In this day and age, it seems like a lot of things have fallen by the wayside and good manners should not be one of them. When you do an appraisal, you are representing yourself and the people who have hired you. A certain degree of professionalism should always be the standard and not the exception. With that being said, what are the expectations in this day and age? Here is a list, by no means exclusive, of rules to live by.
- Be on time. Not half an hour early, nor half an hour late. If you show up too early, homeowners might not be prepared for your arrival and if you show up late you keep them waiting. Time is money and you shouldn't waste anyone else's time.
- Cell phones should be used sparingly, if at all in a customer's home. Sometimes it cannot be helped, but personal calls that seem to ramble on do not endear you to anyone. If you must answer or use the phone, do so as briefly as possible.
- Don't ask to use the homeowner's bathroom. Yes, if you ask, they will point you down the hall. But you are a stranger and should not impose except in the direst of circumstances.
- Don't ask for anything to eat or drink. Again, take care of these needs before or after your arrival. If they offer you a drink, you can accept their hospitality but don't sit down to dinner with them.
- Keep your vehicle presentable- inside and out. For years, UPS drivers would wash their vehicles daily to maintain a professional image and often, that is what a homeowner would see both first and last.
- Maintain your personal hygiene as well. Some of you will laugh, but others will argue. Bathe daily, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, clean and trim your nails, shave all necessary areas, floss and brush regularly and get your hair cut at least once a month.
- Personal attire should be business casual or better. Polish your shoes and brush off any lint. Depending on circumstances, you could get dirty. I would recommend a change of clothes and/or a pair of coveralls.
- Laptops belong on your…lap. The homeowner does not know where your computer has been. Don't set your Ipad on their table or countertop and send a germaphobe into orbit.
- Be prepared to take your shoes off inside. This still unsettles me a bit, but some homeowners will cringe if you do not take off your shoes inside. I know a person who refused to do so and wound up discoloring a $10,000 Oriental rug. Some homeowner's will provide you booties to wear inside, but you might be advised to bring your disposable ones and make sure there are no holes in your socks- just in case.
- Be polite and appreciative. Just saying please and thank you can set you apart from the rest.
- If you smoke, chew tobacco or chew gum, do it someplace else. Even if the homeowner lights up in front of you, you are best advised to wait until doing so yourself.
- Be prepared. Bring at least one business card to leave with the homeowner and be prepared to hand out more.
- Pay attention to what the homeowner says. Having to repeat yourself over and over becomes tedious very quickly. Take notes where necessary.
- Never assume that a home-owner is your best friend. Off-color jokes and foul language are best saved for your home, not theirs.
- Be diplomatic. Sir Isaac Newton once said, "Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy." You will not always agree with the homeowner, but you are their guest and should always remember that.
Are there any other rules appraisers should remember? What is the worst experience you can share of an appraiser abandoning society's norms and values? I would love to hear from you. Just be diplomatic. Please. Thank you.