Not ‘Just’ a Residential Appraiser

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By Rachel Massey, SRA, AI-RRS

I am not “just” a residential appraiser!

There’s no doubt that obtaining a certified general appraisal license opens doors to varied and interesting work. If it’s in one’s capacity to obtain this level, it’s a great idea.

But the idea of being “just” a residential appraiser must stop. Competent, highly qualified residential appraisers who study the market, know how to analyze and solve problems – and who can communicate effectively and succinctly – are very valuable to their clients.

As residential appraisers, we constantly work at honing skills. We work at becoming better appraisers every day, realizing that learning never ceases if one is open to it. Residential appraisers often exceed minimum qualifications and minimum education requirements. Many of us have received designations that involve significant study and testing requirements, such as the Appraisal Institute’s SRA and AI-RRS designations.

Many of us spend a lot of time, money and resources honing our skills and trying to improve every day. We work with most people’s largest single assets, and we are aware of that. We must be aware of nuances in buyer preferences, and how they change and evolve. We must be very aware of what is happening in our markets and pay close attention to changes as they start to occur.

Homeowners hire us because they have a real need. They need someone who is independent, impartial and objective to answer their questions. They need someone who knows the market, knows how to analyze segments of the market, and who can present their findings in a way that makes sense and is usable, regardless of the opinion of value.

Homeowners hire us to answer questions as varied as “what will this proposed addition add in terms of value” or “will it be cost effective for me to complete the list of improvements recommended by my Realtor prior to listing my house for sale”? There is a myriad of reasons a homeowner would want to hire us directly to answer questions.

Attorneys hire us to answer questions as well. They might need to know what the value of a property was as of the date of a marriage in 1992, and what the current value is. They may need to hire us to address what a property would be worth if there was no construction defect, as well as with the defect indicated.

They need someone who is not only independent, impartial and objective, but someone who is knowledgeable about retrospective valuation, or understands construction properly, and can complete a report based on both the as-if value, and as-is value. The work we have put into obtaining designations is not lost on many attorneys. These attorneys often seek out Appraisal Institute Designated Members, knowing they have exceeded minimums and have been peer reviewed prior to obtaining the designations, on top of the education and testing requirements.

As residential appraisers, we often come under extreme pressure: pressure to ignore issues with a property, pressure to turn in assignments too quickly and to cut corners, pressure to meet sales prices that are too high, pressure to appraise lower than market value to accommodate some interest or another.

Someone who is proud of their work ethic and quality – and who is independent, impartial, objective and knowledgeable about the work they do and how to support it – will never be “just” a residential appraiser. We will forever stand up for doing our work the right way and not bending to pressures. This is the mark of a professional. This is the mark of someone who takes the valuation profession seriously and understands how important our work is.

For those of us who treat being a residential appraiser seriously, and as a significant responsibility, we will never be “just” a residential appraiser. Think about that the next time “just” crosses your mind.

We must change this narrative from within. Be professional; be the best you can be. Be proud of being a residential appraiser. I know I am!

masseyRachel Massey, SRA, AI-RRS, has been an active appraiser in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, market since 1989. She specializes in relocation, lake appraisal and review work. She is an active AQB Certified USPAP instructor and enthusiastic champion of residential appraising. This article is based on a post she wrote for Appraisers Blogs.