with the cheapest appraiser. That $50 savings could end up costing you 10’s of thousands. So when it comes to working within your budget, don’t select an appraiser simply to save a couple bucks because it could cost you dearly in the long run.

There are ways to help ensure you’re hiring a quality appraiser. First, you should always ask for referrals from people you know and trust or from established real estate professionals within your market area. You can also look online for appraisers that come up repeatedly and start your research from there.

In addition, you should always pre-screen an appraiser. You don’t have to come across as bossy, intimidating, or controlling however; keep in mind you shouldn’t be bullied by anyone in the business either. Any appraiser who’s not willing to answer a few questions for you up front or claims their reputation should speak for itself is probably not someone you want to work with.

Questions you should be asking:

  • Aside from full name and telephone number, you should also ask for and write down an appraiser’s license or certification number. First, this lets the appraiser know you’re serious. Second, if they don’t know or won’t share this information this is a red flag and you may want to save yourself time and tell them you’ll need that information before you can speak with them any further. Additionally, you can tell by how new an appraiser is by their certification number. As of 2014 the newest certification numbers for Certified Residential Appraisers begin with RL14xxxxL. Those who were appraising prior to certification acquired their certifications at the beginning and their certification numbers start with RL001xxxL. Keep in mind these numbers are State wide. Remember, this doesn’t indicate a good or bad appraiser, only the amount of experience the person has appraising property within Pennsylvania.
  • Ask how long they’ve been appraising and if they’ve ever been sanctioned. Five to10 years minimum’ experience is ideal and you should avoid hiring appraisers who’ve been sanctioned or caught cutting corners in the past.
  • Find out what level licensing they have. An appraiser’s license can vary from Trainee to Certified General. Never hire a trainee unless a fully certified mentor is involved in both the appraisal process and final analysis. In Pennsylvania, appraisers with “RL” designations mean they are certified residential appraisers and can perform appraisals on all residential properties including 2-4 unit apartment buildings while appraisers with “GA” designations are certified general appraisers and they can perform appraisals on both residential and commercial properties. Trainees at this time do not have any form of designation.

I hope you found this information helpful and if you have any additional questions please don’t hesitate to call.

Bostedo Appraisal Services – ‘the Pittsburgh Appraisers’ specializes in divorce appraisals, bankruptcy appraisals, date of death appraisals, estate appraisals, pre-listing appraisals and more throughout the Pittsburgh and 7 County region.

For more information contact us at (412) 831-1500, visit our website at PennsylvaniaAppraisers.com, or email us by clicking ‘Contact’ at the top of our page. You can

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