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Roadmap for Survival
by Jim Baumberger
Whether we appraisers like or dislike the introduction of bifurcated Desktop valuations, based on third-party property data collections, we cannot stop, nor ignore, this significant change in our industry. Advanced technology, big data, computer analytics, and the GSE’s data-mining of millions of appraisals have combined to forever change appraisers’ traditional scope of work and the appraisal workflow itself. In addition, the market demands a wider suite of valuation services than many of us are currently comfortable to provide.
A wise appraiser told me recently that, “It is time for appraisers to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Rather than being insensitive, or ignorant, he was cognizant that we are called in this moment to be flexible and adaptive during a transitional period of major industry change. Naturally, change provokes some discomfort in us. I am also discomforted by the enormous changes in the last few years to the federal regulations that now render 90-91% of all mortgages in America exempt from the appraisal requirements of FIRREA. We no longer live and work in an America where lending clients must use our services.
In a world where clients must want to hire appraisers, there is still good news to share. Most lenders, regulators and the GSE’s, continue to publicly recognize the value that credible appraisals and independent appraisers add to inform decision-making for real estate financing transactions. No other group of professionals is as prepared, by education, experience and ethical standards of practice, to protect the public trust, serve the credit-financial system of America and safeguard the real estate wealth of Americans, as are today’s highly competent professional appraisers. The most important things appraisers contribute that cannot be replaced are judgement and integrity. As long as we apply both these traits enthusiastically, and realize we are in a customer service business, the future for appraisers will be rewarding.
If appraisers evolve into providers of valuation services, master advanced technology and improve our customer service skills, appraisers will remain the preferred solution for all institutions that use valuation services. Tomorrow’s valuation services provider will perform a wide array of professional services ranging from inspections and property data collections on to evaluations, bifurcated Desktops and all the way to traditional appraisals, using technological tools we cannot imagine today. The best solutions, in my opinion, will be the potent combination of advanced technology, big data and computer analytics with the knowledge, expertise and objectivity of professional appraisers, who reliably reconcile the final results. I believe the future can be as bright for appraisers as we have the will to create for ourselves!
About the Author
James A. Baumberger is Chief Executive Officer and minority owner of First Choice Appraisal Management (FCAM). He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Concordia University in Portland with a degree in Business Management and Communications. As a certified residential appraiser, Jim’s 28 years of professional appraisal practice includes valuation services for eminent domain, lending, litigation, marketing, and relocation purposes.
Richard Hagar, SRA, is an educator, author and owner of a busy appraisal office in the state of Washington. Hagar now offers his legendary adjustments course for CE credit in over
40 states through OREPEducation.org. The new 7-hour online CE course Identifying and Correcting Persistent Appraisal Failures shows appraisers how to avoid CU’s red flags, minimize callbacks, save time, and earn more! Learn how to improve the quality of your reports and build defensible reports! OREP insureds save on this approved coursework. Sign up today at
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