Knowing Green Can Save You Green

liability-shutterstock217936357

Liability Headaches

Real estate practice, both valuation and brokerage, are professions that are open season for law suits.  Let’s face it, consumers can be very litigious in many situations.  Reducing liability is something we should all try to do in our professional work.  But outside of decreasing liability, what agents do, as well as appraisers, is work with an important element of the economy.  Housing is an integral element of the overall economy and it is our collective jobs to try and protect it.  That is why it is so important that we all get as competent as we can.

Pricing and valuing homes is sometimes tricky, and it is important that we all understand our markets.  One area that I get lots of feedback from agents and builders, and even consumers, is dealing with high-performance, or green homes. We are starting to see data that supports homes are being both under-listed and undervalued.

Support for My Claim

Ken Harney, the real estate columnist for The Washington Post wrote a piece last fall about high-performance homes and why it is important to work with experienced green professionals.  He wrote:

“Adomatis (An appraiser interviewing agents), told me that in interviews, some agents who listed certified green properties in California admitted they “had no clue what they were selling.” A few even said, “I don’t know what makes a house green.”

That’s a direct violation of the code of ethics of the National Association of Realtors, which prohibits members from marketing types of property that are “outside their field of competence” and training. The association offers members in-depth courses on green-home marketing and has urged MLS’s across the country to include “green fields” in their listings.”

In 2017, I was part of a team of experts, led by Sandra Adomatis, SRA, that did a study on the Pearl home certifications.  We found in that study that the certification could add 5% in value.  That’s a big number in some cases, and one that requires some marketing to achieve.  We found that in some cases that agents were not marketing homes that had the certifications, thus the potential buyer pool was unaware of the features.

We noted in the study that listings that conspicuously placed the green certifications up front in the listing and marketed the features saw the best return. From the study:

“MLS marketing practices in promoting Pearl-certified home features varied and may account for some of the pairs that show little or no sales price premium found. For instance, in Silver Spring, MD, and Great Falls, VA, the pairs with the highest negative results were sales where Pearl Certificates and documents were not included in the MLS listing as attachments or as jpg files in the photograph gallery.”

This is a potentially big oversight if missed.  I would think that many agents would want to cover all their bases and inquire when taking on a listing if the home has any green certifications or features.  There are readily available databases that will tell you.  Resnet has a data base where agents and appraisers can locate HERS rated homes.  Pearl Has one as well located here.  It may be a good idea to search these and other databases prior to accepting a listing.  In truth, all home certification programs should have a searchable database, but many do not.  That is why when you see much of my writing that I write about Pearl and Resnet so often, they have these databases.  I would challenge that any certification program without a searchable database is not worth using. How else are agents and appraisers going to track quantifiable data?

What Can Agents Do?

What happens when you find out the home has a viable energy certification?  You must make sure the consumers are aware, and that comes from careful and transparent marketing.  This could mean placing feature signage throughout a listing that highlight the features. Having a well laid out feature sheet that includes the features an infographic or two dealing with the high-performance features.

Taking it a step further, it would not be a terrible idea to also include language in your contracts that a competent appraiser must be retained to do the work.  This means the lenders will have to locate and utilize an appraiser that has experience doing it.  With Fannie Mare, FHA, USDA and Freddie Mac this means that the appraiser has demonstrated competency, or rather has done this kind of work before.  While the agents cannot be involved in selecting the actual appraiser used, limitations can be placed on not using unqualified appraisers.  I have seen this and have been chosen for assignments in the past because I am one of a few appraisers in my market area that do the work.

The National Association of Home Builders published a blog discussing the issue of high-performance homes and appraisals.  It states:

There are several reasons for this, but ultimately the issue is that too many green appraisal jobs are going to appraisers who simply aren’t trained to recognize the features and adjust valuations accordingly. This is unfortunate, because it hinders growth in high-performance homes. Builders and owners are simply less likely to invest in features they aren’t sure they can recapture when they sell.

The blog goes on to showcase a builder who requires that a qualified appraiser be used

Appraisers

Homes with solar panel valuation are complex valuation assignments and so are homes with green certifications.  The biggest problem sellers run into with appraisers on these homes is that the appraisers with no experience will sometimes write off the features as having no value.  The appraisers will make comment like, “I cannot find any homes with solar panels; thus, the market recognizes no value.” This is not true in many cases. Perspectives like these can create a unique liability for that appraiser as well, because that is simply not sound valuation theory or logical.

