Upper Midwest BPA Conference


I am sitting in the airport after having attended the Building Performance Association’s (BPA) upper mid-west conference in Bloomington, Minnesota waiting to fly home. It was a great conference and unlike anything I have ever attended before.  The BPA is an association that, in their own words:

“To advance a thriving industry delivering improved energy efficiency, health, and environmental performance of buildings. Our current area of focus is existing residential buildings, including multifamily and manufactured homes.”

The sessions that I saw and the people that I met were awesome.  The folks there are genuinely interested in high performing homes.  I was asked to attend to co-present with Pamela Brookstein from Elevate Energy. Pamela is someone that I have worked alongside and adjacent to for many years.  It was a real pleasure to spend some time with her and share ideas.  Her job at Elevate is to work within the real estate community to try and educate and inform real estate professionals. She does focus group work and writes education for agents and appraisers. 

Our panel went very well.  We had about 22 people in the room besides ourselves and the moderator.  The group came with great questions and seemed thoroughly engaged.  Pamela discussed the research they have done with consumers and agents and highlighted the major points that my work with the high performing home community seems to support. 

The big take away is that real estate agents are a key component of capturing any additional value that may exist in a home that has been retrofitted or built as a better than code home.  My most recent project on the matter was the multi-market study that I led in four distinct markets that was underwritten by Peral Home Certifications. The paper, “Valuing High-Performing Homes: The Impact of Pearl Certification on Home Sales Prices in Boston, MA; Grand Rapids, MI; Charlottesville, VA; and Phoenix, AZ”, shows support for the importance of agents and their marketing capabilities when representing consumers with these kinds of homes.

Speaking on the panel was an opportunity to discuss with a major stakeholder in the high performing home space: the contractors and companies that do the work.  Being able to share the process that goes into valuing a home and how important it is to work with dedicated and knowledgeable agents and ultimately competent appraisers is super important.  There is a circle of stakeholders in the process and we talked about how important it was to understand each of the stakeholders and their part of the process.

We discussed how homeowners struggle with refinancing and selling homes because lenders are normally uneducated with what a high performing home is will hire appraisers that that do not understand how to value a home like this.  Often this results in appraisers failing to recognize or even understand how the market really reacts to these homes. 

The audience seemed engaged and asked so many great questions.  It really was a thrill to attend and present.  I am looking forward to attending their national conference in April out in Seattle. 

5 Ways to Upgrade Your Home and Its Appraisal Value

The following link is a blog that Woody Fincham, SRA, AI-RRS, ASA, ASA was quoted in. This is poste d with the owner of the blog’s permission.


Sep 30, 2022

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Sellers have had their day (or rather, their year). Now, if you’ve been following the U.S. housing market and mortgage rates, you may have seen home prices in your area sliding downward like a slow-motion roller coaster. Even if you’ve just watched the ride from the ground, you may be questioning your home’s current value — or how to prioritize home improvements with its future value in mind.

The housing market is always changing, but here’s something you can count on: High-performing features in your home help create lasting value. Pearl Certification recently published a study on home sale prices across four large U.S. markets. The results show that certified, high-performance homes that have been properly marketed as such commanded a sales premium of 4.75% on average. The highest premium in all four markets was an impressive 16%.

In fact, studies dating all the way back to the 2008 recession have demonstrated price premiums in the range of 2% to 6% for certified, high-performance homes across the U.S. These studies include a previous 2017 Pearl Certification study with a smaller geographic scope that demonstrated almost the same results as our 2022 report. (Take a look at our Research page if you’d like to dig into the facts and figures.)

What makes a house a “high-performance home”?

A high-performance home might look like its neighbors, but inside, you can feel the difference.

“It comes down to comfort,” Woody Fincham, a professional appraiser who specializes in high-performance homes, tells us. “A home like this is going to have cleaner air and stay at a comfortable temperature because all the systems are performing optimally. At the same time, it can also save people money by saving energy and water.”

He pointed out that hundreds of your home’s assets work together to maximize your comfort, health, and efficiency. Many are out of sight and out of mind, but all are necessary for high performance. So, instead of granite countertops and open floor plans, think heating and cooling systems, the seals around your bathroom piping, and the insulation inside your walls. Your appliances, windows, doors, light and water fixtures, fans, and smart home tech also contribute to how your home functions.

Which high-performing features increase your home’s appraisal value?

Now that we’ve defined high performance, let’s talk about how high-performing features can increase your home’s appraisal value at the time of sale or refinance.

When we asked which features would add the most to a home’s appraisal value, Fincham pointed out that particular features will be more or less valuable in a given market based on the local climate, the level of demand among homebuyers, and how many nearby homes already have those features.

“As appraisers,” Fincham tells us, “we’re looking at your overall property. “Your home’s appraisal value isn’t influenced by this or that single improvement — one upgrade is hard to quantify. Think about all the things working together in your home to make it unique and valuable.”

