AMC Declares Bankruptcy: What Appraisers Need To Know About Bankruptcy

By Ramir Rodriguez

You received a letter in the mail informing you that your client has filed for .  It is this moment you realize that this bad news just became your problem.

Many of us are familiar with the recent bankruptcy filings of and its  bankruptcysubsidiary .  Peter Christensen, attorney and general counsel to LIA Administrators & Insurance Services, shared in his blog that the total unpaid fees to , agents, and brokers as listed in bankruptcy documents is $11,048,411.97!  This is a remarkable amount.  Evaluation Solutions’ bankruptcy documents accounted for $9,349,612.97 of the total amount and a separate filing of its subsidiary was for $1,698,799.

I Received A Notice… Now What?

If you received a notice regarding Evaluation Solutions/ES ’ (I will refer to them as ES) bankruptcy you may be wondering what the next step is to try and recover money owed to you.  Yes, a client’s bankruptcy can be costly for you, but most importantly, not adhering to the rules of the bankruptcy process can cost you significantly more.

Knowing the types of bankruptcy, how to play by the rules, and what you can (or can’t do) will help you understand the scope of your problem and ensure you don’t get in trouble.

Types of Bankruptcy

There are lots of information you can gather from the bankruptcy notice from ES to help you understand the nature of this problem.  But first you must recognize the type of bankruptcy ES is filing.

Chapter 7 – This type of bankruptcy is the liquidation of remaining assets to distribute among its creditors.

Chapter 11 – This a financial reorganization of a business, which allows your client to function while they follow court ordered debt repayment plans.

Chapter 13 – Similar to Chapter 11, but rather than a business filing bankruptcy it is the individual reorganizing and following a debt repayment plan.

Ideally, it’s more favorable on your end if your client files for either Chapter 11 or 13.  These types of bankruptcy give your client a breather until they figure out how to repay.

If your client however files for Chapter 7, which is what ES filed, not only will your chances of getting paid be reduced, but also you may be waiting a long time (even years) for this type of case to be completed.

Take A Number

At this point you are probably frustrated and would like to call someone to attempt to collect your money.  Stop right there!  Your actions can get you in deep waters.  If you attempt to make phone calls to ES’s accounting department, send nasty letters, or try to file a lien (which some appraisers have done in other instances and is not recommended), you will face penalties.

Assuming you do get some money owed to you, you will have to wait in line.  This is the second item you must understand.  Here’s the payment order:

  1. Lawyers, administrative expenses, and other professional services that are involved pulling hairwith the work of filing the bankruptcy.
  2. Secured claims, including mortgage holders.
  3. Priority claims, including wages and taxes.
  4. Unsecured claims, which is where you as an may be categorized.
  5. Equity claims, including stockholders.

So curb your frustration because all you can do at this point is wait.

What Can You Do While You Wait

Sure you have to wait for ES’s bankruptcy process to take its course, but there are some things you can do in the interim.  Since this case can drag for a long period of time, you can do the following:

  1. Consult with your CPA about taking a deduction on your taxes for the bad debt.  If you manage to receive some money owed to you after the bankruptcy case is settled you can claim it as income at that time.  See your accountant for more details.
  2. It does not apply in this case, but if you have a future instance where your client files for Chapter 11 or 13 and wants to continue a working relationship, it may be to your advantage.  Of course your immediate reaction is to quickly say “no way!”, but understand that Chapter 11 and 13 require debtors to stay current on all accounts moving forward.  This means you can add a fee to your to recover what was lost, stricter payment time frames, and maybe exclusivity as other appraisers may not take another chance.  Keep in mind that the best way to reduce or eliminate risks is to get paid up front.

 Improve And Move On

Now that you’re somewhat familiar with the types of bankruptcy, payment pecking order, and what you may be able to do as the bankruptcy takes its course, it is important prepare for the future.  This means assessing your and how to prevent this problem from happening again.

