Regular Appraiser Maintenance

The evening was brisk. It was the time of year right before spring, but Mother Nature was not quite ready to give up winter. I had loaded the family in the car and we were headed to a community production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We were running a bit late, so I was probably driving a bit too fast. As we neared the theater, I heard a ticking noise coming from the engine. I am no expert on automobile mechanics, but I know enough to realize that a ticking sound could be very bad. Immediately, I pulled over and popped the hood.

Appraiser LifeNow, it had been a while since my last oil change. I was keenly aware of that, but I had plans to get it done in the next few days. My first diagnostic check was to check the level on the dipstick. Nothing. Luckily, my parents were just a few miles behind me and heading to the same performance. I had them stop at a convenience store and pick up a few quarts of oil. After pouring them in, the dipstick still showed no sign of lubrication. You gotta be kidding me. Two additional quarts and it was barely registering. Further, professional investigation revealed what I had feared. I allowed myself to run out of oil and had thrown a rod. It was bad. It was so bad that the only fix was a new engine.

How could I allow such a thing to happen? Changing oil is so simple. Keeping a car maintained is easy and essential (especially for an appraiser who averages 100+ miles per day). Usually it is my wife who forgets to take the car to Jiffy Lube, not me. Ugh! The mistake was costly. Though it has now been two years since having that experience, I still kick myself to this day.

Maintaining our equipment is not difficult. Gassing up and remembering to change the oil is not that hard. Most oil change facilities can have you in and out in about 20-30 minutes. The cost of avoiding it can be detrimental. The cost is so high, in fact, that none of us would dare put it off for very long.

Do you feel the same way about yourself? Do you treat your own body as well as you do your automobiles? It is a biological fact that you cannot keep going all of the time. You must eat to fuel yourself and you have to sleep. If you don’t, you will eventually die. It is also a proven fact that human beings do better if they constantly take care of themselves in other ways. When we pause to do something fun and create, or find, a diversion from our daily stress, we typically perform better when we come back. Attitude is everything.

When was the last time you took time for yourself? I mean, when is the last time you put everything on hold and did something for you? If you are like most appraisers, it has been a while. There are always inspections to do or write ups to complete. Even when we catch up on the essentials, there are always ‘back burner’ items that can and should be worked on. When you run your own business, it is impossible to ever get to the point where you can say, “My work here is done.”

Yet, just like a car, your body needs regular maintenance. Find a hobby. Discover new things to do with your family. Go to lunch with a friend. For me, it is movies. I love movies. I find excuses on a regular basis to remove myself from the day-to-day grind and enter the world of Hollywood. It renews me. It invigorates me. It is never convenient, but it is like an oil change…. it must be done regularly.

11 thoughts on “Regular Appraiser Maintenance”

  1. Pingback: Regular Appraiser Maintenance - Appraisal Buzz

  2. I’m 74 and still appraising. The most of my work is rural. I hold my Sundays for no work at all, and this time of year, about every other week, I’ll take one day, hitch the boat, and drift down my favorite river. I’ll get a few catfish, a couple of white bass. It takes care of my brain, relaxes my body, and keeps the home table full. I learned this many years ago. I do my appraisals with new energy. and it keeps me going. Thanks coach, I’m still in the game

  3. A good post. My issue lately is spreading myself too thin. I do remember to fit in family time, but getting it in is another story. My 3rd grade daughter remarked to one of our new kittens “make sure you spend time with me because it wont be long before I go off to college”, then gave me an easy look. It can be tough to soak it all in and get everything done in life, but definitely a good practice. I have room for improvement. I like fishing too. The technicality of getting the gear together and setting up baits is a tedious task that somehow relaxes me – I don’t even care much if I catch anything.

  4. Well said. Self maintenance is extremely important especially for stress management. There is constantly more work to do and when you are running a home office it is difficult to shut the door and be done for the day. One of the things I had always wanted to do was to run our local 5k event but never got around to it because I was too busy. Last year I joined a group and trained to run the race. It was a big time commitment but I faithfully ran the schedule. Completing that race was such a big accomplishment for me. Now I run regularly, not because I have a race but because I discovered that running is an incredible stress receiver. When you are pounding the pavement there is little else on your mind. Certainly not that report you have to write up. Running has some nice side health benefits as well, as does just getting outside and away from your desk. I come back ready to go again.

