At Least We Don’t Have Pots On Our Heads

I recently took a road trip with my wife and children to the Four Corners area and the Mesa Verde National Park. While there, we toured several of the ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings. In about 1200 AD, these stone and plaster “apartments” were inhabited by some amazing people. Above the dwellings are sheer cliffs dozens of feet high. To get from their homes in the cliffs to the mesas above – where they farmed their corn – they would use hand and toe holds which were carved into the rock. It is believed that the women would often carry a pot of water on their heads and even a baby on their backs as they scaled these cliffs (without ropes or safety nets to catch them if they fell). These were a hearty and strong people.
appraiser-lifeAs I listened to the Park Service Ranger describe the lives these people led, I could not help but be both amazed and grateful. I was impressed by the incredible architecture, inventions, and ways of life that kept these people alive so many years ago. Life could not have been easy for a people in such circumstances. My second thought was that of gratitude. I am so thankful to be born at a time when my challenges center around that third revision request from an AMC employee who obviously did not read the report the first time.

Now Dustin, are you seriously comparing the sweet life you have as an appraiser with the cliff dwellers of the ancient America’s? Well, yes. Yes, I am. It is a great time to be alive and an even better time to be an appraiser. I love my life and I hope you do too. We should all stop once in awhile and remember just how good we truly have it.

15 thoughts on “At Least We Don’t Have Pots On Our Heads”

  1. Dustin, I think your comparison is a valid one as APPRAISERS TODAY HAVE NO ROPES OR SAFETY NETS TO CATCH THEM IF THEY FALL. Although not our clients, we are always being pushed toward the edge of the cliff by borrowers, owners, loan officers, agents, processers, AMC staff, AVM’s, federal and states governments, collateral underwriter, etc. Although you say their hand and toe holds were carved into rock, I would argue that appraisers of today have no such solid footing and are instead standing in mud (at least I hope its mud).
    You say “you are thankful to be born at a time when my challenges center around that third revision request from an AMC”, however many in our industry are not in the position to be so lucky. Based on reduced fees, increased requirements, and AMC participation, many appraisers watch very closely when yearly poverty numbers come out so they can determine if they STILL qualify for government assistance.
    Dustin, your view of the industry is just as tilted as those cliffs you’re standing in front of.

    1. Bill- having appraisal work reviewed by people with far less experience or understanding, who in most cases don’t even realize how limited their understanding is, and who have instead convinced themselves of their superior grasp of appraisal concepts (through the osmosis of reading appraisals written by others and finding faults (which may or may not be there). But if you are a bank, its much more cost effective, in the short run at least, to pay inexperienced people to proof read reports, than to actually hire the best. We all get it and feel your pain. But don’t let it drive to become an internet troll. At least Dustin is attempting to impart useful knowledge to new appraisers… finding faults, which may or may not be there, is not a worthy cause.

      1. I respectfully disagree Bruce. Just because one may live on a Cul-de-sac and on the 4th of July may be considered the best location in the neighborhood for that single day, (Dustin does provide some positives), one must also weigh the other 364 days. If they back up to the freeway and are next to the gas station, then on most days people will have a different opinion.

    2. Michael Morris

      Well boo effing who you crybaby whining little girl.

      Feel free and quit if the appraisal business is not for you.

      Last year I made $150K net after taxes and this year projects to closer to $225K.

      Now go get your food stamps so you can afford baloney sandwiches in your Section 8 housing.

      1. Its because of where you live Mick (Above Ground Pool USA), and certainty not because of past expressed skill level. With recently proposed changes and the removal of a 4 year degree (6.5 in your case Michelle) do you think there coming after my area or your area when they want to see changes? At $300 a pop times 250 assignments, minus locale business expenses ($15 min wage is coming), and with other tax deductions, yes many appraiser families can qualify for public assistance (more than you think). Thank you for your hard work Mika and in turn paying my families free Medi-Cal insurance. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid and thinking all is well for the industry Mike, while the powers that be are addressing the issues and trying to turn your area into mine.

        1. Michael Morris

          Hey BJ, Glad to hear you are proud to be LEECHING off of hard workers so you will have 24/7 to whine and moan about an industry that you became a FAILURE in because of EVERYBODY else.

          It’s lazy fat uneducated white trash slobs like yourself that are helping to bankrupt the country, but at least you have elite LibTards like Barry and Hilrod to continue and bail you out with govt. freebies.

