Several years ago, before the pandemic, I signed up for the Cleveland Half Marathon. Well, the pandemic struck the spring of the marathon. I was given the option to postpone my run for a couple of years. So, I did.
When I signed up several years ago, I had some work to do to get back into running shape. Sadly, since that time, I consumed too many peanut M&M’s whilst binging movies for an extended period, which has not helped my running.
The marathon is in May, and I have a lot of work to do to get my body back in running shape. I had to trade in my M&M’s for running shoes. Any runner will tell you that good shoes are very important! The last time I purchased new running shoes was seven years ago. I was overdue for some new ones.
I had some options. I could go to any store, or shop online, and pick up some nice-looking shoes that are cheap. After all, they look as awesome as the more expensive shoes, and why not save a few bucks? Or I could go to a store that specializes in running shoes and purchase shoes that are more expensive but clearly designed for the rigors of running. Does it really matter in the long run?
Let’s talk about it. At first, a runner may not notice much of a difference. However, as they put their shoes through the rigors of running, they may feel sorer after running in cheaply made shoes. Poor running shoes may even lead to injury.
Cheaply made shoes may fall apart rather quickly compared to high-quality running shoes that are made with better materials and technology.
One benefit of going to a store that specializes in running shoes is that they will measure and analyze your feet to find shoes that are right for you. They really put a lot of thought into what is going to best support your running. A runner will benefit from the experience of an expert’s analysis compared with just purchasing any random running shoe that looks good and is cheap.
The last two pairs of running shoes I purchased from the Vertical Runner. If you have one near you, they are awesome at helping people find shoes that will work best for them. This is not an advertisement for them. But they’ve helped me so much over the years that I thought they deserved a shout-out.
Just like going cheap when buying running shoes can be costly, the same is true when it comes to hiring an appraiser. If you’re in need of an appraisal, I highly recommend not going with the cheapest appraiser. Why?
GOING CHEAP CAN COST YOU
At first glance, two appraisals may both look impressive to someone who doesn’t know anything about appraisals. The reports may use some impressive-sounding wording and offer pages of information, including pictures, maps, and other items of interest.
But will the report stand up under the rigors of scrutiny? Is there really support for what the appraiser is reporting?
Most weeks I perform appraisals for the purpose of divorce. It is common to have two appraisals completed. Typically, each appraiser has a different opinion of value. That’s not surprising, nor is there anything wrong with this IF both appraisers supported their work properly. Usually, two qualified appraisers’ opinions are within the ballpark of what is supportable.
But not all appraisers offer the same experience or morals. Here’s an example. Recently I was hired to perform an appraisal of a property for a divorce. The opposing side had an appraisal completed. However, my client stated that something seemed off about the value. They knew what homes were selling for in the neighborhood and felt that the appraiser’s opinion was a little off.
When reading through that report, I noted that the appraiser got the address and legal description right. Yay! But it all went downhill from there.
The appraiser’s market analysis was not supportable, nor were the sales that they choose to use to compare to the property being appraised. The appraiser used a bank sale as one of the comparable sales, and a probate sale that was sold in an auction as a second sale. They were two of the lowest-priced sales in the neighborhood, of the sales that were similar in style, age, and size. By the way, this was a high-density neighborhood with many comparable sales that could have been used.
Why on earth would an appraiser use a bank sale and a probate auction sale as their sales used in their comparison of the subject property? If it’s not clear yet, let me explain. They were trying to low-ball the appraised value for the client. The report was filled with other evidence that supports my view that this was what was going on.
Interestingly, the appraiser’s fee was cheap compared to mine. Don’t get me wrong. If you can find an appraiser to give you a break on the fee, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to cut corners. Nor does paying a lot for an appraisal guarantee a quality appraisal. But I do think that if you go with the cheapest appraiser out there, your odds of receiving a poorly supported report are higher.
The appraiser on the opposing side was also morally flexible. They were willing to shoot for a “low” value to advocate for their client. That’s a big no-no!
The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) state that an appraiser “Must not perform an assignment with bias.” It also states that an appraiser “Must not advocate the cause or interest of any party or issue“. That includes divorce settings.
