On March 19th, Josh Walitt will join other appraisal industry stakeholders in kicking off Valuation Expo in Orlando, Florida. Josh, a residential certified appraiser, will address appraiser best practices, professionalism, and communicating with clients. The Buzz staff asked Josh a few questions about his take on the future of the industry and what he plans to address at Valuation Expo.
Buzz: We always like to start off with an easy question, tell us a little about your experience in the industry and what motivates you.
Walitt: Most of my appraisal career I have spent as a residential fee appraiser, and in the last few years I also performed consulting work for various clients, before moving into a Compliance Manager position at Property Interlink, which is an appraisal firm and management company. I still do fee appraisals for private parties, like attorneys and accountants. Behind everything I do, I am driven to fine-tune my accuracy, communication, and efficiency. If I’m spending 30 extra seconds on a task with no more accuracy or benefit gained, I find a way to remove those 30 seconds.
Buzz: Can you provide a little teaser about what you will be sharing with our attendees at Valuation Expo?
Walitt: Well, the overall topic is “professionalism”, but do not think it’s going to be a “here’s-what-you-should-wear-on-inspections” talk. I’ll touch on the milestones of a profession, what we really mean when we say we are “professional”, standards and expectations in our profession specifically, oversight, steps we can take as individual appraisers to increase professionalism in ourselves and those around us, and several calls-to-action (how can we intentionally be inserting ourselves into the direction of our profession?). And, by the way, yes I do believe appraisal is a profession! The overall thrust is: How can we actively better our business lives?
Buzz: With the advances in technology, do you feel that the appraiser’s current role is changing?
Walitt: Definitely. Until a few years ago, I think most appraisal software was basically a fancy typewriter. I learned to type on a mechanical typewriter, but that isn’t the best option nowadays. Software is moving increasingly into not only formatting and arranging the information on a form, but actually assisting the appraiser in analyzing large amounts of data. Market analysis can be performed by the appraiser in a fraction of the time as before. Research, such as statistical analyses can be run, stored, and applied within the software, under the control of the appraiser. The appraiser is the human analyst: an AVM can’t explain its “decisions” – but appraisers can, and that’s their edge. Remember, retail stores that didn’t embrace online sales have disappeared or had to reinvent themselves. The postal service suffered greatly because it didn’t recognize that a lot of communication was going to move to email and other methods. Technology is giving appraisers a step-up they never had before – the question really is: are appraisers embracing the tools, so they stay ahead of the curve? One of the biggest fears that I hear: appraisers believe technology controls the appraisers – but it’s the other way around.
Buzz: How can appraisers help elevate the industry in the eyes of their clients and the public?
Walitt: The first step, in my mind, is to listen. What are clients needing? Second, how can we fill those needs? We tend to get stuck in our own offices, but can have an incredible influence on appraisers around us. The biggest step is to get appraisers involved in the industry: every appraiser has something to share, but most never speak up. There are so many ways that each individual can take part – and grab the reins – of what happens with appraisal practice in the future.
Buzz: Any final thoughts?
Walitt: It’s said that a person can only be responsible for him or herself, and that’s true. But we also need to remember that we can influence the people around us – not just the appraisers, but the clients and regulators, too. If we want a voice in the industry, we need to first make sure we’re speaking up.
Buzz: Josh, thank you for taking some time out and answering a few questions for our readers. We look forward to hearing your thoughts at Valuation Expo in Orlando March 19-20th, 2017. To register for the event, click here. Use code WALITT for 20% off any conference pass.
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