          You are a pathetic loser.

          1. Dustin Harris

            All right guys, I love you both, but we probably need to take it down a notch. I’m getting ready to come sit between you.

          2. You couldn’t be more wrong about my political affiliation nor apparently have less knowledge of the affordable care act (Obamacare). This is not the place to debate such topics, however since you seem uninformed; I will give you a few facts. If a less qualified appraiser then yourself grosses $150,000 a year (you net $250,000 – SURE YOU DO), has extensive business expenses (staff ?) and has other tax write offs, then an appraiser with a family will qualify for some healthcare subsidies (tax refund) assuming a modified gross income (MGI) of less than $94,000 (state specific ?). A look at the 2015 National Appraiser Survey (Joan Trice / Alltera Group LLC) reflects that the mean GROSS annual income for the survey of appraisers was $83,086. Assuming the appraiser has a family, business expenses, tax write offs, etc. then any child under the age of 19 will qualify for Medi-cal with a MGI of less than $64,000. Based on the big picture of the appraisal industry (typical fees, typical area, no low cost of living areas / Joan Trice survey) and avoiding the assumption that all appraisers gross $500,000 a year (Dustin) or net $250,000 like you, than most family appraisers qualify for public assistance (Tax refund / Obamacare). The slant of the blog “the sweet life you have as an appraiser”, “…. even better time to be an appraiser”, “remember just how good we truly have it”, does in no way paints a realistic picture of our industry, nor the life the typical family appraiser is living today. Since I’m sure you’ll have difficulties understanding this Michelle, ask a friend to explain it to you. Dustin, I would love to hear your next spincast while you defend the fact that most family appraisers qualify for some form of public dime, while at the same time declaring how appraisers have a “sweet life”.

          3. Tell me Michael, if two people live on the same street in different model match homes and as a single expense (housing / say $3,500), how can one be leaching off society while one is not. Based on the tax code the owners of such houses can write off as an interest deduction a big portion of their housing expense (say $3,000 x 12 months). This $36,000 reduction in taxable income could result in a reduced tax obligation of $7,200 for the year in question (20%). Now, if one of those occupants was renting at $3,500 a month, they will have the same housing expenses, but will not qualify for a deduction and in essence under the same scenario, pay $7,200 MORE in taxes. The leaching of society Michael may be coming from my next door neighbor who owns, while I rent. If under the current tax code my situation qualifies me for $2,500 in medical healthcare write-offs, the thief in society is not the renter but maybe the owner.

  2. That’s a poor comparison. Please revise and add three new that support your analysis. It is insulting when an appraisal takes the time to analyze, search and put together thoughts that support and value as best as possible, only to have some shmoe come in and tell you that you need more supporting data. I only read the market, I can’t make it up. One of my comments I told a reviewer was, ” oh you want better comps, no problem. I keep the good comps in the drawer next to my desk, waiting for you to call. I’ll use them now” He thought I was serious. It has taken several years to develop the sour taste that I have for the industry. I mostly have superior clients. I do have one or two well paying clients that are a PIA. I think I keep them as a reminder. They are one or two a month. It is kind of sadistic humor.

  3. Back when I was young and beautiful, a wise man said – “If the day comes that you no longer have respect and appreciation for the man who signs your check, then it is time to find somebody else to sign your check.” That man and I both ended up leaving the executive side of finance and pursued other paths several years ago. Being an appraiser is a wonderful thing for those who love the profession. But it isn’t for everybody.

    I do recall some of my friends in school who made career choices because of money or stability alone. Without thinking about what they loved or hated about certain paths, some chose poorly and have always complained about their surroundings. I know of one really gifted person, who chose teaching – but he doesn’t really like noisy children… I know of another who chose the medical profession, but she detests the sight of blood… And yet another who has difficulty with heights, who trims trees for a living…

    There is no perfect career, but I really love what I do. Can it be better? Of course – But there’s nothing that can’t be improved.

    Great article Dustin… Of all the analogies I’ve heard about appraisers, I don’t believe anybody has ever compared me to a ancient cliff dweller before. But the lesson is clear – We should pause and be thankful….

  4. You all missed the point. The point is that women are amazing. Climbing a wall with a pot on the head and a baby on the back? That’s right!

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