When an appraiser catches an assignment like this, there is lots of involved research to undergo.  One of the simplest ways to debunk the lack of comps argument with solar panels is to ask, “Have you spoken with all the local solar panel companies and asked about all of the installs over the last 12 to 24 months?”   The premise to this question is that installs do show demand.  I will agree that it’s difficult to ascertain a supportable market value when you have no sales, but there are other methods to use.  The Appraisal Institute (AI) teaches a class on using a discounted cash flow analysis to support value.  One can also capitalize the savings gained, among other things.

I wrote a blog for appraisers last year that deals with appraisers can do to help themselves become competent.  The demand is strong out there for this specialty practice but there are not many appraisers doing the work.  I have a strong suspicion that is because the lenders and appraisal management companies are not trying to hire appraisers that do the work.  If they were, I feel like more appraisers would be grasping at the opportunity.

Lenders and Appraisal Management Companies (AMC)

The lenders and Appraisal Management Companies should be making sure the appraisers retained are qualified, but borrowers will often not mention or have any clue the home under contract needs such expert valuation services. I sometimes get on site for a lender and must call them and explain that the subject home has a large solar array and is a platinum Pearl home.  It is not the lenders fault that the borrower failed to communicate the information to them.  But I do hope that the lenders are asking about high-performance features during the application process.

If you are a lender or work with an AMC there is a great resource through the Appraisal Institute (AI).  You can locate appraisers that are trained in the valuation of green homes through their registry.  This is such a great resource that the AI allows non-AI members to be included on the registry. There truly is a responsibility on the lenders that extends to the AMCs to locate and utilize competent appraisers.  I have yet to find one lender or AMC that qualifies appraisers based on high-performance homes. Some do ask if I do them, but they never ask for sample reports which show demonstrated competency (something required by the secondary market and agencies).

When you sign up with a lender or AMC, they always want sample reports, but I have never been asked for a high-performance home sample report.  They usually want a sample of an FHA report, a condo report and some type of complex assignment.  Some lenders that do lots of new construction even ask for a new construction sample. That no clients are asking for high-performance home reports is concerning.

Conclusion

In the end, high-performance homes offer a unique and complex assignment type for both agents and appraisers.  The only way to competently accept this work is to get educated and get some experience to do the work.  For agents, who can advocate for their clients, it is important that you communicate what you are selling to the consumers, to the lenders and finally to the appraisers when they come out to do their inspections.  That is a lot of responsibility, be mindful of it.

Experienced and New: A Review of Appraiserfest 2018

Originally posted at :

http://appraisersblogs.com/experienced-n-new-appraiserfest-review

Experienced and New: A Review of Appraiserfest 2018
By Tom Horn, SRA and Woody Fincham, SRA, AI-RRS, RAA Member of RAC

A Newbie Conference Attendee’s Take on Appraiserfest 2018
Tom Horn, SRA

I just got back from the first ever Appraiserfest conference, held in San Antonio, Texas, and while it is fresh on my mind I thought I would share my thoughts. This is my first national appraisal conference to attend and I have to say it did not disappoint.

I have been an appraiser for quite a while but have never been interested in spending my money or time to attend a conference that was not close by where I live. This may be the same way other appraisers think also but I hope this article gives you some insight into what happens at one of these conferences and what you can get out of it.

One analogy that I have heard about appraisers, and one that was mentioned at the conference, is that we are very similar to lone wolves. Many of us work by ourselves and we do not get a chance to talk with other appraisers whenever we need another professional’s opinion.

Ithink one of the messages that the conference wanted to get across is that appraisers must try and shake off this mentality. We must try and go from lone wolves to a pack of wolves. It is only through this transition that we will be able to affect change at the national level because there is strength in numbers.

This change can start at the most basic level, like that offered by social media groups. One of these groups that comes to mind is the 100% Appraiser Group, started and ran by appraiser Mark Skapinetz. I truly believe that this conference would not have been as strong as it was without the camaraderie that this group has built, or at least the friendships that appraisers have developed online.

The natural progression of these online friendships is to move them offline and in person. Taking this a step further these relationships also develop into state appraisal coalitions that have been so effective over the past several years. Again, when appraisers work together like this it becomes a more effective method for communicating with government officials to get things changed in a positive way for the appraisal industry.

