Who Dat? Joe Mier Valuers Dozen

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

mier

Joe Mier, SRA, AI-RRS is well known to those of us on social media in the valuation world.  I had spoken with Joe through social media many times, but did not officially meet him until we both attended an a la mode Road Show in New Orleans. He owns a valuation firm in Hammond, LA.  One of my best memories so far of Joe is getting the chance to walk around the French Quarter with him.  We enjoyed some great food and saw some neat stuff. He really knows his way around local gastronomy. If you ever have a chance to go eat with him, listen to his advice on where to eat.  Joe has been very involved with various organizations helping appraisers in his home state of Louisiana and nationally.  So, let’s see what Joe Knows.

VN:  How long have you been in the profession?

JM:I have been in the appraisal profession for 24 years.

 

VN: What is your favorite thing about the profession?

JM: Helping people understand the enjoyment of home ownership by knowing the value of the real estate at the time of their purchase.

 

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

JM: Wow! That is a great question. Maureen Sweeny is one of my secret idols J she is so knowledgeable and cares about people. Mentors I have several that I look towards such as Pete Gallo, Pat Turner, Lori Noble and yourself Woody.

 

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

JM: That appraisers get quality education and never quit learning.

 

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

JM:I am a true believer in taking time with family and friends and enjoying life together.

 

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

JM: 3- years I see more value in consumer products of buying and investing for residential appraisers. I cannot see more than 3 years right now.

 

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

JM: That we will celebrate 20 years in our current location this year and we have serves thousands of clients over that time period.

 

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

JM: That consumers could understand the value of the appraisal process and that it’s not just about closing “the deal”.

 

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

JM: To bring our services to a broader consumer client base. We are actively getting out into the community space educating agents and the public on how we can assist them with the evaluation process.

 

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

JM: To improve appraiser independence that has been removed by the business model that was put AMCs in place of local relationships with lenders.

 

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

JM: To get quality education and mentorship from appraisers that truly care about the appraisal process and not just filling the form.

 

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

JM: Being a real estate appraiser has been a very fulfilling career for me and my family. It has allowed me to be a part of the community by giving back in many ways through service and knowledge. Remember that working hard is great but that there is more to life than just working make the time to make great memories with your family and friends. I look forward to interacting with people like you Woody and other appraisers. I would encourage appraisers to get out from their offices and make contact with appraisers from their area and don’t be afraid to share information about becoming a better business owner and at the same time a better appraiser. I wish everyone success in 2019. Thank you, Woody for allowing me to share a few words.

 

 

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I appreciate Joe for doing this.  He shares some great wisdom with us.  Proactive appraisers need to be educating and informing consumers and agents.

Cheryl Kunzler, SRA, AI-RRS One of the Thought Leaders in Residential Valuation

by Woody Fincham, SRA. AI-RRS, RAA

kunzler

 

I have known our  interviewee for over a decade.  I first met Cheryl Kunzler, SRA, AI-RRS when she came out to teach a class for my then Chapter, the Hampton Roads Chapter of the Appraisal Institute.  Since then few people have done more to help me along in my career professionally.  Cheryl has allowed me to co-teach and audit many of the classes that she teaches.  I have learned so much from her both as an instructor and as an appraiser.  Cheryl is a true leader in the professional being an outstanding appraiser.  I hope you all enjoy learning a but about one of my friends and colleagues.

VN:  How long have you been in the profession?

CK: I have been an appraiser, reviewer and consultant for 40 years.

VN: What is your favorite thing about the profession?

CK: I have always enjoyed the freedom this job has given me.  I can set my own appointments, do my research in my own way and constantly learn new thought processes and different ways of accomplishing the same thing; an opinion of value. Besides others in the profession, I have been interacting with agents, property managers and property owners to learn how to be a better appraiser.

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

CK: My father, Lew Pollvogt, was my first mentor; when I expressed an interest in appraising, he suggested I first take some beginning courses to learn what the work entailed. I worked with him for more than 20 years and learned how to be an appraiser.

I was also influenced by some of my instructors also, for expanding my understanding and love of the profession.  Richard Lodge, MAI and John Ammon, SRA both now deceased, along with Thomas  Craddock, SRA, MAI, were very instrumental in my participation in the Appraisal Institute governance and teaching. There were other instructors; just can’t bring them all to mind.

Right now, my idol is Sandy Adomatis. She has developed and written about everything green; an influence on value that I don’t think existed before she began.  Sandy has accomplished so much for our profession in disseminating up-to-date knowledge about a very important topic, for residential and commercial appraisers. She has also encouraged me over the years to move in different directions.

