Two (Very Opposed) Ways to Deal With Fellow Appraisers

I want to talk about real estate appraisal as a whole – the ‘community’, if you will – and about how we interact with each other. I’ll give two quick examples, both of which happened to me, to illustrate the different approaches we have open to us.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I get a lot of negative comments, and sometimes even what you might call ‘hate mail.’ You know what? It’s not nice to get it, but it’s fine. I know that, by putting myself out there publicly as The Appraiser Coach, I’m painting a big target on my chest. The benefits of what I do – helping my fellow real estate appraisers, even changing their lives – more than make up for the negative aspects.

Not so long ago, I got an email from someone who’d read one of my blog posts and… let’s just say, he didn’t agree with what I had to say. In his email he absolutely ripped into me, questioning where I’d even got my license for real estate appraisal, and holding his vastly greater experience as a real estate appraiser over my head (he’d been appraising for 50 years, apparently, compared to my measly 20).

Contrast this with my second experience, which happened a short time afterwards. I was heading to an inspection to meet a Realtor. This can often be a trying situation, with Realtors bringing big lists of “comps” along with them, and so on. On the drive over I realized that I recognized the name of the Realtor in question; I’ll just call him ‘Mark’ here.

In addition to being a Realtor, Mark is a fellow real estate appraiser in my area. We’d had plenty of positive interactions over the years, and even referred business to each other. He couldn’t have been more professional during the inspection, and afterwards we sat down and talked about our profession, and our common concerns.

We had a really great, productive conversation, and it made me ask myself, ‘why isn’t it always like this?’ We’re all in the appraiser professionalssame business here! We’re all working extremely hard, and have a ton of work to do. We all struggle against the same regulations.

What if we could all be more like Mark (and much, much less like the first guy); that is, willing to sit down with our fellow appraisers, and have productive conversations. What if we did this in large numbers, forming coalitions of like-minded professionals, and pulling together in the same direction? If we did, imagine the large-scale, macro changes we could effect in our industry; an industry which, let’s be honest, needs some pretty big changes. If we just flit back and forth between our appraisals and our offices, never interacting with other real estate appraiser, then these changes will never happen.

I’m not here to preach. I just want to ask you, my fellow professionals, to sit back and ask yourself where you’re at as an appraiser. When was the last time you got together with the other real estate appraisers in your area? Is it high time to set up another little rendezvous?

We can affect these meaningful, macro changes to real estate appraisal. But we’ll never do it alone.

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 021 – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

28 thoughts on “Two (Very Opposed) Ways to Deal With Fellow Appraisers”

  1. Pingback: Two (Very Opposed) Ways to Deal With Fellow Appraisers - Appraisal Buzz

  2. Dustin, some people who think they know everything have, in many cases, simply stopped learning. I’ve been a reviewer for 27 years and some appraisers have 1 year of experience 50 times, rather than growing better, understanding human nature, caring for their fellow appraisers, and trying mightily to deal effectively with scope creep and big data. You keep doing what you’re doing. It is appreciated by many more than you know.

  3. How many appraisals have you seen from your fellow appraisers? Personally I have seen the work of literally hundreds if not over a thousand different appraisers across the nation.

    I don’t mean one report either. Everyone makes a mistake or has an off day so anyone, myself included, could end up with a bad reports. I am talking about multiple reports from hundreds of appraisers.

    The results. It is not good. It’s really more embarrassing than anything else as the public, lenders hold these people as my peers.

    I worked as a reviewer for about five of my coming up to 30 years. Prior to that 5 year period I thought all appraisers were good, hard working professionals who were mostly ethical and competent.

    I was wrong.

    That is why there isn’t unanimous support and big coalitions. Because a huge swath are either not competent or not ethical.

    Then you have the cannibals in the industry that feed off their own, other appraisers.

    Then you have the glory whores who want to publish articles, write books and get the 15 minutes of fame doing interviews with the media.

    Now all industries have these same problems we are not unique. Our problem is our industry is a relatively small one and there are just too many incompetent, unethical and glory whores in such a small industry.

