The Importance of Appraiser Due Diligence

A single comment can turn a routine property inspection to a memorable exchange. Not long ago, I had a local investor remark that I was the only appraiser he had ever seen measure the building themselves.  Normally, this might indicate a lack of exposure to practiced appraisers.  But, it turns out that this investor has dealt with several appraisers in the past years, all for on the same property.  Nobody had taken the time to measure it before.

For most properties, the public records are adequate and accurate.  Over a career spanning well over a decade and several hundreds of property appraisals, I’ve only encountered a handful of properties with substantial discrepancies.  In the most innocent, a sketch & measurements for the neighbor’s property was inserted in the wrong file.  In another case, yard areas for a swimming pool and tennis courts were included as if they were a building, heavily impacting the property taxes! By far the worst case I’ve dealt seen was a foreclosure appraisal involving a manufacturing facility.  The former owner had demolished several hundred thousand square feet of building without a permit.  No one involved, from the assessor to the lender was the wiser.  Appraiser due diligence is important.

These are all unusual, but very real, examples where it pays to go the extra mile and do good field work.  An appraiser’s field work is more than just property measurements, but that is a basic component that is often overlooked.  I visually inspect, photograph and measure every property appraised.  And, I always recommend you work with an appraiser who is willing to demonstrate good field work and due diligence.