An Open Letter to Timothy S. Anderson, SRA

After I publish a blog-post, it is not unusual to get comments from readers such as “I liked your article, but I hate the way you sign off.  Appraisers do not create value, they report it.”  Or, they might say, “You really undermine your expertise as an advocate for appraisers with your tag-line.”  Or my recent favorite, “Your motto is stupid!”

See, I usually sign off my articles by saying “Now, go create some value!”   That sentence has caused more discontent among my readership than it should have.  I recently received a letter in my mailbox (not email, but an actual letter in an actual envelope with an actual stamp on it) from Mr. Timothy Anderson of Janesville, WI.  Here is the content of the letter:

“Please stop using the phrase, “go create some value.”  Assuming you are as knowledgeable about the appraisal profession as you claim to be, you know that appraisers report value they do not create it.  Value is created by the basic principals [sic] of supply and demand.  Using the phrase ‘create value’ is misleading and undermines your credibility.

If you mean create value for your clients or value in your business then why don’t you just say that?”

 

Maybe a little history is in order here.  Long before I was the Appraiser Coach, I had a business partner in a non-related field.  We were successful because our focus was to create value for each other, our employees, and our customers every day.  It was a mantra that we repeated so often that it became engrained in who I was.  I woke up nearly every day wondering who I would be able to create value for that day.  When I started teaching other appraisers how to run successful appraisal businesses, that motto was an automatic part of who I already was.  I knew that success depended upon how much value I could create for appraisal business owners.  Furthermore, I had hopes that appraisers would, in turn, find ways to create value every day for those they associate with.  In my opinion, ultimate success in life depends upon it.

ValueCreationPersonally, I think it is a bit comedic that some appraisers believe I am advocating that they make up values on their appraisal reports.  I do not believe you will stay in business very long if that is your structure.  Rather, I am simply reminding all of us that life is all about what we do for others… not simply what we do for ourselves.  I have written extensively about this in the past, but I realize not all of my (approximately 10) readers have read everything I have ever written.  Due to the mass confusion (and my awe-inspiring humility) you will all be happy to know that I have decided to entertain the possibility of changing my tag-line.  I would like to stay with the general theme of ‘creating value,’ but want something that does not cause so much confusion for others.  Unfortunately, I am coming up blank, so I need your help.  Let’s put our heads together and come up with a great way to sign off.  What are your ideas?  Please comment below.

Now, go create some value in your business and with other appraisers! (You’re welcome, Timothy)

75 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Timothy S. Anderson, SRA”

  1. Dustin,

    Personally, I like your tag line, as I share your philosophy. Perhaps you may want to keep it, but just add an explanation, such as:

    Now, go create some value

    (Obviously a play on words…”value” referring to the “worth” we bring to our clients and our community…not the properties we appraise. We all know appraisers only form opinions of value).

    Thanks for always creating value for your fellow appraisers.

    Jason Fischman, ASA, IFA

    1. I well understood you the very first time I heard you say it! My favorite football coach all says at the end of his motivational talk before a game, “now lets go kick some ____…” No one thought that he really meant to literally go kick someone…. But it worked because it came from the voice “The Coach” and everyone on the “team” understood what he meant!
      Glynn Michael

  2. I think what you are trying to say is go “Create Professional Worth”. As appraisers we can create our worth and we need to instill more professionalism in our industry so I think this covers it all.

  3. How about something to the effect… Let’s value each other’s [association. participation, input…]
    Til’ next time, I value your opinions…
    Greg

  4. Oops! I took your tag line literally! I’ve been wondering why reviewers act surprised when they ask me, “How did you come to that conclusion?” Of course my answer has been “I just created that value.” Their follow up question is normally, “Under what theory is that good appraisal practice?” Followed by my answer, “Dustin says it’s the way to go and after all he is the Appraiser Coach! I never question the coaches call!”

    Now I’m confused. If I can’t just make up values, how am I supposed to come to a conclusion? Coach, time to huddle up!

    Jim

    P.S. For others that take everything literally, that post was an attempt at sarcasm! “Now go make up your values!

  5. Edd Gillespie

    Tim is right on and kudos to him for telling you, Dustin. And Dustin, thanks to you for you fully recognizing that you dd not intend to advise what the phrase “go create some value” instructs. Kudos to you for considering a change.

