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Appraisal Productivity - Keeping Your Volume Under Control

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It's amazing how many different types of appraisal assignments that I am offered an opportunity to bid on, many that I am not qualified to complete, over a few months period. Appraisal bid queries that I receive can range from simple Single-family residential (SFR) appraisals to billion-dollar Las Vegas Strip resort properties. I also get calls to bid on watches, art, diamonds and related items.  I guess that’s due in part to my ASA designation.  You name it and I have been asked to bid on the appraisal of it whether it's an RV Park, a timeshare condominium building or a golf course. Appraisers have to be able to estimate how much time an assignment (turnaround time) will take to complete and consider how much effort is going to be required to produce a credible result.

Some real property appraisal assignments require an appraiser to buy new or updated reference books, some require subscriptions to data sources and some require multiple trips to areas where similar properties have been sold. Depending on the assignment and the property type securing the data needed just to complete a single assignment can be relatively expensive.

At times I receive requests to bid outside of my immediate market area. I generally turn away distant assignments simply because the travel time to inspect and complete the research is too long, I won’t risk my life on the road and work for a relatively low hourly fee if I don’t have to. Appraisers have to decide how to best allocate their own time to stay profitable. If you take assignments that are very time consuming you will have to turn away easier, less time-consuming assignments that may be much more profitable.

 Most appraisers / appraisal firms dread having to turn away an appraisal assignment that they would normally take because they accepted an assignment or assignments that are distant or atypical. They realize that they will be outside of their "sweet spot" which is often their most profitable geographic area or their area of expertise. I have seen more than one firm accept a lucrative assignment knowing that they must rush another or put off its delivery time in favor of the better paying job.

While some appraisers have steady, repetitive work, others have some good months and some slow months. Doing the same single-family residential report over and over is something that I do not enjoy doing, but it's a great way to establish a reliable, steady income if that is your goal.

There have been times in the past when all of the appraisers in town were swamped with work. Instead of bidding down to get a job they all bid higher and higher fees because they were so busy. The psychology then becomes, "if I have to accept this assignment and deal with getting it done quickly, how many lower paying jobs will be delayed?" But it’s more often the case now that a client accepts the lowest bidder.

Appraisers know when they have reached their work load breaking point and just have to say no. If you bid and bid and bid some more you may find that you have bid too many assignments. Having too much work may be great if you have a number of appraisers in your shop who can pick up the workload, but small businesses can get slammed. It’s not a bad idea to have appraiser contacts who you can share your plenty if you snag more than you can handle.

There are those rare times when a potential client thinks that he or she is better qualified to assess my competency than I am.  Since I am at risk, and value my million-dollar errors and omissions insurance policy, I believe that I am the final word on whether I am qualified.  I try not to don’t step into assignments that appear to be black holes, it’s better to just pass on an assignment, and if a party thinks you are not qualified I think the last thing you should do it try hard to convince them.  Clearly, they are already difficult potential clients, why let them become difficult actual clients?

For more appraisal information contact Glenn J. Rigdon MA, MRICS, ASA is a Las Vegas / Henderson Nevada based appraiser who can be contacted via email or via his business website known as Appraiser Las Vegas  (, or you can also click on “Contact Us” on the home page of this website or visit my public profile at LinkedIn at

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