The short answer is, “Yes!” It’s a peculiar twist, isn’t it? Amidst a gloomy landscape where interest rates soar and property transactions plummet, how is it that some appraisers are turning the tide and seeing greater financial success this year than they did last? The reason is more simple than you might think, they are rolling up their sleeves and changing the game.
In a world where many appraisers are metaphorically “sitting in their offices waiting for the fax machine to ring,” a select few are not going to sit back and let life (or the market) happen to them. How do I know? As The Coach, I have the exciting experience of being able to work with some of the most successful appraisers in the country. I have a front row seat to the inner workings of what these appraisers are doing to kill it (financially speaking) in a world where other appraisers are having a hard time even paying the bills. What is to follow are three, actual case studies of clients I personally work with in either my All Star Team, Dream Team Mastermind, or with personal, one-on-one coaching.
Case Study #1 is a young (30’s) male located on the East Coast. He has a moderately sized appraisal firm with a handful of appraisers. Most have been with the firm for many years – though he has recently restructured his organization. He reported to me that his numbers from January 2023 through August 2023 are up 15% from the same time last year. In fact, he may possibly break the 7-figures ceiling by the end of the year! How is that possible? He attributes his success – acknowledging that most appraisers are struggling this year – to an active and scheduled routine of frequently reaching out to his current and prospective clients. On the regular, he will visit local clients or call the long-distance ones. In his words, “The secret to my success is getting the RIGHT person in front of me or on the phone.” He is focused on good (no great) customer service and delivering every time what he has promised those who pay for his services. Further, he puts a premium on a positive company culture and a team who is united in the vision for greatness.
Case Study #2 is a young, female business owner in the Rocky Mountains. She too has a mid-sized firm (a handful of appraisers) and her success story is very similar to the one above. Since attending one of my Mastermind meetings a year ago, she has made a concentrated and concerted effort to reach out and talk to her clients frequently. She is a self-described “over the top customer pleaser.” She did not turn down any assignment for the first half of the year. Her clients knew that she would do any and all assignments (including the difficult or oddball properties) and thus gave her the cookie cutters as well. She spends a great deal of time learning, documenting, tracking, and giving clients what they need. She is overly concerned about turn times, fast inspections, and revision rates. By the way, she made $190,000 in all of 2022. This year (through August) she is at $580,000. Those are real numbers!
Finally, Case Study #3 is an appraiser from ‘flyover country.’ He has been in my All Star Team since the Fall of 2022 and I have privately coached him over Zoom twice in the past 9 months. This year, he made a major shift from Y-clients (why the hell am I working for you) to A-clients (the kind of clients that give us work, don’t burden us with scope-creep, and pay well and on time). In other words, he ‘fired’ a bunch of deadbeat (and otherwise difficult clients to deal with) and focussed on filling that vacuum with clients who treat him right (and pay him more). He has also spent a good deal of time streamlining his processes, creating his procedural manual, and generally getting more efficient so that he can turn quality reports in a time that is pleasing to his customers. In other words, he has spent time on what most appraisers would consider ‘the small stuff.’ Consequently, he is up 170% so far this year over last.
As you can see, it is not just the market that dictates appraiser success. In fact, the market in the end has very little to do with it. Rather, there are key elements that these successful appraisers have in common. Let’s break them down.
1. Networking With a Passion
One of the significant differentiators of the high-performing appraisers is their commitment to active networking. Rather than passively waiting for business, they actively seek opportunities to connect, collaborate, and converse with other professionals in the real estate field (lender and non-lender). Such interactions often lead to referrals and a wider base of opportunities.
2. Speaking and Educating
One of the most underestimated, yet effective, strategies is speaking at real estate offices (and other places professionals gather). By offering expertise and insights, these appraisers are not only showcasing their knowledge but also positioning themselves as industry leaders. This not only enhances their credibility but invariably leads to new opportunities. The goal here is to “be known, and be known as the expert.”
3. The Power of the Internet and Social Media
We live in the digital world. Get a decent website. No, get a great website. But just as you would not buy a pretty dress to hang in the closet for no one to see, you need to showcase your website through Google Business Profile and soliciting 5-star reviews. In an era dominated by technology, disregarding the potential of platforms like Facebook can be detrimental. Successful appraisers understand the importance of a strong online presence. By engaging with clients and potential customers on these platforms, they are broadening their reach and increasing their brand visibility.
4. Going Above and Beyond with AMCs and Other Clients
Instead of the passive approach of waiting for the phone to ring, proactive appraisers are picking it up and initiating conversations. Their questions to appraisal management companies (AMCs) are insightful: “What’s your biggest difficulty in working with appraisers?” By promising to offer solutions and better services, and most importantly, by following through, they’re separating themselves from the pack. This commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction often translates to increased business.
5. Working on the Business
There’s a profound difference between working *in* your business and working *on* your business. The latter involves strategic planning, goal setting, and refining processes. This broader vision and approach allow appraisers to identify opportunities for growth, streamline operations, and ultimately achieve better financial results. It is always the right time to work on your business, but don’t miss this opportunity while things are slow to really spend some time revamping and improving your processes and marketing.
6. The Value of Mentorship and Accountability
Success is rarely a solo journey. Those appraisers who’ve enlisted the support of a partner, coach, or mentor often find themselves more disciplined and motivated. Often, when things slow down, education and coaching are the first to get cut from the budget. Perhaps those things that help us with our success need to be the last item to end up on the cutting room floor. Setting clear goals, monitoring progress, and having someone hold you accountable can be transformative. It’s not just about doing the work but also about ensuring that every step taken aligns with a broader vision and goal. When I reached out to my All Star Team members asking for those who are doing better this year than last to reach out to me, I received more direct messages than I can include in this article. The case studies above are not unique. Find a successful appraisal business owner and ask them to help you to do what they have already achieved.
In conclusion, while the current real estate appraisal market presents its challenges, it is also rife with opportunities. The difference between those who thrive and those who merely survive (or unfortunately die) lies in approach, strategy, and mindset. Active engagement, continuous learning, leveraging technology, and a commitment to excellence are hallmarks of those seeing increased success this year.