Sounding Bored is my semi-regular column on the state of the appraisal profession. There have been more changes made to the profession in the past several years than in the entire history of the profession, and most of the changes have not resulted in a more credible service. Still, I’d like to hope that the latest financial services sector turmoil will bring a clean slate approach to better regulatory oversight (devoid of insanity).
A few weeks ago I was asked a question by a local real estate agent referencing something my local appraisal competitor was doing. The agent was wondering if our firm could do the same thing for her. This same matter had been brought up to me before by another agent from a different brokerage firm so I didn’t think it was simply a misinterpretation by the agent.
Alarmed, I dropped my colleague a quick email mentioning what the last agent had told me and suggested they look into it and see if one of their employees might be doing something they shouldn’t. I wasn’t accusitory (I didn’t think) and thought tone was more like “I’m sure it isn’t true but you might want to check into it.”
Literally, a minute later I got a flurry of emails, viscious in tone, attacking me and to “get over myself.” This is from the same person who goes out of his way to say hi to me at appraiser functions. I can’t wait to see him at the next one – should be interesting.
This vindictive tone has been played out in the review appraisal scenario across the entire appraisal profession for years and perhaps this is why the appraiser was so sensitive – some appraisers feel the need to unreasonably criticize another appraiser’s work when reviewing a report for a client – in hopes of winning over the client. Nothing wrong with legitimate criticism but often times the line is crossed.
It looks like a private comment to alert someone of a possible transgression is on par with ripping someone to pieces for no legitimate reason.
I’m no Victim here, but why do we as a profession do this?
Professional mores indicate I was wrong so I won’t make that mistake again.
Tags: Soapbox Blog, Jonathan Miller
“Professional mores indicate I was wrong so I won’t make that mistake again.”
What? I’m sorry, I don’t understand your comment. You are not going to bring transgressions to anyone’s attention in the future? Surely I misunderstand you.
Appraisal professionals more often than react defensively rather than rationally. My study of this phenomenon leads me to believe there are multiple reasons for this. The first is exactly what you have observed about review. Once an appraisal is published it grows legs and there has never been one appraisal conclusion published that is 100% supported. Reviewers of these beasts are too often quick and gleeful to find something wrong regardless of its significance. As far as I know too much review has primarily been exercised as some kind of fly specking that serves no useful or positive purpose. The problem is compounded by the fact that reviews are often completed by competitors seeking to please clients. And of course there are the reviewers who are incompetent, but who manage to wreck havoc before they are exposed.
The second reason is that an appraisal is a supported opinion rather than fact. By definition opinions encounter different opinions, but too often appraisers and for sure lay people categorize appraisals as a fact coomodity. And when it becomes obvious the appraisal is not a fact the appraiser is executed.
But probably the primary reason we are defensive is that we are competing with everyone around us for too little poorly paying business. There are taboos in USPAP against very effective business practices that are expected by consumers of appraisals such as “comp checks.” Comp checks are good for business in this over populated and under trained profession, but they violate USPAP. Unfortunately appraisers cannot command a higher fee for following USPAP, indeed if they follow USPAP they may not get the assignment at all.
It is a still a personal choice driven by character as to whether an appraiser follows USPAP. But, you are correct. Most often, If you bring a transgression to the attention of a fellow appraiser your character will be assassinated. Most of the profession considers USPAP window dressing.
No what is this about professional mores?
Well, I said I won’t do it again, but thats because I am still torqued about it. I’ll try to be even more diplomatic.
My post disappeared, but as I was typing I was listening to the Madoff whistleblower testify before the Senate. Wow! Just wait till they destroy him. He is indicting the entire financial system and everybody connected with it. And then he says trust must be restored.
Maybe its more than underwriting.
” Why Can’t Professionals Get Along?” February 3rd, 2009 by Jonathan J. Miller
Professionals do, appraisers don’t.
