Before UAD, Dodd/Frank, or even HVAC, an appraiser’s character seemed to be more important than it is now. These new regulations have forced us to be somewhat aloof from our clients. Though there is still some contact with the bank managers and loan officers, it is far less than it used to be. That fact can give us a false sense of comfort. This is a mistake.
Just a few years ago, it was not uncommon for an appraiser to have a simple mistake (or more commonly—a PERCEIVED mistake) affect not just the client that the work was completed for, but the four other lending institution employees she may have had lunch with the next day. To be branded with the ‘Scarlet Letter’ of ‘Don’t use him,’ was a difficult problem to overcome. However, it was obvious—almost immediately—to the appraiser that it had happened to them.
Though the cause (or even the fact that it had happened) is much more difficult to discern, the affect of such tarnishing is every bit (if not more) devastating. The Internet is a wonderful invention. It has certainly made our lives, as appraisers, much easier. However, it can be a career killer if it is not monitored and proactively policed. No, I am not talking about government regulations to censor the Internet. I am referring to appraisers (or any other professional) watching what is said about them on the Internet. A little research from borrowers, lenders, or others may bring up some very disparaging (if not flat-out false) news about you!
‘Google’ yourself and your company name. You may be surprised as to what you find. Then again, maybe you won’t. A quick search of my name and company turned up mostly neutral ratings, but that is not always the case. What used to be the job of conversations around the water-cooler or, more formally, the Better Business Bureau has now become the work of Angie’s List, online forums, and Google. More importantly, the damage they can do can be much more devastating than former scuttlebutt vehicles. Why? The Internet stretches beyond the boundaries of your local city or town. What used to affect the lenders in your area, now affects any and all who might search for information on you (even across state boundaries). That may include lenders, clients, AMCs, and even those in areas you may work in the FUTURE!
Regardless of how you see it, your online reputation should be a priority. It should be proactively searched and one should work hard to counter any negative that may be found. There are professionals that can be hired to restore your reputation (I do not endorse or not endorse them), but it can also be done, fairly simply, by yourself. I will not take the time in this article to explain how to best counter a bad posting (Google “Online Reputation” or “Reputation Management” for all kinds of helpful tricks), but you should at least start by finding out what others are saying about you and your company. Why? The water-cooler just got a whole lot bigger audience.
Now, go create some value!
Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he made his fortune as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and mentor. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach (www.theappraisercoach.com) where he personally consults and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth. He is also the Founder and President of Your Appraisal Office (www.yourappraisaloffice.com) which implements some of the systems he has developed to help lower costs and free up time for real estate business owners. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children. This article may be reproduced and distributed only in its entirety without permission from the author.