The underlying themes for Appraiserfest 2018 included:

  1. Finding alternative forms of appraisal work that do not involve lenders
  2. Making yourself the local expert by analyzing the market and reporting your findings to other local real estate professionals
  3. Being aware of antitrust laws so that you stay out of trouble
  4. Learning as much as you can about your state appraisal laws in order to avoid mortgage fraud
  5. Educating ourselves on the new technologies such as blockchain so that we can position ourselves as valuation experts
  6. Staying on top of the main economic indicators so that we can plan for market changes in our businesses
  7. Learning how to use social media to our advantage in order to grow our non lender business and finally
  8. Thinking differently about the current real estate appraisal model by providing value to consumers by helping them manage the equity of their largest asset, their home.

In addition to getting value from the above noted curriculum the ‘fest also provided great value in other ways also. The friendships that were built online were taken offline and strengthened even more. While I don’t have any other national appraisal conference to compare it to I have attended regional or local get togethers and this was much different.

This gathering had a special vibe to it because everyone seemed to already have a bond with each other because of their online communications. It was this aspect of the ‘fest that I believe sets it apart from all others.

A very special part of the weekend involved a ceremony that honored all of the appraisers that had served in the military. Each of their names were displayed on the big screen and they were all given medals. This was an emotional time for everyone attending.

Everyone in the group has a genuine love for appraising and the desire to continue providing value and help to consumers, because without an unbiased third party involved in the mortgage transaction this could negatively affect the national economy.

So, my final thought about Appraiserfest 2018 is that I would definitely attend another one because the value received was so much more than the cost and time involved and the 14 hours of continuing education doesn’t hurt either. If I can answer any questions about attending the ‘fest feel free to contact me.

An Experienced Conference Attendee’s Perspective
Woody Fincham. SRA, AI-RRS, RAA Member of RAC

Appraiserfest 2018 has ended. I admit it, I was a skeptic that it would ever happen. Not only did it happen but is was an astonishing success.

Wow, what an experience. I think all of us that attended had a bit of withdrawal when we got home. This is one of many valuation conferences that I have attended in my career. It was certainly different than most. This was my sixth and final one this year. Appraiserfest is a different beast than what most appraisers would be familiar with. It is not just one stuffy panel after another. Pretentiousness was checked at the door and we were all simply appraisers working towards a single goal. That goal being successful valuation practice.

Starting out, the energy was vibrant.  Everyone that attended expressed how much positive energy they felt there. In a time where residential appraisers feel isolated and preyed upon by lenders, AMCs and GSEs, this conference helped turn some frowns upside down. The networking was excellent. I was able to meet many appraisers that I have emailed with or spoken to on the phone or exchanged correspondence with over social media. It was great to shake hands and get hugs from folks I have befriended over the last few years.

The introductions that were done included music, video and lots of pumping up the crowd. The leadership that put together the fest did it right. Phil Crawford has a great ability to interact with the crowd, very personable. Mark Skapinetz “Skap” is well…Mark, it is hard not to love the guy. They keep saying this is a “Happening”, it was more like a “Skapening”. He is certainly a genuine person who wants to see good things happen for all of us as professionals. Lori Noble, as we say in the south, was certainly the belle of the ball. Everyone, Phil and Mark included, had such wonderful things to say about her and it seems she was the glue holding much of it together. These three deserve all the accolades for getting this thing to work.

A personal highlight for me was being able to sit on a leadership panel with Mike Ford, Maureen Sweeney, George Dell, John Russell, Jonathan Miller and Jim Park. It was neat to see the crowd from the stage. It was a perspective only a few of us got. The biggest take away for me sitting up there: Appraiserfest is a diverse group. The number of women appraisers that attended seems much higher in comparison to other conferences that I have attended. That is great!

Over the next couple of days there were a slew of great presenters and lots of networking. I walked away with dozens of business cards. That is always a great thing about attending conferences and classes in person.  You can meet folks and not feel like you are an island unto yourself. Many of us are single appraiser entities and we forget that there is strength in fellowship and unity. I mean the Fest even brought David Samnick back to the 100% Appraiser Facebook page. Many missed his “As the Liver Turns” posts, I am glad to see that he is back as well.

I will certainly be attending the next one, and I hope to be a part of the leadership and presenters again. I do hope to see a larger cross section of the profession at the next one. I was surprised at the absence of the Appraisal Institute. This was a large gathering of residential appraisers and this would have been a great platform for the AI to reach out and talk with the boots on the ground appraisers out there. Maybe next year.

So now you have a new conference attendee’s perspective from my friend, Tom Horn. (By the way, I had never met Tom in person, it was great to finally do so.) He liked what he saw at the Fest. You have my perspective from a veteran conference attendee, and I have no issue saying it is unlike anything else out there. It is worthy of your time and resources to attend next year.