And I admire you, Woody, for your excitement and dedication to appraising and teaching.  I have learned so much from teaching with you. I am so happy to have our profession populated with extremely knowledgeable, dedicated and forward- thinking appraisers such as yourself.

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

CK: I absolutely love teaching appraisal courses and seminars.  Over my many years of teaching, I have been able to pass on much of my body of knowledge, which was passed on to me by other instructors and appraisers. I learn so much from the students every time I teach. Since many starting an appraisal career started out in another career, they have a wealth of knowledge to share. The other students, just starting out in the beginning courses, have so much enthusiasm and are eager to learn and test out what they already know.  It is just so exciting!

 

I have also been involved with reviewing courses and seminars for the Appraisal Institute and writing test questions for AI and others. It really expands and tests my own knowledge!

I would love to have residential appraisers receive more recognition for their abilities and expertise.  I have run across so many people (both appraisers and non-appraisers) who believe that those specializing in residential are “just” house appraisers. Though I have completed residential and commercial appraisals for years, the extent of recognition for the residential side has not changed much in 40 years. I wish I had a way to change that attitude.

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

CK: I started traveling internationally over the past four years. I love going to other countries and see their use of wind farms, solar panels, green roofs and unique architecture. Right now, I am taking a Russian language course; I am traveling there next year, and it makes my brain think in a different way.

I also enjoy gardening, but now I must balance that with the times I am out of town!

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

CK: In three-to-five years, I think the demand for appraisers will continue to decline.  Lenders have always tried to find ways to eliminate the appraisers from the mortgage lending process. But as I tell my students, look outside the lending arena; attorneys will always need valuations for estates, for divorces, for property disputes. I have always enjoyed completing review appraisal work. It can be interesting to see how others solve an appraisal problem. And regardless of what many appraisers think, there is not always a problem to be discerned with an appraisal review assignment.

In five years, wholly dependent on the trends of our economy, I believe more and more clients will rely on online databases, spreadsheets, hybrid appraisals and other processes to value properties. That is not to say that appraisers will not be needed; just that other skills and areas of expertise will be needed by appraisers. Perhaps more research and analysis, and not as much physical inspections.

In ten years; sorry Woody, I don’t have a crystal ball! In about 2005 or 2006, I appraised a 20-acre residential parcel with three separate houses located on the site. It was for estate purposes, and the highest and best use was for subdivision development. Seven or eight years later, I was requested to complete another assignment on that property, (which by the way, was physically the same as is was at my first valuation). I was unable to take the assignment at the time. However, I looked back on my report and realized there was no way now to support the discounting I had applied originally. The recession had occurred beginning in 2008, and the original market information I had gathered was not at all appropriate. So, I really don’t have enough information to forecast ten years from now.

 

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

CK: I am pleased at the way my business has evolved over the years; it provides enough variety related to the profession to allow me to expand my knowledge. I am doing review work, course and seminar review, teaching and serving on my county board of equalization.

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

CK: I would like to have started sooner using technology, for marketing, research and analysis. There are so many more efficient ways to complete our assignments than there were several years ago.

I would also have started specializing in litigation assignments earlier in my career; I really enjoy solving a complex problem and testifying to my results.

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

CK: I would like to complete more review assignments; they challenge my knowledge on many levels. I am lucky to be in a position that I have not completed work for lenders for the past 8 or 9 years.  I don’t want the pressure of time and making everything fit in someone’s process. I mostly complete narratives and find I can communicate better. I am not criticizing anyone who does this type of work; I did it for more than 30 years. I was just ready for a change.

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

CK:I would really like appraisers to embrace learning; many appraisers take required seminars on topics they already know or assume that they cannot learn anything new in for instance, a USPAP course. I think we all may have encountered appraisers who assume the way they did things “back then” is sufficient for now. The profession is always evolving, and I hope everyone in the profession realizes that.

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

CK: Allow yourselves to get a variety of experiences of methods of valuation and property types within your specialty. Don’t just do lender work; there are so many other uses for your services. You never know when you will find a niche not being adequately served in your market.  Get involved with the appraisal profession; find an organization that works for you. I have always been proud to be a member of the Appraisal Institute and serving on local, regional and national committees, so of course that is the one I would recommend. But get involved somewhere! Get a designation, value your expertise and don’t always reject the more complex assignments. Diversify if you are a residential specialist and maybe in commercial you can become more of an expert in one property segment.

