Serfs Are Starting to Get Upset

Serfs Are Starting to Get Upset

The serfs are PISSED! Apologies.

America was not founded by people that ‘went along to get along’, or that were willing to accept economic or political serfdom. Though they did so until a critical mass of frustration was reached.

It is human nature to seek and then protect the benefits of privilege. To some extent this is a positive attribute. It’s the foundation of Capitalism. It is only when dishonesty and manipulation of laws becomes prevalent that the system is at risk, and not operating properly.

We had dueling to keep honorable people honorable two hundred years ago. That was one of the first things the dishonest hucksters and charlatans made illegal. Then they convinced us that only attorneys and accountants could possibly make laws and policies. That common sense had no part. Only professional politicians can lead – not mere citizens as was originally intended.

We went back to being serfs with mediocre retirement promised if we were good and loyal to some business for 30 years of our lives. Until that too presented untapped opportunities to steal.

Initially by the likes of Jimmy (The Weasel) Fratianno and other’s with access to union pensions. Yeah, I know, THAT could get me in trouble with the bosses. But truth is truth. Later on, seeing how profitable THAT was, MANY politicians and their attorneys / accountants wanted a piece of the action.

They brought us Lincoln Savings & Loan and RTC, Enron, FIRREA, (DAMNED inconvenient that one was!), repeal of Glass-Steagall, 2% Option ARMS with pick a pay and negative amortization built in, for maximum risk high yield securities that necessitated three to five year refinances.

The serfs are starting to get upset.

Then the biggest “legal” ‘theft’ of public funds in history orchestrated by Hank Paulson via TARP I; quickly followed by TARP II and Quantitative Easing ad infinitum because free enterprise can no longer afford the interest on the national debt without it. The serfs are starting to get upset.

For appraisers, OUR Concord was HVCC. We KNEW we had a problem…it just took us so long to do anything about it. Many became frustrated and stopped trying. But some of us KNEW something COULD be done if we only tried.

I’ve seen it first hand, so I’m less discouraged than many. VERY small numbers of committed people can have influence far beyond their numbers, or stations in life.

We see it all over today in our current politics (regardless of which side you are on). The serfs are PISSED! Apologies.

First State coalitions, then combined coalitions to fight at higher levels were formed. A VERY FEW recognized appraisal associations became demonstrably active FOR ALL appraisers. Most notably the ASA though not to diminish the contributions of others. One, sadly, works for the benefit of only a few of its members.

None of these have critical mass though. There are after all, only 78,000 of us left. In a nation of 330,000,000+ serfs how much influence can they have divided?

The answer is “A LOT!”. Consider:

Only 66% of the above are eligible to vote. Of those 66% only 57% actually voted in 2012. About 38% of all eligible (+/-83,000,000) and about 25% of total population.

Each major party has very roughly from 35%+/- to 40%+/- influence or shared empathy with those people. That’s about 29,000,000 on any given issue at any given time. Given two sides of any issue, they are concerned MOSTLY with what the 50% +1 are concerned about. That’s only 14,500,001.

ALL politicians accept that everyone that appears or takes the time to write in on an issue reflects the views of from at least 10 others to as many as 100 others. Trust me on this or go ask you own elected officials. I once ran for office and was VERY involved in influencing community issues.

AARP claims 3,000,000 members. That’s about 21% of the majority perspective noted above (any issue). No one denies that AARP is influential. As a (former) AARP delegate, I could get into my Congressman’s office for a sit down meeting to present views ALMOST at will. Certainly every time AARP had a new issue to promote. This was the same congressional office that I had written to for over three years as an appraiser, asking for help on HVCC (admittedly under a previous non responsive hack).

Point is, that IF ONE (1) involved person equals 10 to 100 other similar views, the Congress member ASSUMES AARP could influence 30,000,000 actual VOTERS!

The American Guild of Appraisers (AGA, OPEIU/AFL-CIO) can speak for roughly 13,000,000 consumer, taxpaying, members, retirees, and their families at any given point in time, on real estate valuation related issues. OUR political leaders have to assume we COULD be speaking the views of up to 130,000,000 Americans and we are NOT limited to one party!

Federal & State Bureaucrats are deathly afraid of even ONE LETTER, that can end their careers or cost promotions. Federal Agencies have only 48 hours to respond to a Congress members official inquiries. They don’t like specific issue or personnel complaint letters to go to Congress members.

Our issues usually transcend political party interests. MY political leaders work for me, not the other way around. I don’t mind reminding them of that.

Michael Ford
Latest posts by Michael Ford (see all)
Image credit flickr - US Dept. of Agriculture
Michael Ford

Michael Ford

Over 28 years appraising all property types and interests, in Southern California real estate. VP/Chairman National Appraiser Peer Review Committee, American Guild of Appraisers, #44OPEIU/AFL-CIO. - Michael Ford on e-AppraisersDirectory

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10 Responses

  1. Avatar Diana N. says:


  2. The politicians who you and I elect are indeed working on behalf of their sponsors. Quid pro quo. Both parties passing bills on behalf of Big Banks (who are not really banks anymore but Investment Houses), Pharma, Oil, Telecommunications, Wall Street, et al. It’s top down. These problems for the serfs escalated in early 70’s when we went off gold standard, compounded by approval of nationwide banking in early 80’s, then escalated in early 90’s when Glass-Steagall (Banking Act of 1933) was repealed. The writing is on the wall.

    • Craig, I sure hope you and others didn’t miss my point above. The American Guild of Appraisers, OPEIU/AFL-CIO IS an acknowledged constituent. OUR UNION is every bit as powerful as any big business in America when it comes to getting the ear of politicians.

      It is THE single biggest difference between State Coalitions and ourselves. It is why I keep harping on membership. We’ve hit a point where there are too many issues and potential solutions for a few handful of ‘leaders’ to be as effective as our parent unions are capable of.