So, like most things in life, there’s no simple answer. We can’t give you an exact number for how much each feature adds to your home’s appraisal value. But we can tell you these five upgrades work hard to decrease your utility costs, improve your home’s performance — and contribute to a higher appraisal value.

Seal Your Building Shell

The building shell is the primary line of defense between your family and outdoor temperature, moisture, and pollutants. Improving your home’s building shell includes caulking or other types of air sealing around bathroom and kitchen pipes, ductwork, electrical outlets, windows, doors, and your attic and basement or crawlspace. Ensuring you have enough insulation for your climate is also vital.

What these types of upgrades lack in excitement, they typically make up for in their high return on investment. “They’ll give you the biggest bang for your buck,” Fincham says, pointing out that the cost to make the improvements can be recouped via day-to-day energy savings and by contributing to appraisal value. The 2022 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of REALTORS® estimates a 100% return on investment (ROI) at resale for an insulation upgrade alone.

Remember, though, that building shell upgrades work together to create value; caulking in one bathroom isn’t enough. Pearl recommends a whole home energy audit with a blower door test to better understand where your house could use sealing and insulation improvements.

Upgrade Doors and Windows

Switching to high-performance, ENERGY STAR®-certified doors and windows means saying goodbye to drafts that enter the house around these installations. ​​It also means shrinking energy bills by 12% on average compared to non-certified products. In some climates, the energy savings are as high as 31%!

Like most home features, there are many types of doors and windows to choose from — are any more valuable in terms of comfort or ROI? The National Association of REALTORS® has found that steel and fiberglass doors have similar ROIs (63% vs. 60%); vinyl windows have a slightly higher ROI than wood windows (67% vs. 63%). Look for double or triple-pane glass, argon insulation, and solar protection to help regulate temperature and optimize energy efficiency.

Install High-Efficiency HVAC Systems

Overall, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems have become more energy efficient over time. “Don’t go for the standard or minimum efficiency model,” Fincham says. “For a high-performance home, choose the highest efficiency model in your price range.” A heat pump, for example, may be the most energy- and cost-efficient option for you depending on where you live. Heat pump technology has advanced enough that cold-temperature models can provide efficient heating even below freezing. According to the Department of Energy, current heat pump models can help you reduce electricity use for heating up to 50% compared to furnaces.

Fincham urges homeowners to consult with an HVAC professional to choose the right type of system for their climate and home in order to get the best ROI. This is important: the wrong type or size of system cannot contribute nearly as much to energy costs or your home’s appraisal value.

Opt for ENERGY STAR Appliances and Water Heaters

Appliances are among the most visible of high-performance home assets and some of the easiest to market, with the right documentation. Fincham recommends replacing your old appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, and faucets with high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR– or WaterSense-labeled models for your kitchen and bathrooms. These programs, run by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prioritize both efficiency and performance, and there are tons of options available for every design sensibility. “One certified appliance won’t add much to your home’s value,” Fincham says. “But if everything is certified? That definitely helps.”

Water heaters may not be as sexy as your high-visibility appliances, but they use about 20% of your home’s energy. That means they have a big impact on home performance and contribute to appraisal value. You can conserve energy and water (and enjoy luxurious showers) with the right high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR-certified unit for your home. For instance, a certified heat pump water heater uses 70% less energy than a standard electric model. Again, a contractor who specializes in high-performance homes can help you choose the option that will save the most energy and add the most value.

Install Smart Home Technology

Among the most attention-attracting assets in the home performance catalog, smart home features include smart locks, lighting, appliances, and, of course, thermostats — plus an increasing number of other devices that put you in control of your home. Whether you’re looking for energy savings, a sense of security, or the perfect temperature when you wake up on a crisp winter morning, smart home technologies bring immediate benefits to you and your family. They also attract homebuyers’ attention. In a 2021 survey by Security.org, 78% of homebuyers indicated that they would be willing to pay more for a home if it had smart technology.

Smart tech definitely contributes to appraisal value, Fincham tells us, but its relative novelty and great variety make it difficult to estimate ROI. That said, you can get a sense of how much it may cost to make your home smarter in this recent article.

How Do You Choose Which Upgrades Are Right For Your Home?

To choose upgrades that will contribute most to your appraisal value and result in a favorable ROI, Fincham suggests you do three things:

Pay Attention to Your Neighbors

“When a nearby home comes up for sale, go to the open house. Read listings on Zillow or other similar websites. See what higher-priced homes have in them,” Fincham says. “Keeping up with the Joneses keeps you up to date on what’s ‘normal’ in your market.” 

And, of course, it will give you lots of design inspiration! But remember, many high-performance features are out of sight, so they’re often left out of listings. That’s one reason Fincham encourages the next step.

Hire an Appraiser to Do a Feasibility Analysis

“If you’re thinking about making substantial improvements, it’s a smart idea to hire an appraiser to do a feasibility analysis while you’re in the planning stage. Do this before you hire any contractors,” Fincham says. “You might think an appraiser can only work for your lender, but they can also work independently for you.”