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

CK: I will have to imitate what many others have said in this blog. Enjoy life, take chances, be adventurous, don’t wait until tomorrow, grab opportunities in work and in life, spend time with your family. Life is too short to wish you had done something else!

Listen!! Amazing what you learn when you are not speaking!

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Sage advice from a respected professional and amazing insight on personal life as well. Many of us are workaholics, I know that I suffer from it.  Cheryl is doing lots of traveling now, I keep dibs on her through her Facebook page.  She is always off enjoying some awesome locations.   She also echoes some of the same advice that we see from many:  get out of the lender space if you can, or limit it’s affects on your business by doing less of it.

 

Thanks, Cheryl, for taking the time to do this.

Pat Turner, the Man with a Plan Valuer’s Dozen

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

pat turner

 

I have known Pat Turner for many years.  My first introduction to him was from attending a Virginia State Board meeting.  I had attended to give public commentary about the problems I saw with regulatory oversight in the commonwealth.  Pat and I struck up a conversation outside the meeting in the hallway where we discussed my disappointment with how the board looked at enforcement.  I explained to him that I was rather passionate about it.  To which he replied, ” Woody, if you have half the fight in you that I do about this profession, you will make some changes happen in the profession.”  If you know Pat at all, you know how true to his nature that reply really is.  Pat has led the charge in trying to advocate for the appraisal profession for many, many years. When I received my SRA designation Pat is the man that handed it to me, at my request.  That is how much think of him, and I know many that think highly of him as well.  I am proud to get the chance to share the Valuer’s Dozen with you, as Pat is one of my mentors and one of my friends.

VN:  How long have you been in the profession?

PT: 46.5 years

 

VN: What is your favorite thing about the profession?

PT:  I love the research and analyzing the actions of the market.

 

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

PT: My mentors were:
Jim Faulconer, Chesterfield Assessor
Dick Farmer, Assessor of Henrico County and instructor for the Society of Real Estate Appraisers
Bob Barton, MAI and an instructor and friend
Woody Aaron, MAI, instructor and friend

 

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

PT: My passion is to do the best I can in all that I undertake as an appraiser.  As you know, I am passionate about consumer protection and the appraisal profession as a whole.

 

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

PT: My wife, children, grandchildren.  University of Richmond. My close friends because they know my many faults and like me anyway.

 

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

PT: In 3 years we will have new Fannie and Freddie reporting vehicles, if they are still viable.
In 5 years we appraisers better be getting more and better education because the mortgage part will be dissolving as we know it.  Take the best educational classes offered.  Be prepared for legal work, IRS work, work from accountants, etc.

 

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

PT: Reputation and longevity, despite all the bumps along the way.

 

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

PT: Ban AMCs or at least make them more transparent regarding C & R fees.

 

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

PT: My present goal is to assist my daughter to obtain her licenses.

 

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

PT: What would I change?  The lack of enforcement, which is due to insufficient knowledge of our profession, in my opinion.

 

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

PT: Get the best education available.  Please use the LIVE classroom.  Join the American Society of Appraisers as they are rapidly becoming the representative for residential appraisers.

 

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

PT:  Finally, I would recommend that people get involved.  Not only with our profession, but also social and civic activities.  Your personality and knowledge impress more people than you know.  Be a leader.  But if you can’t be a leader, then follow, or get out of the way.

The Six Elements of Green Part 2 The First Two Elements

Now that we have talked about how important communication is between agents and the consumers and the agents and the appraisers, let’s get into the meat and potatoes, as they say. As an appraiser, one must be able to understand and identify high performance home (HPH) features.  As I eluded to in the first part of this series, green washing can be a real a problem in this space.  It is easy to add a few “green” features and have an agent advertise a home as being an HPH.

HPH or “green” homes are not just about saving energy.  To accomplish a truly HPH one must look at the “building as a whole” entity and not just the systems.  Another way to look at it is a “cradle-to the grave” approach, or from design phase of the home through the razing of it and returning to a site. What many appraisers and consumers don’t see immediately with HPH is how much more comfortable they are to live in.

The US Environmental Protection Agency describes green building below:

green building. The practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as sustainable or high-performance building.

So, what goes into looking at an HPH? I am glad that you asked.  Well, there are six elements[i]

  1. Site
  2. Water efficiency
  3. Energy efficiency
  4. Indoor air quality
  5. Materials
  6. Operations and maintenance

We are going to dig into the first two elements in this article.