I had a similar situation where I was verbally slaughtered by another appraiser. I found out after I did a link exchange with this appraiser between our sites, that he had actually copied and pasted my entire page of my website….I kept finding blog pages all over the net that was an exact replica of my website, with links going back to his website. Days later, my website got pushed back in search results in google for multiple duplicate content.
I emailed this appraiser and gently told him to please take down the copied contect because it actually hurts me. Then the verbal assult came flying at me like he was not doing anything wrong and that I was ungrateful because he was actually helping me.
Often times when someone knows they are doing something wrong deep down, they will react with an angry tone because their self important ego can’t handle it. Or some in my opinion would rather send nasty emails than admit they were doing something wrong every day to make a living. This is just my opinion. Because in my thinking, for someone who is in a profession that relies on information and reasonable conclusions…I would expect a reaction that is somewhat reasonable.
In your situation if this person was being reasonable and not guilty, I would have expected a “thank you” because if one of his guys or gals is doing this, he could loose a great deal by letting it continue unchecked.
Just my thoughts…
I like your reasonable man conclusions and conciliatory tone and I can’t disagree with anything you say. But, Jonathan sort of raised the question, why is there a concentration of unreasonable people in appraising.
My experience is similar to Jonathan’s, finding reasonable responses among appraisers to legitimate questions about their methods or practices is the exception.
Maybe there is just a general drift away from professionalism or I have lost touch, but it sure seems to me that appraising is needing massive injections of professionalism.
Which of course begs the questions of where do you get it a supply of it and how is it securely implanted? Even if we find the supply and manage to inject it, can we sell it? I suggest a demand for professional appraisers would create its own supply, but I digress from discussing today’s reality.
Advocacy, we are reminded, is anathema to public trust in the profession of appraising, but at the same time we know appraisers find it an essential service to keep the wolf away from their business. Until the demand for honest appraisals equals or exceeds the supply of appraisers capable of producing them we are going to squander time and talent arguing over “mine’s bigger.”
Come on guys, when a client hires a pro they expect help, and are not particularly interested in another’s version of truth and purity. If you can’t provide the help they need then it makes perfect sense to them to find someone who can.
No wonder appraisers are defensive. They are under siege and surrounded.
OK, the answer is to get rid of this notion that we are good boy scouts and can’t advocate for a client’s cause to save our businesses. Credibility is enough. If a guy can make out a credible argument taking into account all of the evidence, then that should be OK. Every issue, including real estate value, has at least two sides.
Real Estate transaction clients desperately need an advocate, what they do not need is somebody to lie or manufacture evidence for them. USPAP seems to be headed toward being satisfied with credible support for conclusions. If appraisers can give comp checks or reach agreement with a predetermined value and have credible support for it, what’s the big deal? The problem will still be finding reviewers who understand what is going on.
The Pollyanna prohibition on appraiser advocacy coupled with wide spread appraiser incompetence (market analysis and highest and best use are difficult to master so incompetence is understandable, but still must be cured) is making a complete circus of appraising.
Until we can win the trust of the client by doing thorough and honest appraising for his cause we will not make many strides in gaining the public trust.
Being the bastion of truth and honesty is a lofty goal and I don’t know many who deny honesty and truth, but there is not much of a demand for it in this world guys.
Just to complicate things, I wonder why we are bound by USPAP confidentiality and non-advocacy at the same time we are supposed to be telling the truth. But that may be for another schizophrenic discussion.
Don’t get me wrong, USPAP was and is necessary. Prior to it there was no agreement as to what the minimum standards in appraisal were, but it is a work in progress and it is not business oriented. At some point we need to take it out of the ivory tower since it is not altogether workable.
Anyway for now the right answer on the test when it comes to appraiser advocacy is, NOT. Even though you most likely will find the right answer for appraiser business is, YES. Until the answer to those questions are the same we are stuck, stuck, stuck.
Edd-very thought provoking post. I feel like printing it our and framing it.