For the most part the typical person who needs an appraisal has no idea what to look for in a good or bad appraiser and for the most part I work with some great appraisers and frequently refer clients to other appraiser that I respect.
As a professional appraiser I do know there are some in our industry that may not be able to provide an appraisal report to a client that is suited for their needs.
Unfortunately most people choose an appraiser by the cost of the service, but you must be weary of low cost appraisals if the appraisal is needed for anyone else but yourself. A low cost appraisal will usually be for any value you would like and have no supporting data to back it up. That’s great, unless you need to convince someone else as to the value of your car.
We get asked for a simple value on a letterhead, nothing fancy to give to a government agency, bank, credit union or insurance company. Sure it’s not that big of a deal, but why does it have to be on our letterhead? That’s so that if anything goes wrong, the person who receives the letter has someone else to name on the lawsuit that they will file to recoup their losses. So in an effort to reduce our risk a good appraiser should inspect the vehicle, record all identification, as a plus photograph everything he sees, determine the condition and find all supporting market data. So all this takes time and resources and as a professional appraiser, that’s the line of business were in and we need to be compensated for what we do or we’ll only be able to do it for very long.
So let’s go back to that law suit scenario. An appraiser can get sued? Yes. How can a licensed Appraiser not perform an appraisal correctly? What is the appraiser licensed in? Most states only license “Damage Appraisers”, unless you’re getting the car repaired, there is no requirement for a License! So what kind of license does your appraiser have? Most likely a Driver’s License or maybe a Real Estate License. Seems misleading doesn’t it?
So how do you find a good appraiser?
- Get a sample appraisal. Compare potential appraiser’s appraisal reports. Do they contain more information about the car or themselves? Do they take pictures? Do they list verifiable comparable vehicles? Which one would be most suitable for what you are seeking an appraisal for.
- Does the Appraiser have a physical address? The reason sketch appraisers list a PO Box is that you cannot server a subpoena to a PO Box, only a physical address. What are they hiding from?
- Check with the Better Business Bureau, unhappy customers that get no resolution will file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, watch for companies with short histories, sketchy appraisers change their business name to duck the bad publicity.
- Online feedback, Google them, there are 100’s of websites providing positive and negative reviews.
Protect yourself and your investment, hire a reputable professional appraiser.