Valuer’s Dozen: Rachel Massey

 

Rachel Massey, SRA, AI-RRS, IFA and a member of RAC, is not just a colleague but a friend.  I have now known Rachel for at least 5 years.  We have written many blogs together and share conversations via telephone many times a year.  Rachel is a well-respected residential appraiser.  She cares deeply about the profession and is always willing to try and help whether it’s with a simple question from a colleague on social media or volunteering her time with various appraisal and real estate organizations.

I hope you all enjoy learning more about my colleague and friend, Rachel Massey:

 

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Courtesy of Rachel Massey

VN:  How long have you been in the profession?

RM: 29-years and counting.

 

VN: What is your favorite thing about the profession?

RM: Solving problems. I really enjoy looking at what the problem to be solved is and tucking in and doing so.

 

VN: Who are your mentors and idols within the profession?

RM: My early mentors were a handful of local SRAs, Jim Miner, Tim Somers and Marlene Consiglio, who all were willing to spend the time helping me understand the process and what I needed to do to solve problems. Recent mentors and idols include Denis DeSaix, George Hatch, Maureen Sweeney and countless others, all of whom are willing to provide time and expertise to assist others, and to do so without judgement and without leading the appraiser to feel inferior. To me, this is the mark of a true mentor, and true professional.

 

VN: What are some of your passions inside the profession?

Writing, review, and relocation appraisal work. If I could figure out a way to make a living as a writer, I would strongly consider it, but short of that, I have found an abiding passion for doing review work, as well as relocation work. Now if I could just marry the two, and combine it with writing, then my appraisal world would be complete 😊

 

VN: Where do you see the profession in 3 years?  5 years?  10 years?

RM: There is no doubt that the mortgage appraisal side is changing. Technological advances are everywhere, including the valuation side, and unless appraisers step forward and provide something that cannot be provided by an algorithm, we are likely to have a lessened role in the future, even within three years. That said, if the market melts down again, I see us back in the role of truly being the eyes and the ears of our clients.

We, as a profession, need to be able to tell our customers and clients exactly what we see and what we have analyzed, without the fear of being removed from panels and turned into the state licensing boards because people do not like our answers. If we present reasoned, supportable analysis in a manner that is easy to understand, we should be valued by those who hire us, regardless of whether they like our opinion of value or not. In order to continue to be a profession, we have got to be able to be honest and forthright without losing business. This is an ongoing problem with the field, that has not lessened due to changes after the Great Recession.

So, in short, we could continue being viable if we collectively have a backbone, and if not, we are likely to go the way of travel agencies.

 

VN: What is one thing about your personal business that you are most proud?

RM: My seminal achievements personally have been obtaining my SRA designation and becoming an AQB Certified USPAP Instructor. Both taught me a tremendous amount about the valuation process, and about critical thinking.

 

VN: If you could change one thing about your business model what would it be?

RM: It would be to marry the passions I have into a perfect job. That would be to be a lead appraiser with a relocation company, writing the occasional review within the appraisal and relocation industry, and writing guidance and doing education within the organization. Otherwise I am very happy with my current trajectory as a post-funding reviewer for a mortgage lender.

 

VN:  What are some present goals for you and what you do are doing in the valuation space?

RM: My current goals revolve around more teaching and developing of small educational offerings, writing articles and being available to help others. Immediate goals include learning about Green Valuation, something I see as upcoming, although it has not hit my area with any significance yet, it will and I need to be prepared.

 

VN:   If you could change one thing in valuation, what would it be?

RM: Quality over quantity. Slow down a bit and do not cut corners and be rewarded for going beyond the minimums. In the mortgage arena, good enough is good enough. No one wants poor quality, but there is no reward for excellence within much of the mortgage field (there are exceptions, but those tend towards the private client group realm). This is not solely an appraisal issue, but is an issue with business in general, where good enough is rewarded over excellence due to time and cost restraints. I wish I could change that, but it is not likely feasible, or desired.

 

VN:  What advice would you give someone just getting in the profession?

RM: Be a sponge and soak up what everyone has to say. Do not be discouraged and surround yourself with those whom you admire. Try not to sink into negativity and try always to do your best work. Be proud of what you do, and let that pride speak through your written words, and through your professionalism in the field.

 

VN: This last one is for you to discuss or talk about whatever you would like.

RM: Here I would like to make a plea to all appraisers to get involved in supporting the field. There are multiple organizations that are working on behalf of appraisers, some national and established, others state grass roots organizations. There are so many different avenues to get involved in the profession and to help it, that no matter what we are doing, something will fit. Just get involved, and while doing so, help everyone you can. Do not denigrate other appraisers or organizations. Just get involved in whatever way you can. This is an honorable and valuable profession and it needs all of us to be involved in advancing it. Doing so will benefit the public, and since appraisal is about protecting the public trust, we owe it to not only ourselves, but to everyone.

