Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Dustin Harris

Dustin Harris

Certified Real Estate Appraiser at The Appraiser Coach
A multi-business owner and residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers. His principles and methodologies are also taught in an online, Mastermind group. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children. Dustin Harris in e-AppraisersDirectory.com
Dustin Harris

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“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.

Dustin Harris

Dustin Harris

A multi-business owner and residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers. His principles and methodologies are also taught in an online, Mastermind group. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children. Dustin Harris in e-AppraisersDirectory.com

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10 Responses

  1. Bryan says:

    A reflection of generations of the same old thing. 23 years ago I found only one appraiser willing to help me in any way – oh yah – we were shirt tail relatives. We have never been each others advocates – that is a huge problem.

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  2. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    The more important question is: “Can’t we all just organize”?
    Answers: No & No
    Appraisers are far too mentally challenged to do either.

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  3. Jeremy Hall Appraisals - Colorado Jeremy Hall Appraisals - Colorado says:

    Herb just said an outright No. Ha! Good one. The checks and balances system will never be obsolete Valuation professionals will always have an important role to play in the checks and balances system for responsible consumers and responsible lenders, regardless if we’re required by regulation or not. I’ll get along with out of area persons, if they have not stepped over the line regarding fair and free market distribution principals. Nobody should have too strong of a hold on any single industry. Anyone know where to get a M&S book without Corelogic being involved? And that’s my point, in a round about manner. Totally had 350 to buy a new M&S. Saw the Corelogic name, and could not bring myself to purchase a product willingly from the same company that only recently tried to put me out of business and apply an ownership patent the entire valuation process. If you want that patent argument web info, you’ll have to seek it out, but pertaining to monopoly structure and appraisers, it’s pretty straight forward. That would be f 2 i & ii /// http://www.consumerfinance.gov/eregulations/1026-42/2015-18239#1026-42

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  4. Jeremy Hall Appraisals - Colorado Jeremy Hall Appraisals - Colorado says:

    Herb just said an outright No. Ha! Good one. The checks and balances system will never be obsolete. Valuation professionals will always have an important role to play in the checks and balances system for responsible consumers and responsible lenders, regardless if we’re required by regulation or not. I’ll get along with out of area persons, if they have not stepped over the line regarding fair and free market distribution principals. But as you usually never know how another appraiser has acquired the order, and appraisers should know all about how geographical competency rests on the measure of work the appraiser takes to be competent, that should not be a front line issue for appraisers I think. I could appraise the moon, with the right data set. Nobody should have too strong of a hold on any single industry or area though. Anyone know where to get a M&S book without Corelogic being involved? I found it difficult to want to pay a hefty fee to the same company that recently tried to patent the entire valuation process and apparently is taking over the industry one section at a time. Pertaining to appraisal assignments, compliance is pretty straightforward in; F, 2, i & ii / And that’s my point, in a round about manner. http://www.consumerfinance.gov/eregulations/1026-42/2015-18239#1026-42 ///// Appraisers should not complain just because an out of area guy shows up. I love to get out of area, and it’s a great adventure and challenge. I used to take lots of mountain work, just for the fishing experiences in the middle of nowhere, where I would most certainly otherwise not go. I’ve seen bigfoot. Yes it’s true, at least I’m pretty sure. Ha! My field work files were absurdly large and I’m not sure I actually made any profit on many of those mountain orders, but they were still worthwhile to take in, for the drives and views and adventures. But, it’s important the appraiser take that work for competency and loyal client patronage reasons, and not just for a lower fee. To drive out other appraisers for fee alone, would be surfing anti competitive practices. To exclude a competent appraiser who’s competing on fair terms would also be anti competitive. I think those are important points to distinguish and talk about, when having such a dialogue. As for getting along, I’m with Herb. It’s tough to get along with me, because I’d rather be fishing. Ha!

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    • Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

      Those valuation professionals of the future that you speak of go by names such as: R2-D2, C-3P0, HAL, Data, Gort, Johnny 5, Robby, & Wall-E.

      The checks & balance system that you rave about will soon be entirely in their hands.

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      • Jeremy Hall Appraisals - Colorado Jeremy Hall Appraisals - Colorado says:

        Nope. Stop the robots, and all of that. A computer is pre programmed by a human. Never trust a computer to understand the human factor. If you do, you’ve lost so much of your humanity, and might not even know it. Jeremy Hall, signing out from my old heavyweight desk, 15 year old printer, and real Bell phone with actual buttons and no pc chips to speak of. Fools rush in, and quality valuation professionals don’t let themselves become automated.

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  5. Jeremy Hall Appraisals - Colorado Jeremy Hall Appraisals - Colorado says:

    Whether you agree with Dustin or not, he certainly brings it with thought provoking articles that are fun to read. Thanks for another interesting article read.

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