According to Fincham, your appraiser can analyze different upgrade options and give you an idea of how those upgrades would contribute to your home’s appraisal value based on your market. You’ll then be able to see what upgrades will get you closest to your goal resale value.

Compare Results with Pricing

“Tell contractors what you want to do. Compare their quotes with the appraiser’s numbers,” Fincham says. “If no contractor can do it in a price range that would make it feasible, then it’s time to decide if you will drop this upgrade or wait to make it. Or, if you’ll be in your home 10 to 15 more years, and you’re willing to spend a little over what the appraiser told you, you might decide to make the upgrade anyway with the expectation that the market will catch up by the time you sell.”

Next Step: Build a Home Investment Plan

Once you have your goals set and have done your due diligence, the next step to creating a high-performance home that appraises for more is building a plan. That’s why Pearl created Green Door, an award-winning app that helps you improve, manage, and maintain your home’s performance. Green Door generates customized Home Investment Plans based on your priorities and your existing home assets, then gives you access to thousands of sustainable products and local, vetted contractors to help you complete your upgrade. Watch as your upgrades earn Pearl Points toward a Silver, Gold, or Platinum Certification. And when you’re ready to sell or refinance, request a Pearl Certification, which captures all your home’s high-performing assets and provides you with an appraiser letter and the Appraisal Institute’s Green and Energy Efficient Appraisal Addendum.

An investment in better home performance will benefit your family now and whenever it’s time to refinance or sell. Economics shift and design trends change, but the lasting value of high-performance homes is here to stay. After all, comfort, safety, and health will always be in demand.

How Real Estate Appraisers look at Market Analysis

October 16, 2022

Woody Fincham, SRA, AI-RRS, ASA, RAA Member of RAC

How Real Estate Appraisers look at Market Analysis

To borrow a phrase from my friend, the real estate market has come to that, “Oh Shift!” time again. Nationally markets are tapering and changing. The Federal Reserve has caused quite the change in the market with the interest rate hikes. The local markets that we service are all experiencing a shift, but it has been an odd shift, unlike any that I have every seen in my two decades in the business. While rates have gone up, much of Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley has remained strong when looking at residential single unit demand. Even with the higher rates the shortage of inventory has not allowed prices to start tapering down, yet. Common sense would seem to dictate that downward tapering of values is just a matter of time.

Social media and the mainstream media make a mess of these markets even in the best of times. They do not have the bandwidth to cover local markets, and when you are in a metropolitan statistical area like Charlottesville and Waynesboro/Staunton you get some reporting from the local news but if it is not driven to get online clicks from hyperbole it usually is not worth reporting. National data simply does not apply to the local real estate market and the closest large markets are Richmond and Washington DC. Neither are not great metrics for what our local markets are doing.

I think everyone has heard the old saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” And that is true. We are in the middle of a market transition and exactly how it is transitioning is extremely hard to predict. The best market analysis is always retrospective, as they say, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Until we get past this period over the next few months it may be hard to say definitively what is exactly happening. As an appraiser, it is super important to understand how to gather and analyze relative data.

So, what metrics are worth watching?

  • Inventory levels
  • Absorption rates and marketing times
  • Actual days on market (DOM)
  • Frequency of seller paid concessions
  • Dollar amount of seller paid concessions
  • Sales price to listing price ratios
  • Prevailing interest rates
  • REO and Short Sale Inventory
  • Long term rentals

I compiled some data over the weekend to try and make some sense of how the market is behaving. Marketing time is starting to change. This may just be some seasonality as we have come out of the artificial interest rates of the Covid effect but is still worth noting and watching. Because buying power has diminished due to the interest rates going up it would make sense it is more than just seasonality.

Let us look at one subdivision in particular: Lake Monticello. I chose this one as it is where my wife and I own our home and it is a large subdivision. Data is never in shortage with this location. In this step the home is looked at as a whole and positives and negatives are identified and considered.

The above is a map of the subdivision[1]

Market Analysis

Here we need to identify the market that the subject is located in.  There are three key terms to think of here:

  • Neighborhood
  • Market Area
  • Competitive Market Area

Neighborhood: A group of complementary land uses; a congruous grouping of inhabitants, buildings, or business enterprises[2].

Market Area: The geographic region from which a majority of demand comes and in which the majority of competition is located. Depending on the market, a market area may be further subdivided into components such as primary, secondary, and tertiary market areas, or the competitive market area may be distinguished from the general market area.[3]

Competitive Market Area: The geographic area that encompasses the subject property’s most direct competition; a subset of the market area.[4]

Lake Monticello is a gated planned unit deployment. It really encompasses all three of these terms into one area. But to give some color to the concepts I often say that neighborhoods are groupings of properties that is made up of homes to live in, shopping and retail to buy groceries and household items and access to major commuting corridors to drive to work. I must mention that in rural Virginia markets that if you do not own an automobile for commuting then you are not able to live there. Where is larger MSAs with public transportation and many live-and-work communities that exist, automobiles are not a requirement in every market.

