Cheap Appraisers – Are They Worth The Risk?

If you haven’t worked with an appraiser before, you may not realize that all appraisers are NOT the same and can be as different as night and day depending on their experience, education, and familiarity with your market area. 

Anyone who’s had an appraiser horror story (there are plenty of them) because they hired the cheapest appraiser will tell you it’s simply not worth the risk. So don’t wait for your own horror story to be a learning experience and wake-up call when hiring an appraiser for your needs.

It can be easy to get tempted by those low fee appraisers. It seems like just a formality anyway. However, when it comes to hiring a professional appraiser for such an important job remember that you often get what you pay for!

It’s not worth trying to save $50 on the cost of an appraisal when there’s a good chance you may not receive the quality report you deserve if your main hiring decision was simply to go with the cheapest appraiser. So when it comes to working within your budget, don’t select an appraiser simply to save a couple bucks because it could cost you dearly in the long run.

There are ways to help ensure you’re hiring a quality appraiser. First, you should always ask for referrals from people you know and trust or from established real estate professionals within your market area. You can also look online for appraisers that come up repeatedly and start your research from there.

In addition, you should always pre-screen an appraiser. You don’t have to come across as bossy, intimidating, or controlling however; keep in mind you shouldn’t be bullied by anyone in the business either. Any appraiser who’s not willing to answer a few questions for you up front or claims their reputation should speak for itself is probably not someone you want to work with.

Questions you should be asking: 

  • Aside from full name and telephone number, you should also ask for and write down an appraiser’s license or certification number. First, this lets the appraiser know you’re serious. Second, if they don’t know or won’t share this information this is a red flag you should be aware of. If this is the case you may want to save yourself time and tell them you’ll need that information before you can speak with them any further.
  • Find out the location of the appraiser’s “home base” or office. It’s generally a good idea to work with an appraiser who’s completed a significant amount of work in your area so don’t be afraid to ask how many appraisals they’ve completed in your area over the past few years. It’s extremely important for the appraiser to be familiar with your area in order to produce an accurate and reliable appraisal report. In addition, keep in mind that when appraisers are slow they may be willing to reduce their fees and drive great distances into market areas their unfamiliar with, so beware!
  • Ask how long they’ve been appraising and if they’ve ever been sanctioned. Five to10 years’ experience is ideal and you should avoid hiring appraisers who’ve been sanctioned or caught cutting corners in the past.
  • Find out what level licensing they have. An appraiser’s license can vary from Trainee to Certified General. Never hire a trainee unless a fully certified mentor is involved in both the appraisal process and final analysis. In California, appraisers with “AL” designations mean they can perform appraisals on properties worth up to $1M while appraisers with “AR” designations have more training and education and can perform appraisals on properties up to and above $1M, and appraisers with “AG” designations allow them to perform appraisals on commercial in addition to $1M plus properties. 

I hope you found this helpful and if you have any additional questions, thoughts or comments please leave them down below.

The ‘Temecula Appraisal Group’ specializes in divorce appraisals, bankruptcy appraisals, date of death appraisals, estate appraisals, pre-listing appraisals and more throughout the Temecula area.

For more information contact us at (951) 252-2363, visit our website at, or email us at You can also follow us on Twitter, YouTube, or “LIKE” our Facebook page as well. Also, make sure to check out our ‘Praise’ page and see what others are saying about Roy Meyer and the ‘Temecula Appraisal Group.’

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