Friday, 7 October 2022 | The Latest Buzz for the Appraisal Industry

Desktop Appraisals – Yes, No, Maybe?

Desktop Appraisals have evolved so much in the past 3 years alone — how exactly can appraisers keep up on the changes and impact on the appraisal industry? Join us for our upcoming webinar, “Desktop Appraisals – Yes, No, Maybe?” on May 19th at 2 pm with Tony Pistilli. Have all of your burning questions about Desktop Appraisals answered and more! We sat down with our host, Tony Pistilli, to get the inside scoop on this upcoming webinar.

Buzz: What is your background in the appraisal industry?
Tony: Like many in the industry today, I got into the appraisal business quite by accident. I started at the Department of Housing & Urban Development in a temporary position in the Valuation Branch in the Minneapolis field office. I enjoyed the experience and continued to work in the industry for the next 30+ years serving as an independent appraiser, at a national bank, several mortgage companies, and a federal agency in addition to holding executive level positions at major appraisal management companies. Currently, I am the Director of Valuation Operations and Chief Appraiser for Accurate Group and am responsible for valuation operations, compliance, valuation strategy and product innovation, including Traditional Appraisal, BPO, Inspections, Data and Analytics and ValueNet™. I am a member of several appraisal industry organizations and was a subject matter expert for the Appraisal Foundation in the area of declining markets. I currently serves as vice-chair of the Colorado Real Estate Appraiser Board and I am an AQB Certified USPAP Instructor.

Buzz: Can we have an overview of desktop appraisals?
Tony: While there has been a lot of recent conversations by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Desktop Appraisals have been around for quite some time. ValueNet is an industry leader in the desktop appraisal space, providing over 25,000 desktop appraisals on proprietary forms for over 20 years. Desktop appraisals are just as they sound, appraisals performed at the desk with information provided to the appraisers from 3rd party sources. They include exterior and interior inspections, new construction, as-is and as-repaired and appraisals for a variety of uses within financial institutions.

Buzz: How have desktop appraisals evolved in the last 3 years?
Tony: While desktop appraisals aren’t new, the conversations over the past 3 years has changed in perspective. For instance, the FHFA recently allowed the use of Desktop Appraisals by FNMA and Freddie Mac on the 1004 form for certain types of purchase transactions. This has really brought desktop appraisals into the main stream and appraisers should take notice.

Buzz: What are some of the benefits to desktop appraisals?
Tony: The advantages are many. The biggest one to me is they allow appraisers to earn more money per hour than traditional appraisals. Also, desktops can be completed much quicker than a traditional appraisal, with much less expense (no inspections, measuring of homes, driving comparables, making appointments). Desktops allow appraisers to focus on providing the analysis and market expertise we have rather than form filling.

Buzz: Why should appraisers attend your webinar?
Tony: During the webinar, I will cover the following 5 points:
1. Examine how appraisers can complete desktop appraisals in a compliant manner including the most important elements of USPAP to consider when completing a desktop assignment
2. In-depth review of customary and reasonable fees
3. Discuss risks in completing desktops – both perceived and real – for example, is there more/less/same liability in completing desktop appraisals as there is for traditional appraisals
4. New and emerging technology that allows appraisers to confidently accept 3rd party inspection information
5. Provide an overview of how you can start completing desktops and earn more money per hour!

Make sure to join us for our upcoming webinar, “Desktop Appraisals – Yes, No, Maybe?” on May 19th at 2 pm with Tony Pistilli — you will not want to miss this!


  1. A $100,000 car can be purchased in 10 minutes at the dealership but a $100,000 house takes 3 months. Yes, there is a different risk and interest rate between the two but the lenders want the same process. Ten minute mortgages. They also want to be “rid” of appraisals. The GSEs want to make the lenders happy and pretend that valuation is still done. Give the lenders what they want, end appraisals, and put the money that would have been for appraisal fees into a mortgage default insurance fund. If a lender has a higher rate of default their default premiums increase and they may not be able to compete with other lenders that have lower default rates and losses. Those lenders with higher premium rates may not survive. Let the lenders figure out how they are going to control their loss rates and amounts. I am not being insensitive to appraisers but this would let lenders take responsibility, no longer being able to blame appraisers for all their problems. The likely fact is that residential appraisals will go away in the future, why not fast forward and stop all this pain and ridiculous chiseling away of the valuation process.

    1. Real estate is more time-consuming because – unlike a car – it is much more difficult to repossess (foreclose) than a car. And, you are right, lenders would love to be rid of appraisals. “File fodder” is how many lenders view appraisals. They only time they are really interested in the appraisal is when the loan defaults and a scapegoat is needed.

  2. I have completed a number of hybrid reports. My client advertises their hybrid reports are “ANSI-compliant.” Well, ANSI requires accuracy to within one inch or 1/10th of a foot. But some of the reports I see are off by 1, 2, even 3 FEET. The property inspectors using the software are mostly real estate agents. Some are better than others. But there are far too many errors.

  3. There are certain processes in every field across the board from the medical industry, accounting, auto repair, construction, fabrication and on it goes. Some things just cannot happen faster than they already do without changing the level of risk, quality of the process and the end result. Do you tell your accountant to hurry up? Tell your doc to hustle with the knee surgery and just go grab the receptionist to hand them their tools? Order a 5 course meal at a drive up window? Measuring apps, remote this and remote that, Desktops… all sound great and I’d like to embrace it, but what are we really saving in time per report? If you’re still in business in 2022 as an appraiser (most appraisers) , you’ve been doing something right and as efficient as possible. I’ not waving the white flag yet, but it’s in my hand if the water gets any muddier.

    1. Amen brother. 62 years old and going to hold on as long as I can. But the day will come when I also wave that flag.

      The saddest thing I’ve seen is how completely clueless most of these lending people are. Did I mention I work as a staff appraiser for a large bank? They would love to do every application over the Internet like rocket mortgage. They would like to streamline everything. They’ve hired people over seas to underwrite and process their loans to save money. Now they’re yammering about bifurcated appraisals and desktop appraisals. We’ll see how that works out. I may do a few I may not. I may wave that white flag sooner than I think.


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