Looking for the cheapest appraiser? Be careful, not all appraisers were created equal. Hiring the cheapest appraiser can often lead to a poor quality appraisal that could have serious consequences. I can’t tell you the number of times I get a call from a homeowner and the first thing they say is, “Hi, how much do you charge for an appraisal?” I don’t blame the homeowner for asking this question. It is certainly a valid one. But is it the most important one? The old saying “You get what you pay for” holds true in the appraisal profession just as it does everywhere else. Here are some other important qualifications and attributes you should be looking for when considering which appraiser to hire:
- The Consultation: One of the biggest complaints I hear from my clients about past experiences with appraisers are regarding the appraiser being in a hurry. I hear things like, “The appraiser was here for 10 minutes, barely asked me any questions, and then a few days later emailed me a report. I had no idea what I was looking at or how they determined what my house is worth.” To me, it is imperative that you understand the information I have provided you in the report. I believe (and my clients agree) that this is what separates me from most appraisers. When you hire me there is a consultation that takes place at the initial inspection. But equally important to the initial one is the one that takes place when I return to deliver the report. By delivering the report in person, I am able to go over the entire report and making sure that you understand everything in the report and ALL of your questions have been answered. It is something that clients have praised me for over and over. Check out my Google Business Page , Yelp reviews , and my Testimonials page to see what past clients have said. Please refer to my article, “The Secret to a Stress-free Appraisal Experience” for more detail on this very important step.
- The Inspection: This is where we gather the information about your home. If done correctly, the appraiser will take his time going through your home taking measurements and photos, noting all of the features and characteristics of the house. I use a laser measuring device and an iPad to ensure the most accurate measurements for your floor plan and will speak to you about any recent updating or repairs you have completed. See my article, “How to Prepare For a Real Estate Appraisal Inspection” for more info.
- Appraiser Experience and Licensure: Often times an appraiser just starting out doesn’t have a client base and is eager for work. They offer much lower fees in an effort to get work. In Illinois, if you only have an Associate Trainee license you must have someone who has a Certified Residential license review your work and sign off on it for you. I recommend finding someone with a minimum of 5 years of experience as a Certified Residential appraiser, or make sure that they have a mentor that will be involved throughout the appraisal process.
- Geographical Competency: When appraisers are slow and looking for work, they are sometimes willing to appraise properties outside of their normal area of expertise. This can lead to a poor appraisal report due to the appraiser’s lack of familiarity with each neighborhood’s individual characteristics and nuances. I typically stay within approximately 10-15 miles of my office. I have developed a network of the most experienced professional appraisers in each section of Chicago and the surrounding areas in which I can refer my clients who need an appraisal in a particular area in which I am not the expert.
- Ask the appraiser for their full name and license number: Check the website IDFPR (Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation) to see if they have been disciplined. This can be a red flag that they have cut corners in the past or possibly worse. I am a huge advocate for using technology and systems to reduce the appraisal turnaround time. But to cut corners on the steps that are integral in producing a detailed, supported appraisal report should not be compromised.
These are just a few of the things you should keep in mind when hiring an appraiser. Can you find someone to complete your appraisal for a slightly lower fee than I will charge? Absolutely. But when you are dealing with an appraisal that is valuing what is likely your largest investment, do you really want the cheapest option?