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5 Ways to Improve Appraisal Turnaround Time

Determining appraisal turnaround time for a full residential appraisal report is not an exact science. There are many internal and external factors that could impact the amount of time it takes — from initial order to final approval — for you to accept an appraisal report.

But while many factors that impact appraisal turnaround time are out of your hands, there are several things you can do to ensure your bank or credit union gets swift and efficient turnaround from an appraiser, with limited touches and fewer rejections.

Want to know the right questions to ask when evaluating an AMC? Download our guide.

1.  Create a Thorough Engagement Letter

Appraisal requests typically come with a list of instructions included as part of an engagement letter. More often than not, these engagement letters feature standard regulatory guidelines. Every bank has its own credit policy with its own particular needs – shouldn’t the engagement letter spell out those requirements as well? If appraisal turnaround time is important to your bank or credit union, it’s in your best interest to work with your AMC to develop an engagement letter that clearly stipulates the requirements of your lending institution. You don’t want general boiler plate but an engagement letter that gives an appraiser all of the information needed to complete an appraisal report that meets your specific needs, with less chance of being disputed back to the AMC for revisions.

Less is sometimes more. An engagement letter with large amounts of extraneous information and instructions can lead to difficulty finding an appraiser willing to take on your assignment. Make sure your engagement letter is succinct, refined, and will give your underwriters the needed information to make prudent credit decisions.

2.  Make Sure Your Appraisal Provider Has a Proactive QC Process

Disputes can seriously hamper any and all expectations regarding appraisal turnaround time. The key to reducing turnaround time is selecting a partner with a quality control (QC) process designed to catch mistakes before submission and thereby limit costly delays.

Tools like Fannie Mae’s Collateral Underwriter (CU) are being used post-delivery to identify appraisal risk. Proactive AMCs are using similar analytic tools on the front end to catch issues before the appraisal is delivered to you. These AMCs enhance appraisal quality by giving appraisers and review staff the data, tools and workflows needed to identify and address issues before an appraisal is submitted. This means a higher probability of success passing the QC review by your underwriters and investors the first time.

3.  Have a Firm Grasp and Understanding of Forecasted and Historical Turn Times in Your Market Area

Nothing is more frustrating than closing delays due to appraisal delays. Turn-time is often a product of supply and demand which will vary from one market to another. Select an AMC capable of sharing historical and forecasted turn times and able to proactively communicate the expected delivery date on any given order so that you can set reasonable expectations and keep your Loan Officer and Borrower informed.

4.  Have a Robust Network of Dedicated Appraisers

Your bank will benefit from working with an AMC with a robust network of appraisers throughout your lending footprint. Ask your AMC about their appraiser recruiting and onboarding process as well as any programs they have to incentivize and reward good appraisers. Superior turn time, quality and service are not possible without a strong and dedicated appraiser network.

5.  Efficient Communication is Key

Many get frustrated trying to chase down information on an appraisal — we’ve found that working with a single point of contact is paramount in reducing appraisal turnaround time. Not only will a dedicated contact within an AMC know your bank’s unique needs, but working with a single point of contact who is focused on your account and knows what’s in your pipeline allows you to maintain continuity throughout an ever-changing industry.

A dedicated contact within an AMC can also be valuable as a project manager in coordinating with various groups within the AMC when it comes to your needs related to product, technology, accounting or regulation and compliance.

Contact us today to learn how Stewart Valuation Services strives each and every day to offer its clients a transparent and intelligent quality control process that is efficient and effective.