    I love appraising and honestly I wish I’d never been a reviewer and analyst (one of those positions was at FNMA and another was at a top 10 national bank) and I still lived in my delusional bubble of ignorance. I really do, but the genie is out of the bottle and it cannot go back.

    Our industry really deserves much of the abuse we get. Sad, but true I fear.

    I’d never let my children follow in me into this business!

  4. Phil,
    I agree with you assessment. One might ask, how are these cancers to our profession continue to thrive? I’m certain I am not alone when I state, on a daily basis I receive absolutely ridiculous appraisal fee request. Having never received these assignments when requesting a C&R fee, I no longer even take the time to research and offer a fair fee. Someone is taking these jobs! Our business is just like any other trade; we have the good, the bad and the ugly. Who is hiring our ugly’s? Who is willing the pay the very lowest for appraisal assignments? We all know this answer. AMC’s are just like us, a for profit endeavor. Having zero geographical competency, at best, they can not properly address the quality of work; at worst, they don’t care. By encouraging or promoting the use of AMC’s the system will continue to encourage a large percentage of our work product will be driven to the most inferior players who accept the lowest fees.

  5. Kevin you are exactly right. The bottom feeders are the majority, not some tiny minority that the talking heads in the industry with great delusions thinks they are. And now the AMC are realizing that they can hire staff appraisers pay them even LESS and make even more without regard to quality. To an AMC quality is bracketing regardless of distance or value to the appraisal process! I was literally told that bracketing was the most important thing regardless if they comp was given any weight during a recent interview for, and sounded rejected, a staff appraiser position after their recruiter cold called me from the ASC registry. The offer worked out to be about $85k a year, but I’d have to do 11.33 appraisals per week under their convoluted pay system (at what works out to be $155 per appraisal report) to make it! I could expand more about the ludicrous nature of their pay system, but suffice to say it was insulting and that they have 30+ staff appraisers in half of Florida churning out 10+ appraisals per week under that one State manager makes my sick to my stomach! My trainee makes $175 per appraisal on the $400 fees I get from my primary client and they want to pay staff appraisers with allegedly 20-25 years experience $155 on $375 fees while working 50-60+ hours per week! If that manager was telling the truth, and she was very forthcoming so I believe she was, they have 30+ appraisers 20-25+ years of experience in one state working for absolute peanuts! Heaven help us!

  6. Good Evening Ladies and germs. There are a wide range of appraisers from the beginners to experts, True True there are many variety of opinions as to the Appraisal industry as i is today, what it was in the Past, & what is will be in the Future. Myself I have appraised for 15 years. The forms have changed, there are additional addendum gorms and analysis required. And the Backgroud checks?? WTF?? why ca’yn we all just get along? Yes there are still offers to to full 1004 URAR for $200-$275 from some clients and this is disheartening. With all that we in the biz have gone through over the past 15 years we certainly deserve a healthy fee of $400/report, IMHO. With the push now for alternative valuation products and desktop appraisals there is a continuing push to drive down the work and fees paid to appraisers. As fee panel appraisers we are effectively in competition with the other independent appraisers in or R E Markets. Thus, there is not likely to be much of a desire for appraisers to ‘rendezvous’ anytime soon. Good Luck to all!

  7. When I entered this profession in 1997 I wondered why appraisers didn’t talk to each other and the best I could determine was they were all afraid someone would steal their business. Since then I have worked hard to overcome this issue and started what we call a “Get Together” about once a quarter. We usually meet at lunchtime in a local restaurant and discuss issues we’ve faced since our last meeting and sometime even invite a speaker, possibly a mortgage broker, realtor, or another appraiser who wanted to share something they thought important. We’ve been doing this for about 5 years now. We have a core group that shows up, but, I always send the email to all local appraisers. We always leave having learned something new and we all know we can call on each other anytime we need to discuss a problem to see if we are thinking correctly. It’s been a real blessing both personally and in my business to get to know many of my peers and not only learn from then but to become friends. I urge every appraiser to make an effort to start some type of monthly or quarterly get together with your local appraisers, it’s more than worth the time and effort it takes to make it happen.

