Colorado faces shortage of home appraisers

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Across the nation, and right here in Colorado, the number of home appraisers is in decline. Before the mortgage bust five years ago, there were upwards of 6,000 appraisers, now the number is down to about 3,200.

The average age is between 50 and 64, with fewer than 12% under the age of 35. Since new federal regulations have gone into effect, the amount appraisers can charge for a home inspection has dropped as well.

“New appraisal management companies have been formed by the feds, which have been set up to avoid any conflicts of interest between mortgage brokers and appraisers,” said JoAnn Apostol, a certified appraiser.

“We no longer deal directly with banks or brokers, only with the middle man of sorts, which means we have to share fees with the AMCs, and that is driving people out of the business,” Apostol said.

For home buyers, this means appraisals are not conducted in a timely fashion. With fewer appraisers in the field, inspections tend to take longer. In some cases, people can lose their interest rate lock if the process drags on too long, according to appraisers.

“Some folks have seen the process take six months or more,” one appraiser said. “When you couple the shortage with tighter lending procedures and extra eyes on loans, some people are seeing huge delays in closings.”

Many appraisers are booked solid two to three weeks in advance. Some have to turn down jobs, and one company is said to have turned down 230 appointments this year.

The best advice is to work with a lender who can help you through the process of closing a home loan. That way, you don’t get caught having to pay for a second appraisal if your lock on an interest rate is broken.

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