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Published by OREP, E&O Insurance Experts | Nov. 8, 2012 | Vol. 264

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"According to Gerald Kifer, Supervisory Appraiser of the VA, his agency is set to increase its appraiser panel by 25 percent.  'Right now we have just over 4,100 appraisers on our fee panel. We are looking to appoint an estimated 1,400 additional appraisers to VA panels nationwide,' says Kifer. "

Editor’s Note: The joke among appraisers over the years is that the only way to get a slot on the coveted VA Appraiser Panel is for someone to die. Boy, have times changed.

VA Recruiting Appraisers Nationwide
By Isaac Peck, Associate Editor

Getting a coveted appointment to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Appraiser Panel has long been considered nearly impossible by most appraisers. The full-fee, no pressure nature of the work makes it attractive for many, and with the VA rarely opening the panel, the running joke is the best way to land a spot is to keep an eye on the obituaries.

Now, according to Gerald Kifer, Supervisory Appraiser of the VA, his agency is set to increase its appraiser panel by 25 percent.  “Right now we have just over 4,100 appraisers on our fee panel. We are looking to appoint an estimated 1,400 additional appraisers to VA panels nationwide,” says Kifer. 

In his nearly 28 years with the VA, Kifer says this is only the second time the agency has aimed to make such a large addition to its Appraiser Panel.

According to Kifer, 2012 was a historic year for volume of business for VA and he anticipates the trend to continue into 2013.  One reason is the lack of alternative loan products currently available on the market. “At the height of the real estate market, in the early 2000s, there were many loan options available to veterans, like no-doc loans, etc., and many real estate professionals were steering veterans towards other loan products. Now that many of these loans have evaporated, VA loans are one of the few remaining little or no money down options, so we’re seeing an increase in volume,” says Kifer.

Full Fee Work

One well-known benefit of VA work is that appraisers are paid full fees and there is no fee splitting like there is with appraisal management companies (AMCs).  The VA provides a high level of transparency in regards to fees. “As far as I know, we are the only governmental agency that has provided a schedule of what we think are customary and reasonable fees. We have a website where the statistics are published, and of course, our fees do vary based on where appraisals are needed,” says Kifer. 

Another advantage is that orders are given on a rotating basis to appraisers, once they have qualified for the panel, and not based on who is most compliant. VA appraising is absent of overt or even subtle pressure to make a deal work, as the goal is protecting the veteran, not consummating deal.

According to Kifer, there are other benefits of being a VA appraiser. “When an appraiser is appointed to our panel, they receive training material, training guides, and other information that specifically tells them what we’re looking for and what we’re trying to accomplish. We have clear guidelines that explain the minimum property requirements,” he says. The clarity and training are very important, according to Kifer, who says that most appraisers want to make their clients happy, but they don’t necessarily know how to because expectations are often unclear.

“Because we have a closed panel we get to know our appraisers.  We have an ongoing relationship. We are there to answer questions and for guidance,” says Kifer.

Rural Areas Highlighted
The VA is looking for appraisers nationwide but there is the greatest need for appraisers in rural areas. “We typically have the greatest need for appraisers in rural areas because of a lack of appraisers in those areas. We rarely have trouble finding appraisers in urban areas,” Kifer says. 

To qualify for the VA Appraiser Panel, an individual must be a licensed or Certified appraiser and submit a resume showing a minimum of five years experience appraising residential property. An applicant must also submit two letters, written by fellow appraisers, attesting to the character and experience of the applicant as a residential appraiser. For a full list of requirements/qualifications to be on the VA Appraiser panel, click here.

Kifer says he is often asked if veterans receive preference concerning selection for the VA appraiser panel. The answer is yes and no. “In the first round of selection, we look for the most qualified appraisers we can find and no preference of any kind is given. However, if we then have a tie between qualified applicants, veteran status is the first tie breaker and veterans receive first preference if there are candidates with similar experience,” says Kifer.

Appraisers interested in being appointed to the VA Appraiser Panel can apply using the online application form
here. The interactive map of the US allows the appraiser to be directed to the appropriate field office that handles the appraisal process in his/her particular region.


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