Proofreading Appraisal Reportz [sic]

One of the companies I own is currently in a hiring phase.  We have ads in several places and are accepting resumes by the dozens.  This process is not new to me, but it is always an interesting one. 

Over the years, I have experienced numerous hiring processes and I have learned a few things along the way.  First, I have discovered the power of filters.  Due to the sheer number of applicants, it is impossible to give each and every individual a fair shake.  There must be some sort of sifting process that occurs to separate the milk from the cream.  One of those filters has been the ad itself.  I always ask interested parties to send both a cover letter and a resume.  Over 50% cannot follow simple directions.  If their resume arrives without a cover letter, it is immediately tossed in the recycle bin.  Sorry.  If you can’t follow directions, you are not working for me.

The second filter I have put in place is a simple glance through the cover letter and resume for spelling and grammatical errors.  Yes, you heard me right; I get out my little red pen and play Fourth Grade Teacher with their sentence structures, spelling, and flow.  Now, it should be understood that I do not have any sort of vendetta against those who cannot spell or form a proper sentence….heaven knows, I can’t either.  In fact, my style is to write these very articles in a manner that is much like I speak, but would make an English teacher cry.  I purposely use words that should never go with other words, put ellipses where they should never reside, write fragmented sentences, put words in ALL CAPS for emphasis, use the word ‘ain’t,’ put the contraction ‘etc.’ three or more times at the end of a sentence, use slang, use run-ons, etc., etc., etc.  My editors scream, but I have to override them sometimes so as not to disrupt the flow. I have done this for year, but I can thank one of my mentors, Dan Kennedy, for making it acceptable.  Now that I have thoroughly excused myself for any mistakes you may find in my articles (including this one), my point is that this type of writing is NEVER OKAY IN A PROFESSIONAL COVER LETTER OR RESUME!  If the applicant appears highly qualified, I might overlook one or two spelling or grammatical errors, but that is as far as my mercy extends.  More than a few mistakes in the paperwork meant to make you look good to a potential employer is just unacceptable.  Period!

Again, it is not your spelling and/or grammatical competency I am worried about here (I was never good at either one).  It is your desire and ability to put out a final product that truly makes you SHINE!  Frankly, it is about caring enough (on things that really matter) to have a second set of competent eyes look at your resume and cover letter.  If you do not care enough about the job you are applying for to ask a trusted friend or associate to look over your application papers for a second opinion, you are not worthy of an interview in my book.  Now, in case I have not emphasized it enough already, I will repeat; I do not care whether you can spell or have proper grammar in the job itself (I have hired some who are atrocious), but if something as important as a resume is riddled with errors, you have just communicated to me that this job is not important to you.  And if it ain’t important to you, you certainly ain’t important to me!

This principle can also be applied to our appraisal products.  I am not talking, necessarily, about spelling and grammatical errors on our appraisal reports (though I think we should make an acceptable effort to avoid them if possible).  I am rather emphasizing the importance of a second set of eyes on our final product before it goes to the client.  This second person should be trained to spot obvious and glaring errors such as missing pictures, blank fields, incorrect maps, clone language that never got edited, etc.  Just as the author of an article can read her own work 9 times and not see an obvious error, so can the author of an appraisal report.  Heck, I turned an appraisal in one day and got this revision request back a few hours later, “Please have the appraiser fill in the value field and resubmit.”  Oops!  Stop laughing….you’ve done it too. 

In my office, (and at all reports go through a 60+ point Quality Control Checklist not just once, but twice!  First, the appraiser uses a checklist to look over each data point.  Then, a Personal Assistant does the same.  Whenever I get to hurried and try to skip this crucial step, I am sorry.  In fact, I do not think there has ever been a time when I have used the checklist and NOT found at least two errors (usually it is many more) no matter how good I though the report was before I started the review. 

Any honest appraiser will admit that every report we turn in is less than perfect.  The purpose of a second set of eyes is not to create infallibility….only to put out a professional product which approaches acceptability.

Now, go create some value!

EXTRA POINTS:  BTW, Contrary to my normal procedure, I purposefully did not have a second set of eyes look over this article.  I did not even read it a second time myself.  Can you find the mistakes I missed?  I have found SEVERAL!


Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach ( where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth.  He is also the Founder and President of Your Appraisal Office ( which implements some of the systems he has developed to help lower costs and free up time for real estate business owners.   He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.


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