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How Can Real Estate Agents Help Appraisers Determine Accurate Valuations?

Appraisers start from a high bar before they can take on their own assignments, but agents can still play a role in helping them determine valuations accurately.

By: Maureen Sweeney, SRA, AI-RRS, RAA | REALTOR Mag, October 18, 2022

One comment I sometimes hear from agents is, “The appraiser doesn’t know what they are doing!” I ask the agent complaining, “What do you think the appraiser does?” They typically respond, “They kill my deals!” That reveals a misunderstanding of who the appraiser is, why we are here and what agents can do to help the process. Let me offer some clarity.

An appraiser is expected to perform valuation services competently and in a manner that is independent, impartial and objective. An appraiser must not perform an assignment with bias nor accept an assignment that includes the reporting of predetermined opinions and conclusions. Unlike agents, appraisers must not advocate the cause or interest of any party or issue.

When you’re working with a buyer or seller on a transaction, remember this: The price of a property is a fact based on the agreement between a willing buyer and seller. The appraisal is an opinion of value based on credible assignment results. Appraisers observe the property, analyze the data and report their credible results to their client—typically the lender, seeking to assure the property is worth enough to guarantee the loan. There are many different valuation products, including traditional appraisals performed by licensed appraisers and ones not performed by a licensed appraiser, including competitive market analyses (CMAs), broker price opinions (BPOs), evaluations and automated valuation models (AVMs).

Regardless of how much we prepare for an appraisal assignment, none of us are mind readers. If agents have information germane to the valuation, the appraiser needs to know. Communication is key—so is keeping a complete work file. To ensure no miscommunications, send answers to the appraiser’s questions and data requests via email before meeting them at the property.

Sometimes, agents become frustrated when they perceive that the lender or appraisal management company (AMC) has made an assignment to an appraiser from outside the area. Bear in mind the agents sometimes work outside their market area, too, and geographic distance isn’t always the best measure of competency. It’s ethically and legally required that an appraiser only if they have the competency to handle the assignment. Appraisers certify that they are competent in their reports; if they are not, their licenses can be disciplined. It is for this reason I stress: Understanding how the market is defined is key to geographic competency and avoiding misunderstandings. The listing agent may have one idea of how the market is defined, while the appraiser may have a different one.


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