Let’s digest this for a moment. Two homeowners are getting divorced. One wants a low appraisal, so they hire an appraiser and tell them that they need it to come in “low”. The appraiser agrees to come in “low”. They achieve this by using sales that do not reflect the market value of the property.
Now let’s think about a different scenario when it comes to appraising this same home. Does the market value of a home change differ depending on whether the owners are going through a divorce or refinancing their home? No.
Let’s say that a bank now hires the same appraiser to appraise the same home, but this time it was because the homeowner was refinancing their home. What if that same appraiser used the same sales, including the bank sale and probate sale, for the appraisal completed for the refinance?
Something tells me that the homeowners might be very upset at the appraiser. Depending on the situation, they might even accuse the appraiser of racial bias! It would be difficult for that appraiser to prove that their actions were not biased, wouldn’t you say? The truth is, that appraiser developed their report in a biased way for this divorce. Bias is bias!
The market value is what it is. It doesn’t change because an appraiser is hired by an attorney for a divorce, or by a bank for a refinance or purchase.
DON’T USE A “MORALLY FLEXIBLE” APPRAISER
The point of my article is to be careful about the appraiser you decide to use. If they agree to work to come in “high” or “low” on their opinion of value, don’t waste your money because that report, like a cheap pair of shoes, will probably fall apart under scrutiny. Ultimately it will be a waste of your money.
The second lesson is that searching for the cheapest appraiser is not wise. You must ask why one appraiser can complete an appraisal so much cheaper than another? There may be good reasons for it. Hopefully cutting corners isn’t one of them. How many times in your life will you need to have an appraisal completed on your home? How many times will you get to choose the appraiser? If you’re the one hiring the appraiser, use an appraiser that can support their work.
Having an appraisal that can stand up to the rigors of scrutiny is crucial. It’s all about support! There are a lot of fantastic appraisers out there who are ready to provide you with the support you need. Completing an appraisal is not about simply filling out a form. Like my analogy of buying running shoes online vs. going to an expert who specializes in running shoes, you need an appraiser who will provide the time and analysis required to develop a supportable opinion of value.
Getting back to running shoes, this article was not written to endorse a particular brand of running shoes or stores. However, if you’re a runner you might be wondering what brand I went with this time. My old running shoes were made by Mizuno, and they were fantastic. This time, I went with New Balance. Both have been awesome!
If you’d like to sign up for the Cleveland Marathon click here. There are different races you can choose from. I’ll see you in May!
I hope that you found this article to be helpful. In the spirit of the Olympics, I leave you with some running fails which are probably reflective of what will happen to me in May.
Have a great weekend!
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I am a member of the National Association of Appraisers. If you’re an appraiser, and you’re looking to join an appraisal organization, please check them out. The NAA is made up of fantastic appraisers from across the country who are working hard to keep their fellow appraisers up to date on what’s happening.
Here are some links to other articles I’ve enjoyed recently! I hope you will also…
Don’t Count On Housing Not Hitting The Open Man On The Give And Go – Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller
Choosing comps in a lopsided market – Sacramento Appraisal Blog
USPAP Says Support Everything! – The Appraiser’s Advocate Podcast
5 Things Agents Should Know About ANSI – Birmingham Appraisal Blog
AMC Mergers and Acquisitions for Appraisers – APPRAISAL TODAY
Photo Magic – I Hate Real Estate Podcast
January Newsletter – Looking back at 2021 – DW Slater Company Blog
For my readers in the CLE area… here are some articles related to news in our local area. I hope you enjoy these also…
A Home of their own: City Mission, Habitat partner to renovate Buckeye-Shaker home – Karin Connelly Rice of Fresh Water Cleveland
Knox & Eliot: From the Hippodrome to the Rockefeller, they designed memorable Cleveland buildings – Tom Matowitz of Fresh Water Cleveland
Filling the silence: CLE Silent Film Festival will celebrate the music of J. S. Zamecnik – Dennis Doodley of Fresh Water Cleveland