AAI Services senior appraiser, Michael Mathis, has been appraising for more than 33 years exclusively in the Inland Empire.
Have you ever been lost and tried to ask a stranger for directions only to be quickly halted with the words, I am new here and really can’t help you? Undoubtedly, you were grateful for their honesty when they admitted they couldn’t help you or worse, maybe they thought or pretended that they knew, gave you directions and you suffered being lost even longer until you ran into a local who quickly and accurately set you on the right path.
Unfortunately getting an appraisal is often just like being lost while attempting to find a knowledgeable person to help you, the difference is that the stakes are much higher – the correct valuation of your asset that is worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. Many appraisers pretend to know things they don’t and are all to willing to talk people into their services even though they live 75 miles away, lack familiarity with the property’s market, or lack experience doing the type of work being requested.And worse yet, many of those appraisers are unwilling to put in the extra work necessary to overcome their lack of competency, i.e. spending more time driving the neighborhood to know its boundaries, calling local agents to learn about research, phone calls, driving the area and more. Sad, but many appraisers perform work they are not competently trained to perform.
Of course, on the phone they sound great. Why shouldn’t they? If you are not a mechanic doesn’t every service manager sound extremely knowledgeable? Doesn’t your doctor always sound like a genius? These and other professionals universally sound great because they are talking about something you will know little about, so it is easy to impress you. So, what can you do? How do you protect yourself?
A simple starting point and the purpose of this blog is to caution you to work with an appraiser who is extremely experienced in your market – the place your property is located. If a company brags that it covers from Santa Barbara to San Diego and from Los Angeles to Baker or Needles, RUN!!! That will not be the company where you will find an experienced and knowledgeable appraiser for YOUR property.
Instead look to work with someone who has intentionally limited themself to the area they lived and its surrounding cities. In the case of a large area, like the Inland Empire, make sure they have been around long enough to have been naturally exposed to the market your property is located. While this does not guarantee competency, it certainly is a critical foundational starting point. The rest will not matter if you do not get someone who knows your market.