142 Over 98

So, I will be 40 this year.  I was reminded by one of my assistants that my life is officially half-over (thanks, Jai).  I decided that, since I have not had one in 15 years, that I should probably get a physical this year and do an overall inspection of this glorious body that God has given me.  Though things seem to be ticking just fine, I think it is good to ‘look under the hood’ every once in a while and see how the engine is purring.  No, my wife did not make me go in.  This was my idea completely.

After a full inspection and blood work, I can report that I ain’t doing too badly for my age.  There were really only three concerns (all of Appraisalofficewhich are related).  My cholesterol is a titch too high, I am a titch too fat, and my blood pressure is a titch over the comfort zone.  When I first arrived, they took my blood pressure and announced it to be 140 over 90.  Sounded good to me (shows what I know about blood pressure).  It did not sound all that good to the doc.  He wanted another reading before I left.  So, 45 minutes later, the nurse was back. I was sure it would be lower this time.  Nope!  142 over 98!  Ouch.

Needless to say, with my father’s family history of heart disease, I will be making some pretty dramatic changes in my lifestyle this year.  I was informed that I am not exercising enough and my eating habits are unacceptable (tell me something I don’t know, eh?).  One of the pieces of advice the doctor gave me was to do aerobic exercise for 30-40 minutes per day (I guess the measly 20 mins on the treadmill I am doing is not enough).  His advice was to “make sure you get your heart rate up.”  Now that was interesting advice.  So, my blood pressure is too high, but in order to bring it down, I should raise it every day for 30 minutes?  Hmmmm.

As I thought about this backward sounding (but I am sure excellent) advice, I realized how very applicable it is to our business decisions.  Sometimes you have to do things that seem counterproductive in order to get ahead in the long run.  Let me give you a few, common examples:

  • Taking time away from productively doing appraisals with your clipboard and measuring wheel in order to learn how to use a tablet and Disto.
  • Occasionally doing certain jobs for less than the customary fee in order to keep a good client happy.
  • Investing in a new computer or software program which will cost you more money and take additional time to learn how to use effectively.
  • Taking time to work ON your business rather than IN your business.
  • Taking an afternoon off to go golfing, be with your family, or just hang out with a friend.
  • Hiring and training help.

The old adage that “sometimes you must take one step backward in order to move forward two steps” still applies whether you are talking about your physical health or that of your business.

Now, go create some value!

Dustin Harris is a super-successful, 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 also 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 and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.

15 thoughts on “142 Over 98”

    1. The Appraiser Coach

      Gary: Nice job! We had an All-Star Team member write in my paid newsletter in January about his standing desk. If I were at a desk more than 3 hours a week, I might consider it.

  1. Wonderful insight into our foreFATHER’s word, “Be Still, Listen…..” Taking the time to work “on” the business instead of “in” your business requires that you stop and listen to your numbers, albeit blood pressure or time wasted that could be saved with just a bit of learning. Be still and listen….we’re glad you took that time Coach….because of that decision we’ll all have the opportunity to continue our benefit from your guidance.

  2. The Appraiser Coach


    “foreFATHER’s.” I like that. I did not share this in my post, but the reason it did not take my wife prodding me is that it was the Whisper that told me to go to the doc. You know the Whisper, I know. I have learned to listen to it.

    By the way, it sounds like you and I may be seeing more of each other in the near future.

  3. Dustin, did it ever occur to you that some of the (see above) things you do “in order to get ahead in the long run” are not only counterproductive, but unprofessional? You suggest “Occasionally doing certain jobs for less than the customary fee in order to keep a good client happy.” You have previously stated that 80% of your business is for AMC’s. Considering that AMCs typically take 20 to 50% or more of the Appraiser’s customary fee, you are certainly “creating value” for them & their bloodsucking business model! Without the full Professional customary fee, to cover all of the Appraiser’s fixed and variable costs of running an honestly successful business, the fee-cutting Appraiser simply cannot enjoy “Taking an afternoon off to go golfing, be with your family, or just hang out with a friend” or “take the time to work on (his) business” as he works longer hours in an Unprofessional attempt to “make up for it in volume.”
    As long as the AMC middlemen can get away with hiding (on the HUD-1 loan documents, with the “Appraisal Fee” including) their ever-increasing “take” from the Professional Appraiser’s Customary and Reasonable Fee from the public, the AMCs will prosper and the once-proud Appraisal Profession will continue “the race to the bottom” as only the fee-cutting, BPO and form-filling skippy appraisers (with overwork-related health problems) remain….in their mom’s basement.

    1. The Appraiser Coach

      Thank you for your comments but I think I have proven through my business model that it is possible. I do complete 80% of my work for AMCs. On most orders I expect a higher than average fee compared to my competitors. There are certain assignments that I will do for last to keep a particular client happy. I don’t see any sending that. The bottom line is you can make a very good living as an appraiser still but you have to get outside the box of the way we used to do things. My numerous clients are evidence of that. All the best.

