Wednesday, November 15, 2017

After a Decade

It was just over 10-1/2 years ago that I began this blog, partly in hopes that it might help build my appraisal business. I've had a lot of feedback from it, and even outside the comments I have been approached by people who said they appreciated some of the insights, but it never did provide any additional business that I was aware of.

Now that I am on the edge of retiring, I may have the time to piddle with this again. Life has gone on, in fits and spurts, and as far as business cycles go, it appears that we are approaching another nose-dive in the real estate market, just like 10 years ago.

I have to admit, my history is a bit checkered. In 2007, I had been released from my position as a reviewer with AMCO (now Dwellworks), because as a part-time employee they wanted to cut costs by having me shift from W-2 to 1099. Since that would increase my E&O liability far more than was comfortable, and I would have to sign a non-compete clause and I was only going to be part-time, I declined to go that route and was turned loose. I spent some time doing fee work, but the end of the bubble was upon us, and fee work was becoming scarce.

In April 2008 I took a position -- it was through a temp agency -- with Old Republic Default Management Services as a BPO reviewer. They had lots of business, since there were scads of defaults going on. I worked there through October 2008, at which time I was told there was no more work for me, but when I applied for unemployment, OJFS found otherwise. I suppose that it did not help that I raised my hand and disagreed with their company attorneys that a licensed appraiser who would be reconciling BPOs was actually performing a valuation service under USPAP, and should comply. They said the key word was "price", I maintained that it was "professional opinion as an appraiser", and we had to part company. I got to collect unemployment.

It wasn't much, and every time I took on a fee job, even for a day, I was off unemployment for a month. For a while things were getting a bit desperate. The work I was doing for the Federal courts was not very substantial, and fee work for lenders was nearly non-existent. In mid-2009 Fred Westbrook at Barry Ankney Inc took a chance and hired me for the 2010 Geauga County revaluation.

For two years I wandered the backsides of Geauga County, spending my days checking the accuracy of the tax cards from the ground. I got to meet and talk to dozens of Amish farmers, and hundreds of homeowners and business owners. Some folks were hostile -- yes, I got death threats -- but most were interested in making sure their tax records were straight. I got to see the insides of factories and high security test facilities as well as campgrounds and multi-million dollar residential estates. Geauga County had it all.

When the reval concluded, Fred offered me a job in the office as a residential reviewer. Actually, I was to be the start of the residential arm of Ltd, the commercial appraisal management company run by Barry and his crew. Along with Fred and Barry, I would be working with Chuck Cather, my old boss from REAS, and with Dick Rexroad.

Dick and I hit it off immediately. We just clicked as a team, honing our review skills. It only took a little over a year and we hung a sign over the door -- the Dick 'n' Jim School of Appraisal. That came about because our office co-resident, Pete Zendlo, was constantly ribbing us about all the teaching we had to do in order to get compliant reports from appraisers. I learned from Dick, he learned from me, and we developed numerous advanced insights through our discussions of all things appraisal.

Dick retired at the end of last month. I have let Barry know that while I would like to keep working, I will be doing so on more of a part-time basis starting in January. Maybe I will have time to pick this blog back up and do some mentoring. Maybe not. I just had to stop by and see if I could still log in. Then I had to write something. Now I have to go. See ya.

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