  5. This is a great message. Sometimes you have to take a day or two to just “do you” as the younger folks say now days. For me it is the movies, walking, going to the park, fishing, a nice dinner out or just getting my nails done. I just completed the alzheimers walk & plan on doing other walks. But this also means not answering the phone for a few hours to get the full benefit. After all, the whole idea is to relax your body & mind.

  6. 200 West St. Paul Street

    Like Bill Kelley above, I’m in my early 70’s and still appraising full time. However, as my wife and I have been getting older, the length to time remaining to complete all of the items on our bucket list gets shorter. So, beginning a few years ago we have decided to schedule at least two full vacation trips per year and at least two additional long week-end getaways. In the past few years we have been to Europe seven times (we just returned from our most recent trip) and have spent Memorial Day extended weekends with our entire family in a rented beach house on Lake Michigan. We also spend another long weekend with two other couples in a small town along the Mississippi River. Fortunately, I have a staff that is able to put out all of the fires when I’m gone, and fortunately we can afford these various diversions (the appraisal business has been very good to me in the past 40 years).
    As a result of these breaks, I find that I enjoy what I do for a living much more. I wake up in the morning with an equal amount of enthusiasm whether I’m going to work or going on a trip.

  7. Right on coach. Did the work to much scene years ago. Now it’s typically 10 hours a day during the week, only weekends if there is an emergency. The YMCA is a block from my office and just walking in 4 or 5 times a week for a workout is soooo important. Mentally and physically. Throw in a few days a week of youth sports coaching and I sleep like a baby at night. Business has never been better. Technology, organization and good clients allow my team to work hard and then go home. I lecture them routinely at our weekly staff meetings to take time off and play with their families. It can and should be done. Keep the good advice coming.

  8. Nice to know I will not be the only one looking at houses until I literally can’t do it. Working in a profession that I literally love means that I rarely take time to do anything else but appraisal work. Sure, I spend time with the my wife and family. We go on dates and I piddle around the house a little doing some maintenance. I meet a group of Christian men for breakfast a couple days a week and the oil change place is two doors down from the restaurant we meet at. Every 5.000 miles like clock work I visit them. My wife and I usually try to take personal time on the weekends and a couple weeks a year somewhere. But, I always have my laptop to answer questions and such, sometimes a revision. When home, I still work in the home office until 9 or 10 some nights but not every night, just here and there. I was in a CE class a while back with a local appraiser I thought had retired. No, he told me!! Just turned 80 and still doing inspections and cranking out reports. When you love what you do for a living, it is not work. It is like a hobby, I just get paid to do it. We look at properties and provide opinions. Man, I love this!! Oh and yes I do get tired of the continuous GSE intervention, scope creep, everybody wanting something for nothing and wanting it yesterday. But I’ve been doing it for almost 25 years and still taking orders. Sometimes I have to smile at myself and chuckle. People actually pay me to look at houses and give them my opinion…

  9. What do you all think it means that I am so sick of inspections, reports, market calculations etc. that I am literally feeling sick in my body. It’s been over 20 years, and to me, it just keeps getting worse with new rules and regs. I would retire if I could, but still have bills to pay. Is this burn-out?

  10. The cost of an appraisal is much higher then what is disclosed. Soft costs should include medical insurance and retirement. In my area that means basic tract house costs $750 per SFR appraisal to meet reasonable costs. Many work for $350 and the spread is so huge that many work with no future. I made $400 per SFR appraisal in 1985 and there was just a two page form and no addendum, and it took 1.5 days to complete after research. Now research is 15 minutes and almost all the work I see is form filling, even with appraisers in the business more than 15 years. The only way I survive is commercial Litigation work, based on a $400 per hour rate. Hard and soft costs are very high and I still work seven days a week after 32 years in appraisal business.

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