Can’t We All Just Get Along?
“Our investigation and the Board’s review concluded that the evidence did not reveal a violation of the Board’s laws and rules governing the practice of Real Estate Appraising. The Board has, therefore, closed the file in this matter.”
That is how the most recent complaint against me ended. The ordeal began last spring. I have been called upon multiple times from my current clients to please be willing to go to a new area. It is an area with few appraisers, and there is a need. Unfortunately, it is a bit of a drive for me so I have avoided it so far. Finally, I decided (for more reason than one) to venture forward. Now comes the problem of geographical competency. I will not bore you with the details of what I did to gain competency, but—needless to say—it took more than 3 months before I felt comfortable even trying a sample report. The process I followed is found HERE, but it includes creating a sample report and putting it before a local, competent appraiser to get a review of how you are coming with your competency. This is what I did. Well, the ‘review’ (I use quotation marks for a reason), came back and it was laughable. First of all, the appraisal was about as straight -forward as they come. Some appraisers refer to this type of home as a ‘cookie-cutter.’ All of the comparables were in the same neighborhood, were similar in almost every way, and were all within the past 6 months. This appraisal, even for a novice in the area, should have passed with flying colors. Nevertheless, the reviewer took me to the woodshed. I mean, she destroyed me.
As I further investigated the situation, I became aware of what had happened (at least as far as I can gather). Though
I had attempted to act anonymously in my order for an appraisal review, I had inadvertently included my automatic signature in several of the emails I had sent. In other words, though all references to me had been blacked out on the appraisal report, the reviewer knew who I was. Now, I have no idea if she knows about my coaching materials or the blog post referenced above, but she obviously knew I was an appraiser who was not native to her geography. It was obvious that this was on her mind as in her review report, she made specific reference to ‘geographic competency’ on more than one occasion. Now, the next part is my opinion only, but if I had the space to outline all of the signs though, I think you would agree; the reviewer does not want me becoming her competition. I have a feeling she likes being one of only a handful of appraisers in this area.
My suspicions were confirmed further when I received a certified letter a few days later from the Real Estate Appraisal Board of the State of Idaho. Yep, she had turned me in to the board. Her complaint? Geographic competency. Well, to make a long story short, I was able to defend my report against the allegations made. Frankly, and you are just going to have to take my word on this, her problems with my report were silly and unfounded. It was obvious to me, once again, that she saw me as a threat and was looking under every rock for things to complain over. In the end, my defense was vindicated by the “you’re off the hook” letter from the state.
This is actually the second time I have been turned in to the state board by another appraiser who, I believe, was acting out of their own self-preservation rather than the principle of justice and protecting the good name of the valuation profession. I will fully admit, I may be wrong in my synopsis. I am only putting the pieces together (many of which are discombobulated). Yet, you know this kind of thing happens. The fact that, in most states, complaints can—and do—come in from peer appraiser reviewers is curious to me. I am not saying it should not be allowed, but I am wondering if there ought to be some checks and balances on such a process. Even that, however, is not the real point of my article. After all, it is not like the state board slapped the cuffs on me. They could see how unfounded the complaint was as well. The justice system works!
My real issue comes down to the way we run our businesses and the way we might treat others who are (or could become) our competition. Many years ago, I befriended an old codger who called himself an appraiser. He was a mentor of sorts to me and always had plenty of fatherly advice to dispel. One day, while talking about review appraisals over a Coke, he said, “Here is how I look at any review I am asked to do. I try to remember that behind every appraisal report is an appraiser. Every appraiser is also a human being who is just trying to feed his or her family. I was always taught to do unto others as I would have others do unto me.” That does not mean, of course, that if an appraiser has truly screwed up we should not call him or her on it. No, our job as reviewers is to do exactly that. Rather, it is a plea to avoid vendettas. You are not the boss over who does or does not do business in ‘your area.’
Just be nice. That’s all.