Experienced and New
Experienced and New: A Review of Appraiserfest 2018
By Tom Horn, SRA and Woody Fincham, SRA, AI-RRS, RAA Member of RAC
A Newbie Conference Attendee’s Take on Appraiserfest 2018
Tom Horn, SRA
I just got back from the first ever Appraiserfest conference, held in San Antonio, Texas, and while it is fresh on my mind I thought I would share my thoughts. This is my first national appraisal conference to attend and I have to say it did not disappoint.
I have been an appraiser for quite a while but have never been interested in spending my money or time to attend a conference that was not close by where I live. This may be the same way other appraisers think also but I hope this article gives you some insight into what happens at one of these conferences and what you can get out of it.
One analogy that I have heard about appraisers, and one that was mentioned at the conference, is that we are very similar to lone wolves. Many of us work by ourselves and we do not get a chance to talk with other appraisers whenever we need another professional’s opinion.
I think one of the messages that the conference wanted to get across is that appraisers must try and shake off this mentality. We must try and go from lone wolves to a pack of wolves. It is only through this transition that we will be able to affect change at the national level because there is strength in numbers.
This change can start at the most basic level, like that offered by social media groups. One of these groups that comes to mind is the 100% Appraiser Group, started and ran by appraiser Mark Skapinetz. I truly believe that this conference would not have been as strong as it was without the camaraderie that this group has built, or at least the friendships that appraisers have developed online.
The natural progression of these online friendships is to move them offline and in person. Taking this a step further these relationships also develop into state appraisal coalitions that have been so effective over the past several years. Again, when appraisers work together like this it becomes a more effective method for communicating with government officials to get things changed in a positive way for the appraisal industry.
The underlying themes for Appraiserfest 2018 included:
- Finding alternative forms of appraisal work that do not involve lenders
- Making yourself the local expert by analyzing the market and reporting your findings to other local real estate professionals
- Being aware of antitrust laws so that you stay out of trouble
- Learning as much as you can about your state appraisal laws in order to avoid mortgage fraud
- Educating ourselves on the new technologies such as blockchain so that we can position ourselves as valuation experts
- Staying on top of the main economic indicators so that we can plan for market changes in our businesses
- Learning how to use social media to our advantage in order to grow our non lender business and finally
- Thinking differently about the current real estate appraisal model by providing value to consumers by helping them manage the equity of their largest asset, their home.
In addition to getting value from the above noted curriculum the ‘fest also provided great value in other ways also. The friendships that were built online were taken offline and strengthened even more. While I don’t have any other national appraisal conference to compare it to I have attended regional or local get togethers and this was much different.
This gathering had a special vibe to it because everyone seemed to already have a bond with each other because of their online communications. It was this aspect of the ‘fest that I believe sets it apart from all others.
A very special part of the weekend involved a ceremony that honored all of the appraisers that had served in the military. Each of their names were displayed on the big screen and they were all given medals. This was an emotional time for everyone attending.
Everyone in the group has a genuine love for appraising and the desire to continue providing value and help to consumers, because without an unbiased third party involved in the mortgage transaction this could negatively affect the national economy.
So, my final thought about Appraiserfest 2018 is that I would definitely attend another one because the value received was so much more than the cost and time involved and the 14 hours of continuing education doesn’t hurt either. If I can answer any questions about attending the ‘fest feel free to contact me.
An Experienced Conference Attendee’s Perspective
Woody Fincham. SRA, AI-RRS, RAA Member of RAC
Appraiserfest 2018 has ended. I admit it, I was a skeptic that it would ever happen. Not only did it happen but is was an astonishing success.
Wow, what an experience. I think all of us that attended had a bit of withdrawal when we got home. This is one of many valuation conferences that I have attended in my career. It was certainly different than most. This was my sixth and final one this year. Appraiserfest is a different beast than what most appraisers would be familiar with. It is not just one stuffy panel after another. Pretentiousness was checked at the door and we were all simply appraisers working towards a single goal. That goal being successful valuation practice.
Starting out, the energy was vibrant. Everyone that attended expressed how much positive energy they felt there. In a time where residential appraisers feel isolated and preyed upon by lenders, AMCs and GSEs, this conference helped turn some frowns upside down. The networking was excellent. I was able to meet many appraisers that I have emailed with or spoken to on the phone or exchanged correspondence with over social media. It was great to shake hands and get hugs from folks I have befriended over the last few years.
The introductions that were done included music, video and lots of pumping up the crowd. The leadership that put together the fest did it right. Phil Crawford has a great ability to interact with the crowd, very personable. Mark Skapinetz “Skap” is well…Mark, it is hard not to love the guy. They keep saying this is a “Happening”, it was more like a “Skapening”. He is certainly a genuine person who wants to see good things happen for all of us as professionals. Lori Noble, as we say in the south, was certainly the belle of the ball. Everyone, Phil and Mark included, had such wonderful things to say about her and it seems she was the glue holding much of it together. These three deserve all the accolades for getting this thing to work.
A personal highlight for me was being able to sit on a leadership panel with Mike Ford, Maureen Sweeney, George Dell, John Russell, Jonathan Miller and Jim Park. It was neat to see the crowd from the stage. It was a perspective only a few of us got. The biggest take away for me sitting up there: Appraiserfest is a diverse group. The number of women appraisers that attended seems much higher in comparison to other conferences that I have attended. That is great!
Over the next couple of days there were a slew of great presenters and lots of networking. I walked away with dozens of business cards. That is always a great thing about attending conferences and classes in person. You can meet folks and not feel like you are an island unto yourself. Many of us are single appraiser entities and we forget that there is strength in fellowship and unity. I mean the Fest even brought David Samnick back to the 100% Appraiser Facebook page. Many missed his “As the Liver Turns” posts, I am glad to see that he is back as well.
I will certainly be attending the next one, and I hope to be a part of the leadership and presenters again. I do hope to see a larger cross section of the profession at the next one. I was surprised at the absence of the Appraisal Institute. This was a large gathering of residential appraisers and this would have been a great platform for the AI to reach out and talk with the boots on the ground appraisers out there. Maybe next year.
So now you have a new conference attendee’s perspective from my friend, Tom Horn. (By the way, I had never met Tom in person, it was great to finally do so.) He liked what he saw at the Fest. You have my perspective from a veteran conference attendee, and I have no issue saying it is unlike anything else out there. It is worthy of your time and resources to attend next year.