Signing Appraisal Management Company Contracts

Jan 22 12:17 2010 Bill Bledsoe Print This Article

When the HVCC rules came into effect in mid 2009, appraisers learned quickly that working with appraisal management companies wasn’t an option, but a necessity.  Although there are many small “here today, gone tomorrow” amc’s, the larger companies were well prepared with their legal contracts and processing software to bring in and maintain thousands of appraisers nationwide.

Indemnity Clause

One of the biggest problems in amc contracts are the indemnity,Guest Posting or “hold harmless” clauses.  Because of the mess the industry has gotten itself into, everyone is trying to protect themselves from lawsuits and settlements.  What does this mean for the appraiser?  Basically, if there is a problem with any portion of the appraisal process, the fault will lay on the appraiser’s shoulders.  The indemnity clause can state that the appraiser will pay all legal fees for the management company as well as their own.

“But I have E&O Insurance!” you may say…

E&O Insurance

Currently, E&O insurance is extremely affordable and well worth the cost.  It brings wonderful peace of mind knowing you are covered for just about anything.  So what is one major area it does not cover?  You guessed it…indemnity clauses.

Out of desperation to bring in more work, appraisers have been signing these contracts without even looking at them.

Case Study:

Let’s say, you, as the appraiser, receive a job from an appraisal management company you have already signed up and been approved with.  You are the best appraiser in your area and perform the “perfect” appraisal.  You complete it in record time and send it back to the amc. 

Unfortunately, the amc has lost the appraisal (or reviewed and transposed numbers on the final value or any other scenario); the client loses their dream home valued at 2.5 million.  They decide to sue.  Because of the indemnity clause, it doesn’t matter what the amc did, you are responsible. 

Your E&O insurance is still in place, so you are covered for anything you did, but now because of the “hold harmless clause”, you now have to cover all legal costs of the appraisal management company as well.

The AMC’s Response

As appraisers are getting wiser regarding the contracts they are signing, some appraisal management companies have made changes to their contracts to make them more fair.  Remember that it is mostly the largest amc’s that carry questionable contracts.  Huge corporations, such as Bank of America or Wells Fargo, that have big corporate lawyers are the ones causing the most damage.  There are still hundreds of small amc’s, many that carry a simple one page contract or none at all, that you can sign up with.

What You Should Do

For most appraisers, it is necessary to sign up with amc’s if you are going to stay in business.  Read the fine print, and if necessary, hire a professional to help you understand what you are signing.  If you are uncomfortable with signing…don’t!  Look for other amc’s, or as several appraisers have done, cross out or change the portion of the contract that you don’t like and send it back.  In most cases, the company accepted the changed contract without question.

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Bill Bledsoe
Bill Bledsoe

For a complete list of AMC's go to or for another great article, go to Top 5 Reasons to Buy an Appraisal Management Company List.

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