Lake Monticello has a shopping center just outside of the gate that is anchored with a major grocery chain, as well as a pharmacy and miscellaneous professional offices, restaurants, etc. Also around the exterior of the subdivision is another major chain pharmacy more restaurants, petrol stations, a major hardware chain, banks, medical offices, and professional offices. In short, the subdivision is its own neighborhood. It would also be seen as its own market area as well.

We do need to further delineate the market as the subdivision does contain five distinct sub-markets or competitive market areas. We have the normal subdivision lots, golf-front lots, lots in the acres section, lake-front lots and the condos. We are going took at the regular subdivision lots. Let us start by searching for Lake Monticello detached homes and consider all data for the last 3 years. Wea re also excluding any new construction or lender owned homes. We get back 879 homes, pulling out all homes that are not normal subdivision lots we have reduced the data down to 734 homes.

Let us look at the overall data on a grid and use a trend line to see what the first pool of data is suggesting for price metrics.

In this chart we are showing that the market is still improving on a median sales price per month amount. I am not a huge fan of doing it this way as the the sales price is not looked at applied toa comparable unit. In this market price per square foot is a good metric to utilize.

Using a comparable unit that is dependable gives a better detail of what is happening in the market.

I mentioned earlier that common sense should dictate that higher interest rates should be a cause of values to start tapering downwards. So instead of stopping here, we must look at what else may be going on in the market because these charts show just a facet an done that may prove to be misleading in and of itself.

Let us take a gander at inventory. First let us see what the sold inventory has been doing from a DOM perspective.

At first glance, it looks great.  But look at the far-right side. Things are ticking upwards.

This chart deals with actives and it is starting to tell a less than positive story compared to the sold DOM. It is not horrible as it still indicates less than a month, but it does show an increasing time on market.  The blue bars are the competitive market area, and the gold bars are the market area.

This chart showing the actives and actives interacting. Again, it is not alarming as of this blog, but it is starting to show an uptick. It shows less than a month (0.9) of market time to absorb present inventory, but it is a step towards a negative space.

This chart is an interesting one. It shows the median list to sales price ratio. The two groupings towards the right that are the taller of the bars are indicative of sales closing for prices higher than they were listed for. The interesting part of this is that both groupings that I called out are showing seasonality in the market. We just came out of the highest recent time of high list to sales price ratios. The two highest bars were 104% and 105% respectively.

*Remember that the blue bars are the competing market data where the gold is the overall neighborhood. If you recall the gold bars include the higher priced sections of the market such as the lake front sections, golf course lots and the acre sections. The regular section also has a higher number of investors seeking out rentals for their respective portfolios. While I am not going to break the seal on the rental analysis in this blog, it is coming in the next one. I did a look at the relationship of leasing increases in relationship to the sales market. Stay tune bat-fans, same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Seller paid concessions can be informative of market shifts as well. This chart shows the frequency in which sellers are paying closing costs. The chart above does show a positive as it shows that the frequency of closing costs being paid by sellers has continued to decline. That is good for a seller’s market. If this starts to increase it means that the buyers are gaining leverage in the market.

This is the other seller paid concessions analysis that must be looked at in concert with the previous chart. This shows the actual percentage of sales price that when sellers do pay closing costs how much they are paying. This chart agrees with the previous one.  One may look at it and say that there is a trend starting to uptick, but you must keep in mind that the trendlines will move more in that direction in the chart as 7 months ago it showed the lowest-in-recent-memory. So, a return to normal would indicate an increase, but until more time passes, we would be premature to assume anything quite yet.  This chart is a great barometer of a market transitioning. Frequency of concessions may not increase right away, but when those sellers that closing deals start paying more on each deal, I think we will start seeing a true downwards taper of value happening.

Interest rates and REO inventory both add to this type of analysis, but we have few REO sales in this market presently. I will offer that my firm has seen an uptick recently in pre-foreclosure valuations, but they are still not of any volume that would impact the overall market for arms-length-sales. Obviously, interest rates are influencing the market, but I think the analysis that we just went through is showing the start of what the interest rate increases are causing in the residential single unit market, at least in Lake Monticello, VA.

Reconciling the Data

So what do I think is happening in this market? I am positive that it is shifting towards being less of a buyer’s market. Buyers are losing leverage that much is obvious, but with inventory not yet reacting in any significant manner I think we are headed towards a soft reset. Much of that will be decided by Powell and the Fed. He presently has his Volker hat on and we will have to see how it shakes out. In regards to how I would address this is my appraisal report?

