It Could Be Worse

I want to talk to you today about something that’s been in my thoughts recently – a question of our mindset as appraisers, if you will – that was brought on by a recent experience I had.

Part of my role as the Appraiser Coach is staying tapped into the general appraiser community. I do that through browsing Facebook groups, readin

g forums and, y’know… actually talking to people. I like to think I’ve got a pretty good sense for where our profession is at, and – in turn – I know there are a heck of a lot of disgruntled appraisers out there.

Regular readers will know that I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, but – I’ll admit it – there are days when I feel pretty down about things too. It might be the low fees that get to me, the various stipulations of the work, the AMC world we live in, and so on. Sometimes I’ll get to the end of a tough day and think, “Man, can I really do this for the rest of my life?” Well, that all got turned on its head recently.

The church my family attends relies heavily on volunteers. Rather than lobbying for particular jobs, the church leader will approach us with tasks to which they think we’re suited, and it’s then up to us to either accept or refuse (most people accept, as you might expect).

The tasks for which we volunteer are generally ones which will help our community. One of the big problems our church has identified in our area is un – or under – employment. Recently, yours truly was appointed as something of an “employment specialist”, to help people either get a job, or get a better job. It’s not exactly in my comfort zone, but the church leader knew it was an area I’ve got some experience in.

This has turned out to be an incredibly valuable experience for me. It’s allowed me to get into people’s homes, meet people who are struggling that I wouldn’t usually get the chance to t

alk to, and – in theory – help them out a little.

One meeting has stood out above all the others. I had the opportunity recently to sit down with a 67 year old man, who’d been a plumber his whole life. Having been extremely healthy for most of that time, he became seriously sick when he was 66. He survived (though it was touch-and-go for a while), but was left physically unable to keep working as a plumber.

Folks, I tell you, I looked into this guy’s eyes and saw a broken man. The sickness hadn’t just hurt his body, but his mind too. He’s a proud guy, and – through no fault of his own – he’d suddenly been rendered unable to provide for his family. Being a plumber, and specifically one who doesn’t own his own business, he didn’t have much in the way of savings to fall back on either.

Of course I couldn’t truly empathize with this man – I’ve never experienced anything like that, after all – so all I could do was try to sympathize. The only measure of comfort I could offer him came from a Buddhist teaching that I learned recently; maybe it’ll 

offer you some comfort in tough times too. The teaching is that if you step into the same river twice, then it’s never the same river. The experiences we have in life are constantly flowing, like a river, and it’s how we react to them that’s important. Step into a river, and the water will mold itself around the obstacles – your legs – and carry on flowing. We need to do the same thing, when we encounter obstacles in our lives.

Getting to know my new friend, the plumber, has helped to put things in perspective for me. As appraisers, we have it pretty darn good. We really do. We own our own businesses, we’re largely in control of our own future, and – even if something were to happen to us physically – we’d probably be able to carry on working in our jobs in some capacity. Sure there are some negatives, but I think there are far more positives to being an appraiser than we realize sometimes.

On that note, I encourage you to be positive – yes – but I also ask you to be forward-thinking and not become too stagnant. After reading this, please just take a moment to think about where you want to be in one year, and three years, and think about what you’re doing to actually move towards those goals. I promise you that even if you just spend the briefest amount of time doing this, it will be extremely beneficial.

Above all else, just remember folks; it could always be worse.


For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 108 – It Could Be Worse

11 thoughts on “It Could Be Worse”

  1. Pingback: It Could Be Worse - Appraisal Buzz

  2. Ruben Barajas

    Thumbs up. You hit it right on the nail’s head!!! Nothing else need to be said. Thanks for sharing.

  3. My brother is a smart guy who worked in market research at a large company. He had moved up to a position of being a rather expensive employee with about 8 years ahead of him until retirement. The company eliminated his job (and probably hired two young guns with the money they saved). That was four years ago. He got a nice severance package and assumed he could start somewhere else and bank much of that after a few months between jobs. He had always gotten job offers and promotions. But in his later 50’s, there was nothing past the first few interviews. Now he delivers cars and light trucks around the country, driving thousands of miles a week. Sometimes a plush car, but he has put lots of miles on a snack food delivery van.

    Twenty years ago when I needed to change careers, I got into appraisal. There have been very good times and some lean times. But I am thankful every day for my career as an appraiser.

  4. Hi Dustin,
    Thanks for sharing this story. I was a bricklayer for almost 40 years. In June 2009 I fell off of a ladder at work and everything changed, which gave me an opportunity to return to school. I decided that my experience in construction could be helpful in a new career so I decided that becoming an appraiser would be a good fit. I knew that there would be a lot of challenges but I underestimated how difficult it would be to find work as a trainee. I thought that getting my bachelor degree would be the hardest part, but I achieved that in November of 2016, which is something I am very proud of.

    I did find a supervisor to work with after searching for 3 years. I have currently logged over 1200 hours as a trainee, and I was very excited when the Appraisal Foundation lowered the number of experience hours to become licensed as of May 1, 2018. The problem is that the State of California moved my cheese! They are not going to adopt this change to lower the experience hours any time soon.

    Oh well… I will be turning 65 next Wednesday and all I can do is keep pushing forward. I have too much time and money invested at this point to give up. Thank you for always being the “glass half full appraiser”… people like you George Dell and Phil Crawford have helped me continue to pursue my goal!

  5. I tell my kids and husband, almost every day, how lucky I am to have this job! Even though there are struggles and occasional conflicts with real estate agents, lenders, etc., it still beats almost any job out there!!

  6. I had a a small stroke last month, they call it a TIA. Luckily only a small part of my left side was effected. Happened climbing stairs in a vacant house. Thank goodness I didn’t black out. No telling how many days I would have been there before being discovered. My work load was large at the time. Got rid of a few but basically had to tough it out. Doing exercises and I am 80-85% back to normal. No interruption in income. I feel for the plumber because he no longer has control over his life. By the way, AMC’s are still the scourge of this business. 26 years this year for me .

  7. Lynwood B. jackson III SRA

    Good food for thought. At 65 with 38 years in commercial and residential appraisal, I am aware of the physical things that begin to show up and slow you down (2 hernia surgeries and skin cancer removal in 6 months). May I suggest trying Jesus, he is the only man who lived, died and was resurrected for us! The Word of God has all the answers to our problems. In Mt 6:33 it says: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. As a commercial/residential appraiser with an SRA of 38 years that at one time had 7 appraisers, I have seen the many changes that have beset the appraisal industry. Unfortunately, in recent years with the onset of AMC’s, challenging bidding, and the difficulty in training new appraisers as well as natural circumstances such as retirement or death, we have lost apprx 1/2 of the appraisers we had 10 years ago. Thanks for the blog and let’s hope things begin to change in the near future for those of us in the appraisal industry.


    Yes, we are lucky to be able to support AMC’s making $Millions while we struggle to get by. But at least most of us are “getting by”. We are overdue for recognition of our work now, and for the last 10 years. We made the CU and AVM’s possible and I don’t think they could continue without “real” Appraisers. Ya’ll better recognize. Peace Out.

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