Appraising for 100 years

Starting the business back in 1917, the Barone family can certainly say they have probably seen it all. The Appraisal and Consulting Firm was founded by A.J. Barone, Grandfather of all current and former Barones who have worked in the appraisal business. Today, the company has six MAI’s, three SRA’s and 22 total appraisers serving the Pittsburg, PA area. The Buzz staff reached out to Rob Barone to discuss the success of their business and their passion for the Appraisal Industry.

Buzz: Rob, thank you for sharing your story with our readers, tell us a little bit about the company’s history and why you decided to enter into the family business?

Barone: Our grandfather, A.J. Barone, 1st generation Italian, 7th grade education, got into the “Real Estate Business” in 1917. One of the reasons he “made it” was because of his Italian heritage. There was a significant Italian presence in Pittsburgh and he became successful selling to his own community. Over the next 40 years he bought, sold, developed and built residential real estate all over the Pittsburgh Area. In the late 1930s and after serving in the Second World War, our father, Ray R. Barone, MAI, entered the Real Estate business and established himself as an appraiser, changing the focus of our company in the mid-1950s to Real Estate Appraisal and Consulting. Ray’s three sons, R. Robert Barone, SRA (entered the business in 1971), Stephen J. Barone, MAI (entered in 1973) and Matthew J. Barone (entered in 1985) all became full time appraisers. One of our five sisters, Lark, has worked full time for the past 25 years and recently retired. In 1986, Barone and Sons split into two companies, one residential appraisal and the other commercial /industrial appraisal. Today we remain in the same building as two separate companies. Robert Barone has been the President of Barone and Sons since 1981, and Stephen Barone has been the President of Barone, Murtha, Shonberg since 1986. Stephen’s three sons have entered the business over the past 16 years and two have achieved the MAI designation. Matthew’s youngest son is now a trainee.  In addition to the above family members we have had 5 cousins, Adam Barone, MAI, Alvin Barone, SRA, David Barone, SRA, Carolyn Franz, Leslie Zimmers, and Ruth Wagner.  That’s a total of 5 MAI’s and 3 SRA’s in one family.  Adam is now with PNC Bank after starting with our firm and Alvin has since retired. Today our firms consist of over twenty full time appraisers and three trainees.  A total of 5 MAIs and three SRAs are currently active.  Barone, Murtha, Shonberg is now a part of Valbridge.

Buzz: You have been able to witness a lot of changes in the appraisal industry over the years. Is there one thing specific that you feel changed the industry over night?

Barone: There is much more documentation and verification required due to the availability of the internet and computers. Some of it is good, some seems to be overkill. I cannot say my values are more accurate 30-40 years later but my reports are three to four times longer.

Buzz: What is a typical day like now? How is it different from your daily routines in the past?

Barone: You get up, go to work start writing and/or go out and see properties. Same old grind, with the added benefit of vendors needing updates, changes and explanations on most reports, no matter how complete they are. In the past we never heard from a lender. I am not saying it doesn’t have its place but there is no trust in appraisal anymore, only verification.

Buzz: Working with family can have its own challenges, what has been your key to success?

Barone: We purchased from our father and five sisters a successful enterprise 35 years ago. We have had mostly success since then. It is easier when you are successful and don’t have the stress of no work, no money etc. My parents would never let us fight. We haven’t ever felt the need to fight in those 35 years. We feel fortunate that we have had this opportunity and don’t get caught up in the little disagreements we may have. It has not been hard for us to maintain an even relationship.

Buzz: Where do you see your company going in the future?

Barone: Well, we will have 4 appraisers in our family under 40, which is an anomaly today. Hopefully our sons and nephews enjoy the same good fortune that we have had. They appear to be more computer savvy and smarter than we were.

Buzz: What advice did your grandparents or parents give you that you remember best?

Barone: When talking about your business, family or accomplishments, never say I or me , only we and us. Nobody does it by himself.

Buzz: Thank you again for letting us share your awesome story. We hope that you continue to see success for another 100 years!

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