 

site pic

Site

When I am contacted by builders or borrowers that want to maximize their values from creating an HPH, I spend some time discussing site orientation.  It is important.  Obviously the homesite will have a huge influence on the home.  The site will dictate what can be built. Location of the site within a market is a big deal.  Every site has pluses and minuses and from the concept of location, it can mean a long commute to the store or a short walk.

One of the tools that I use on my appraisals, and one that is available in many multiple listing systems (MLS) is walkscore.com. This metric will give you an idea of how “walkable” a location.  It takes into consideration distance to important market locations such as the downtown area of an MSA or shopping and retail areas.  The more “walkable” the property and the surrounding neighborhood are, the higher the score.

Site is not just about market area location, it is also about several other factors.  An important one is site orientation.  How a site is orientated, meaning how does it lie when considering north, south, east and west orientation can impact the building in significant ways.  Considering where the southern exposure of a home lies will affect the way solar energy interacts with the property.

Orientation, done correctly, can take advantage of passive solar technology. It can also minimize the amount of light that impacts the home through windows.  Solar radiation really does affect the indoor temperature, which mean sit can require more heating or cooling to accommodate too much or too little solar radiation. Orientation can also impact the availability of optimal solar PV system placement.  If done right, the site will allow better incorporation to the southern exposure for solar panels.

Drainage of the site is also an important consideration.  In areas that allow for cistern storage of rainwater this can help reduce the amount of water needed to water the lawn or other vegetation on the site.  Having less impervious surfaces that allow natural absorption and usage of water can enhance the “greenness” of the site.

Normally, educated builders and consumers will recognize the importance of site orientation and location right away.  It is important for appraisers to recognize it as well. Sometimes homeowners insist on placing the home in an odd orientation to maximize views.  Depending on what market you are in a mountain view or bay-view premium may trump a truly beneficial southern exposure vantage.  When both performance and view combat one another in a consumer’s mind, the appraiser must be aware and able to measure impact of the issue to the overall value of the home. With proper planning, there are usually acceptable compromises that can be incorporate din the design phase of the home.

water image

Water Efficiency

This element directly impacts the consumer’s monthly budget and because of that, it can be measured directly.  This element is more than low-volume toilets and installing low-flow faucet aerators.  It, like all things, require careful planning.  It also includes lessening the amount of water needed to water plants.  This can include rain barrels, cisterns, and the like.  There is also advantages to utilizing gray water; this is the waste water from the kitchen, tubs, washers, etc.  Everything except water that has been exposed to sewage.  As mentioned in the site planning portion, some local governments prohibit the use of rainwater. So as part of site planning, it may be necessary to choose to live someplace other than a rainwater restrictive location.

Some of the things that homeowners can do include the flowing items.  With retrofitting, one of the big water savers is finding and fixing any leaks.  Upgrading appliances to more efficient models.  This includes dishwashers and clothes washers.  Installing low flow faucets and toilets are another big water saver.  Utilizing the correct plants for your locality is a game changer as well.  The correct plants include using native species and other species that grow and live best in the climate where you are located.  This prevents the need to do extra watering.

Valuation Thoughts

The recognition of site attributes is not overly difficult but can be troubling for appraisers that have never seen or know about some of things that we have discussed thus far. Water efficiency technology may be easier to see if components are properly labeled. When you are not sure, ask questions.  The homeowners may be familiar with these types of improvements, as well as the agent or builder.  The best that an appraiser can hope for is that the homeowner and/or agent are up to speed as to what is present in the site and home.  Homeowners that built the home will most likely be pretty I enthusiastic to share, where as a homeowner that is the second, third or more homeowner after the build or retrofit may not be as aware of the features present.

What are some proactive ways to get more competent?  Take some classes. The Appraisal Institute offers three classes in sustainable residential properties. The AI also offers a list of appraisers that completed the program at Appraisal Institute’s Residential Registry for Sustainable Buildings.  Earth Advantage  also offers a three-day class on sustainable homes.  They also maintain a designation called the Accredited Green Appraiser (AGA). You can also affiliate with an appraiser that has experience in these types of homes.

We will get into some valuation methods in a later part of this series.  There are several tools in the tool box for appraisers that will prove familiar to most of us.  We will also discuss the very important Appraisal Institute Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum Form.  Another important topic we will discuss are the various home certifications out there in the markets.  Knowing what these are is extremely helpful.

[i] Residential Green Valuation Tools by Sandra Adomatis, SRA LEED GA