First, create a process on how to screen new clients by knowing their payment history.  There are many tools and resources you can use online that are free or for a small fee.  Second, improve your accounts receivable aging management procedures.  Just because they are still “current” doesn’t mean it does not require all of your attention.  Current receivables can quickly turn into problems if you don’t pay attention.  Last but not least, be persistent and tough but professional with your collections.

If you have an AMC bill in your state, read it and educate yourself on how it can help your appraisal business.  There are sections in most AMC bills that require AMCs to pay by a certain time frame.  For example, Texas AMC bill requires AMCs to pay appraisers within 60 days.

Also consider resources available to you such as your receivables where the risk of non-payment is transferred to the company.  In this case, you can get paid quickly without the responsibility of collecting and liability of non-payments.

No small business is immune to the unexpected, but you can certainly minimize you risks as work towards a successful 2013.

Guest blogger:  Ramir Rodriguez  represents Treasure  Valley Factors
in Fruitland, Idaho. He has  helped real estate  appraisers
understand how factoring can can help their business since 2009.
For more questions about factoring ,
please  email him at
or visit his blog Factoring Helps or
Twitter: @RamirRodriguez
"Like" Treasure Valley Factors on Facebook!

The Value of Evaluators

Another great article from the Illinois appraisal regulator


The argument to promote evaluations as an alternative to appraisals was driven by rural lenders who feared a shortage of appraisers might slow down closings. That was it. That was the main beef. A simple supply and demand issue for banks in the boonies… twenty years ago! An evaluation was regarded as “a generally simpler assessmentmonkeys see hear no evil
of real estate market value.”

Evaluations versus Appraisals (2012) —
The most recent incarnation of the Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines emerged in December of 2010. Section XIII provides the suggested content of a evaluation…“a generally simpler assessment of real estate market value.

(BPOs cannot be used for evaluations.) A valuation method that does not provide a property’s market value or sufficient information and analysis to support the value conclusion is not acceptable as an evaluation. For example, a valuation method that
provides a sales or list price, such as a broker price opinion, cannot be used as an evaluation because, among other things, it does not provide a property’s market value.

1-1 GOOD AT final rev newslet

If you want to know what the feds meant by “a simpler assessment”, go ask them. I’d love to hear that explanation myself.

Many AMCs, while eager to take on the evaluation function, fail to understand who is ultimately responsible for the entire program. (Their clients, the lenders)

Banks cannot hand‐off liability to AMCs like a hot potato just because they can’t be bothered managing their own evaluation program. If an AMC makes a mess of the bank’s
evaluation program, the responsibility of the failure falls squarely back on the bank.

Turning an evaluation into an USPAP compliant appraisal takes far less effort than trying to cobble together a cadre of competent and reliable evaluators to provide something that by state statute,must fall short of an appraisal.

My comment: This is an issue that has been around since the early 1990s. What does an evaluation mean? Cheap and fast. Banks want them. AMCs would love to provide them. I have no idea who would do them and what they look like. I have no idea how a licensed appraiser would do them as they must be USPAP compliant.

Seems easier to me just to do an appraisal. Maybe a shorter appraisal that is not 30 pages long with 9 comps and pages and pages of explanations!! Now that is a very practical idea. Just go back to the past pre-HVCC and incredible scope creep since then.

Click here to read the full newsletter article.

Appraisal client requests for clarification

AppraisalPort Weekly Poll Analysis – client requests for clarification
By Steve Costello, AppraisalPort Product Manager

I receive a lot of e-mail from appraisers commenting about the time they spend working onstress - hitting head on keyboard requests for clarification on appraisals they have submitted to their clients. That prompted me to post two polls related to these client requests.

“What percent of your assignments result in a request for clarification from the client?
The results were a little different than expected with nearly half (45%) of the 4,691 respondents stating that they only get a clarification request 0%-10% of the time. That is actually lower than expected based on what I hear from appraisers directly.
The second most popular answer was 11%-20% of the time with about 19% of the vote. The number of votes continued to get smaller as the percentages increased (13% chose 21%-30% while another 8% answered 31%-40%).
After that, things take a bump up. Nearly 15% of the appraisers responded that they get a request for clarification on more than 40% of their appraisals. I can see where that level of requests could make it difficult to get the new work completed on time.