  8. In my opinion it is state licensing that has caused the decline of this profession to a trade. Before licensing, appraisers had to prove themselves in the marketplace. Now they take fairly simple classes and pass DMV type tests. Yes there is currently some experience requirements, but no verification of competency. The political pressure to flood the market with enough appraisers to be able to turn most appraisals in 48 hours is soon going to eliminate any licensing experience requirement. The economics of staffing a volital demand cycle industry for near instantaneous turn times at peak market demand cycles results in an overstaffed industry most of the time. This leads to appraisal fees that are not competitive to the bright analytical minds that might enter the industry. As a result while there are many professional appraisers the industry is now a trade not a profession.

  9. Ron I disagree. Having started in 1989 which was when licensing started more or less there were a lot of bad appraiser’s “back in the day,” but the corruption was more hidden as the “old boys club” of the Society would protect each other.

    There was a great deal of socializing back then and it didn’t make things any better to address Steve’s comments. The local NAIFA chapter holds a monthly dinner on I think the first Thursday of the month. I attended these for years as my mentor, who is a great appraiser btw, has been a Chapter officer many times over the decades. I saw nothing about these meetings that “helped” the profession, except it helped to maintain some relationships between the active members. I don’t see anything wrong with the get togethers, but it isn’t a significant help either in my opinion.

    The only solution is better training! This profession must go back to the apprenticeship method of training and for that to happen the Clients must be FORCED to allow trainee participation in the process so that trainees can not be money pits who will steal your clients when they get certified and be gone. There needs to be a financial incentive to stay under your supervisor longer so that you become a better appraiser before you go out on your own.

    As is there is only financial penalties for trainees and massive legal and professional liabilities to your license for having a trainee.

  10. Mark (not the mythical realtor/appraiser)

    Its funny that appraisers are fearful of each other taking business away. But it is real. I interact with other local appraisers quite often. The conversations dance around the subject. Small talk like, “you staying busy”? Rarely does anybody ask or tell exactly WHO is keeping them busy. I assume it is for fear that the other appraiser may contact your client and try to get at that book of business? Which is not that far fetched, when you consider that broadcast orders get snapped up by appraisers willing to work for fees and turn times less than your bid. This mindset is a result of the new AMC model-where an established relationship with a competent appraiser means zilch. If they can find somebody with a license and a heartbeat to go do that order faster and cheaper- AMC says “don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.” Competency and experience means nothing, turn time and fee is everything in this brave new world.

  11. For years, I wondered why appraisers can’t “get their act together”. Where is our version of NAR? At one time I thought perhaps the Appraisal Institute was the answer, then went to some meetings. I was quickly disabused of that notion. There are many other groups as well. So many that there is almost no hope of cohesion within the industry. It reminds me very much of appraisers in general. We come in all types with different agendas and expectations. There is a common thread among appraisers, though not universal. We are a cantankerous lot. It is the nature of what we do that we must defend our opinions against any and all attacks and this seems to bleed over into the non-appraisal (or at least value) related aspects of our lives. Add to that the predominant personality type. At one point in my career I was managing a staff of appraisers for a lender. I took a management class that provided us some tools, including a personality profile assessment. I had all of my appraisers take it. Every single one of them, every one, had what was referred to as “The Accountant” personality – very analytical, very independent, does not always play well with others. Sound like anyone you know? What it told me was that, for that specific application I had hired the right people. But it also showed me why we as an industry have such a hard time. What we lack is leadership that 1) understands what working appraisers deal with on a daily basis and 2) has the respect of enough appraisers to matter. I wish I had an answer to this problem, I really do. Because I fear for this industry that has provided for me my entire adult life. At some point, we have to set aside petty squabbles, take a step back, and try to see the big picture. Or do nothing and go extinct. It’s up to us.