    “Creating value” together with “made as instructed” remain among the more persistent problems in this industry that aspires to integrity. Finding value is so much more difficult than creating it. Many in the industry find that catering to the clients’ expectations of price will bring them the business they want and clients who pay well want the results they pay for. Playing on the word “value” is simply playing with dynamite under the circumstances. Respect as an honest professional is what is desperately needed by appraisers.

    How about signing off with something like, “Go make the appraisal profession better”, or “Go be an honest, hard working professional appraiser?”

  6. True enough, in our profession we do not want to be misleading., TO THE CLIENT. Among ourselves, I believe that we ALL know what is meant here.
    When anything in the scientific world has been “created”, it has involved a clear and logical process (with some trial as well). It is different from a “discovery”, which could happen by accident. To create a realistic report (market value) takes a logical and professional approach which I am proud to say works no matter how you describe the process. Obviously this professional has helped many people achieve success, so his motto is of no consequence. Seriously, it is 6:45am and I am ready to work.. To those appraisers out there who are the real scientists of their field (including Dustin), I urge you not to waste any more brain cells on this and continue to strive for excellence in your creations ~ at work, with family and with your faith.

  7. I can’t believe Tim could take your tagline so literally. It never even occurred to me to think that you would imply that your readers should make up real estate value. I try to “create some value” every day in my business, relationships, golf game, etc. Stick with your tagline.

  8. I have been compelled to write my appraisals to the least common denominator, now this virus is infecting the few blogs I care to read? Leave the sign-off it alone. It’s not that complicated. (Back to writing music.)

  9. I understood what you meant, but I could see how others could misinterpret. Also, to me it sounds like a command. I would include myself in the comment and say something like, “Now, let’s go show others our value.” It has a double meaning to it. We can show others what we’re worth and we can show them our opinion of value.

  10. I like your tag line. It’s good to stir thoughts, and get your readers thinking. As long as you are creating credible, well supported appraisals, your work will continue to speak for itself. I don’t know if people have always been so sensitive to words or there’s just easier ways for our opinions to be heard with the advent of twitter, facebook, blogs, etc. Now Go Report Some Value! Wait, did I just influence someone?

    1. Pierce Blitch, III, IFAS

      Nelson,
      Obviously, you have not taken one of Dustin’s seminars. I have increased my production at least 15% in the three months since I started using some of Dustin’s ideas including going MOBILE. So, before you say an idea is “hokey”, why not experience one of the seminars and see if you just might get something out of it. Besides, does anyone under the age of 60 still use the work “hokey”? LOL

      Regards,
      Pierce
      Age 58

  11. When did people’s sense of humor end? I think with the content of your posts, and knowing your intent, it is abundantly obvious what you mean by the tag line. I say keep it as it does get a person thinking. And some folks need to lighten up.

  12. As an appraiser since ’89 (SRA in ’90 ) and a very busy associate broker here in Atlanta, I find the entire industry as wrapped way too tight. We ran shops of 20+- fee guys in NY and 15+- in Atlanta before I grew very tired of the appraisal drama. I was an office in the Army Corps of Engineers as well and we used to say that “we eat our young” – same for the appraisal industry. We are a cranky group – justifiably so as we’ve been beaten over the last decade; really the only field that has been so harshly treated.The agent side just bops along in their blissful incompetence – I used to teach a class titled “why appraisers hate real estate agents” but that’s another topic that I beat to death on my site.

    Anyway – time for many appraisers to lighten up, the business will eat you up otherwise.

  13. Hey Coach,

    I would leave the tag line the way it is, and not turn someone else’s problem into yours to solve. The term and use of “value” extends well beyond the appraisal profession, and in the context that you are using the term, is exactly what business owners should be providing for their clients.

  14. I love your tag line! I have never once been confused as to your meaning and appreciate the humor in the possible double meaning. Your writing is often inspiring, but it does not inspire me to go break the law.

    Don’t change it!

  15. Dustin, I thought it to be perfect the way it is. That anyone would assume you to mean make up values seems hard to believe. Maybe the fellow was just creating a little conflict for his own fun?

  16. Dustin,

    Allow me to apologize for some in this profession who seem to hunt for every single thing to complain about. These are the same few who complained when banks hired the appraisers, feeling they were too pressured to perform honestly – and now complain about the AMCs who have replaced the banks in the process. It’s always something, and they are always offended.

