Long before I joined Summit Valuations as Chief Valuation Officer, I was a working real estate appraiser. I got my start back in 1987 and have appraised property in just about every set of market conditions you can imagine. Like most appraisers still working today, I’ve watched property values rise and fall. I have also reviewed thousands of reports as part of my forensic review work for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
What I’ve learned is that a good appraiser will deliver a sound market value if given room to work, enough time to perform the required research, and with some experience in the local market. The vast majority of appraisers I’ve come across have been solid professionals, hard-working men and women just trying to earn a decent living by doing complicated work.
I would like to tell you that there was something you could do on the job that would set you apart, really make you successful. But the truth is, our work is most valuable when we’re able to cut through all the noise and just deliver a solid valuation. Nothing fancy. No frills, just good numbers that can be defended if need be.
It’s all of the stuff that’s not part of the appraisal report that really sets a good appraiser above the rest. The very best valuation professionals I have ever worked with were those that really understood the value of relationships.
The relationship to the local market
One of the first things we look at when we evaluate a new appraiser for our panel is the professional’s relationship to the local market. This is a local business and the people we’re looking for have established themselves in a given community by focusing on the long term. This almost always means long-term relationships.
When vetting an appraiser I haven’t worked with before, I like to reach out to real estate agents and especially brokers in the local market and find out who knows the person. Without good relationships with the brokers, appraisers are far less likely to do a good job of valuing real estate consistently. Good appraisers know that these sales professionals are intimately aware of the value in certain neighborhoods. They are an invaluable source of information that good appraisers tap into on a regular basis. I consider any appraiser stronger who takes the time to build out these relationships.
The relationships within the industry
Most appraisers working today have experience with appraisal management companies or other valuation providers. Whether you love them or hate them, these firms have established themselves and some good appraisers have built solid relationships with them.
Knowing who an appraiser has worked with previously will tell you a little about the quality of that professional’s work. Knowing how long they’ve worked with various companies in the industry will tell you even more.
Since 2005, I’ve been working on national valuation teams, going out into communities across the country to find the best valuation professionals. The best I’ve found take their inter-industry relationships seriously. They provide good, clear reports that are easy to defend. They provide enough information, on a regular basis, to firmly establish themselves as the consummate professional for valuation in their community.
When I think about the appraisers I’ve known who fit this description, the words that come to my mind are “always provides a quality product.” Sometimes, it can be as simple as adding a single line to his or her comments, just a bit more explanation than someone else would have provided. They connect the dots.
I know they’re not doing this to build a stronger relationship with my company and me. They’re doing it because they know what it means to deliver a quality product. But every time they do it, they strengthen that relationship.
We need the property value to satisfy our clients. We want a relationship with a consummate professional and that’s why we look to the appraisers we do.
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