The spring selling season is upon us and the market is kicking into high gear. That means increased work volume for appraisers. However, with an increased workload comes the likelihood of more revision requests. Sometimes it’s because we missed something in our reports. Other times, it’s because the person reviewing our reports missed seeing what they were looking for, even though it was there.
There are few things that make an appraiser's blood boil more than unnecessary revision requests. As appraisers, we work hard to make sure that our reports are accurate and supportable. When our reports are rejected, it is hard not to be upset. It is important to note that there are no perfect appraisals or appraisers. All appraisers get revision requests at times. However, a revision request doesn’t always mean that we made a mistake. Sometimes it's just something that needs to be changed and is not reflective of an error on our part.
Whatever the case is, at times, it can be challenging to not let it raise our blood pressure. There are some things that I have found can help an appraiser cope with revision requests.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
This is a difficult thing to achieve since, as appraisers, we take pride in our work. We work hard to make sure that there are no errors. When we get the "Rejection" notice, it is often cold and without much context. It just states the things that need to be revised. Being human, our natural inclination is to have a negative outlook. It's easy to take it personally when we receive this kind of notice. In our minds, we might imagine some reviewer that could care less about our hard work and that is just looking for any minor thing to write up to justify their job. Sometimes that may be true. But not always! To be fair, sometimes a reviewer may catch an error of ours that may have the potential to get into trouble down the road. As an appraiser, I would rather know and have the opportunity to correct the error before it gets to the lender.
I think what makes it feel like we are being picked on is a lack of human interaction. While technology has helped our profession in many ways, the lack of personal communication with our clients has exasperated the situation. Revision requests often come across digitally in a cold and matter of fact way that leaves the appraiser feeling unappreciated. It's not just that way with appraisers. With the advent of digital communication, something is being lost. That's why emoticons are becoming increasingly popular. :) I am not saying that they need to be added to
revision requests. However, a few additional comments by our client can go a long way in adding context to the revision request. For instance, thanking the appraiser for an overall good report, when warranted, can be helpful. Of course, as professionals, we probably shouldn't not anticipate that most reviewers will do so. The few AMC's that I work with usually add a note of appreciation regarding my report before asking for the revision. That goes a long way! Should an AMC have to do so? After all, we are professionals. While it shouldn't be necessary, I think it is helpful at maintaining good relationships between the AMC and the appraiser. Appraisers are human. Ironically, it's the ability to feel that makes appraiser's better at estimating market value than computers, at least in my opinion. Appraisers can observe things in the market that computers cannot. We are sensitive to human reaction. So being human is not a weakness.
What can help us not to take a revision request personally? If I feel as though the reviewer is not being fair or reasonable in their request, I like to call them and speak with them. Not to berate them. I simply like to talk it out and try to understand their view. Almost every time, I find that the revision was minor in their eyes and that they were not just picking on my report. They usually compliment me on my work and then kindly explain why, in their eyes, the revision was needed. After the discussion, even if I don't agree, I at least am at peace with where they are coming from and that they are just trying to do what they were hired to do. If an appraiser has solid reasons for not complying with a revision request, for instance, if doing so would violates USPAP, then we should not comply. Many times, the information needed is already in the report and the reviewer just missed it. To be fair though, there are times when a revision request makes it obvious to me that I didn't explain a situation in my report as well as I should have.
On every revision request I receive, I strive to learn from it by trying to better understand what created it and how I can avoid it in the future, whether it was my mistake or someone else's. While I do still receive revision requests, they are not all that often and they are generally minor.
CHANGE YOUR VIEWPOINT
Sometimes it's good to put ourselves in the shoes of the reviewer. I find it interesting that many appraisers I have talked to do not like doing review work. Why? For one thing, it is not easy. It is a difficult thing to judge another appraiser's work competently. I have personally visited with numerous staff reviewers who have stacks of appraisals to review with tight deadlines. And while the forms may be the same, the writing style of every appraiser is a little different. Required comments and addenda may be in different areas of the report. I do some review work and I recommend that every appraiser does a little review work here and there. It will help us to look at our reports from a different perspective.
It's also important to note that reviewers are human too. They make mistakes just like anyone else. So, there are times when we receive a revision request when no errors were made. The reviewer may have simply missed where we stated something in our report. In all fairness, unless we as appraisers' complete perfect reports, we should not be angry when a reviewer makes a mistake also. I have been thanked by reviewers many times for being forgiving and kind to them when they have asked for something that was already in my report.
LOOK FOR NEW SOURCES OF BUSINESS
There are some AMCs who use unqualified people to review appraisals. When I say "unqualified", I mean people who are not appraisers. It's unfair to the appraiser when their work is being reviewed by someone who really doesn't know what they are looking at. It is unfair to the unqualified reviewer because it places them in a tough situation. They don't know what they don't know, which facilitates angry calls from appraisers. That would be like giving a CAT scan of our brain to an architect and asking them to look for any anomalies. Would that be fair? Can you imagine what would happen? They might say: "There are some green lumpy areas that look concerning. Perhaps you should check into that", or "I see an area that seems to be shaped oddly. I don't know what it is, but it should be investigated." The reality might be that there is nothing wrong.
What a waste of time and resources. It's similar when AMC's use unqualified people to review appraisals. It's frustrating for everyone. I have seen what some AMCs have ask of appraisers in their revision requests. Sometimes the requests are so ridiculous, they defy all logic. So, what can you do if the AMC you are working for is like this? Look for new sources of business, including different AMC's. There are very good AMC's out there that use qualified appraisers for their quality control reviews. Most of the appraisal work I complete is not through AMC's. However, I do have some AMC's that I work with regularly and they are great to work with. Every now and then, I will accept an appraisal from an AMC that I know is notorious for unnecessary revision requests. I always regret it!
Hopefully, these three steps will help appraisers to cope with revision request. Remember not take it personally. Look at the bigger picture and try to put yourself in the reviewer's shoes. And if those two things don't work, find new sources of business. The truth is that AMC's need appraisers. Appraiser's don't need AMC's. If you're an appraiser who is feeling like you are being abused or mistreated by an AMC or any other client for that matter, don't put up with it! Find AMC's or other clients who appreciate and understand what we do and why we do it. Let's also remember that no appraiser is perfect. Let's do our best to make revisions few and far between.
But when they happen, it is important to be professional in the way that we deal with the situation. Doing so will be good for us, our clients and our profession.
Here are some other appraisal blogs that I recently enjoyed.
This Week in Aspirational Pricing - Jonathan Miller's Housing Notes
Do I Need A Pre-Purchase Appraisal? - Birmingham Appraisal Blog
Appraising Equine Properties - DW Slater Company Appraisal Blog
Will It Be an Issue If There Is Pot Growing At A House? - Sacramento Appraisal Blog
Help Wanted - The People's Appraisal Blog