The data shows that the market is obviously increasing, but further analysis does show that the premium has cracks starting to appear. I would not adjust comps at the top most indicator upwards but I would likely temper them upwards with some restraint based on what my data supports. I absolutely would discuss the market conditions and how much ambiguity may be playing into it. As a professional I must say what I see, and I see a market that is transitioning. That is the story I must convey to the underwriter if i am writing a report for a mortgage transaction.

For the appraisers reading this, not addressing the transition would not be advised. I do enough reviews to see what my local peers are doing and many simply avoid any significant market analysis beyond checking boxes. Not stating the obvious in your report will result in issues if and when you are asked to discuss a possible buy back situation with Fannie or Freddie. Their market analysis tools are not just good but some of the best that I have ever seen. If you avoid the analysis at any significant level they will see it.

Remember that we must discuss (summary) the quality of the data that we, the quantity of the data that we have and each and every method and technique used to form our opinions. You have to support what you are doing in a credible manner. Just checking a box does not accomplish this.

Appraisers: Use Your Tools

This is just part of what goes into a residential market analysis for an appraisal report. More is needed to complete this part of the appraisal process, but this was a notable example of what a competent appraiser is looking at when they are doing their jobs correctly. I know it seems like an arduous task and it really is when you do not do this type of work as part of regular assignments, but we do this type of analysis efficiently. Through things like Excel and some other software, we can-do real-time analysis in productive ways. The old days of an appraiser holding up a wet finger to detect the direction of the wind has gone the way of double stick tape and map rub-on stickers.


Stay tuned for the next part of this where I am going to dig into the rental market and the relationship it has with the sales side. The proliferation of investors buying rental units to hold in portfolio was only bolstered in the recent few years, and many appraisers unfortunately ignore it. I think the relationship between the two sectors of the single unit residential market is worthy of analysis and inclusion in the appraisal process.

[1] ESRI

[2] The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal 7th Edition. The Appraisal Institute 2022.

[3] The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal 7th Edition. The Appraisal Institute 2022

[4] The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal 7th Edition. The Appraisal Institute 2022.

The Value of Community


It has been way too long since my last in-person class.  I am on the plane returning to my home and reflecting on the experience from a class on December 11, 2021.  Being an instructor, I am very happy when I am in the classroom, but this one was special. It is always great to see colleagues, especially after so many months away from the experience. The room was full of many local Chicago area appraisers as well as several Appraisal Institute instructors auditing the course.  With Sandra Adomatis, SRA, the incoming Vice-President for 2022, and Craig Steinley, MAI, SRA, the incoming President-Elect of the Appraisal Institute being there, it was an opportunity for members and potential members to interact with leadership directly.

This particular class, “Valuation Overview of Accessory Dwelling Units’, was the premier offering.  Seeing my mentor and the seminar developer, Sandra Adomatis, SRA is always a treat, and she did a wonderful job as always presenting the material and leading the discussions.  The course, like all Appraisal Institute offerings, is a cumulation of hard work by many people.  The review team, which was comprised of: Dawn M. Molitor-Gennrich, SRA, AI-RRS Alan Hummel, SRA Maria A. Nucci, SRA, AI-RRS Maureen B. Sweeney, SRA, AI-RRS Stephanie Coleman, MAI, SRA, AI-GRS, AI-RRS reviewed the seminar for USPAP content. The team did a great job covering a nuanced topic in residential valuation. 

The class does a great job of covering GSE and agency requirements for dealing with a sometimes-difficult valuation premise.  This being a frequently seen valuation issue in my market areas, it was a great review and a welcome refresher for me on the preferences and requirements that appraisers face when valuing accessory dwelling units. This is certainly worth the money for needed continuing education credits.

While the class was great, the company was better.  It’s always great seeing colleagues and dear friends, especially after a long covid-induced isolation. Seeing many colleagues in class but also being able to socialize outside of class was great.  Being we were all in Chicago and the wonderful Maureen Sweeney is always the most gracious host and ambassador for her city, several of us gathered for dinner afterwards to include a dear friend Byron Miller, SRA. AI-RRS, RAA.  The conversations were a range of levity to some serious profession related topics, but my favorite part was the fact that most of us at that table share one thing in common, giving back. Four of the five people sitting at the table are instructors and professionals that volunteer much of our time trying to maintain and improve upon a profession that we all care about so deeply. 

Looking around the table, I realized how fortunate I was to be back among my tribe.  People that are my professional peers, people from whom I have learned so much.  People that will always answer a phone call or email to help in any way, not just from me, but from most any colleague in need.  I know that I needed this, but I encourage all of you reading this to get out to an in-person class as you can.  Covid has been an especially isolating era for all, and it has taken away one of the most important things a membership organization fosters: fellowship.

The class was great, and I suggest that anyone wanting to get some meaningful CE credits to try and catch the course as it comes around.  I hope this post finds everyone as well as can be expected and that the new year brings new opportunities and successes to you all. 