  12. The tone of most of these comments is jaded and burned out, unfortunately. I too have been in the industry for over 30 years, and it remains my goal to help people achieve the dream of home ownership. Every day I try to learn something to improve the quality of my reports. For all of you above, I sincerely hope you are able to retire soon. The attitude is appalling. As for the topic of relating to other appraisers, that attitude is the very reason we can’t seem to get along. I’m always pleased to get the chance to meet other appraisers because it presents the opportunity to learn and grow professionally.

  13. When it comes down to it, it’s about money. The forces working against us have a powerful lobby backed by many millions of dollars. Follow the money. I wish I could believe otherwise. The banking system/mortgage industry/realtor association have large resources to lobby. If it isn’t in their best interest, it’s not likely to happen. It appears there is a much more sinister agenda to phase us out. As of Jan 1, 2018, Fannie Mae does not require an appraisal for 25% of mortgages. 1 out of 4. Wow! I know many of us are wanting to jump ship, but it’s easier said than done.

  14. I’m president of the Sacramento chapter of REAA. We meet once a month for dinner and continuing education. We have 100 members from the region and get 40-60 showing up every month. It’s a great model for networking and improving your skills.

  15. I started an appraisers group about 1.5 years ago. We get together the first Wednesday of the month at the same coffee shop at the same time so members can plan their schedules. We typically have between 6 and 12 appraisers show up. Both residential and commercial appraisers attend. Not only do we consult on another on tough assignments and make referrals to one another but now we have become friends. Having worked alone in a home office for the past 15 years, the comradery lifts my spirit and I look forward to every meeting. I am even going to throw an “Office Holiday Party” for the group in December. I have learned a lot from this group and encourage all “lone wolf” appraisers like myself to reach out and start their own appraisers group.

  16. It’s been 30 years appraising, and I still love it. Every day is different, every house is different. Yes, I get tired of the AMC’s who are driving prices down. But
    it’s not always the AMC to blame, there offering work for the lowest price possible, and your taking those orders. I miss out on 75% of the jobs, times are good,
    I can afford to not take the low fees. Someone is taking those jobs, that’s for sure.. Just remember a $100.00 fee difference per job, 4 jobs per week. is $20, 800
    difference in pay per year. In 5 years, that $20,000 is now $100,000. Wait for the high paying jobs, there out there. Yes, I also review other appraisals. See some
    bad stuff. We all make mistakes. No problem. I have also said some negative things about the appraiser coach. Not him personally, but on details of what can be
    completed by support staff on an appraisal. I like to think that all appraiser’s are part of my family. Including the appraiser coach. What I can say, is that the appraiser
    coach is great at people management, running a business, and creating an area for US to talk. He has pushed me to modernize my office. Have an awesome weekend.

  17. Ron - No, The Other One

    I met Dustin at the Association of Texas Appraisers seminar last week and thoroughly enjoyed his presentation of Streamlining the Appraisal Process – Mobile Appraising. Did I agree with everything he said? No, but I have re-thought my procedures and may implement some of his suggestions; so I will listen to his thoughts.

    I started in this business in 1971 and have been able to make a good living for most of that time (bona fides). I had a knowledgeable mentor and hopefully have maintained the standards he taught.

    That said, and in the context of Justin’s question, if you have an opportunity to have a get together with other appraisers, please do so as it will greatly help you personally, and your bottom line.

    If I could send a message to every appraiser, please do not appear illiterate in your appraisal reports. Very easy to run it by spell check.

  18. There are two reason that this vocation (I will not call it a profession) struggles to unite.

    First, low security from low wages – all real professions that get along and unite earn $150-500 per hour, or more, and even the bottom feeders do very well. Suspicion, mistrust all begin with needs not getting met. I think that if you ask the coach and get an honest answer, he will tell you that being secure is huge factor in why he puts that bullseye on every day.

    Second, the people in the vocation are trained to be ill-suited for it. Most of the classes and mentoring spend all kinds of time teaching people how to develop the right opinion in an analytical nature, instead of teaching them in a more artsy or zen fashion that no opinion can be right. Nobody should care if somebody has a different opinion, as long as your own opinion is well explained. There is no truth, only understanding. People who feel that their opinions are always being attacked are also wary and untrusting.

