Better Appraising from the Inside Out

Editor’s Note: E.J. Frank discusses techniques to make us better business people by being happier and less stressed.

Better Appraising from the Inside Out

by E.J. Frank

There is good news and I want to share it with you.

It’s not like any of us need to be reminded of the multitude of changes from HVCC to 1004MC to FHA. The influx of REOs and low interest rates are keeping some of us very busy while others are not very busy at all. Most of us have taken a hit in our bank accounts and have been thrust into a world of panic, anxiety and tension and… oh yeah and the holidays are here.

The good news is that a number of simple things can help restore us to sanity and get us through these trying times.

First, let me make it clear that you and only YOU can do this for yourself. If your boss gives you a day off and you go home to work, it’s defeating the purpose. If your family goes out to dinner and all you do is stare into your soup and think about work, you’re defeating the purpose. In my seminars and books I like to say…well, many things but one very important point is that you must take care of yourself.  You can’t function and others can’t rely on you if you aren’t healthy: honor yourself as you honor others.

Uncertainty, Anxiety
We appraisers never know from week to week what our workload will look like. One week we can have two jobs, the next 20. It’s the nature of the business. This uncertainty can be frustrating and stressful. Add to that the stress of new rules, new forms and changes in policies and procedures. If you work in a larger shop, other issues may include changes in personnel, workload, expectations and so on. Add to this, issues in our personal lives- the kids’ schedules, the expectations of a spouse or significant other, their workloads. Maybe you are caring for a sick parent, trying to juggle school, work, and family…any number of scenarios can exist. Short of melting into a complete pile of goo by the end of the day, what can you do to keep it all going?

Keeping it Together
The first step is being honest with yourself. You can only do what you can do. If the choice is doing ten jobs a week well or doing twenty jobs half way, how do you want to work? Do you want to give your best or 50 percent?

Be realistic. Take an inventory of your situation. Take a few minutes to do this and keep doing it weekly or daily if need be. In this inventory, prioritize the items for the day or week from need-to-do to should-do. Your list should not contain only one category. If your list reads: item #1: work, item #2: work and so on, either you are not being honest about the other parts of your life or you need to get a life. A person’s life is commonly made up of four general parts: work, family, recreation and faith. To be balanced, everyone should have more than one part. Consider this: if we have four parts and one isn’t working, we still have three parts remaining that are. This leaves us energy to put into the part(s) that need work. However, if we put 100 percent of our life into work and something goes awry…wow, we are in a serious personal crisis.

Stress, Tension
Does this sound familiar? We get to work on a Thursday morning and we’re emotionally and physically tired. We’ve had a rough week of being griped at by reviewers, AMCs, agents, borrowers, and even other appraisers in the office. It’s been trying but (of late), a pretty typical week. We’re preparing to go out to do two inspections. We don’t feel like working. Our bodies feel run down. We take shortcuts just to get things done. We’re snippy with our office mates. And what about road rage? Even the most mild mannered of us can become vicious monsters once we get behind the wheel, especially if we’ve been tainted by anger, stress, anxiety, or any number of similar issues. A car can become a dangerous weapon. Remember, everyone would like to return at the end of the day in the same physical condition they left home with that morning!

Fix It
Give yourself more time. This allows us to go a bit slower rather than try to beat the clock. We could allow a two car distance rather than tailgating. We might stop for that red light rather than running it. We may even back off and let that car merge in rather than run up to the car ahead. We also won’t feel as tense when we arrive because we’ve made our timeframe.

Take a different route to the inspection. We typically take the same route everywhere. It’s familiar, we can time it, we know the possible pitfalls. We also tend to zone out, think about other things we have to do and this can add to our tension. So, take a different route, one you aren’t as familiar with. This forces you to focus on the road and what’s around you and not on your thoughts. You can’t be mad and calm at the same time. You can only be one thing at any moment. Change your focus, change one thing and change your thoughts.

Listen to relaxing music– something calm, preferably with few words, low drums and at a low volume. This type of music calms the heart which calms the mind and body.

Avoid driving if you are tired. This affects everything– your ability to focus, your reaction time, your judgment, your attitude…everything. If things you are trying such as energy drinks and coffee aren’t working, your body is telling you that you need to rest. Remember, you must take care of yourself.

Coping with Change
The people who survive and thrive are those who can bend with the changes. In many cases, this includes diversifying. Learn other aspects of the job. Not a hundred aspects mind you- you don’t want to spread yourself so thin that you can’t be proficient and effective. Being more marketable is a good benefit. Also, doing something different from time to time helps keep work interesting and manageable.

Work with your partner, family members and others who are available to handle issues which may arise. Sharing responsibilities helps everyone in the household, creates a better overall internal and external environment and could save a marriage in trouble!

Don’t try to do it all. Delegate. Share. Be realistic about what you can take on in any one day. It’s better to take on less and get it done well than to take on too much and make mistakes you’ll have to correct later. If you set reasonable expectations you will be more likely to handle your workload and keep a positive self image.

Here are some very basic but important tips. Please try not to “rush through” or skim the list- most of this information is not new- we know what we should and shouldn’t be doing. The trick is to consider each from where you are today and then make a plan to correct whatever area needs help.

  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Eat well. Eat several whole meals and several small meals or snacks to keep your body energized.
  • Stay hydrated. It’s amazing how much energy we lose if we aren’t.
  • Exercise daily. Take a walk. Work out. It’s suggested by most professionals that we workout at least 20 minutes a day. It gets you away from the desk and gets you rejuvenated.
  • Be present at whatever you’re doing. If you are with your family, be with your family. Focus on them. Appreciate the time you have with them.
  • Communicate with those around you – co-workers, family members, etc.  There is no substitute for communication.

One of the most powerful and simplest solutions to a tough day is to wear a smile. It’s amazing how smiling changes everything. Remember, we can’t be angry and happy at the same time. We can only be one thing. Choose to be happy. If you are with a homeowner, even if your day is going to hell in a hand basket, smile, be kind, say something nice about their house and be pleasant even if you really don’t want to. You will leave that job feeling lighter and different about your day. And that can make all the difference in the world!

About the Author
E.J. Frank is a Certified Residential appraiser in Colorado who performs conventional and FHA appraisals as well as machinery and equipment appraisals. E.J. is also an EFT (emotional freedom techniques) Advanced Practitioner. E.J.’s websites are and

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