Top 10 Things Appraisers Wish Real Estate Agents Understood


As part of our Question of the Month survey series, we asked members of our appraisal community, “What’s one thing you wish real estate agents knew about the appraisal process?” Thank you to the large number of appraisers who shared their input! Keep reading for a summary of the most common answers we received, as well as quotes from some of the many appraisers who shared their thoughts and insights.

Monthly survey: Want to participate? Sign up for our newsletter to get the next “Question of the Month” survey delivered to your inbox.

Top 10 most common answers

Here’s a breakdown of the top ten things appraisers wish real estate agents understood regarding the appraisal process, the role of the appraiser, and how agents could be more helpful—followed by corresponding comments and insights from survey respondents below.

Based on the answers we received, appraisers wish that agents knew the following:

  1. The appraisal process is complex and takes time
  2. Appraisers do not assign value
  3. Appraisers are unbiased and must follow guidelines
  4. Appraisers need their input and cooperation
  5. How to select appropriate sales comps
  6. The importance of providing accurate and detailed info in their listings
  7. How to determine correct GLA (gross living area)
  8. How renovations and upgrades affect value
  9. How to prepare for the appraisal appointment
  10. FHA/VA/USDA guidelines

The appraisal process is complex and takes time

“How complex it really is. We don’t just pull numbers out of the air—they are market supported adjustments backed by ‘many angles’ of research.”

“It’s a lot more than just pulling comps!”

“The amount of knowledge, continued education and diligence it truly takes to provide an excellent work product for the property appraisal.”

“That it’s a process that requires a good amount of time.”

“There is a lot of research and number crunching to do, so asking for a value at time of inspection is a no go.”

Appraisers do not assign value

“Appraisers do not dictate a home’s value, the market does.”

“That we research value, we do not assign it.”

“The definition of market value.”

“How value is derived.”

“Why the price per square foot is not an indicator of value.”

“That cost does not equal value on homes, and picking comparable sales just to hit contract prices is unethical. The subdivision decides the market value of a home. Sometimes a homes across the street are not the same pool of buyers as a home a block away, even if it is the same builder and floor plan. Why? Because of where buyers want to live. That determines value. Location, not so much amenities. Location can be defined as little as crossing a major road that separates a $30,000 increase in value.”

Appraisers are unbiased and must follow guidelines

“I wish they understood that we cannot always ethically hit the sale contract price.”

“I wish real estate agents understood, appreciated, and respected the fact that (good) appraisers are independent and we don’t like playing games associated with sales. 2008 illustrated to the market what happens when too many interested parties get a hand in sales transactions.”

“That we are bound by certain rules, procedures, expectations, etc. and we don’t cause problems for their deals for fun.”

Free download: Your Guide to an Appraisal License Upgrade

Appraisers need their input and cooperation

“Conversations between agents and appraisers are vital, and not frowned upon.”

“Their assistance is instrumental in obtaining accurate information. I wish they would be more open to assisting with verifying sales, discussing current contracts, etc.”

“To answer the phone when an appraiser calls.”

“We need their input. We send an email survey to the listing agent for every potential comp we pull for an appraisal. Those who reply (about 20%) often give us valuable information that enhances the quality of our analysis. Was the seller highly motivated? Was there water damage not discussed in the listing? Let’s keep the lines of communication open.”

“We need confirmation from real estate agents on properties sold and other details to help create the opinion of value based on the market, which they are very much a part of.”

“Some brokers regard the appraiser as an adversary, who potentially can ruin their deal and end up without commission. They should learn that the appraiser is neutral and cooperating can be a benefit.”

“That we are part of the solution. Whatever they can do or provide us is in the best interest of everyone involved. We are not trying to make things more difficult. We are just trying to do the best job we can, too.”

“That I am grateful for their cooperation and the information that they share with us…The best way to get equitable taxes and correct values is to communicate, rather than hide information.”

“I wish they understood that strategic partnerships between agents and appraisals could maximize value for our clients and create efficiencies for our business!”

“I wish for a more unified interactive language between the two professions that makes sense from R.E. agents to appraisers and vice versa.”

How to select appropriate sales comps

“Rules about choosing comps.”

“Better comparable selection and the parameters we look for.”