 

Editor’s Note:

There you have it, folks.

I want to emphasize Rachel’s last point.  Get Involved.  The amount of negative comments and trying to put one organization over another is not productive.  Find an organization that you like.  Hopefully the organizations out there will also start working together rather than trying to prove their worth is greater than any others.  Get plugged in and contribute.  We are a small profession but an important one.  The more divisive we become the more easily controlled we become by the users of our services.

Valuer’s Dozen, The Skapinetz

I am starting a new series for Valuation Nation, called The Valuer’s Dozen.  It is a spotlight piece on individual appraisers that are of note to the profession. I am excited that our very first spotlight will be an appraiser out the Atlanta, Georgia MSA.  Mark Skapinetz.  Mark has become quite the celebrity within the residential space over the last couple of years.  He started and administrates a very popular Facebook page, called 100% Real Estate Appraisers.  This is a well run private group that allows appraisers to share information.  Recently, Mark has also helped found Appraiser Fest, which is a new conference that is happening this November in San Antonio.  Welcome, Mark!!

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Courtesy of Mark Skapinetz

VN:  How long have you been in the profession?

MS: I have been in the profession for 16-years.  I Started in New Jersey and I now practice in Georgia.

 

VN: What is your favorite thing about the profession?

MS: I like the ability to see how others live, see homes I could only dream of living in.  I like the flexibility I have and being able to work when I want and how hard I want to work.

 

VN: Who are your mentors and idols within the profession?

MS: I started in the business with George Stiuso in New Jersey as well as Jeffrey Michaels in New Jersey.  They both taught me a lot to get started with.  As far as idols I don’t have any, but I really look up to Jonathan Miller, Lori Noble, Ryan Lundquist, Phil Crawford, (You too, Woody) and Greg Wilkenson. All of them have contributed to where I am today, and all have different skill sets.  Its taking a little of everyone that has made me a better appraiser and a better person.

 

VN: What are some of your passions inside the profession?

MS: I love meeting new people and talking to them.  I’m very much a people person.  I like driving and exploring new areas and trying new places to eat and or trying new fun things in these areas.

 

VN: What are some passions of yours outside of the profession?

MS: Playing Softball, taking my dog Destiny to Dock Diving Competitions, traveling with the wife, and watching all sports.  I’ve recently gotten into Blogging and I am starting a new podcast.

 

VN: Where do you see the profession in 3 years?  5 years?  10 years?

MS: Honestly, I see turmoil if things don’t change.  So many are pushing for these new hybrid appraisals and desktops.  I think there is a divide now between those that support AMCs and alternative appraisals and those who support the appraiser and what they do.  There is no way to predict what the profession will be in 3 years or 5 or 10.  The whole damn thing can blow up again and then more changes will be made.  I think appraisers will always be needed as I think many people trust dealing with someone directly they can talk to other than a computer, but I do think appraisers will need to expand their businesses to doing other work than lender work if they will want to survive down the road.

 

VN: What is one thing about your personal business that you are most proud?

MS: That I have created a reputable company that people seek out.  I started at the bottom here in Atlanta and now have become a very successful company.

 

VN: If you could change one thing about your business model what would it be?

MS: I would take the time to expand it more, bring on some new people and grow it.

 

VN:  What are some present goals for you and what you do are doing in the valuation space?

MS: Well first I want to continue to grow and become a better appraiser.  Secondly, as you know I run the 100% Real Estate Appraiser Group on Facebook and I am looking to expand that possibly into another forum site, as well as starting the 100% Real Estate Appraiser Podcast.   Third, APPRAISERFEST. As one of the co-founders of the event I really want to make this first event in November a huge success.  If we can accomplish that we will continue to take the Fest to new levels each year as well as possibly run some smaller events.  Fourth, I want to continue to be a voice in the profession and use the group as well as my Blog, “The Peoples Appraisal Blog”  to continue to put out information on issues and help not only appraisers but consumers understand the things we face.

 

VN:   If you could change one thing in valuation, what would it be?

MS: USPAP being as big as the yellow pages.  It should be more simplified.  You said 1 but I have many other things as well.  Lol

 

VN:  What advice would you give someone just getting in the profession?

MS: Do your homework and research.  I would shadow someone for a couple days to make sure you really want to be in it.  The appraisal industry is changing and getting started today is a little more challenging.

 

VN: This last one is for you to discuss or talk about whatever you would like.

