“There oughtta be a law!” This is the typical rant from well-meaning Americans who feel they have been wronged in some way. In some cases, they may be right. There is a place for government and there are a reasons for regulations. The problems is, we have too dang many of them!
Appraisers of any walk are usually the first ones to complain against excess government overreach. Yet surprisingly, they can also be the first ones to call for more when it appears to be in their favor. Take a recent thread I was reading on a popular appraiser web forum. “Should it be a requirement that all reviewers be licensed appraisers and have access to local MLS data?” The question was followed by a whole slew of support for such a mandate. Now, I am not going to take the time to analyze the pros and cons of such a measure (maybe another column, another day), but I do believe the issue of increased regulation warrants discussion.
There is not a soul among us who is unable to see the benefit to our industry and society in general for laws and enforcement procedures to limit fraud and deception. The fact that another individual has no right to do appraisal reports and sign them in your name is, of course, a good thing. There should be recourse available for those who have been on the short end of the stick regarding contract agreements. There may even be room for discussion regarding certain, reasonable barriers to entry. However, asking for Congress to pass another law anytime the world is not as rosy as we had hoped it would be is akin to calling 911 because your neighbor’s sidewalk is not shoveled of snow.
We have all felt the weight that excess regulation has put on our industry – and more importantly, our individual jobs. I sometimes wonder if we are appraisers or paralegals anymore. So, why then are so many of us calling for more? I was recently at a conference where a fellow appraiser was speaking on the topic of new appraisal technology. At the break, a new acquaintance approached me and said, “I think that all AMC’s should be required to use the same method for uploading reports.” Um… Okay? Required by who? Did you even think through that comment before it left your lips? Note, I did not say that… I thought it.
The problem is, there are problems with our industry. The solution, however, is not more regulation. My suggestion? As much as we can, let the free market work. I know. I know. That turns some of you off. Here comes another free market capitalism speech. Well, say what you wish about Adam Smith, but the principles he espoused work! The problems we see in society are often solved when the government backs off and people are able to ‘vote’ with their dollars.
It used to be that, if you were a decent appraiser, your reputation would spread and your volume would increase. If you were a screw up, the exact opposite would occur. Now, it seems, we’re all thrown into a big AMC barrel, and the shooting begins. That last comment is not completely accurate, but it is not far off either.
We spend so much time dealing with the minutia of details that have nothing to do with valuation anymore that it is no wonder appraisal quality has seemingly fallen. It is time we find other solutions – other than government – to our problems so we can simply focus on being good appraisers again.
Now, go create some value!
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 (www.theappraisercoach.com) 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 (www.yourappraisaloffice.com) 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.