Moving to a New Market

 

moving-truck

I have seen several folks on social media asking what it takes to pick up stakes and move to a new market.  I am surprised at the advice and lack of GSE and FHA/USDA understanding out there regarding such a thing.  While Fannie Mae, Freddie MAC, FHA and USDA do not prohibit an appraiser from moving to a new market, they do prohibit one form doing any work in the new market until the appraiser becomes competent.  Each entity requires that competency already be established when talking on a new assignment.  In this blog, we are discussing a specialized competency: geographic competency.

Over my career, I have moved four times where I required to become market competent.  I was careful in each case to do so by working with offices that could help me become competent. It was not an easy task, but one that I knew was required.  Yes, it meant taking less fee for a bit, but I wanted to be bullet proof from a possible complaint. I will add that each experience served as rewarding one.  If you move you must retool your processes for each market.

When I moved to Charlottesville (Blue ridge Mountains), I came from a coastal plains area (Hampton Roads).  When I lived in Hampton Roads there was almost no such thing as a basement except in rare cases.  I had no choice but to learn about this and many other things that were common to a Piedmont location.  That meant doing case studies to prove contributory values, etc.  Thank goodness I had experience with Excel and other tools like Regression+ to help me do my job well enough.

GSEs and Agencies

Many would argue that USPAP allows one to become competent, which it does.  But the issue with the GSEs and agencies is that they require demonstrated competency. So, there is an assignment condition which makes that flexibility found in USPAP not applicable to the assignment. This what they say about it:

Fannie Mae Selling Guide B4-1.1-03

Knowledge and Experience

Lenders must use appraisers that

  • have the requisite knowledge required to perform a professional quality appraisal for the specific geographic location and particular property type; and
  • have the requisite knowledge about, and access to, the necessary and appropriate data sources for the area in which the appraisal assignment is located.

Appraisers that are not familiar with specific real estate markets may not have adequate information available to perform a reliable appraisal. Although the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) allows an appraiser that does not have the appropriate knowledge and experience to accept an appraisal assignment by providing procedures with which the appraiser can complete the assignment, Fannie Mae does not allow the USPAP flexibility. (emphasis added)

 

FHA 4000.1 I-B-1-b

(B) Competency Requirement

The Appraiser must be knowledgeable of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) and FHA appraisal requirements. The Appraiser must meet the competency requirements defined in the USPAP prior to accepting an assignment. The Appraiser must be knowledgeable in the market where the assignment is located. (Emphasis added) (this applies to USDA as well since USDA requires adherence to FHA protocol)

FHA 4000.1 I-B-1-d-ii

The Appraiser assigned to provide the appraisal must be able to complete an assignment for the property type, assignment type, and geographic location of the subject Property.

The Appraiser must comply with the USPAP, including the Competency Rule, when conducting appraisals of Properties intended as security for FHA-insured financing.

What do the Experts Say?

I even took the time to interview a USPAP instructor, Maureen Sweeney, SRA, AI-RRS, IFA, CDEI on the topic and she wrote me up this ditty (I use the word ditty on purpose, as anyone that knows Maureen knows that she likes to sing):

“Competency is competency, and it is not to be sliced up like a pie of different categories. You either have it, or you don’t, and it is not sliced into demonstrated or normal or abnormal; it just is. Credible assignment results are based on the appraiser’s total ethics and total competency. The assignment results either has it, or it doesn’t. USPAP is very specific in what Competency requires, how it is acquired, and what to do if you lack it.  USPAP required the appraiser to be competent when they sign the report.  Fannie Mae goes one step further.  They want you to be competent when you accept the appraisal assignment.  Per the Fannie Mae Selling Guide, dated June 24, 2014, page 549 under “Knowledge and Experience”: “Although the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) allows an appraiser that does not have the appropriate knowledge and experience to accept an appraisal assignment by providing procedures with which the appraiser can complete the assignment, Fannie Mae does not allow the USPAP flexibility.”  Fannie Mae wants their appraisers competent when they accept the assignment.  The Selling Guide states, “Lenders must use appraisers that 1) have the requisite knowledge required to perform a professional quality appraisal for the specific geographic location and particular property type; and 2) have the requisite knowledge about, and access to, the necessary and appropriate date sources for the area in which the appraisal assignment is located.” https://www.fanniemae.com/content/guide/sel062414.pdf  For those who think FHA is going to give them a pass, too bad.  Per SF Handbook, I.B.1.b.i.(B) Competency requirement, “The appraiser must be knowledgeable of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) and FHA appraisal requirements.  The appraiser must meet the competency requirements defined in the USPAP prior to accepting an assignment.  The appraiser must be knowledgeable in the market where the assignment is located. Fannie Mae and FHA are making suggestions that appraisers should maybe be competent.  The say we MUST be competent PRIOR to accepting the assignment.”  https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/APPR_ESSENTIAL_09-14-16.PDF There is no wiggle room around this requirement. If an appraiser doing work for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is not competent at the accepting of the appraisal assignment, and they hope to gain competency prior to signing the report, and this is your current practice, please stop.”