Real Value


As real estate appraisers we can have some tough assignments.  It can be a tough job, that if you practice ethically, can take a toll on you.  Folks are often upset, with compliments coming few and far between most especially in mortgage use transactions. With that in mind, I wanted to start sharing some stories, some from me and hopefully, many from you, my readers that showcase some of the positives that we see and participate in as real property valuers.  I am calling this series Real Value. 

A few days ago, my last appointment was a tough one.  I was doing a luxury estate and the owner and his wife, an elderly couple, were there.  The husband walked around with me while I did my exterior inventory. It is a big home, so it took a while.  As we are going in, he stops and says,

“If my wife says anything out of the way please understand that she has had a stroke and suffers from dementia.”

I replied,” that’s Okay, thanks for telling me, I understand as when my mom passed a few years ago she had stage two dementia. “

So, we go through the home and the wife is in the master bedroom.  We exchange introductions and some pleasantries. As soon as I walked into their en suite bath I heard her ask her husband,” Where’s Ripley? “

He replied,” Ripley is dead. ” (Ripley as I found out in a few minutes, was their 17-year-old dog)

She was surprised at this news. She became upset and asked why she had not been told about this.  He explained patiently to her that she had been told and that he has been dead for a couple of months.

Of course, this upset her, but having seen this in my own home with my mother, I knew it is all that you can do in this situation.

It brought back memories of my mom who passed with stage-2 dementia, and when we were out of ear shot, I could see he was a bit rattled by it.  I stopped and told him a bit about my mom, and how hard it was to see my parent go through the confusion of this horrible disease.  That I could only imagine how painful and hard it must be for him. He was visibly relieved as we talked further, and I think that gentleman needed to talk.

This gentleman is a retired, very successful businessman.  He had to be made of sturdy stuff to accomplish what he has in his career. The home and the three exotic cars he has represents how economically successful he was in his life.  The pictures of him with officials and captains of commerce support that as well. The many pictures of him and his wife together shows their long-term commitment to each other. The ache I saw in his demeanor supported that, too.

Why am I sharing this? Well, it’s not to feel some sense of accomplishment, because I don’t.  I just want folks to take time to be mindful and kind to others. No matter how far we climb in life, we are all frail beings.  We all end up in the same place.  It never hurts to share love, compassion and empathy to others.  In fact, it’s quite rewarding to see that this person was happy to share and talk.  I may not have done much but listen, but sometimes that all we can do.

Sometimes my job can be surprising in good ways.

Have a great day everyone.

For Your Consideration, A Review

In light of the recent, or rather ongoing, attacks on several members and staff at the Appraisal Institute (AI), I wanted to offer some perspective on the accusations and conjecture that has been offered over the last couple of weeks.  As the author of these blogs is an appraiser, and this deals with the largest real property valuation organization in the country, I thought it may be apropos to style this blog after an appraisal review.  While the main premise of this blog deals with a serious subject, applying it to an appraisal review will let us look at using our appraisal analysis (some parody is implied).  Obviously, a blog is not an appraisal, and some normal parts of a normal appraisal review will not translate well to reviewing a blog. 


The purpose of the appraisal review is to develop an opinion of quality for the referenced appraisal report (blog).   The appraisal review was developed, and the report was prepared in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. No opinion of value is offered as the reviewer is only performing a compliance review and is not a value related review. 

Report under review:  https://bit.ly/379q8Bw

Date of Report Under Review: 07/19/2021          

Date of Review Report: 08/02/2021

Identification of the Problem to be Solved: This review is intended to assist the client and intended users in understanding the development and reporting of the market value report under review.  There is a second tier to this assignment which includes the reviewer’s consultation. 

Client and Intended user(s): the appraisal profession and stakeholders thereof

Original Appraisal (OA) States: FOJs are resume builders only, actively running the once-proud organization into the ground for their own personal enrichment.

Reviewer notes that this is anecdotal and has no support other than personal opinion.  Reviewer is familiar with many of the leadership and committee members and knows many that are volunteering their time to contribute positively to the profession.  As in any organization there are likely some that want to climb the ladder but that is human nature and inclusive to every organization.

OA States: They don’t represent diversity, especially the actions of all the women who signed the sham petition process to push for Sandy because it will result in less diversity – remember that the CEO scuttled the diversity committee run by Bob Stevens in 2015 because it was a threat to his hold on power.

Reviewer notes that the fallacy shown in the analysis renders a significant concern to the credibility of the report. Applying a test of reasonableness, the reviewer has noted that the member running with the petition, Sandra Adomatis, is in fact a woman; she is also a designated SRA member; she is primarily a residential specialist. How can a woman that is an SRA that is a prominent and respected residential appraiser not increase diversity? The organization is mostly male, mostly designated MAI and non-residential in practice. It would seem that including Mrs. Adomatis would be a benefit to the organization, in light of the fact that there has not been a solely designated SRA president since 2003.  The last female the organization had as president happened in 2012. It seems the techniques and methods in this analysis are applying adjustments that are based in nothing beyond fabrication. It would be unfair to not also mention that three of the individuals mentioned as part of the alleged petition signers were on the diversity committee, and by all accounts have put considerable time and effort into it.

