Appraisal Fees on the Move: New Survey Asks How Much
by Isaac Peck, Editor
Many appraisers are busier than ever today and fees appear to be rising in select markets across the country. To help the appraisal community better understand how fees are changing and in what markets, OREP/Working RE is launching a nationwide survey: 2021 Appraiser Fee Survey. What are you seeing in your local market?
Despite the obstacles brought by the COVID-19 pandemic (and the corresponding lockdowns), 2020 was a blow-out year for total mortgage originations and for appraisal volume as well.
At press time, the U.S. mortgage market in 2020 is currently expected to exceed $4 trillion in total mortgage origination for the first time in history. This stems from a combination of purchase lending reaching heights not seen since 2005, coupled with a record setting refinance boom due to incredibly low interest rates.
The latest data from Freddie Mac indicates that appraisers have unquestionably participated in this boom. Danny Wiley, Senior Director of Valuation for Single-Family Credit Risk Management at Freddie Mac, reports that the seven months since COVID-19 pandemic began (March-September 2020) represent the seven highest volume months in terms of appraisals received to the Uniform Collateral Data Portal® (UCDP®) ever on record.
Compared to 2019, appraisal volume was up 40% from January–September 2020 based on UCDP numbers. The UCDP® is a single portal for the electronic submission of appraisal data files to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and facilitates the electronic collection of appraisal report data.
With a substantial increase in appraisal volume, and a relatively stable pool of appraisers available to complete assignments, the law of supply and demand suggests that appraisal fees should be increasing, at least in some markets. Anecdotal evidence from both lenders and appraisers supports this, with lenders reporting longer turn times and higher fees in higher-volume markets across the country, and appraisers indicating that they’re raising their fees in response to increasing demand.
Not All Boats
However, with a rapid increase in appraisal volume, not all appraisers are benefiting equally. Many appraisers remain hesitant to perform interior-inspection appraisals due to the dangers of the COVID-19 virus and are limited to exterior-only and desktop assignments. For these appraisers, their volume has typically suffered, depending on their local market, because only about 15% of appraisal assignments ordered utilize the new appraisal flexibilities permitting exterior only, or desktop assignments, according to Fannie Mae’s latest data.
Fee Survey History
OREP/Working RE’s new 2021 Appraisal Fee Survey is the third nationwide fee survey OREP/WRE has conducted in the last 10 years. The first in 2010, was in the wake of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) and garnered nearly 18,000 responses from appraisers across the country—many struggling to cope with severe fee splits imposed on their business model by appraisal management companies (AMCs). Many appraisers could not continue in business as a result. The second survey was conducted in 2017 and received over 7,000 responses.
The 2010 survey, conducted when there were nearly twice as many licensed appraisers as today, gives us a good perspective on where we’ve been. For example, in 2010/2011, appraisers in Bend, Oregon were earning an average fee of $350–$400 for a standard 1004 appraisal order. In 2017, that average fee for a 1004 appraisal increased to $651–$750 in Bend, Oregon. Likewise, in Los Angeles, California, the average fee for a 1004 appraisal increased from $351–$400 to $401-$450 from 2010 to 2017. This type of comparative data is available to all appraisers and industry stakeholders free of charge. The results from the 2021 survey will be the same. (To find the results from earlier fee surveys, visit WorkingRE.com/surveys.)
While the previous surveys now give us perspective, the 2021 survey gives us the tools we need to succeed today, says David Brauner Senior Broker at OREP E&O insurance (www.OREP.org). “There is real value in seeing if you are earning what you’re worth in today’s environment. Appraisers have traditionally been solo acts for the most part. Collecting fee data nationwide is one way our national platform (Working RE Magazine) can be utilized to unite the appraisal community.”
Just like the previous fee surveys, this survey is broken out by 365 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, with rural areas included by state, and takes only minutes to complete. The first two surveys focused on eight different appraisal products including reviews and FHA appraisals.
The new survey will also ask appraisers for their thoughts on:
If (and by how much) appraisers are lowering their fees for desktop and exterior-only assignments.
• Current fees for 1004D Appraisal Update Assignment.
• Current fees for 1004 Certification of Completion.
• Estimated reasonable fees for Fannie Mae’s new 1004 “Desktop” form (not yet active).
• Estimated reasonable fees Fannie Mae’s new 1004 “Hybrid” form (not yet active).
The survey also addresses appraisal turnaround time, which some say is the biggest obstacle to quality today. While Working RE’s first survey included only non-AMC appraisal reports, the new survey draws no distinction between AMC and non-AMC appraisals.
The value of the survey depends on the level of participation. The survey assumes assignments that are not complex (complex assignments require higher fees) and is anonymous for appraisers.
The initial results should be published by the Summer Edition of Working RE or sooner and will updated regularly as the various market areas become more populated. In addition to appraisers, AMCs can use the data to measure the customary and reasonable fees they offer and turn-time policies. The data will be available to the government, AMCs and the public at large.
To weigh in with your customary and reasonable fees for various products, visit WorkingRE.com/2021survey.
About the Author
Isaac Peck is the Editor of Working RE magazine and the Vice President of Marketing and Operations at OREP.org, a leading provider of E&O insurance for appraisers, inspectors and other real estate professionals in 50 states. He received his master’s degree in accounting at San Diego State University. He can be contacted at email@example.com or (888) 347-5273.