“How often does your client requests information that is already in the original submitted report?”
In other words, we are asking how many of the above requests for clarification were un-necessary because the client already had the needed information.
This was a popular poll with 5,632 responses and the overwhelming answer was “often” with 60% of the vote.
About 27% responded that they “rarely” run into this situation while only 1% said it “never” happens to them.
Another 12% answered that this “almost always” happens.
So it looks as if we have a fairly large number of appraisers being asked for additional information that is already contained in the report.

My comment: nothing new here but I do like the analysis of the data. I love working for my estate clients. The dead people never request any clarifications (except maybe their executor contacts me when I have the wrong subject property address) ;>

Why are there so many increasing lender/AMC requirements?

Today, lenders are very worried about investors requiring loan buy-backs. I keep hearing aboutpiles of paper minor appraisal errors, such as typos, resulting in buy backs. Of course, many of the loan documents, including appraisals, have been lost.

Is this realistic? I don’t know, but lenders are worried so they tell their agents, AMCs, to increase appraisal requirements. There were much more significant changes in 1989, such as appraiser licensing, that will not be reversed.

AMCs work for lenders, and do what they say. But, if one of an AMCs lender’s require something, that AMC may require that it be done for all of their lenders because it is too much of a “hassle” to send out separate engagement letters for each lender’s appraisals.

This is a short excerpt from an article in the January, 2013 issue of the paid Appraisal Today newsletter, which focuses on AMCs, including background checks and a profile of an AMC that pays well and that appraisers like to work for.

Appraisal Today newsletter

Background checks

man with question mark

fbi badge

Another AMC/client issue is requiring background checks. Some AMCs are asking for them and some are not. If one of an AMCs clients’ asks for a background check, it is easier just to get one from the AMC’s appraisers so that it is in the AMCs files if they need it.

I’m working on an article for my paid Appraisal Today newsletter about this issue, including what the AQB advises and where to go to get one you can use for multiple AMCs. There are some good reasons why clients (and state regulators)

want them. I got a background check when my license 20 years ago and have never gotten another one. And some bad reasons – privacy invasion, cost, hassle, etc.
I’m working on a series of articles on AMCs for my paid Appraisal Today newsletter, including trying to find out about these background checks.

Appraisal Today newsletter

AMC asks appraiser to remove photos of black cat

black pantherHow the AMC  (maybe) saw the cat


Fair lending violations per AMC.

This first circulated on the Internet in September. I finally found the original source!!

This was from the famous/infamous real estate and mortgage news and commentary videos with Frank Garay and Brian Stevens.

I love the “Frank and Brian” video show!! It is mostly about mortgage lending but is sometimes about appraisers. They used to have an appraiser version, but one of the two appraisers went to work for the CA state regulator, so it was discontinued.

Foto of the The Two Guys

Here’s link to the video to see them in action!!!

AMCs and confusion about Chase and 30 mile limit

One of my readers contacted Chase after reading my email sent yesterday. The reader said that Chase question mark why?does not have any 30 mile limit. Per the email from an account executive at JPMorgan Chase in Florida: “No we do not have any such guideline or requirement like that.
Sounds suspect!”
My original source for the info was Doug Smith in Montana, who received an official letter with a letterhead from Equifax stating that Chase has a 30 miles limit. Here is the emailed letter he received on 11/16/12:

“Attention all Chase Appraisers:

Effective orders assigned tomorrow, Friday November 16th, 2012, all Appraisers completing orders for J.P. Morgan Chase Bank must be within 30 miles of the subject property.“

“You will be asked during the assignment call from Equifax Settlement Services to confirm that the appraiser completing the order is within 30 miles.  Any assignment exceptions to this requirement will be noted in the Equifax order notes.“

“Please note, for both Equifax and Chase audit purposes it is IMPERATIVE that the appraiser’s address stated on the report is within 30 miles of the subject property address.“

“We thank you for your compliance with this new Chase requirement.“
Afer inquiring about an order for an appraisal 100 miles from his office (not unusual in Montana), Doug also received an email from Servicelink saying that their contract with Chase did not have that requirement.