      I need help assisting members with state complaints. We need help monitoring EVERY State’s back room bills and regulations designed to circumvent D0dd-Frank, and FIRREA.

      How many here would have expected to find the deminimus issue buried under the agenda of the Paperwork Reduction Act?

      Again, I urge each of you to join with us at AGA. Those willing to put in some volunteer time on issues committees are especially welcome. Contact or (301) 220-4100.


  3. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    In a perfect world 100,000 appraisers and ex appraisers could still challenge Andrew Cuomo to a duel over HVCC (preferably all simultaneously).

  4. Baggins No Regrets Baggins No Regrets says:

    This just In;  yet another discount seeking amc solicitation.  Oh joy.

    Them:  On average our fee is $375 for a 1004 conventional appraisal in those counties, unless of course the home is high end and complex. Fees are negotiable in those cases.

    Me: When you get that standard up to $500+, give me a ring.
    I don’t touch anything full order for under $450, and I don’t have time to mess around with left over orders the discount appraisers were unwilling to field. I demand a C&R fee up front, current with today’s times and today’s challenges, and I try to accept all reasonable orders at that flat rate.

    If your flat rate compensation per order is not at least $450, you’re not C&R in Colorado.

    I’m just coming off of a 5 week set, 12 hour days, no days off, and it was another wild ride.

    It will probably happen again next month, and the appraisers keep on dying or quitting, due to pervasive effects of unsustainably low fees. We were getting $450 base, 15 years ago.

    It’s time to get current. It is not the amc’s or the appraisers responsibility or obligation, to save the borrowing consumer a dollar, or a day. It’s time to up the consumer charge, so you have proper access to the better half of the professional appraiser servicing base.

    I’m not in place as a small business person, to compete by fee, or save the borrowers a dollar. If the borrowers are basing their lending decision based on the cash out of pocket appraisal cost, they’ve got bigger problems and should probably rethink the whole engagement. But if anyone involved want to save the borrowers some money, you’re all free to cut them discounts out of your share, rather than mine. But again, that’s not either of our obligations, and such an approach which focuses on holding appraisal fees down, has no future benefit to the appraiser, or the amc.

    That’s the deal, when you want quality, rather than discount, I’ll be here for you. If I were you I’d fire whom ever struck the deal with the lenders which only resulted in $375 dollar base appraisal fee. That’s one dang awful negotiator you’ve got there, and certainly you could strike a better deal than that. The rest of them are able to, so why doesn’t your company?

    I’ve lined up a nice set of professional distributors, but I still do have room for one or two more, whom are willing to perform as good as the others. Otherwise, I fill the free time with reo’s and such. I’m getting those at $400+, and they’re vacant on lockbox, and I don’t even need to turn in xml, or deal with any unlicensed phone clerks.

    Let me know when your company gets current as a standard engagement point, I’ll be around.

    // end /  And that’s how it’s done folks. It’s not rocket science. Grow some backbone.

    Who dared call me a surf? JK. I’m a first class citizen with liberty and rights. I don’t need the government, because I’m quite capable of taking care of myself. Liberty is the ultimate protection for all of us. The more liberty you have, the more protected you are. The pen is mightier than the sword, and many segments of lawyers are a dime a dozen. They’re increasingly irrelevant and many have have destroyed their own credibility, as a group. You know how to effect change? You vote. But not at the booth, through your wallet. It’s the only vote that has ever mattered, in a capitalist society. You judge the company based on their ethic, not their product. You seek out what you need, and never accept a sales solicitation. Our country, is indeed, what we make of it. I’m on with made in usa, non gmo, sugar free, employee owned preference, local, sustainable, and of course, anti-liberal if possible. But to each is own. If you bought an iphone and complained about spying, you are your own worst enemy. Same ideas apply to real estate. I’ll pray for your mortgage note, but only you can pay that back and escape mortgage servicing.

    • Avatar KenQ says:

      Me: When you get that standard up to $500+, give me a ring.
      I don’t touch anything full order for under $450, and I don’t have time to mess around with left over orders the discount appraisers were unwilling to field. I demand a C&R fee up front, current with today’s times and today’s challenges, and I try to accept all reasonable orders at that flat rate.

      If your flat rate compensation per order is not at least $450, you’re not C&R in Colorado…

      Standing ovation for Baggins no regrets!

      Excellent response. Others should follow your lead! Thanks for standing up to a “discount seeking amc” and sharing your story.

    • Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

      Hang in there Baggins…you’ll get some much needed rest after June when rates begin to rise.  By the end of the year AMCs will be able to call the shots on fees once more and appraisers who now have the luxury to decline work will once more again be transformed into beggars.

      Make hay while the sun shines appraisers because it won’t shine for long.

  5. I’ve taken a different approach. Rather than complain or worry about fees and competition/low bids, UAD, XML, etc. I stopped doing lender work for the most part a couple of years ago. Now Less than 10% and selective, like a recent $20 million sale in Beverly Hills area. Even commercial, apartments and industrial for lenders can be noncompensatory with a fight to the bottom just like the AMC/residential model. I prefer litigation support and the like on an hourly basis where I may spend weeks or months one one assignment. Two were done over a several year span. Can be residential, commercial, land, fractional interests, et al. Occasional VA or Relo or Retrospective to fill in gaps. Currently involved on a civil litigated case involving retrospective valuation of multiple fractional interests on leased land. Prior litigation gadpreviously gone to trial, appellate court and arbitration. Deposition coming up soon. Never fun but at least challenging and better than the alternative.

  6. Avatar KenQ says:

    Excellent read as usual. Thanks Mike!


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Serfs Are Starting to Get Upset

by Michael Ford time to read: 3 min