Relationships… The Lost Art
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I have been an appraiser since 2003, when I started my career path. Since then, the appraiser profession has gone through many changes, none more impactful than creating the Home Valuation Code of Conduct or HVCC law that was put into effect after the crash. HVCC created the new normal for the profession where Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs) were installed as the firewall or third party between the appraiser and the lender.
Overnight on May 1st, 2009, appraisers all over the country lost every relationship they had built with mortgage companies, lenders, and banks. The days of walking into mortgage companies building and speaking to the owner or broker to solicit your services were gone. I remember working for an appraisal company in Clearwater, Florida, in 2005, where it was part of my job to stop in at mortgage offices in my travels and do everything I could to gain their business. Sometimes I was successful, and sometimes I wasn’t; however, that was part of the fun in this profession. I also remember stopping into client’s offices with donuts and coffee and just talking shop with the brokers and owners. I enjoyed the phone calls about jobs I was performing for them and explaining specific issues and/ or successes that were going on. Ahhh. The days of the past that I miss so much.
See, these days, there aren’t any so-called relationships being built, although the AMCs like to call us appraisers their partners. (I don’t recall reaping the benefits of being a partner in anything with AMCs). Many new appraisers have come into the profession after HVCC, now know as DODD-FRANK, and have no idea how things used to be. How you had to hustle and build relationships, prove your worth to another company to earn their business, and maintain it with good quality work. Today you sign up on a link an AMC sends you, and BOOM, you are now on their panel of appraisers regardless of how long you have been an appraiser, your experience, and your knowledge. You are now considered a Partner. While most other service businesses have to prove themselves, earn the business, and perform to high standards, appraisers have to sign up and accept assignments to work. The art of building a relationship has been lost… or so I thought.
For years, I signed up with AMCs to get on their panels and get orders. Over the years, I have taken myself off AMC lists, and as of today, I work with only 3 out of over 200 registered in my state. Why? It’s because of what I learned years ago about building relationships and applying that to my business today.
Today as I am writing this, I have changed my business model to do more private work and less lender work. Work that requires me to build relationships with others and perform at a high level. Private work consists of everything that is non-lender work. Examples of private work are Pre-listing appraisals for homeowners or realtors, divorce appraisals, litigation appraisals, Tax appeal appraisals, and Consulting appraisal work.
I set out to establish that lost art of relationship building.From 2009 to about 2019, I was doing Lender appraisals, and deep down, something was missing. I would only be talking to customer service reps, people overseas that the AMCs subcontracted out to review work, and I had no one to go to with my issues and ideas. I know nothing about these people, and they don’t know anything about me. After listening to a podcast by Blaine Feyen and his Real Value Podcast about building a referral business, I set out to establish that lost art of relationship building. The link to that episode is here.
Building this referral or relationship business wasn’t going to be easy, and it most certainly wouldn’t include any lenders that used AMCs for their ordering process. I needed to look elsewhere for this to happen. Where did I go? I went to the realtor Facebook groups, Investor groups, and recently, I went to the new platform called clubhouse. All of these places have one thing in common…. They are places I could answer questions, give VALUE and prove to others that I am the expert in my area when it comes to the appraisal profession.
On top of that, I revamped my appraiser website to include blogs about things no one else was writing, created a new blog called Skap The Appraiser, where I would talk about everything from business to my personal life. I wanted to allow others to see behind the curtain to who I was, what I do, and how I do it. I wanted them to feel as if they knew me after reading a blog article about my life and business. I created a Google my business page that I post too often that allowed others to review me and give them insight into my daily business life.
…bring back that lost art of relationship building.Now, I will say that there is a big disconnect between Realtors and Appraisers, as I have discussed in my previous blog article that can be read here. We see this all the time in group chats and more where appraisers are against the realtor and vice versa. However, through all these different platforms I have explored, I found this as an opportunity to do something different and bring back that lost art of relationship building.
Has it paid off or worked, you ask?
YES… In so many ways. Ways I never thought it would thinking back now. Probably the biggest and most powerful thing I did was getting on the clubhouse. If you’re not familiar with it, it is an audio-only app that allows you to connect with others and talk about topics. I immediately got on it and started following others as well as joining other clubhouse groups. One, in particular, called REAL ESTATE CONNECTIONS, is an Atlanta based Facebook group and social meetup group that established themselves on clubhouse. They started local in Atlanta but have expanded out into other cities and states and in my opinion the best Real Estate social networking site out there. This is where the relationship/referral aspect finally came into play. As I attended more and more Clubhouse meetings, I suddenly realized that I was the ONLY appraiser amongst many Realtors and other Real Estate Professionals. I immediately established myself as the Expert Appraiser by just taking the time to answer questions, give my opinions on topics, and adding value where value was needed. As time went on, I started to make connections with Realtors and others. So far as to have some of the best Realtors and some of the most knowledgeable people in there contacting me for advice or referring me to others. I was now being asked by them for my services, thus creating a relationship with them, and something that was lacking for many years.
Today because of those relationships that I built, I have created a new business model, one that consists of less lender work and more private work, as we discussed earlier. I have increased my phone contact list by about 18 people, and every day, I get some new call or message from a Realtor or other person to provide my services. In turn, I also have been able to provide these contacts with information, leads, and work that they usually wouldn’t get. The best part of all of this… I get to engage with others that are wanting to learn, understand and gain my knowledge. The other fantastic part of this… I feel respected again for what I do. There is nothing more exciting than getting a voicemail or email that states,” SO and SO referred me to you and said you are the person to talk to.”
Relationships. It’s a lost art of business when it comes to the appraiser profession; however, I am so glad that I remembered it, glad I listened to that podcast, and even happier that I set out to do what many have let stay in the past. My business is less stressful but more exciting than its ever been in many years. I no longer feel like a robot. I feel like a human being, a business owner, and a valuable part of the process.