Appraising "Bifurcated"


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Appraising “Bifurcated”
by David Brauner, Senior Broker at

The following aphorism caught my eye recently as something I should share with you as I treated my in-laws to a deli sandwich in a small Michigan town: “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark; a large group of professionals built the Titanic.” (Thanks to Jimmy John’s!)

I laughed out loud. But the new reality is not a laughing matter. Fannie aims to replace appraisers as much as possible with automation.

Be that as it may, and regardless of what you may think about “bifurcated” appraising, everyone agrees that it looks like a done deal. And if the financial collapse of 2008 and Fannie Mae’s forced conservatorship didn’t humble those folks, nothing will. Change is here, and change is never easy: you can choose to try it or you can choose to defy it, but it’s happening.

Personally, I wish I was more receptive to change but not everyone is calibrated that way. It’s hard for me and maybe you, too, to move our own cheese, especially when everything is working pretty well.

These days, when I’m forced to change, I keep in mind how trimming a rose bush down to sticks doesn’t kill it; on the contrary it sparks faster and more robust growth. I have seen even modest risks pay dividends in business and I try not to view mistakes as failures when things don’t work out, as long as the decision was made thoughtfully. To paraphrase what Thomas Edison famously remarked about his first 1,000 attempts to invent the light bulb: the “failures,” he said, are merely learning what doesn’t work. Appraising has evolved over the years; now it is changing.

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Everyone we spoke to for this issue said there are many ways for an appraiser to utilize his/her skills to make a living in addition to residential Fannie Mae appraising. Jim Baumberger wrote a great story that did not make the deadline for this print issue titled Roadmap for Survival which offers clear and sage guidance on navigating these changes. You can find it at (Search “Roadmap”). We’ll see how this all works out but it doesn’t have to do you in. For our part, it’s our job at Working RE and our sister company OREP, to help you transform change into success.

This year OREP E&O is offering 14 hours of free, approved continuing education with our Appraiser E&O insurance package, along with other valuable business support to help you continue to grow and blossom. If you’re shopping for E&O please be sure to give OREP a look. (


Take OREP/Working RE’s Bifurcated Appraisal Survey


About the Author
David Brauner is the Publisher of Working RE magazine and Senior Broker at OREP, a leading provider of E&O insurance for appraisers, inspectors and other real estate professionals in 50 states. He has provided E&O insurance to appraisers for over 25 years. He can be contacted at or (888) 347-5273. Calif. Insurance Lic. #0C89873. Visit today for comprehensive coverage at competitive rates.

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Comments (10)

  1. We’ll see how long bifurcation lasts if we stick with our current fees! I’d just as soon get out of my office and into the sunlight to see a property (aside from the fact that I know what to look for). If not I guess I’ll go for more FHA and non-lender work.

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  2. I don’t find it necessary to lower my standards or those of USPAP to match FNMA and MISMO’s desires for automation. My business will do just fine without FNMA.

    So too will appraisers that make the most important change. That of dumping FNMA work for non-GSE and non-transactional lending appraisal work for clients that still require competently performed, credible valuations.

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  3. The persons that are doing this are criminals at best and should be in stocks in a public square. My fav part is all the defeatism then turn right around and say “hey come do this course to make your appraisals better”. Why? If it’s all over, then why even bother? Fact is you get what you pay for. So it costs typical 300-350$ for a standard drive by, now what’s the cost for an untrained and/or biased monkey to do an inspection? Then have us do a partial appraisal based on their limited inspection? Seems to be about the same for 1/2 less quality… I dunno just food for thought. If it’s my money and I was the banker, I would be firing a lot of these “I have a bright idea” kind of idiots who want an appraisal at the order clown head window and then have it done by the 2nd drive thru window.

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  4. Hello David, I have no problem with change. What I disagree with is that I am only worth $85, but yet I assume all the responsibility. You pay me for that responsibility and my expertise and I have no issue. But this isn’t about change for the sake of change it is about getting me to cut my fee and still accept all the responsibility. When I can write the scope of work, the report, add my expertise and get paid for it, then we can discuss my need to change or move my cheese.

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  5. Tri-furcation is a desperate and stoopid attempt to correct what the AMC business model broke. Adding a third layer of crap to an already overbudend process will only create an UN credible product that is not worth the pdf it is printed upon. In 2007 they were raising the standards to become an Appraiser due to an oversupply. Why?? Because the business model worked.. however the Regulators did not work and too many “Appraisers” went undisciplined for breaking the rules. There were plenty of rules in place in 2007, but nobody was Enforcing them. AMC’s were supposed to be “management” companies – not Appraisers. Just move the TIME and RESOURCES back to the Appraiser and you will find things to be done timely – and Credibly.. assuming the Regulators do their jobs this time. Tri-furcate?? No thanks but if you must… PAY ME!!!! Sincerely – Fee Appraiser.

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  6. And will David Brauner pay the Appraisers fine when the bifurcated appraisal turns into a Big Problem for the Appraiser? After all the Judge just needs to say “Who has the License?” End of story. And I’m sure OREP will love charging the appraiser more for not doing it all themselves. And how about Insurance for the non licensed folks doing the “Inspection”? And who is going to work for less than they do now?
    Cannot make a full time living and support a family now. Imagine when the fee is $50.

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