Over the past couple of days, I have had two appraisers complain to me about “the other” appraiser. The appraiser who is sloppy, lazy, incompetent, and even crooked. One asked me if I could do reviews to find standards violations, and the other just wanted to vent. Both were ready to turn other appraisers over to the state regulators for disposition. Both may be 100% correct in their assessment, but it makes me wonder why we are so quick to blame others as opposed helping others become better appraisers. Do accountants complain so readily of “others”? Do plumbers trash talk their competition? Or is our disdain for “the other” appraiser part in parcel of not interacting with others in our profession except as internet warriors?
Getting to know other appraisers from various backgrounds and in various positions within the appraisal world is a good way to break down the wall of “otherness” and realize we are all people. People with similar passions related to the valuation of real property. Some may come to the profession from a sales background, and be oriented to what drives buyers to certain properties. Others may come to the profession from a logic-based background such as engineering or mathematics. Some may have been born into the profession. Some are bureaucrats, chief appraisers, and “big picture” people. Some are solo-practitioners who are in the field, every single day. There is a myriad of backgrounds that we have, and a myriad of views we have over where the profession should head, but almost every one of us values our profession enough to stay with it.
Conferences offer a way to meet, break bread with, and truly interact with someone who may be perceived as “the other”. Valuation Expo offered the opportunity to lunch with the chief appraiser from a big bank, at the same time as lunching with an appraiser who only entered the field a couple years ago. The conference is a place where practitioners from many different parts of the profession are together under one roof, presenting, discussing and hopefully listening to each other.
I value conferences such as Valuation Expo as a way to meet other appraisers from across the country, and to listen to what is important to them. I value it as a way to meet appraisers I wouldn’t otherwise; from reviewers to policymakers, chief appraisers, and boots on the ground ambassadors of the field. Even if we disagree with each other on fundamentals such as the hybridization of the process for loan purposes, we can interact with each other as fellow professionals, and move away from “the other” to places where there is common ground. Even if we cannot find that common ground, we can get to know each other as fellow human beings, which may start to break down the walls that make us angry at each other and move us towards understanding each other. In my opinion, doing so helps us move away from the anger we may feel towards others who are in the same profession.
Valuation Expo Chicago, back in March, was a great networking and learning venue. Each presentation that I attended had a component of back and forth, pro and con, between the appraisal profession as we know it, and the move towards modernization of which the GSEs have been at the forefront. Each session had a proponent and a critic. Each presenter was a passionate believer in their stance. I doubt many minds were changed in the various interchanges, but changing minds is not why we attend these sessions. We attend these sessions to understand what the issues are for the different players in the field, and how they are trying to solve them. We benefit from listening and being open minded, even if our minds are not changed through the listening. It helps tremendously to hear from the people involved in the processes as opposed to rumors that swell and take a life of their own on the internet.
Every single person I met and talked with at the conference was generous and kind. It is such a refreshing place to be, to meet so many people from so many different corners of the field, and to be able to exchange ideas and listen to each other. It is something that I recommend every boots on the ground appraiser do at least once in their career.
I am a huge proponent of the professional appraiser in the field. An appraiser who spends the time doing the research, verification, and examination of the market data, and then synthesizes all the information into an independent, unbiased and supportable opinion is very valuable indeed. The appraiser who can take these complex pieces of the puzzle and put them down in writing so that it is clear, concise, and understandable to their client and intended users is very valuable indeed. I hope that all appraisers will do their best to continually improve their education and practices to be that valuable, professional appraiser in the field. I completely understand the appraisers who reached out to me, frustrated with shoddy work they saw. It is out there. However, I believe that the vast majority of appraisers are trying to do good solid work but may lack the tools (such as role models or education) to do so. Attending conferences and meeting other appraisers is an excellent way to pick up some tools to meet others who can serve as these role models.
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