    Personally, I found your tag line to be a great piece of advice for anybody in any profession. ‘Now, go create some value” a/k/a “Now, go be valuable.” I believe most in the real world understood what you were trying to convey. It’s a great tag – Don’t change it….

    By the way – Thanks for all you do in this profession. The articles and advice you send, are things that have helped the majority of us who have never even met you in person yet.

  17. Nathan Bernhardt

    Dustin:

    Great article, and some great responses. PLEASE do not let one uninformed curmudgeon change your style. If Mr. Anderson doesn’t like your choice of words, he should lighten up, maybe read a book, shove back from the desk a bit…

    We have all taken the same classes, usually more than once. To imply that you are doing something wrong is simple-minded. Appraising is a business activity, and it is absurd to think that appraisers cannot have positive business phrases to lead us to good things., or plays on words also.

  18. Its YOUR tag line. You don’t have to explain it. You don’t need to make excuses for who you are. For making valuations, its easy to explain. Take a line from Dragnet. “just the facts ma’am”

  19. Renee Williams

    It’s interesting how “angry” some of us are, and I get it. Our industry has been “raped” and some of us find our selves working for the “mob” (some of the AMC’s out there). I love that you are so positive and are working to encourage others! Keep it up.
    So how about;
    Remember, your value increases when your integrity is intact!

  20. Bob Premecz, SRA

    “Now, go make yourself valuable!”℠

    You can use it as long as you provide me with 1% of your coaching business while you use it!

  21. Thanks for your response. While I see your readership generally disagress with me, I maintain that the tag line should change. Our industry is beat up enough by misunderstanding, we should not facilitate it.

  22. Hi Coach, Tag line suggestion: How about “make it a valuable day”? Freedom of speech – say what you want because others will always misconstrue or hear what they want to hear. Personally and professionally, I have benefited from The Appraiser Coach and I’m NOT an appraiser. I’m an office manager running a successful residential appraisal business while my appraisers are out doing what they do best, reporting value. I enjoy your newsletters and they create value for me. Now, go make it a valuable day!

  23. Leave it alone and lighten up everyone. All we have is ourselves to vent to as there is no voice in our industry that stands up for us. I have a good friend appraiser and when I call him, he knows its me and answers the phone “Bulls-eye Appraisals”. Think anyone in any other segment of the industry would find that funny. Probably have complaints filed immediately. Now go Create Some Value and laugh for a change!

  24. It reminds me of the story about an employee who wouldn’t leave the washroom stall because the sign on the back of the door said that employees must wash their hands first before leaving.

  25. Leave it as it is. If people have time to worry about it, or don’t understand it..well, that’s their problem. Aren’t you the Appraiser Coach when using that line? I assume you don’t use that line in your actual appraisal profession, do you? I think that would be problematic.

  26. It was good of Mr. Anderson (and every other appraiser who contacted you) to point out this flaw in your sign off.

    While we as appraisers /should/ know that you don’t mean “Now, go create some value!” literally assuming all of your readers are as well informed is a serious error.

    While as ‘The Appraiser Coach’ appraiser’s are your intended audience assuming that they are the only ones who will ever read your sign off is dangerous. The number of times I have been contacted about an appraisal I did from someone who was not the client, intended user, owner, or buyer, of the original report, from a change in lender, family member getting ahold of the report or change in use of the report (did we say for private sale, we meant for divorce). You need to right your article’s with the assumption that they will be seen by others outside of the appraisal profession (lawyers, lenders, media, clients that walk into our office and see that really good article of yours we decided to print out for ease of reference). Any one of these people reading “Now, go create some value!” could lead them to an incorrect understanding of what our profession actually does, or worse me having to explain your statement because some lawyer got ahold of it and is using it to confuse a jury.

    While I don’t have something as catchy right on the tip of my tongue you should look into revising your sign off.

    1. Agreed 100%.
      Its not a case of being humorless or stiff necked. It’s a case of impressions. I am curious. How many of those that see nothing ‘inappropriate for an appraiser tagline’ in that phrase; also see nothing wrong in making GLA (or other) adjustments in non rounded amounts? IE $5,283 rather than $5,000? BOTH events (tag and no rounding) leave the same impression.

