An Appraiser’s Full Circle

Mike Foil
Mike Foil, Foil Appraisal Service

A couple of years ago, I asked my brother who had just closed his business, “How do you know when you are done and it’s time to retire?” He answered, “When it is time, you will know.”

There are considerations: health, finances, what to do, and the passion you still have for appraising. I’m turning 70 in a few months and enjoy good health. We see a path financially without the need for appraisal fees; however, having just received payment for the last file in accounts receivable did put a stamp of finality on the decision. I have ‘projects’ to work on:  thinning trees and brush on four acres I want to split into three building sites, writing a study on “The Salvation of the Soul,” and family time (wife, kids, and 16 grandkids). As for my passion for appraising, it is gone.

Through most of my appraisal career, I have worked rural Arizona. Appraising allowed me to travel around much of the state enjoying the mountains, forests, animals, and seeing family. I enjoyed the challenges of the unusual property. Many times, the challenge began in just finding the subject property and the comps before the sun went down while you still had two-three hours of driving to get back home.

I enjoyed getting out, seeing houses, the field work, and even the research; however, sitting and typing grew tiresome. That was the part that was pulling me away.

Last August, as I was inspecting a vacant home, I said to myself, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Immediately came out the response, “You are done!” To be honest, this seemed like getting permission to stop and it was an emotional moment. My life was about to change.

I graduated from ASU in December 1972, with majors in General Business and Real Estate. I had a job lined up with a land development firm in Phoenix. Two weeks prior to graduation, I received a call from a bank manager back home in a very small town in NE Arizona. He asked me to come back to Show Low and be an appraiser. I agreed. After all, I had a semester class on RE appraisal under my belt. I went home, did some house painting to earn money to go to a two-week appraisal course put on by the ‘Society.’ In May, I opened Foil Appraisal Service with a manual Underwood, a Polaroid camera, 100’ tape measure, business cards, and my own appraisal form (at that time, there were no standard forms).  I had never done an appraisal or watched anyone else do one, but since I had a client, I was an appraiser.

In my early days, I would “appraise” anything someone would hire me to do, including: a ranch, motels, bars, restaurants, and cabins to mansions. I appeared in court as an ‘expert witness’ for divorces and a lawsuit over fire damage to trees. If there was a need for an appraisal, I felt obligated to meet that need.

There are the stories: dog bites, police being called on me, a neighbor pulling a gun on me while measuring a house, finding a dead coyote on a bed, measuring a home in three feet of snow, and finding a dead man in a home. It’s been a great ride, however, I have found the place where I am happy and done.

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About Mike Foil

Mike Foil
Foil graduated from Arizona State University in December 1972 with degrees in General Business Administration and Real Estate. Then started appraising in 1973. He authored "The Appraiser's Petition" on Appraiser's Forum in the 1990's about lender pressure on appraisers. He worked rural Arizona most of his appraisal career with the last 29 years in Payson, Arizona. Foil is married, has four grown kids, and 16 grandkids. Foil is now retired as of December 2019.

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