MS: EVERYONE REGISTER AT WWW.NOV123.COM FOR APPRAISESERFEST.  Also check out my Blog page www.thepeoplesappraisalblog.com and my website for my business www.whatsitworthapp.com

 

Well, there you have it folks.  Now we know a little bit more about one of our fellow valuers.  If you would like to be featured or want to suggest someone that should be, please send me an email.  wfincham@valucentric.com

 

Bracketing Unadjusted Sales Price, What’s the Deal?

June 20, 2018

Bracketing Unadjusted Sales Price, What’s the Deal?

I see posts every day on social media about bracketing.  It seems that many AMC reviewers and lenders have grabbed hold of bracketing to prove adjustments as the most important thing to do.  The posts are normally scathing and just short of wanting to tar and feather the clients.  I get the chagrin, appraisers are put under so much scrutiny anymore, and to have clients be so pushy about this topic shows the misunderstanding that many underwriters and non-appraisers have about it.

Bracketing

          A process in which an appraiser determines a probable range of values for a                property by applying qualitative techniques of comparative analysis to a                      group of comparable sales. The array of comparables may be divided into                    three groups—those superior to the subject, those similar to the subject, and              those inferior to the subject. The adjusted sale prices reflected by the sales                  requiring downward adjustment and those requiring upward adjustment                    refine the probable range of values for the subject and identify a value                          bracket in which the final value opinion will fall.

It can be a handy tool to utilize, but it is just a tool in a toolbox with many options.  In many cases, clients are starting to misunderstand why it’s a good tool and how to use for a reliable result.  Many of the client’s out there have preferred guidelines that have adopted bracketing as one of the most important things that an appraiser can offer for an analysis.  In some cases, I understand what they want, and I agree it can be a reliable way to look at things.  But it isn’t the best method out there in every situation.

Where I tend to have my own heartburn with it is with unadjusted sales prices.  Many clients want there to be enough comps in the report or analysis to bracket either side of the opinion of value, with the unadjusted sales prices of the comps being used.  This is not always possible, but some of these clients require the appraiser to add in an additional sale that will meet this preference no matter what.  Seems harmless enough, right?

There is a major concern that I have with this myopic way of looking at data.  Appraisers know, instinctively and expressly, that selecting comparable properties based just only on sales amount is not a good thing. If the only reason you select a property as a comparable is price, then you are ignoring what selecting comparability is all about.  In any other situation, if I told a client that I am selecting comps because of how much they sold for, I would get in some hot water, and fast.  You see, there is a certification in the 1004 that preempts appraisers from selecting sales like this.  The Fannie Mae 1004 form has a required Appraiser’s Certification printed on it:

  1. I selected and used comparable sales that are locationally, physically, and functionally the most similar to the subject property.

Fannie Mae wants the appraiser to use judgment when selecting comparable alternatives.  Judgement that rests on soundness and long held valuation theory.  We need to use properties that are comparable to the subject.  Not select a comparable based on something as arbitrary as what price it sold for when it closed. Why then, do clients (AMCs especially) require this type of preference?  I wish I could answer that, because the logic escapes me.

Bracketing is a relatively safe methodology to utilize when dealing property characteristics such as gross living area or bathroom counts.  It can act as a method to isolate market preference easily and can show that a property characteristic is typical or even ideal.  If you have a subject property that has all of it’s salient features falling squarely in the middle of the comps selected for the analysis, then you have a property with a relatively safe that it is neither inadequate or super adequate to market tastes.

I use bracketing when I can for property characteristics but expecting an appraiser to use it solely for pricing is not just bad technique. It is possibly requiring the appraiser to not follow the spirit of what Fannie Mae, FHA, VA, USDA and Freddie Mac want the appraiser to do.  I often hear colleagues state that it’s Okay to follow such requests.  “You don’t have to give that comp any weight”.  That seems like harmless advice, but it still doesn’t make it sound technique.

I would love to hear back from the clients that require this and understand the basis in economics or property theory that support it.  Maybe there is a good reason for it, but I have yet to speak with anyone that works at a lender or at an AMC that offer any insight into what it is about.  It seems like most AMCs simply require it because the lenders that hire them and say this is a requirement.  The AMCs simply obey and enforce it on appraisers.

I am not writing an anti-AMC post, but I am writing a pro-appraiser post.  This is one of many things I see in the day-to-day life of many appraisers and it is a worthwhile topic to inquire about.  Since so many of my clients require it, and I have yet to understand why this is such an important thing to do.  I would love some insight into it.  This becomes an especially difficult thing to accomplish on many of the assignments that I do because I do odd and unusual properties as a specialty.  In these types of assignments, I am often dealing with the only house like it and bracketing, even the simplest of property characteristics is hard to use bracketing on the analysis.

