A few weeks ago, I put out – what turned out to be a very poorly worded – blog post. The purpose of the article was to nudge appraisers into looking at their situation in a more positive light than what is sometimes the norm. Specifically, I often hear appraisers complain that we have not had a “pay raise” in decades. This comment usually stems from the fact that appraisal fees are very close (if not the same) to what they were 20 or 30 years ago. On the surface, that seems quite unfair. My point however is that – given large strides in technology – we are able to do more volume than we could two decades ago. Unfortunately though, the message of the post was overshadowed by a throw away comment (that, in hindsight, I literally should have thrown away) regarding the volume I can currently complete as opposed to the number I used to complete. The blog post received more comments than I have seen for months. Most of them were focused on my volume and not on the gist of the article. As you can imagine, a large majority of the comments were negative.
No problem. I have tough skin and I stopped being bothered by negativity a long time ago (I would not have survived otherwise). I actually welcome comments of all flavors (as long as they are not vile or vulgar). I love constructive criticism and honestly appreciate my peers reading the article in the first place and then taking time to give their feedback. Thank you.
I do want to clarify a few things in that last article before I jump to the subject of today. First of all, I owe you all an apology. The article was – as I have already pointed out – poorly written. If the truth were known, it was a reprint of one of my very first blog posts (when I had about 7 subscribers). Due to the recurring theme, I thought it might be good to reprint it so my (now nearly 25,000) subscribers might be able to see it. Here was my blunder; I did not re-edit the post. I skimmed it, determined it to be worthy of print, and hit the publish button. My bad. After nearly five years as ‘The Appraiser Coach,’ I have learned a few things and I would not have written that article in that particular manner again. First of all, I would have kept the focus on the theme at hand and not run off in different directions. My volume was not the focus of the article. I used it as an example to make a bigger point, but it quickly became the point. I should have left it out. If you hear about my volume without understanding the entire business model, I can understand why some cry foul. For what it is worth, I toured the country a few years ago and spent two whole days teaching every jot and tittle of my business model to appraisers, USPAP instructors, and even a USPAP lawyer. Not one (after hearing the whole story) thought that what I am doing even comes close to the borders of unethical, illegal, or immoral. Outside the box? You bet, but different does not mean wrong. This workshop was recorded and is open to any and all to scrutinize. In the spirit of trying to be more honest, it is not free, but the ideas I share will the audience will (I guarantee) put any investment you make into that program right back in your pockets and then some. Finally, if I could do it over, I would have been better at being more transparent. I sometimes get the impression that, because I am so outspoken with my business model, that every one of my readers understand where I am coming from. I was proven wrong by multiple comments from readers who completely mischaracterized my appraisal process and then accused me of being a liar and a fraud. As an example, I failed to talk about my staff and the enormous help they are to me. My apologies to my staff and to the readers who do not yet understand my process for that oversight. It was not intentional, I can assure you. It just was not the focus of this particular article (I have written dozens of other articles which do address this topic). I should have also given at least a hat tip to the idea that scope creep and the AMC model have made things more difficult than they were 20 years ago. Again, it was not the focus of the article, but my failure to at least mention it caused some to feel I was not being honest in my message. I accept that feedback, and will try to be more forthright in the future.
And now on to the other purpose of today’s blog post. When I first started teaching other appraisers, I ran into a huge wall; the wall of negativity. By nature, I am usually a pretty optimistic guy. I have been hit pretty hard by the AMC model, scope creep, and the like as well, but my approach has always been to address what needs addressed and move on. By “move on,” I mean to think outside the box and make my business model work despite the challenges and regulations. It has not always been easy, but I have been able to create and maintain a pretty successful appraisal business, teach it to others, and help them to succeed as well. The problem remains however, we appraisers are too damn negative! If you have not done so already, I implore you to read the comments in the article I spoke of earlier and tell me I am wrong. The feeling of overwhelm and defeat is palpable.
Okay, climbing down from my soapbox now. I get it. I really do. Remember, my full-time job is not mentoring; it is appraising. More than 80% of my business is AMC work. I work in the field and deal with the same crap the rest of you deal with. I don’t like it either. Though I encourage all of us to be active in changing the system, we also must – in the meanwhile – find a way to make the current system work for us.
There are ways to make it work, but we must first start with our attitude. Do not misunderstand what I am saying here. I am not saying we succumb and comply. Hell no! We fight like dragons to change the system we belong to. There are a thousand things I would change about the appraisal industry if I had a magic wand and knew the right incantations. However, I am not going to throw up my hands and give up in defeat either. It is what it currently is, and I am going to be successful despite what is handed to me. I think there are far too many appraisers living in the “what if” world of yesterday. “If I could just go back to 2008, then I would be successful.” Well, HVCC happened. Dodd-Frank happened. Regulations happen. Of course we do not live in a true free market. Over-regulation rules the financial world – a world we have chosen to try to make a living in.
Now, what are you going to do about it?
Some appraisers get it. That was made obvious by the (admitted minority) of commenters who had a similar message to the one I bring you today. For example, Randall said, “We appraisers really are a bunch of sensitive and grumpy dudes… This article is only mis-leading if you have never read [Dustin’s] stuff before…. Most of the negative response here comes from one man shows, but this guy’s entire mission has been to promote the idea that you can have a more successful career and stress free life if you will try and spread your wings and hire some help.” Those are the appraisal business owners who will be here tomorrow. They see themselves as CEOs of their business and not only technicians. What does your future look like? Are you ready to look up? Can you see the opportunities that are right in front of your face? I can. It is time to be successful again! Let’s bring a more optimistic outlook back to the appraisal profession.