Question: How come appraisers don’t publish a fee schedule? Is it a case of “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it?”
Like doctors, lawyers and other professionals, most appraisers don’t publish fee schedules. But it’s not because their fees are astronomical.
It’s Like Snowflakes
The reason you won’t see a fee schedule is simple. Most cases are unique. Appraisals differ in format, from a brief oral or email report, to a comprehensive narrative report. They differ in purpose, from insurance or bank loan to expert witness testimony in Supreme Court. And they differ because no two properties, not even Levittown tract houses, are identical. It’s like snowflakes.
It’s About Labor Not Value
It is unethical for an appraiser to base his fee on the value of the property. But it is true that expensive properties often take longer to appraise. While the cost of an appraisal might include travel and other reimbursed expenses, the primary basis will be labor. The appraisal of a McMansion will cost more than one of a trailer house. Liz Taylor’s engagement ring (any of them) will take longer to appraise than Liz Carter’s. But it’s unethical to charge by the pound. So no fee schedule.
Finally, education, experience and certifications are all factors in the fee calculation. The appraiser with stronger credentials will write a more trustworthy and reliable appraisal. She will also charge more than a novice appraiser.
Fees Not Regulated
Appraisers’ fees are not regulated by the government or by appraisal societies. The only constraints are market forces. Most residential real estate appraisers operate in competitive markets. Their fees fall in a narrow range. The fees for most other appraisers in most markets are quite variable.
So you won’t find published fee schedules, and fees do vary. But most appraisers offer free, no obligation fee estimates. Just ask!