2014 marks my 27th year in the appraisal industry. Back when I started in 1986, very few individuals went to college specifically to become an appraiser. You either had a family member in the business, or a friend. You thought, “Wow, I can make my own schedule; ” or, “I can get paid to see other peoples’ properties.” To become an appraiser, you merely had to announce that you were an appraiser. Everybody was an appraiser it seemed – at least on the side. To most, the profession wasn’t considered particularly prestigious; and most people didn’t even consider us as professionals, but rather as tradesmen. When someone asked what I did for a living, and I explained I was a Real Estate Appraiser; invariably they’d follow up with, “Oh, so you measure houses and put some comps on a grid, right?” Then they’d follow-up with, “Hey, I live at (inset address), what’s my house worth?!” We’ve all been the recipient of those types of questions.
The public’s perception of what an appraiser did, or if our services were really even necessary of course was, and often still remains, different than the reality. The reality is, this has been, and remains, an incredible and rewarding profession, and with so much potential for those who wish to succeed and are willing to put in the necessary effort to do so. The potential for success remains as high as ever, despite the myriad of changes occurring in the industry. The reality also is that the bar has been set higher than ever, and while there is little room for mediocrity, there is a huge amount of room for excellence. Excellent appraisers have excellent opportunities available to them. Clients will beat a path to the doors of the appraisers whose work product is consistently high quality and highly credible; whose appraisal services are delivered on time consistently; and whose customer service is proactive, professional and effective.
Today’s successful appraisal firms and appraisers continue to provide valuation and consulting services, but also take advantage of technology by utilizing it as a tool to help to maximize the credibility of their valuations and improve on their service to their clients. The industry continues to seek less expensive and faster ancillary or non-traditional valuation services as well. The industry will always seek “faster and cheaper,” and while the knee-jerk reaction from an appraiser is you can’t also have quality along with low price and fast turn time, the reality is that lenders recognize risk and when to incorporate non-traditional valuation services in their lending programs. We need to be familiar with those options as well, and be able to provide them when necessary. There will always be opportunity for good appraisers who, in addition to providing credible and compliant valuation services, also adopt and utilize the best technology to enhance their value to their clients. For appraisers who are not keeping their fingers on the pulse of the industry and what direction it is heading, they may find that the road ahead won’t be as well-paved for them.
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