Whether it is in my case, a property that is unusual, or another appraiser’s situation where they are valuing a property in a four-model subdivision, it is simply choosing a sale to use as a comparable based solely on sales price.  Whether it is a directly or even indirectly competing property is irrelevant. It is simply asking an appraiser to appease a guideline that makes little sense at all.  If adding something to a report adds little to no credibility to an analysis, should it be added at all?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Valuer’s Personal Journey Entry 1

An Instructor’s Log:

I learn from You

June 20, 2018

At this juncture of my career, I am going on my 18th year of practice.  I have held my SRA designation with the  Appraisal Institute since 2011.I also hold my AI-RRS designation as well, and I am a member of RAC (Relocation Appraisers and Consultants).  I currently am the Residential Chief Appraiser and Vice President of Valucentric, LLC.

I dislike typing out my designations and positions.  Not because I am ashamed of them, but because it sometimes seems pretentious to list out my credentials.  I am not one to hang onto a credential and think that I am any better or less than anyone else that works in this profession.  I am proud of my accomplishments, but I still consider myself a serious learner.  Education and training and experience are still important for me to obtain.  I am on a journey with no real destination; I am a life-long learner.

As I am typing this, I am finishing up instructing an amazing class in Aurora, CO.  I have had the pleasure of facilitating a class for 24 designated members of the AI.  Residential Review Theory is a great class that normally has students that have lots of experience and much knowledge to share.  Taking a class like this is great as a student, but even more beneficial to the instructor.  I get to hear many students (over and over as I teach the class more often) share their own experiences, or “war stories” as we call them.

I get busy with my day to day tasks with work, home and my own personal stuff.  I get overwhelmed sometimes with it all.  Taking on the responsibilities of instructing is a major commitment, but the result for me is that I get a mental break from my daily grind.  I can focus my energy towards helping students earn a designation or assist them in broadening their knowledge.  It feels good to help others. That is why I am willing to travel around and do this.

One of the best things about being a part of the Appraisal Institute is that I can network and help others.  I have met some impressive folks that do all sorts of expert work in niche specialties.  I am floored by the talent and backgrounds that many of these professionals have.   I feel fortunate to meet many that I can call later and learn more about what they do and get guidance in my own work.

Being an instructor is a worthy thing to do for those that think they may want to do some of this type of work. It will make you better if for no other reason you must explain complex methods and concepts to a group of people.  You will find that while you may understand something well, you understand it even more when you can get 8 different learning styles to understand it.  Everyone looks at stuff from different perspectives and matching up to a room with 10 or 24 people, helps the instructor as much as it helps the student.

The best advice that I can give anyone that wants to instruct is that you must have a spirit of service to get anywhere.  If you are doing it solely for prestige: there is none. For the money: it pays well enough, but it doesn’t net out to where I can exist solely doing it. Or for any other reason than you want to help students you may want to use your time for something more financially rewarding.  Students appreciate the hard work that goes into preparing for and setting up a class.  It’s like anything, if you pour yourself into it, you will be successful.  They will recognize someone genuinely there to help them, versus someone that has other motives.

I am hoping that as I make it around to various classes, that I can keep you updated on my travels and adventures.  Adventures is a word that I use with some poetic license.  Those that know me will quickly say my adventures usually rotate around good food, good drink and enjoying the company of other professionals in the business.  I do get to see some cool things as well.

My good friend, Ben Davidson, MAI, SRA, AI-GRS, was gracious enough to take me up to Estes Park, CO to show me what real mountains look like.  I am not a heights guy, and we both enjoyed laughing at my fear of peering over a guardrail-less critical drop into one of the many valleys we drove by.  Being in a moving vehicle while I am staring at what will be my assured death.  All I could do is think, “I can see the news now: The remains of two real estate appraisers were found in the wreckage of a White Yukon last night.  The driver seemed to be laughing at the passenger who was yellow from fear.” It was a great experience to see the things that I saw on that drive, and I will be forever grateful to Ben for showing it to me.

 

Valuation Nation

This is the first entry to my new blog, Valuation Nation.  My hopes with this blog is to update stakeholders in the real estate valuation sector.  While I will cover almost anything valuation oriented, the impetus will be residential issues.  I am hopeful to attract other bloggers to guest blog occasionally, to cover relevant and recent news, and to write op eds regarding the profession.

We have several folks out there in the blogosphere that offer a similar publication.  I do hope that we can offer something balanced, unique and meaningful to the profession to the public at large.  I look forward to hearing from readers.  I do have to include a statement that my views expressed in this site are my own and do not reflect those of my employer or any organizations to which I am a member,

Welcome to the new blog.

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Woody Fincham, SRA, AI-RRS Member of RAC