Geographic WHAT?!?!

The Coyle Group - Geographic Competency - Philadelphia AppraisersYou may have heard the term Geographic Competency as it relates to appraisers. It’s been a hot topic in the appraisal industry for the past few years. It basically means that an appraiser has to be knowledgeable and capable enough to produce accurate and reliable appraisals within a specific geographic area. The appraiser should also have access to data about a geographic area. It’s the coupling of local knowledge and accurate data that can make the difference between a reliable report and one that’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.

As the appraisal market began to change over recent years, many appraisers found themselves expanding their coverage areas in an effort to stay busy. For some appraisers this meant working in areas with which they were not familiar. This often resulted in reports that were poorly supported and wildly off the mark.

If an appraiser finds themselves in a situation where they do not feel Geographically Competent, they have a few options. All are designed to protect the user of the report from getting inaccurate information from the appraiser.

1) They can decline the assignment

2) They can obtain the knowledge necessary to become competent to appraise in a certain area

3) They can seek assistance from another person who is Geographically Competent in that area

Over my 15 years of appraising in the Philadelphia market, agents have shared stories about appraisers coming from miles away to complete appraisals. My favorite is a tale of an appraiser from Parsippany, NJ who drove two hours (both ways) to complete an appraisal in Philadelphia. That’s insane! Not to mention that after time and travel the appraiser was literally working for peanuts!

But keep in mind that an appraiser doesn’t have to live close to a property in order to be competent to appraise there. Most appraisers are capable of appraising in several different counties or even states. I have an appraiser friend who lives in Lower Bucks County and routinely appraises homes at the New Jersey shore. It turns out that he has a house down there and actually worked in that market for several years. He’s competent to appraise there even though he lives in PA.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are not sure if the appraiser has experience appraising in your area, talk with them about it. Interview the appraiser. Ask about their experience in your area. The answers you receive could save you from a “bad” appraisal.

Do you have any stories about appraisers traveling far and wide to look at properties? If so, please share them.


The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia appraisers is a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing appraisals.  If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call.  We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have.  For more information please visit our website at  You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or





  1. I’m an appraiser in Portland, OR. I now have a small area that I service close to home. However, when I started appraising years ago, I had a service area on the coast, two hours away. Each week, I would travel to the coast and spend an entire day viewing properties and comparables, then I would spend the next week writing the reports. Anytime there was an upset client due to low value, the first thing that would be blamed is the distance that I traveled. This made me become a better appraiser. I learned to work harder than the locals and make my reports bulletproof. I learned to include support for absolutely everything in my reports. I still hear the horror stories of the “bad” appraiser who came from far away and I hope that they’re not all bad appraisers, just disappointing values.

  2. This is a real hot-button issue with many of the realtors I talk to – Appraisers coming from well outside the area that do not know the local market. This is common when buyers use out-of-area lenders as many of the out-of-area lenders utilize Appraisal Management Companies (AMC’s) to provide appraisals for their loans. The AMC’s will typically assign the appraisals only to appraisers on their roster and usually to the lowest bidder. The lowest bidder is often inexperienced and coming from many miles away. Realtors in my unique market area are sick of closings getting delayed and worse yet, losing deals altogether as a result of a poor appraisals prepared by an out-of-area appraiser with little to no experience in this market.

  3. Gary, thanks for the comments. I can understand traveling to an appraisal assignment, especially when building a practice as you were. However, over here on the east coast, especially in the Philly market, an appraiser very seldom would have a need to travel more than an hour away. I’m sure that’s not the case for every appraiser and I applaud the journey you took toward redefining your territory as you gained experience. That’s why you are Portland’s top appraisal firm.

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