  19. If you look at the realtor blogs they are often optimistic and up beat. Appraiser blogs not so much. Previous to 2009 hvcc appraisers competed locally and were sheltered in the business model. Now wide open with multiple options for clients. Attitude held on though. I agree that we as a profession could do a lot in improving each other and mitigating the glory hounds that sell their product through basically fear mongering.

  20. In South Carolina, we have SCPAC, which stands for South Carolina Professional Appraiser Coalition. We meet once a month in our local chapter and we meet as a state board 4 times a year with conference call meetings the other months. During our local chapter meetings, we DO discuss how we handle different situations in our market as well as ask each other questions and/or give feedback about situations we’ve encountered. So, if you want to interact with your peers, join your state appraiser coalitions.

  21. Michael McKinley

    For a bunch of professionals who are trained to find value, it is hard to believe why you are questioning the fee structure. Just like all open market situations, appraisal fees (a price for a service) are based on supply and demand. In 2016 demand increased a great deal. I bumped my fees about 35% and still turned away dozens of jobs every month. By year end demand was down, and fees were falling. Fees and volume are back where they were in 2015. One AMC didn’t like that I bumped my fees; I stopped getting assignments from them. Since I need a certain minimum volume to stay afloat, I dropped my fees and now they are once again sending me decent volume. They said they experienced reduced business during the “lull”; I don’t say anything in return but I can be sure there is no loyalty on their part; now there is none on mine.

  22. It pays to be nice. Not always in dollars, but often in dollars. LOL. I am not always nice on forums and blogs, but I am always nice to clients, homeowners, realtors and fellow appraisers I deal with personally. People like to work with people they like, and usually do if they can. As far as forums, these can be a place for honest feedback and I value that – personal courtesy can get in the way in a profession that has a rulebook that says we must do as our peers do. That doesn’t always work of course (no longer on the coaches mailing list – lol), but if issues are never addressed and mistruths not called out, we wont get anywhere either. I say my piece (peace?). I try to start the conversation, or at least plant a seed of thought and have found that often what is met with strong resistance at first, grows into agreement after time – maybe its the old human thing that people just don’t want to be told and prefer to come up with ideas “by themselves” – lol. PS – That works with my wife too.

    Kudos Coach. Keep up the conversations.

  23. Joseph O'Connor

    I’m a lone wolfer and have been so for 30 years. I write my 6 a week, quite well incidentally, and leave it at that. The last thing I want to do is after spending the day with this endless drudgery is to go to some professional meeting for a discussion roundtable with my fellow saps. Cynical though it is, it’s a point of view common to many …….and the brain drain in our profession rolls on. The best have already left and only the worst will take their place.

  24. The golden rule applies. “do unto others as you would yourself”. Yet there should be a preamble to the golden rule “treat yourself kindly”. Some of these comments above are so negative, apparently ranting to drive ones own predetermined conclusion. One must review as it was YOURSELF. Start by spreading out comps and arrive at a your own supported conclusion. If its in the same reasonable range? Then take the boxing gloves off and try making comments to be productive in a way that helps yours and others future reports(as you to learn from others). Because its easier many simply sign off on the review form to agree with the conclusion. Yet how many REAL reviewed appraisals/appraisers would agree to the EXACT amount? To arrive at a conclusion one must do the steps themselves even if they use the same comps. The adjustments mostly will not be exact. Im completing 11 reviews just this month. I find most reports(ASSUMING including yours) do NOT walk on water. Perfection in an OPINION based industry is not attainable “as a matter of opinion”. A suggestion would be to show others the respect you feel deserving of oneself. Relax, continue to grow & learn, while sticking your tongue out to do the best you can. Were ONLY Human. And this is the only profession that MUST WALK ON WATER as a matter of opinion. Of course unless they are reviewing THEMSELVES. LOL!

  25. It’s good to learn about your experience with real estate appraisers. I think I’d rather work with an appraiser like Mark. Dealing with someone who’s kind and willing to talk instead of criticize, would make the whole process a lot better.

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