“That the comparable properties need to be within approximately 25% of the subject’s GLA. I often get a list of what they deem as comps that differ too much from the subject in the GLA value.”

“Location, location, location! You cannot compare a property located in a high density area to sales over one mile away.”

“When to use new construction or remodeled construction as a comparable.”

“What makes a good comp (time of sale, distance, lot size/attributes, etc.).”

“The difference between a sale and a comparable sale. Much of an appraiser’s time is wasted when agents (via lender/client) ask an appraiser to consider a list of sales only because they sold for more.”

The importance of providing accurate and detailed info

“Appraisers rely heavily on the MLS for research, so please enter listing information accurately and thoroughly.”

“How important accurate information is. For example, if a basement has a small family room, it is not fully finished, etc. Appraisers make adjustments based on this information.”

“Accuracy in inputting listing information is very important! Exaggerating isn’t cool. Educate yourselves on construction details and styles of homes. Include accurate location and driving directions.”

“The more info the better! If there have been multiple showings and offers, we might use that information. It’s not just about the comps. Appraisers rely on multiple data points to make their determinations.”

How to determine correct GLA (gross living area)

“How to determine correct GLA and room count.”

“The difference between above and below grade GLA to create accurate listings.”

“That reporting square footage below grade level as GLA is misleading and inaccurate.”

“The living area for a property does not include quarters, apartments and guest houses that are not contiguous with the main house.”

“As of the past year, that we now have to measure to ANSI standards.”

CE course: Residential Property Measurement and ANSI Z765

How renovations and upgrades affect value

“Adjustments before and after remodeling.”

“We do not adjust dollar for dollar with regards to upgrades/renovations/updates. While some items may improve condition and quality, the rate of return is generally not always equal or higher.”

“Advocate and discuss with clients that not all renovations will change the value of a home. To discuss the levels of upgrades needed and to evaluate what is the best way to get more money when selling a home.”

How to prepare for the appraisal appointment

“I wish they understood to better prepare their clients for the appraisal appointment. It would be helpful if they explained that we need to view and photograph the inside of all rooms, possibly outbuildings if they exist, the garage, crawlspace, and possibly the attic. They should be explaining how having partially completed improvement projects or deferred maintenance can impact the process and the values. It is so uncomfortable for everyone when the appraiser shows up and the seller doesn’t know what to expect and there are people sleeping or working.”

“City codes and guidelines so final inspections are not necessary. These would include safety on pools, quick releases on wrought iron window guards, utilities on and all appliances connected, etc.”

“Make sure power and water are on. Make sure handrails are in place. These are typical items for re-inspections.”

“Entering an occupied home without agent or home owner present is a liability issue for appraisers—[we] need someone present to observe what we do.”

“All I need from you is just open the front door…please. Call me back so we can schedule the appointment. This sounds simple but it can be a real adventure trying to gain access to properties.”

FHA/VA/USDA guidelines

“I wish that they knew FHA/VA/USDA requirements.”

“The differences in appraising for conventional versus FHA versus VA properties.”

“The requirements for FHA and VA appraisal process; it would limit the re-inspections for appraisers.”

Other things appraisers wish real estate agents understood

Not all of the responses we received fit into the top ten answer categories outlined above. Other things appraisers wish real estate agents understood include the following:

“How to understand an appraisal report instead of just looking at the final number.”

“How to handle an appraisal that is less than the agreed upon purchase price.”

“That we can’t just ‘make changes’ or bump up an opinion of value.”

“You cannot contact the appraiser after the report has been submitted. All communication needs to go through the lender.”

“We are not home inspectors, but only have to observe if there are any safety, health or structural issues. We only report to lenders, our client, and it is up to the lender to determine if any repairs are required.”

“The bank is the client, not the borrower.”

“That the ‘current’ taxes may be for the previous 12 month taxing period and that the tax amount listed in public records may adjust rapidly due to a sale or reappraisal of the property.”

“That it’s not always a bad idea for the seller to be present during an appraisal inspection. Several times over the years, I have found a conversation and/or a brief interview with the seller can benefit the appraisal process.”

What do you wish real estate agents knew about the appraisal process? Join the conversation! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Or, sign up for our newsletter to get a new survey question in your inbox each month.