What’s happening? I have no idea. The emailed letter sent to Doug from Equifax is very clear.

Appraisal Today newsletter

Chase has a new appraiser requirement – appraiser must be located within 30 miles of the subject

AppraisalPort Poll Results – 5/14/12Stop sign

In the past 6 months how many appraisals over 50 miles away from your office have you completed?
0 to 5, 3377 votes – 62%
6 to 10, 539 votes – 10%
11 to 15, 296 votes – 5%
16 to 20, 245 votes – 5%
More than 20, 985 votes – 18%

Total Votes: 5,442

My comments: Very interesting results!! Although the poll is for only over 50 miles, I would expect that more appraisers are traveling 30 miles or more. I guess Chase won’t be lending in rural areas or parts of large counties. I am 32 miles from the farthest city in my county. I am in the San Francisco Bay area, and most appraisers who work multiple counties travel over 30 miles one way regularly. Of course, the more time you spend driving, the less appraisals you can complete. Cutting driving time is the best way to increase productivity.

Appraisal Today newsletter

Appraisal Institute – Evaluations for Lenders by appraisers

Appraisal Institute – Evaluations for Lenders by appraisers


The Appraisal Institute’s “Guide Note 13: Performing Evaluations of Real Property Collateral for Lenders” addresses how appraisers should prepare an evaluation for a lender and comply with the USPAP.

The Guide Note states, “For lending transactions involving real estate, a lender must obtain an appraisal from a state licensed or certified appraiser. There are 12 exemptions from this requirement. For three of these exemptions, in lieu of an appraisal by a licensed or certified appraiser the lender may obtain an evaluation.”

The Appraisal Institute’s Guide Note states that USPAP allows an appraiser to adjust the scope of work for a valuation assignment as long as the resultant value opinion is credible, given the intended use. When preparing an evaluation, the appraiser may consider narrowing the scope of work as appropriate.

According to the interagency guidelines, a lender may obtain an evaluation in lieu of an appraisal when the loan transaction:
– has a transaction value equal to or less than $250,000; …
– or involves an existing extension of credit at the lending institution, provided that: there has been no obvious and material change in market conditions or physical aspects of the property…
“The degree of property inspection, the extent of the data collection process, and the type and level of analysis can vary as needed, as long as the resulting opinions and conclusions are credible in light of the intended use.“

Click here to download the Appraisal Institute’s six-page “Guide Note 13: Performing Evaluations of Real Property Collateral for Lenders.”

My comment: This is an old issue, from the FIRREA days of over 20 years ago. There are some proposals for what appraisers can do, but there are not many details. A licensed appraiser is the “Gold Standard” but the appraisal methods used today are not always needed. For example, a tract home in a large conforming tract.

Lots of appraisers seem to forget about the $250,000 deminimus. The only reason licensed appraisers are used by Fannie Mae is that they still require them. Other purchasers and investors in mortgages also require them. I suspect that many commercial loans also require appraisals by licensed appraisers, but some use commercial BPOs.

Who can do the evaluations is not very clear. However, they must have specific requirements. A person with no related education or experience would not qualify. BPOs done by real estate agents are not allowed for loans, only for REOs.

For example: an appraiser uses an inspection prepared by someone else such as a real estate agent and uses an AVM which provides comps and other data. Or, a previous appraisal report is used.

Lenders want to use licensed appraisers for evaluations. Be sure to read this Guide Note, which is well written and useful, especially if you are requested to do evaluations. It includes a list of what is required in the report.

I will be writing about this evolving issue, and what is being proposed by lenders, in an upcoming Appraisal Today paid newsletter.

Appraisal Today newsletter

Disaster appraisal form reports – be careful!! – from 11/12/12 email newsletter


Forms that are being used

1. You are working for a lender who allows you send a letter. That’s what I did in 1999-2000 disaster inspection reports in my area. BEST OPTION.