Issues with Narrative in the OA

The report is mostly full of conjecture and ad hominem attacks. The persistent personal attacks in this report and many other previous and a subsequent report are aimed squarely at one individual.  The repeated frequency of the attacks may indicate a strong personal bias.  Personal bias inhibits objective analysis.

The term “sham petition process” is used over and over.  A petition is allowed under the bylaws in the organization.  Noting it as a sham is not factual and is, at best, disingenuous.

Issues with the Development Process

All data in the report is indirectly obtained information.  Meaning that there is zero empirical support for the repeated accusations.  The author of the OA is not member of the organization. The only information that is used is coming from a board member(s) and/or members with direct links to board members.  Keep in mind that some information being disclosed is likely under executive session and as such is questionable from the start as there is not honor in breaking confidence that was agreed upon.  The assumptions made here are not credible as the assumptions are only made to support the opinion of the author of the review, meaning that no diligence was attempted to vet the information. Also keep in mind that board members have a fiduciary responsibility to the organization and participating in such activity may very well be a crime.

While the reviewer has no knowledge directly of the members in leadership that are sharing the information with the author of the OA, it has become increasing obvious who is leaking the information as the information is often wrong or is being twisted to such a degree that known personal opinions are shaped to support the intended narrative.  The author of the OA gets misinformation and appears to further spin the information to support the chosen narrative.   In the end, many of the things written in the narrative are patently false or intentionally made up.

It is also obvious that a well-known designated member is part of the misinformation campaign and is more than likely feeding information that they receive from a member of the executive committee to the author of the OA. The timing of the information making into these reports and what they are trying to support indicates specific individuals. As an example, the direct attacks of board members from Region Five in the report are a result of a failed floor petition for Region Five third director recently. The member that ran and lost is part of the group of members that are part of the misinformation campaign spearheaded by these reports.  It is somehow being spun that the two board members caused the floor petition to fail. This all occurred just before the board members were named in a report. Is it a coincidence that they are now being attacked and named as a part of the “Hateful Eight”?  Not a single representative from Region Five indicate that the Chair and Vice Chair were anything but fair through the election process. It would be of note that the reviewer is a member of Region Five and has confirmed this with several sources.

And while the report states the “national sham petition process” is somehow wrong for the national board of directors, here the report jumps to the opposite stance that the regional nominating committee was wrong, and a petition was somehow okay there.  What was the difference? Perhaps it was who was involved and not the reported issues with the petition process. It seems more and more like these reports are being fueled in part by a desire to affect the leadership process within the AI. Or to support specific candidates that are being pushed by a group of influential members. It is along this strong apparent bias that the OA seems to gather its premise.

The narrative also indicates that the CEO of the organization is somehow appointing members to positions within committees.  That is not possible.  The CEO cannot appoint anyone per the bylaws.  Committee appointments are done by the president. The organization is made up of appraisers, and it is normal for groups of appraisers to disagree on even the simplest of things.  The skeptical and contrarian nature of appraisers would seem almost impossible to control for years and years.  In fact, there is a rich history of discourse and disagreement.

The direct attack on Trevor Hubbard is patently false.  The reviewer has worked with Trevor directly in a few different capacities.  Mr. Hubbard has shown nothing but support to SRA members. Many members have reached out to leadership over these false statements, some accepting the character assassination and some outraged that at the fiction of the claim.  I would suspect the real impetus of naming Hubbard in this report is because Hubbard openly supported the petition last election cycle and likely upset the same group previously mentioned and has now been singled out as an attempt to punish his autonomy.

That the report singles out any members as part of the “hateful Eight” in itself is a severe blow to any credibility in the report.  Three or four people know all the names that signed the petition.  That would be the CEO, two members of the legal counsel and possibly the person that started the process.   It is quite possible that by specifically naming any individuals in the report that those singled out did not sign the petition and have been publicly impugned with no evidence.  This is concerning as another board member was singled out last year and attacked through an internal process triggered by members simply for being willing to discuss the possibility of merely being willing to consider the merits of a petition given some unusual circumstances. 

Further credibility is stretched thinner in a subsequent follow up or addendum published on July 30, 2021, https://bit.ly/3lknFwz .  The OA lists four people that are key players for the petition process.  Once again ad hominin personal attacks and express personal bias is shown in delivering opinion with no substance attached to it.  For anyone to attack specific people without any direct knowledge of any of the events is disingenuous at best, complete dishonesty at the worst. 