      1. Wendy said:
        Now, go make it a valuable day!
        I like that, very good….
        Mike, I have to Agree with you there – The market doesn’t buy homes in Dollars per Sq Ft and though we Adjust that way, I always round it – because let’s face it – with 33 years experience, I cannot be Certain of a difference of a few hundred, or even a few thousand…
        The name for that is “spurious accuracy” and I learned it in the Society 101 course I took in the 1970’s.

  27. I find that we, as a group, tend to be extremely judgmental and critical of our peers. To write you a letter criticizing a tag line is pretentious. And that trait also runs rampant in our profession. I’m with several of the posters on here. LIGHTEN UP! Someone who would take the time to write a letter about this needs to get a life.

  28. Jim Courtright

    Keep it! Life is to short to be so serious, Appraisers, lighten up! Were you picked on, as children?

  29. Oh for heaven’s sake! Leave it alone. It is an intrinsic part of you and something well associated with you. Don’t let those who are so narrow minded or small minded et al make you change just for the sake of appeasing them. Even if you changed it, it would not be long before something else you did or said “confused” them.
    Be authentically you and true to yourself. We value that!!!

  30. I suggest either putting your coat on or leave it in the closet when posing for your business photo. Looks kind of goofy hanging over your shoulder. Now go create a more professional looking photo.

  31. I love your tag line. The line right under your title, The Appraiser Coach reads “Creating “Value” for Real Estate Appraisers”. I struggle to understand how that is confusing.

    I do know many peers I have met take appraising way too black and white, when the very nature of what we do is subjective and very grey. I once had an instructor say “It depends” at least 100 times during a class. That might be the most valuable phrase I ever heard in the industry. The other “valuable” thing I learned over the years (taught to myself thank you) has to do with writing/phrasing (the topic of this thread). I was taught to use “appraiser jargon” by my mentor. I would sit there and write out complete sentences that made sense when you read them and he would always scold me saying “this is the appraiser world, this aint English class!” So I did that for awhile, hating every moment of it (my mom actually was an English teacher). After some time and after I started taking interest in reviewing my own work (and after I became a reviewer of others), I realized my mentor was 100% wrong. “Appraiser jargon” is 100% BS that lazy and incompetent appraisers write. Its like the doctor who scribbles incoherently in the health record so they cant be sued later for what they wrote. Today, I write an appraisal as if I am speaking to someone who knows very little about appraisals. I use a bit of jargon for lender work, but really spell it out in layman’s terms when I do private or legal work. Turns out, my clients appreciate it and comment regularly how they like my appraisals because they make sense. This in turn has scored me some good referrals and subsequently better paying and playing (no 12 pages of assignment conditions, no requests for more comps, etc.) clients. The ultimate trick (and this takes time to develop) is to say a lot with very little. Frankly, its the people who are confused about your tag line that are to blame for our burden of 12 pages of assignment conditions. If everyone spent a little more time writing appraisals that made sense when they were read, our sense would not come into question so much. IMO.

    1. M. Yu are right about jargon.
      Pretty much got everything else wrong though…IMHO.
      Nothing confusing about Dustin’s tagline at all. It’s just inappropriate for an appraiser. Again, imho.

    2. M, I’m Right with you on proper writing.
      In fact, so is USPAP – we are to communicate the report fully and understandably. You should Not have to be an appraiser or underwriter to understand a report.
      I correct reports daily where comments read “GLA” sorry, that’s in English, gross living area. It’s worth a few seconds to type the Words in English.
      Plus now with UAD, so many of us want to put 2.1 baths – in English, that’s 2 and 1/10th of a bath!
      Wrong anyway you want to justify it….
      this is a GP report I’m talking about – I Know we “have to” put it 2.1 in the UAD reports, but Not All of them ARE UAD and UAD is an Industry (GSE) and AMC-driven thing, NOT a Law for All appraisers to adhere to. That’s part of our addressing the report to the User, who is Not in that case a professional in lending/valuation, so therefore needs their report in English.

  32. Dustin, Thanks for the explanation. Now, go change your sign off motto, PLEASE! What worked well for you and your former partner in the context of your other ventures simply does not work when applied to our profession. Not only does it diminish the impact of what you share with other appraisers; it also creates a false impression of what we do, in the minds of lay people.