I also interviewed another USPAP instructor, Jim Atwood, SRA.  He takes it even a bit further, and states that if the FNMA 1004 is used at all, then because of certification-11, the appraiser must have demonstrated competency.  I agree with his summation.

cert 11 1004

“Certification -11, pre-printed into the Fannie Mae 1004 appraisal form, states: “I have knowledge and experience in appraising this type of property in this market area.”  When using this form for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA, or FHA purposes, the appraiser is indicating, by signing the certification, his or her pre-existing knowledge and experience (competency) regarding a particular property type or geographical area.  Although USPAP, assuming the client’s agreement, allows an appraiser, who is unfamiliar with a certain property type or geographical area, to perform the appraisal as long as he/she becomes competent prior to completing the assignment, this certification implies that the appraiser is to have sufficient prior knowledge and experience so as to perform the appraisal competently.   Certification #11 seems then to preclude accepting assignments for which the appraiser is not already competent.”

In Conclusion

I hope this was a meaningful post.  I am not writing this to sound pious, but to help my colleagues make pragmatic decisions.  This is an easy enough thing to overlook and I have seen several appraisers do it.  As the sergeant used to say on Hill Street Blues:

 

 

hill street blues
“Let’s be safe out there.”

The Queen of Green

July 6, 2018

 

sandy picture
Courtesy of Sandra Adomatis

Sandra K. Adomatis, SRA, LEED Green Associate, NAR GREEN Designee has been a meaningful member of the valuation profession for many years.  I first met Sandy when I was taking the last class and demonstration alternative for my SRA designation.  Sandy was the facilitator for that week.  I was immediately impressed with her knowledge, astuteness and love for valuation.  There was no doubt that she loves the profession and believes in doing it the right way.  She is a great instructor, one of the best there is in my opinion.

Sandy has been a thought leader in the profession, most notable in sustainable residential technology.  She is the foremost authority in valuing residential solar PV systems and has been crucial in assisting the Appraisal Institute in developing the Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum.  She has also authored a book, Residential Green Valuation Tools, which is a must have for any valuer’s library. She is also a developer and course writer for several classes including the green series.  I have had the pleasure to work with her on a team that she led that focused on extracting a premium for PEARL home certifications which was published in a report here.

On a personal note, there are few valuation professionals that I hold in a higher esteem.  I am thankful to her for being a mentor to me, and for helping me along in my career.  Just to share one quick story about what a good person that she is:

My wife and I have a son that has some special needs.  Sandy met my two youngest children (twins, a boy and a girl) and my wife when she came to Charlottesville to teach the green classes a few years ago.  My twins have since nicknamed her “Sandy Starfish”. Our son has been in a facility moist of this year to help with some of his issues and when Sandy found out she started sending him correspondence by mail.  That meant the world to him, and to my wife and me.

So that is the setup for a Valuer’s Dozen that I am most proud to publish.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Queen of Green, Sand Adomatis:

 

VN:  How long have you been in the profession?

SA: I started appraising in 1981 after two years working for a builder, 1 year for a retrofit contractor, and 1 year managing an appraisal business.

 

VN: What is your favorite thing about the profession?

SA: Appraising is a puzzle that offers a new picture and challenge with each assignment.  As a certified general appraiser working many years with my MAI husband, I had the privilege of inspecting a wide variety of properties from nudist camp, farms, adult toy store, railroad right-of-way, 16,000 sq ft houses on the Gulf to 800 square foot cookie cutters.  How many people can say their job is that diverse?  Not only have I learned much about appraising methodology but have also met many interesting people and learned lots about businesses.

 

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

SA: My biggest mentor is my husband, Richard Adomatis, MAI.  He has been retired for more than 25 years but has a great mind and has not forgotten the business.  I can still discuss an appraisal problem today and get direction or suggestions that lead me in the right direction.

