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The “appraisal and related fees” charged are subject to several factors including the complexity of the appraisal problem, the type of property, the purpose of the appraisal, and the use of the report.

MORTGAGE LENDING Appraisals: A conventional mortgage loan appraisal on a “typical” or conforming property within an urban or suburban area is the basic type of appraisal. This would include a mortgage loan appraisal for a new loan (sale or refinance) or PMI removal. These conventional appraisals can be reported on the standard URAR form or other forms that require less reported information. FHA appraisals are more complex as they require the appraiser to compete a report form on observed property conditions. While this appraisal does not include a home inspection it is taken to be by many purchasers and some lenders.

ERC: Employee transfer or relocation appraisals are completed on the longer and more detail “ERC” form using different appraisal guidelines. These appraisals are considered more complex and require more expertise than most mortgage lending appraisals.

LITIGATION / EXPERT WITNESS: Any type of litigation or possible litigation for property settlement including estate taxes, divorce, requires the appraiser to be qualified to testify in court and prepare a courtroom quality appraisal and appraisal report. The client should expect that an appraiser would require adequate time to do a complete appraisal and a professional report for a court presentation. The appraisal may be for the property in its “AS IS” condition, “repaired” which includes possible stigma, or “as repaired” without considering potential stigma or a report which includes two or more opinions of value.

When an appraiser is used as an expert witness for cases involving structural defects, environmental hazards, reoccurring adverse conditions, etc. the appraiser must consider the reports from other experts (engineer reports, repair bids, home inspection reports, etc.). Occasionally more time is required for reading these expert reports than required for the basic appraisal report.

It is difficult to say in advance how much time is required because that depends upon the amount of data furnished to the appraiser and the complexity of the matter. The appraisal will need to consider information on properties with similar problems as well as the market these other properties were located.

The Fee: for litigation I charge a non-refundable “retainer and partial appraisal fee” which is an initial estimate of the charges to do the appraisal and appraisal report. The basic fee considers the appraiser’s expertise and ability to complete the assignment in the required time frame. A litigation appraiser is not an hourly employee or contractor. Often this initial fee is adequate for the basic appraisal and report and may allow for some consulting or even deposition time. However, depending upon the complexity of the assignment and the amount of other expert reports, this initial fee may or may not completely cover the cost of the appraisal report. Additional requests from the client or attorney increases the time required thus the estimated fee. The client should assume the initial fee is for the appraisal report only and consulting, deposition, and court testimony is at an hourly rate.

Out of area assignments require additional time to meet with local appraisers, brokers, the chamber of commerce, and city officials to gather specific area and market data. Out of area assignments require additional time to meet with local appraisers, brokers, the chamber of commerce, and city officials to gather specific area and market data.

September 14, 2023


For mortgage lending the lender is the client and is responsible for the appraisal fee which may be paid to the appraiser by the borrower. The relocation company is the client and generally pays the appraisal fee. In litigation, it is most often the attorney that contacts the appraiser as an agent of the client. A retainer is required for litigation work which may or may not include an appraisal fee or part of an appraisal fee. It is often impossible for the appraiser to collect all litigation fees in advance due to not knowing how much court time will be required. Most attorneys have expert witness funds for the case they are working. The attorney guarantees the expert witness fee thus is responsible for the fees unless other arrangements are made.