I have known Creighton Cross, MAI for a decade. We met when I sold my firm in Virginia Beach, VA and moved to Knoxville, TN to work with David Braun, MAI, SRA, AI-GRS. I wanted to focus on my designation and wanted to get away from the city. When I arrived there Creighton was welcoming and I found out we shared some things. We both played soccer and watched it d for a past time, we both loved valuation and laughing. We did not agree on college football…he is a Vols fan, and I am from Virginia. I hope you all enjoy getting to know Creighton.
VN: How long have you been in the profession?
CC: I got into the profession in January 2005. So I am working on my 14th year.
VN: What is your favorite thing about the profession?
CC: The people we meet during inspections probably. I have encountered some of the most interesting and lovely people in this profession that I would have never had the opportunity to meet. I love everything about real estate as well and it is so different throughout East TN. One day it may be a $6 million dollar lake home or mountain home, while the next day it could be an 800 sf modular home built for the Manhattan project during WWII. https://www.manhattanprojectvoices.org/ We have an entire town built around these homes, or we may be appraising a new craft brewery or marina.
VN: Who are your mentors and idols within the profession?
CC: In addition to you, I have to certainly mention David Braun, MAI, SRA, AI-GRS. He literally pulled me off a showroom floor selling motorcycles after college and gave me a chance. Like a father, he had helped to shape me and guide me in the profession. He has taught and trained people from all over, and has always been so ahead of his time with technology, Scope of Work Theory, methodology and the vision for the profession. I am blessed to have been trained by David. Otto Spence, MAI is another great teacher, visionary and motivator. When I would have down times or frustrations, Otto would be on the other end of the line encouraging me to keep going and to constantly be working toward Designation. I certainly look up to so many people in the profession, YOU have been a great friend, colleague, and advocate for our profession, Steve Roach, Leslie Sellers, Stephanie Coleman, Jim Atwood, Jim Amorin, Ben Davidson, Rick Hiton, Sandra Adomatis, Tom Munizzo, TJ McCarthy, Maureen Sweeney, Frank Lucco, Mark Verrett, Pat O’Connor, Pete Gallo, Rick Borgis, and so many more. I would take up the entire page literally. I really look up to those who have blessed the profession with teaching, complex theory, advanced techniques or that have taken the time to share their knowledge with the profession!
VN: What are some of your passions inside the profession?
CC: I love to train and teach. I am a bit of a workaholic (Clinically Diagnosed J)…but if I could just teach, train and motivate others I would do that. I truly love the profession, and enjoy trying to bring the appraisers together for a common purpose in advancement and professionalism. ((omit: I believe we need to bring Sexy Back to the profession) (Make Appraisal Great Again) LOL.)
VN: What are some passions of yours outside of the profession?
CC: I have to say my family. Abby has been by my side both personally and professionally for more than 13 years. She is always encouraging, my kids are often my guiding light when I am frustrated or down, I have photos of them around the office as a reminder of why I do what I do with the integrity I do it with. I do not take the “protect the public trust” lightly. I truly believe that I have the responsibility to support my opinions and protect the public, my family, etc. I love the lake, travel, flying. I have been trying to get my pilots license for years and Appraisals keep getting in the way.
VN: Where do you see the profession in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?
CC: In three years I believe we will see the profession in a stronger light than we are currently. I believe there is going to be high demand for appraisal practice due to the pending “correction” in the market I believe will occur around 2020. That seems to bring us back into the perspective as important in the eyes of the public. 5 years, I believe we will be much more “big data” driven, automated, and will have unique specialty practices, where our analytical skillset is more applicable with less inspection and “Window Time”. 10 years….I must use an extraordinary assumption here, but I believe the profession will look significantly different. I believe the regulations will be the most significant difference. The real estate space will likely be vastly different, based on interest rates and the continual changing technology platforms. I believe there will be a significant decline in appraisers, due mostly to attrition from age. That is why I am such a proponent of appraisers taking on trainees. I feel there is a need for this generation of appraisers to give their knowledge, expertise and work ethic back to the next generation. If not, the profession will not be sustainable, outside of specialty practice long term. We must adapt, evolve and create demand for our services and set ourselves apart from other “valuation” providers.
VN: What is one thing about your personal business that you are most proud?