I don’t have any idols in the profession, but I have several people I truly respect and admire.  They are all Appraisal Institute members and to name a few – Maggie Hambleton, SRA; Tim Runde, MAI; Kathy Coon, SRA; Scott Robinson, MAI, SRA; Donald Boucher, SRA; and even you Woody.

 

 

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

SA:My passion for the profession is to see more young people come into the profession with a desire to be the best they can be.  That means learning as much as you can and looking to be more than a mortgage lending appraiser.  There is so much work out there that pays well outside the mortgage lending world.

Appraisers that specialize in mortgage lending work have a challenge going forward with low fees, increasing regulations and guidelines, and automated valuation models that will take away the easy assignments.

My passion is to see more appraisers learn about the green features that are beginning to become code in many markets on the residential and commercial side.  I’ve been on this track of learning all I can about the buildings science and dedicating much of my time in sharing what I’ve learned.  Our professional is so slow to move in a direction that is not the norm and sometimes don’t see the train until it is upon them.  I’ve recently been engaged in working with appraisers in three states that are very green and learned that we still have lots of education needs to bring our profession up to speed.

 

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

SA: My passion outside of the industry include photography and spending time with family.  Photography is a hobby and I enjoy doing photo shoots for high school graduates that do not have the funds to buy the expensive photographs from the school.   I’ve done prom pictures for some of these students as well.  Little kids are really a pleasure to photograph.  My children and grandchildren are getting older now, but they gave me lots of joy in photographing them as they played.  I did the formal event photographs for the Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club for about 10 years.  (My photography is all volunteer because I love it.)

 

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

SA: In 3 years I do not expect major changes in the profession.  In 5 year, we will begin to see more AVMs taking the simple assignments for the mortgage lending work.   We’ll begin to see more appraisers leaving the business due to age and loss of mortgage work if they have not prepared for other client types.

In 10 years, the databases will be incredibly different, larger, and yet still lacking important data needed to truly understand the more complicated property types.  This means appraisers with skills in complex assignments will always have a space in the real estate transaction.

 

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

SA: My personal business has flourished over the last 25 years.  I’ve seen some appraisers in my market move to other areas or take government jobs because they could not survive during the lean years.  Fortunately, my mentor taught me to  diversify and have a variety of clients.  He also taught me to find a niche that no one else is filling and be the champion.  That is how I gained the title “Green Queen.”

 

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

SA: If I could change my business model it would be to have brought a couple trainees along 10 years ago.  I’ve worked with assistants that were very good and made a difference in the work I could handle.  As I move toward the winding down years of my career (last 10 years) I could see another 10 beyond that if I had a couple trained appraisers that were younger and dedicated.

 

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

SA: I have a goal of writing another book in 2019.  I’ve got a start on it and hope to have one finished by end of next year.

My current work locally is appraising for estate, divorce, listing, or consulting clients.  I do some governmental work for right of way projects as well.  My consulting falls into the space of builders and real estate agents that need help in marketing, preparing for an appraisal or challenging an appraisal of a high performance (green) property.

Much of my time is spent writing courses, seminars, and teaching or speaking on high performance properties or features.  Some local appraisers hire me to do the solar PV valuations because they have not taken the classes and need the assistance.

 

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

SA: The image.   There are 77,000 licensed appraisers in the US and far too many do not present a professional image to the people they serve.  We are in a service business and we must take the time to do our work well and to serve the people we call our clients.  If we tell them we’ll have a report in 5 days, do it.  Why do appraisers think they only need to take the number of classes needed to get the required CE?  What does this say about our dedication to be the best we can be?

 

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

SA: If you plan on making this profession a career, take quality education and work under an appraiser with a good reputation.  Take pride in your work and find a space where you can specialize and learn everything you can about it.

Network with other professionals and organizations that will add to your knowledge base, skills, and potential clients.  Attending meetings and educational offerings by right of way organizations, attorney education, and building science classes are just a few of the ways I’ve found were most helpful in gaining a presence in the space I wanted to serve.

 

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

SA: I love my profession and I want to see everyone in this business love it like I do.  We need to work together to make it what we want it to be.  The low fees we accept can only be changed by appraisers.  Charge what you are worth.  I am not on sale today and I am not a .org.  Keep that in mind when the next client calls.

*****

I hope that you all enjoyed this one.  I am getting lots of great feedback on this series and I consider it a success already.  Please keep the suggestions coming.

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