    2. Absolutely agree! You do NOT offer the same low amc fees to ANY outside work clients! It sets a precedent. I try to ‘press’ the price market-always. sometimes I have to bid lower than I like but I guarantee I am always higher than amc fees. This weeks sfr fees are $600 and $400 respectively. I think they should have been $500 higher, but amcs have killed the lower end of the certified required market too.

  4. My natural father died of his heart attack, after driving himself to the hospital at age 51. I survived mine at 55, and had the dubious pleasure of watching the video of the stint being placed inside my artery. NOW I pay attention to the hereditary high cholesterol that runs in our family. Unless and until you are in the acceptable HEALTHY range , get it checked every three months. It can fluctuate greatly in a short time. LDL of 100 or less NOT 150 or less! If your diet is good you are ahead of me. I have to use statins; and my voluntary exercise pattern became almost non existent after the hearth attack (I used to dive 10 to 20 hours a week). Rosuvastatin works for me while atorvastatin does not. You’ll have to find out what works for you. People don’t mess around with high BP (or LOW BP of 90/39) or high cholesterol. It can kill you without ANY recognizable advance warning. Its onset lets you know ‘something’ is happening, but by then you are on borrowed time. Article is a good reminder for all of us.

    1. The Appraiser Coach


      Thank you for the reminder. I think they call a heart attack the silent death. I’m hoping mine comes in my sleep on my 100th birthday.

  5. The Appraiser Coach

    Though I appreciate your comments, I’m not sure that you have followed my other posts on this website very closely. If you have you will know that I am not a “form filler” and do not work for cheap fees. For example I am doing one property today and the fee is $2400. Yes that is for an AMC. The fact is you can do mostly AMC work and still make a very good living. My clients are living proof of that. All the best!

  6. Dustin, I am so looking forward to our meeting next month so I am extremely glad you are taking care of yourself 🙂 I love what you’ve written here…..Although we have continued to increase our revenue each year (so we are obviously doing something right) I have taken your advice and insights to heart and have been making changes. One of which has been a major challenge and struggle for me….going from paper to mobile! I purchased an IPad and downloaded the PhoenixMobile app to get started. I’ve been using a Disto for years so I had that part down, but being a Windows based person, the IPad has been very challenging for me and I have yet to fully do one inspection without paper. I’ve had issues with the app, downloading into my ACI…etc., You name it, I’ve had trouble with it….but I’m still plugging along because I believe firmly that in the long run it will save me time and money….do I have to stay up late or give up a few weekend hours to try and learn all these things and practice, practice, practice? Yes….but I’m willing to do so because I know it will be worth it in the long run! I’ve also been implementing most of the tools you shared in the workshop as well and hoping for an even better year ahead!! The big issue is being willing to change the things in your business that aren’t working for you….I too accept discounted fees occasionally for my regular clients because these are the same clients that don’t balk when I request a higher fee, I also get regular orders from them. Because I am willing to work with them and negotiate, they are willing to do the same for me and I consider that a good way to do business! I thank you for all your insights Dustin and the way you live your life and run your business is an inspiration to me! See you in SLC 🙂

  7. The Appraiser Coach

    Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. I too am looking very forward to meeting you again next month in Salt Lake.

  8. Dustin,

    Forget the damn business and get your health in order! As someone who is old enough to be your father, please let me testify to you that your business is bupkis if you don’t have your health and your family. Nothing else matters. Get healthy, hug your wife and kids, and then worry about all the crap that makes up the appraisal business!.

  9. Dustin, I’m surprised that you missed the glaring similarity between an appraiser and a Doctor. I frequently use this explanation to new clients so they can understand how much similarity there really is. All of us have received the phone call from someone regarding a possible appraisal, and sooner or later they ask “can you give me a ball park idea value”. The answer of course is “no I can’t”. That is similar to asking the Doctor what is wrong, or how healthy am I over the phone. When you go to the Doctor and say it hurts when you do something, or you aren’t feeling quite right, what is the first thing the Doctor does? Blood pressure (data), weight/height (data), current medications your taking (data), poke/feel/touch/listen to your heart and lungs (data), ask questions (data collection) Blood work (cholesterol, PSA, etc.-data) and perhaps further analyses such as filling the little bottle, X-rays, etc. The Doctor is smart enough to know he can’t answer your question (you are his client) until he has collected and anlyzed of all of the necessary data. Upon completion the Doctor then renders an opinion (value, if your an appraiser). As an appraiser we collect data (zoning, age, size, utilities, history, condition, etc.) before we render an opinion. And finally, similar to people, folks don’t always listen to their Doctor (lose some weight, excercise more, watch what you eat) or their appraiser (lower/raise your rents, remodel, you asking too much, etc.). People seem to get this similarity once it is put in these terms. Now go create some good health..and/or value…Doc!!

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