The role of the appraiser has always been to provide objective, impartial, and unbiased opinions about the characteristics and value of real property. However, with a broadening scope of work, and complexity of assignments that extend beyond past expectations, it is becoming more difficult for appraisers. On March 20th, Frank Gregoire will join a panel of other appraisal industry stakeholders during Valuation Expo in Orlando, Florida, to discuss the changing role of the appraiser. The Buzz reached out to Mr. Gregoire for his assessment on the future of the industry and what he plans to address at Valuation Expo.
Buzz: Can you tell us a little about your experience in the industry?
Gregoire: In 1976, I was licensed as a real estate salesman. The Florida Real Estate Broker course introduced me to real property appraisal. That was in 1977, which is also the year I started my appraisal career. In 1983 I transitioned from real estate brokerage and instruction to full time as an appraiser, and partnered with my father and mentor to create Gregoire & Gregoire. The firm cut its teeth on appraisals for equity loans for hard money lenders and eventually expanded to offer appraisal services for a wide variety of property including single and multifamily residential, condominium, vacant land, commercial, and industrial.
After FIRREA, in 1989, I became a certified residential appraiser, and concentrated on residential appraisals for conventional and FHA lenders, as well as private parties. At one time we had seven independent contractor appraisers affiliated with the firm. After an appointment to the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board (FREAB) in 2000, I spent eight years as a regulator. Assignments from lenders were negatively affected during my term on the FREAB. As a result of that and my father’s retirement, an effort was made to transition away from appraisals for mortgage loans to private and litigation related work. Shortly afterwards, I landed a multi-year appraisal review assignment for a class action suit. My involvement in the case has opened doors to several other federal cases, and the opportunity to work with a few of the best valuation professionals in the country.
We are winding up a three year engagement right now, and ready to commence work under a multi-year contract. Every now and then, it’s possible to get out, measure a house, complete research, look at comparables, and complete an actual appraisal.
Additional experience has been gained by working with associations. I have been actively involved with the National Association of REALTORS and their valuation and public policy related committees since 1992. During my term with the FREAB, I was active with the Association of Appraiser Regulatory Officials (AARO). Additionally, I am a designated member of the National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers (NAIFA).
Buzz: The speaking panel you are on during Valuation Expo will examine the role of the appraiser in the 21st century. Can you provide a little teaser of what will be addressed?
Gregoire: Over the past 40 years, there have been monumental changes, and most have been imposed ON appraisers and the profession. Standardized Forms, Secondary Markets, FIRREA, State Licensing, USPAP, HVCC, Dodd-Frank, UAD, Collateral Underwriter, and Property Inspection Waiver. We know change is inevitable, but there are rumblings of major change, and the ramifications could be dramatic. I will concentrate on building a professional niche with the intent to minimize the effect of change, and personal involvement to influence the type and direction of change.
Buzz: What changes do you currently see are happening with appraisers?
Gregoire: Uncertainty seems to be the overriding theme along with dissatisfaction due to their inability to build mortgage lending appraisal business on the basis of quality and qualifications. Competition is limited to fee and turn time and a race to the bottom. Appraisers, like many in this economy, are concerned with competition from automated alternatives. Interest in building business outside of the traditional mortgage lending appraisal treadmill has increased. On the other side of the coin, many appraisers seem intent on fighting the automated foe with their own automation as a means to increase their productivity.
Buzz: How can appraisers help ease the stress that change can bring?
Gregoire: Appraisers can cease acting as, and playing the victim. We must take an active part in our profession and be involved in creating solutions for our future. Involvement with professional associations, appraisal coalitions, and working with other stakeholders will not only be beneficial to the appraisal profession, but have a positive effect on the economy and be professionally rewarding. Many of the issues and changes coming up are much larger than us as individuals. Staying active on big picture items will keep us busy enough to forget about stress. We should also be assured by the reality that, even in the 21st Century, there are things machines are unable to do.
Buzz: Any final thoughts?
Gregoire: It will be nice to see folks in person, and to have some face to face interaction with appraisers. Since the inception of online bulletin boards, and the dominance of social media, plenty of names from around the country have become familiar. The online personality does not always line up with the live persona. I’m looking forward to verbal and visual communication rather than typing.
Buzz: Frank, 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 19th-20th, 2017. To register for the event, click here. Use code GREGOIRE for 15% off any conference pass.