In particular, the attack on Stephen Roach is less opinion and more school yard bully in the delivery.  The name calling and negative nicknames is beneath professional conduct. The attempt to impugn Mr. Roach’s name without so much as attempting to speak with Mr. Roach is misleading.  I confirmed that the author of the OA did not speak with or attempt to vet anything with Mr. Roach.  The OA misstates the number of committees that Mr. Roach actually sits on. The reviewer did confirm that Mr. Roach did not lobby a single board member in 2020 or 2021 to sign the petitions. The OA also states that the CEO rewards Mr. Roach for his service to the CEO.  It is not possible for the CEO to appoint members to committees, that is solely given to the President. In a post submission update to the attack on Mr. Roach, the report was changed.  In the original version it erroneously stated that Mr. Roach also sign the petition.  This is materially false as no one but board of directors members can sign such a petition.  

Reviewer’s Reconciliation

The OA is free of any relevant facts and subsists only on conjecture and fabricated conspiracy theory.  The report is obvious bias in intent and delivery. The lack of support in the OA makes the report significantly misleading. While empirical support lacks for the review to state that the OA is supporting the wishes of a small group of members with their own design on changing the leadership, it seems to be a likely outcome.

In the end, end users of the report would be best serviced to dismiss the report and follow up with direct interaction with the leadership.  The lack of direct involvement and discussion with the key participants in leadership removes all credibility in the OA.   The gaslighting techniques being used in the development and reporting sections of the report are not recognized techniques in honest discourse. The report is also an attempt to intimidate specific members and a staff member.  By using the techniques and methods in the OA, the report actually does what it rails against in the accusations being made against the CEO.    

Reviewer’s Consultation

The OA is written to attempt to discredit the organization and seems to be written from a place of ill intent and deceptive narrative.  In the spirit of consultation to the end users of the review, it would be best to confirm the information with those that can confirm the information presented in the OA.  The reviewer has spoken with more than a dozen participants in leadership at the AI.  Some are supporters of the CEO, and some are not. If end users allow such a piece to influence their opinion of the organization, then it is worth following up with the organization and people within it.

Three of the individuals specifically attacked in the OA offered these two statements to the reviewer. I have paraphrased some of the comments to remove direct references and to fit into the pseudo appraisal review theme.

“I am concerned for the author of the OA.  While I am put off by the comments and patently false writings, more than anything I wish the author some way of healing and getting the help that they need. It is obvious that the author has some personal issues that are challenging their well-being.”

“I was very angry at first and hurt but quickly came to a peaceful place with it. I simply prayed and continue to pray for the well-being of the author.  The author is obviously unwell. “

“’I find it really sad that the author can completely make up statements.  The lack of knowledge about who can and cannot sign a petition clearly shows that the author is grasping straws for backup to the one sided and false accusations”

Discourse and debate are great things when they are focused and deal with issues.  When the discourse devolves into ad hominem personal attacks, nothing is gained from the exercise.  The reviewer has spoken to a few external stakeholders that have mentioned that they have begun reading some of the OA but stopped when it became obvious that it was an intent to besmirch specific individuals.  But there has also been several examples of members and non-members supporting the attacks, some even claiming the work to be spot on.  

It is certainly within anyone’s rights to form an opinion about whoever or whatever that they like.  It is also within the rights of those being attacked in such a libelous manner to seek legal and civil remedies.   With the upcoming national board of directors meeting occurring in Orlando, FL later this month, there is another online push to follow the false narratives published in the OA. As most of the internal and external stakeholders are appraisers, it is suggested that objective analysis is the most important thing used when deciding to engage in the process.  Emotion, whether overly negative or positive, will only bias the analysis.  If the OA is the only source that compels an appraiser to interact in the process, it would be best practice to reach out to leadership and others in the know to help balance the analysis.

Post Commentary

I am a member of the Appraisal Institute. I have served in several positions of leadership over several years.  By being a member, I am certain to have certain bias regarding the organization.  Some of the bias that I can recognize is both positive and negative. No organization is perfect. I struggle with the organizations lack residential membership. But I have chosen to interact in the process to try and change some of the issues that I have identified as threats and weaknesses.  My attempt in writing and publishing this blog post is to appeal to folks that have a stake in the organization to please think for yourself and to verify what is presented.  Just because something is published does not make it true.  When tearing down someone of something one must ask, “what is motivating the attack?”

There is usually more to see than just what is presented.  I understand that I am also walking a fine line as my blog does reflect my personal views on things.  But I think the key difference in my blog and the blog in review, is that I have spoken with and interacted with everyone that I could to verify information and I have sourced the data from multiple sources.  The few areas of conjecture in my blog that I have written are done with careful consideration.

In defense of the quotes that I used from the three people that were attacked in the blog under review, I struggled with whether they were appropriate to include. In the end, my decision to use the quotes was to allow some platform for them to speak out.  My one critique of the Appraisal Institute up to this point related to this attack is the radio silence that has come from them.  I get that an attack on the organization is something that should be shrugged off, but the attack on members should merit some action from the organization.  Now we have volunteer members and their names attached to the attacks, and that is something the organization should not take lightly.   

As always, thanks for reading and go think for yourself.  My blog is my opinion, and it shouldn’t be yours.  Go do the research then formulate your ideas.