Letter to the Editor: “Appraisers UNITE!”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Here on the FREA blog, we recently ran a two-part series on blacklisting that brought to light the serious and long-term ramifications of being placed on a “do not use” list by big banks and AMCs. In response to Part 1 of the series, we received an email from a FREA member who expressed his concerns with the changes and trends taking shape in the appraisal industry. With permission, we’ve reprinted his exclusive letter to the editor, in which he further explains the underlying issue of being denied access to client communications, relates the struggles of today’s appraisers, and suggests a call to action for greater unity within the appraiser community.                                                                   

Appraiser Gregory Matson Speaks Out

This is an un-edited letter to FREA published with permission from Mr. Matson:

Dear Editor,

This likely wont see the light of day as I do ramble but here it goes

With 34 years of residential appraisal work under my belt it never ceases to amaze me how more things change the more they remain the same!

Since my earliest years in the field there have been issues with underwriters arbitrarily asking for changes or clarifications that were either already in the report and they had not taken the time to read it or just plain did not know what they were talking about.  i.e.; “Please explain why you valued the property for $210,000?”  rebuttal; “Open cover page, read report” 

Appraisers 30 years ago developed their own clients. Many of whom used their own money to fund purchases and did not have to answer to higher powers. You could report a value to the client verbally or as on one occasion I wrote it down on a napkin at lunch with my client.  It was his money he could do what he wanted to with it.   We had working relationships, knew our markets and trusted each other based on our body of work.  When issues arose we would get together and solve it as any good business people would do!  When we found a client less than trustworthy or lacking in the knowledge to perform in a professional manner we simply discontinue using them.  When appropriate we would share this with our peers explaining the circumstances including the admonition that their experience with them may be different and to develop their own conclusions.

So now were back to the blacklist with no one to talk too.  God forbid we would talk to anybody!  Too many people not enough time!  Just be rid of this one and find another! 

We are licensed like few others, every four years wither we need it or not, it’s the same test for the most part.  Ever seen what it takes to become a realtor?  Who can recall all of the what, 400 pages of USPAP, is. It is all a revenue building scheme for the government and some of the vendors who ride the backs of the everyday working appraiser.  There are so many people reaching into the appraisers pocket it’s a wonder why anyone would want to become one in this day and age.  Think about it, pay for licensing in ad nauseam, and the same continuing education, the software, the insurance, the multitude of data sources, the AMC’s who take a third of what we used to earn just so I don’t talk to my client (that’s simply wrong), sometimes I have to pay just to turn the report in,  the equipment-computers-tablets-phones-MLS keys-office expenses that seem to grow monthly, vehicles and their expense, the list goes on. Everything, I mean everything is placed on the appraiser including all the liability  and now they wont even pay a fair and reasonable fee!  At the end of the day 30 years ago I relished at the thought that I have a business I built and am responsible for in which I receive the benefits.  Today I cannot build clients, I’m at the discretion of who knows who at the other end of an email for what work I am given, I have no benefits and little ways to increase my income without toiling at longer hours to make up the difference  than is healthy.

I’m not long for this, dare I say, career field there is little future in it as such.  I recommend appraiser’s UNITE! (good luck with that one) take back your career. There is protection in numbers, you can make them sweat if need be it’s the only way they will change.  Think about it, every appraiser says ” I’m tired and I’m not going to take it anymore” and refuse to work until they pay up! We would likely deal a death blow to what's left of the economy.  Do you think things would change then?  Meanwhile start your own do not use list, it cost little to set up a website these days.  Quit taking unreasonable fees, EVERYONE. 

Mr. Biggers has tried but found little support.  Only the appraisers together can change this, or kiss it goodbye.  As it is it may be futile in the future for nearly everyone involved in the industry.  I believe as soon as the GSW’s have enough data in any given neighborhood they will be able to do 90% of their valuation based on modeling and were giving them the data to do it.  The industry as we know it will have fully collapsed. Will you be the last 10% to do the devils work they can model?  Something to think about.

Sorry for the rant but I appear to be the only 500 lb. gorilla in the room! 

Gregory Matson
Appraiser since 1980
Vietnam Vet

Now It’s Your Turn

The FREA Team is working hard to make a difference and take action on behalf of its members. So we’d like to know: what’s your take on the current blacklisting trend among banks and AMCs? Do you share the same thoughts and concerns as the members we’ve given voice to in our series on blacklisting? Comment below or email editor@frea.com

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