2. FANNIE FORM 2075 OR FREDDIE FORM 2070. THIS FORM IS THE ONLY APPROPRIATE STANDARD FANNIE MAE FORM. This was used for many years for exterior inspections with no appraisal (comps, value, etc). You can discuss the condition of the home in a comments section.

3. Catastrophic disaster area property inspection report. I have seen these from three software vendors. All were different. Unfortunately, some of them have sections for reporting “cost to cure” and/or opinion of direction in value. You will have to modify them, similar to the discussion below on the 1004D. See what it looks in your forms software.



Fannie form 1004D – Appraisal Update and/or Completion Report. available 3/05. This form has been widely used by lenders, starting in 2005, for appraisals “subject to completion”, typically new homes. These reports are done by the appraisal who did the original appraisal. THIS FORM IS USED BY AMCS AS IT CAN BE TRANSMITTED AND IS A STANDARD FORM.


Below that section, the only item that can be used is the Intended user. YOU MUST HAVE AN ADDENDUM DISCUSSING WHAT THE LENDER/CLIENT WANTS.

– You can put text comments info Conclusions on Page 2. Do not check any boxes. Do not fill in any repair estimates. Write up your description in the comments. Such as: None apparent (do NOT discuss affect on collateral or marketability). Or, home has been completely destroyed, except for foundation. No roof, walls, etc.

– DO NOT FILL OUT ANYTHING IN THE RECOMMENDED INSPECTION SECTION. Repeat the above disclaimer. You can include a brief, general, description of the home in the comments section. Even if is there is no damage apparent, you did not previously appraise the home. Be sure to explain this. For example: subject and nearby homes do not appear to have been affected by Hurriane Sandy.

NEIGHBORHOOD DESCRIPTION IS NOT INCLUDED IN THIS FORM AND IS A SIGNIFICANT FACTOR. The disaster forms and the 2075 form include a neighborhood section. Optionally, you may include a statement on neighborhood/nearby homes, such as “Almost all the homes within 2 blocks of the subject are almost completely destroyed” Or, the subject is 1 mile from any apparent storm damage.

You MUST write up your own addendum/letter, covering:

– Statements that:


– Intended use. Do NOT include “To determine if the property has declined in value since the date of the original appraisal for a mortgage finance transaction.”

– Scope of work. ONLY include “perform and exterior inspection of the subject property from the street”.


“While the appraiser noted no VISIBLE damage, the appraiser is neither an engineer nor a contractor and is not qualified to comment upon whether or not damage may be present which was not apparent from a visual, exterior inspection.”

Source: Liability Insurance Administrators


REFUSING TO FILL OUT THIS FORM. Some appraisers are refusing to fill out this form. This has the same problem since 2005. Nothing has been done about this. It is your decision. As you can see, it is not appropriate and only the first section of the form can be filled ouit.

If you choose to fill out this form, it is your choice.


WHAT’S THE ANSWER? A standard disaster inspection report, used by all lenders.


My last local disasters were in 1989/1990 – Oakland firestorm and Loma Prieta earthquake. I did re-inspections on properties I had previously appraised for lenders. No values or estimated costs, etc., of course. Most of the appraisal work was for insurance companies to determine the value of the property previous to the disasters.

The most recent large disaster was Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This was pre-HVCC and lenders ordered the property inspections as AMCs were not predominant. Many lenders ordered 1004D forms and many appraisers refused to fill them out.


Be sure you can find the subject!!

GPS is not exact. A subject can be hard if there is nothing there and all the nearby homes are gone. I know from experience!! I had previously appraised the homes after a disaster and had difficulty finding them!!


What about fees?

The primary factor is how much time it will take. You can work for any fee you choose, even $1, for any report.

Since you will not be providing any opinion of repair estimates, direction in value, etc. look at how long it will take you driving, research (finding the subject), writeup, and transmitting the report. Also, if you can do lots of them on the same day, in the same neighborhood.

I’m hearing from a minimum of $75 (low Fannie 2075 fee) to $200+ each.

If you are doing interior inspections, be sure someone accompanies you. Be very, very careful. Don’t do them for a low fee. They are probably ok in areas with minimal damage, such as broken windows, etc.