I know you all look forward to the annual event of me interviewing myself. I, however, dread it. It is a difficult balance between the roles of hard-hitting journalist and pugnacious interviewee. Let me give you some tips on how to do this just in case you enjoy an occasional conversation with yourself. Find a comfortable spot and settle in. No distractions. And dive right in and ask yourself the challenging questions. So here it goes.
Buzz: Joan, tell us about the most annoying comments and questions you get from appraisers.
Trice: OMG, really. You are going to begin with this question? So unfair. OK, one of the most annoying comments I got after the subcommittee hearing a few weeks back was that I was not an appraiser. “How could she possibly speak on the matter?” I was an appraiser for over 25 years. That is my identity. Today I publish Appraiser Buzz and as a result have a pretty good handle on what appraisers are thinking. We do surveys. I simply ask them. I also have a whole family of appraisers. At Valuation Expo and just day to day I am on the phone with appraisers all the time. I feel incredibly fortunate to get to hear from just about all sides of any issue thanks to the Collateral Risk Network. The CRN is represented by every stakeholder. And trust me it makes for interesting debates at times.
Buzz: So whose side are you on?
Trice: Is that a trick question? I am on the side that supports appraisal independence. It really is that simple. And that is why is my testimony I proclaimed not to be representing any group in particular, just there to support those who believe independence is the most important tenet of the appraisal process.
Buzz: Given that recent hearing on “Modernizing the Appraisal for the 21st Century” what is your opinion for the future of appraising?
Trice: That is a softball question. Who knew that we would elect a real estate guy as President of the United States? How lucky is that for real estate appraisers? Short answer is that there will be real reforms and I believe that will happen at a rapid pace. Keep everything in perspective though. Appraisal is just one component of the housing finance system. From a 30,000 foot view the mandate will be the infrastructure build. We have a housing finance system that is built upon local courthouses that are within a day’s ride by horse for most of the population. So we have lots of catching up to do. We need to build the pipes and a system whereby documents can flow and are digitally recorded. All of this is fairly simple technology. We just need to have the right road map in place first.
Buzz: Does this modernization mean everyone will resort to AVMs?
Trice: I don’t think so. They have a role and always will but appraisers, the human element will always be an important factor. Look at it this way. In the appraisal process there are facts. The property is located at a certain geospatial location. And it has a finite square footage. It was built in a given year. But then let’s look at all the variables in between, the art part of appraising. Are there external factors that influence value? Do you know of a machine that can smell the air coming from the paper factory and how it always seems to get trapped in a certain small valley? Can a machine know that the architectural design of your subject is so amazing that it maximizes the view of the ocean? Does an algorithm know that there is local talk about the Ford plant moving overseas that could leave the entire town devastated? Can an AVM tell you that the community is about to undergo major gentrification? I rest my case. Well, except for one small thing. Appraisals today don’t do such a good job of reporting any of those things I just mentioned either. On my top 10 things that need to be done, the development of new forms is at the tippy top. Please note I am not blaming appraisers, I am blaming the process. And then once new forms are developed and policy rewritten we need to educate the heck out of appraisers. None of this is new ground folks. What was once old will be new again.
Buzz: What is going on at Allterra Group that we need to know about?
Trice: Just more of the same next year. We will continue to offer two events. Valuation Expo will be in Orlando at the Caribe Royale on March 18-20th. Registration has begun. And we will be back in Las Vegas in October.
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