CC: I bought David Braun’s company in 2009-10. I thankfully did not run his successful, 30 year old company into the ground!!! I have continued to grow and expand since acquisition and have created national partnerships. I have been extremely proud of the people I have worked with and trained. We had so many trainee’s come through and continue to come through and many have gotten their designations, started their own businesses, etc. Rusty Rolen, MAI, Seth Rohling, MAI, AI-GRS, Jason Blankenship, MAI….just to name a few that were able to get designated early. They all worked so hard to get to where they are. I love to give back…through Appraisal Institute Leadership opportunities, Appraisal Coalition opportunities…That makes me proud when we have a part in Appraisal Liability reform, or helping to have an impact on Appraisal Waivers or LDAC experiences. The people we have worked with, from all organizations and around the country has been super rewarding.
VN: If you could change one thing about your business model what would it be?
CC: We need to be more digitally driven in my office and in my model. As much as I feel that we are cutting edge with systems, I do not have any appraisers using tablets in the field for inspections. That’s just one of the items I wish I could alter for efficiency. The tools are there to help all appraisers become for efficient and I just need to adapt, evolve and get to working on that.
VN: What are some present goals for you and what you do are doing in the valuation space?
CC: I am wanting to grow our company. I am looking to hire/partner with like minded people in surrounding states to be able to provide our clients with the greatest level of service possible. It is a passion I have in meeting people and creating a network, systems and a TEAM. I would love to start teaching, and have some opportunities for more volunteer service with AI and other national organizations.
VN: If you could change one thing in valuation, what would it be?
CC: Man…just one thing…..I’m torn, so I am giving you two. 1) I would eliminate the maximum number of trainees we can have or increase it at least. In TN it is 3. I believe that there is a need and there are supervisors out there that could take more on and create amazing, qualified and excellent appraisers. There would need to be limitations to this I know, but I believe it is restraint of trade in some regards. It should be a business decision for the number of trainee’s one can take. Other professions are not limited on the number of apprentices, Paralegals, dental hygienist, etc. they may hire or staff they train, so It frustrates me. I have had to turn away or refer excellent candidates away before when we are full of trainee’s. That is unfortunate. Some just give up when they cannot find a supervisor and that is a poor reflection on the profession. 2) I believe (non-USPAP) valuation products should be legal in all 50 states. Our clients have a need for a product that does not and should not meet USPAP…For FRT work, it is understandable, but there are times it is not and should not be necessary. Unfortunately, Appraisers are hand-cuffed into meeting USPAP or turning work down many times. Our clients that want and trust our opinions are then stuck with providing an internal evaluation or BPO type product that is frankly less qualified than an appraiser’s opinion. No matter what anyone says, it takes time, and creates hurdles to meet USPAP (When properly and completely done). There needs to be alternative standards that allow for appraisers to provide our valuation services outside of USPAP in the lending space specifically. Evaluations in TN is a great example of this type of service, but this needs to be nationally considered in some fashion. It is in the best interest of the public and the clients to have a qualified, professional appraiser provide any and all opinions of value, period.
VN: What advice would you give someone just getting in the profession?
CC: GET INVOLVED. Thankfully with Social Media this is a much easier thing to do than it used to be…but get involved with your local chapter of the Appraisal Institute, ASA/NAIFA, NAA, Coalitions, IRWA, AGA, RAC…etc. Go to Classes…DO NOT TAKE QUALIFYING EDUCATION ONLINE….In TN it is mandatory that all QE is in class, but I know that is not the case in much of the country, and I believe that is wrought with trouble. The most education I ever received was talking with my peers in class, at break, lunch, after class. It is so rewarding to be able to get others perspectives from around the country and you make career friendships you can rely on for future reference.
VN: This last one is for you to discuss or talk about whatever you would like.
CC: I want to thank you for your leadership to the profession and time with this blog. I know your heart is tremendously advocating for the Appraisal Profession and I respect and admire that. It is truly people like you that are making our profession stronger. I want to make sure that I have clarified throughout this interview as well that we are in the Appraisal Profession….not the Appraisal Industry as well…..You and I feel strongly about the use of these terms, as they are not synonymous.
There you have it folks. Creighton is a great appraiser and has been a friend of mine for a decade. I have always admired him for being a strong family man and his willingness to be an innovator with his business.