    I had a real problem getting past that comment, in order to pay attention with an open mind, to what else you have written in other articles. That tag alone detracts from your credibility with appraiser-readers. IF we all currently rated your content at a score of 100%, using that tagline drops it down to about a 50% level in terms of credibility. I usually read your full articles now, because there often are a few pearls in them. Early on, I just skipped on past them after seeing the tagline the first time.

    When I first read your tagline, I pretty much rejected whatever it was you were selling or saying, out of hand. That tagline erased any credibility with me that your words may have had otherwise.

    Dustin, I’ve written to you (or OREP) in the past, with a high degree of skepticism being expressed. It was fueled largely by that tagline.
    It makes you look like a huckster. I now have greater respect for much of what you write, but why write articles at all, if you are going to reduce their impact by a sentiment that only make sense to you?

  33. I doubt there are many folks outside the business who read or care anything about anyones tagline. I understand what the folks are saying when they suggest that appraisers should lighten up in respect to petty criticizm, however I have found that there are too many entities out there in client and regulatory land who are waiting to pounce at the slightest hint of an error or typo. If you doubt this, read over the North Carolina Appraisal Boards Disciplinary Actions report to get an idea of whether anyone should lighten up in any respect. If the tagline suits you, keep it!

  34. The tagline you ended the letter with seems to work – Now, go create some value in your business and with other appraisers!

  35. I say you keep the tag line, I think its very clever and it stands out from the same old hum drum boring tag lines people use like professional, experienced, blah, blah, blah, blah. I just took the USPAP class, I guess I must have missed the section about tag lines needing to be USPAP compliant. I have something along the same lines “We’ve got your number”

  36. Dustin – I love the little bit of humor in your tagline. Please don’t take away the little bit of humor in our often more than humorless business! I believe your tagline as a coach is intended for an appraiser audience, not the general public. If for the general public, I guess it does need to be considered, as people do take things out of context. My tagline has been “Value is our Business” ….a bit more boring, but feel free to plagiarize. I have gotten in the habit of saying, instead of “Have a great day”……”Create a great day”………I love your way of thinking. You can change your reader number to 11. Now go create a great day!

  37. It would appear that most people are fine with the tag line. As appraisers, though, we are entitled to personal opinion. Those of you who don’t like it, stop reading it. Just skip that part or better yet, just find other ways to be critical. The rest of us could care less as we know he means it in the best way possible. He is obviously successful and has helped numerous other professionals (I know another appraiser in my coverage area who has been very complimentary about Dustin’s advice). Dustin – don’t lose a minute of sleep over this. Really. Keep sending great articles – we appreciate you!

  38. Your tag line is fine and I’m a poet and don’t know it. If the people who are looking to find some hidden meaning in your statement are that easily confused, maybe try…”Now go create some business value for yourself”….because that’s obviously the intent.

  39. Appraisers can be so tight that they squeak. It’s a tag line for heaven’s sake and is supposed to be catchy and make you think. When Nike says “Just do it” I’m sure someone could accuse them of promoting crime or immorality in the wrong context. Dustin, maybe you can make the tag a hot link that can take someone to your philosophy explanation.

    1. Dustin Harris

      I love the suggestion of the hotlink, Andy. I may just do that. I also like your other suggestion of a new tag line, “Appraisers can be so tight that they squeak.”

  40. Er ist doch jetzt eh bei der Gamestar rausDurch diese Nachricht glaube ich wieder an den PC-Spiele Gott. Danke Satan Claus. Ernsthaft, ich hab, glaub ich, seit einem Jahr keine Gamestar mehr in der Hand gehalten. Werd ich auch nicht. Und gar nicht wegen der Wertung, sondern wegen des teilweise miesen Schreibstils den manche Redakteure an den Tag legen.

  41. Mrita: sajnos már csak legközelebb ha sütök abból tudok adni!Martinelli: ha ilyen szép emlékeid vannak, akkor mért nem próbálod meg elkészíteni!Bianka, Kati: számíthattók rá hogy rátok is gondolok legközelebb!

  42. caroline – it’s a massage stick … there’s a link in the post. plastic stick with little plastic rings on it that you roll on your muscles – one of those ‘hurts so good’ things. very good for sore muscles!

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