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“Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Appraisers love to think. After all, we get paid to think and give others our opinion. But thought leaders do more than think—they translate their experience into ideas and their ideas into action.
In a February 2023 article in Business News Daily, Skye Schooley defines a thought leader as “someone who, based on expertise and industry perspective, offers unique guidance, inspires innovation, and influences others.”1 While I’ve been known to overthink things, I haven’t always been a thought leader. It took years for me to realize that I could use my voice to influence others and help spur positive change.
That realization didn’t happen overnight. First, I had to cultivate my knowledge and expertise—to build the confidence and conviction I needed to make my voice heard. To be honest, I would still probably be in my quiet corner, keeping to myself, had I not been forced out of my comfort zone and into a more public role.
Almost 20 years after I became a certified appraiser, I accepted a position at a national education provider. With that new role, I inherited responsibility for a large appraisal conference. In fact, the first conference I ever attended was one that I helped organize. This experience changed the trajectory of my career. I was coerced onto the stage and into the spotlight; I had to quickly learn who the big players were and how they influenced the industry.
Suddenly, I was meeting influential people whose experience and insight left me in awe and got my mind spinning. For the first time as an appraiser, I felt informed, aware, and connected. At first, I was a sponge, asking questions and listening. But before long, I was forming my own point of view and sharing my opinions with these industry players. After all, they were working for changes that directly impacted me professionally.
Soon I began attending other conferences, some for regulators and others for lenders. Although the hot conversation topics evolved over time, I kept seeing the same thought leaders at all these events. They had one thing in common: their ideas inspired their fellow professionals, and they advocated for innovations that would help our profession progress.
Being in the education space also afforded me frequent opportunities to network with my peers nationwide. I learned about other appraisers’ challenges and their feelings about the direction of the profession. I quickly realized my problems were their problems and that our clients’ problems were all the same. And I wondered: why aren’t we all working together to solve these problems?
As I listened closely to my fellow professionals, I began to hear common undercurrents of dissent, dissatisfaction, and even fear that appraisers were losing power and influence. These conversations rattled me to my core—and only strengthened my conviction that we appraisers need to engage in our professional communities and voice our concerns. I started getting more involved at the local, state, and national levels: I became a Real Estate Appraiser Commissioner, joined an appraiser association of my peers, and became an active member of various industry task forces and committees. I educated myself and became an AQB-Certified USPAP Instructor. With each of these engagements, I grew more assertive. I learned how this profession works and what makes it tick.
These experiences emboldened me to apply for a position on the Appraisal Standards Board. I wanted to help ensure that the standards for appraisals were clear, consistent, effective, and well-communicated to all stakeholders. I was honored to be selected for the Board and entrusted with promoting and maintaining the public’s trust in appraisal practice.
I’ve only been on the Board for a few months, so I can’t take credit for anything. But my early impression is: WOW! This is the place to think! Being on the Appraisal Standards Board has given me a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) evolves as a living document. I’ve learned that every word used in each Definition, Rule, and Standard is intentional and has significant meaning and purpose.
I will never read USPAP in quite the same way. I’ve seen how the Board carefully considers feedback from appraisers, regulators, and other stakeholders before making any changes to the standards. And I’ve seen how a single person’s comment can completely change the Board’s thinking—and directly influence the standards for all appraisers.
Sadly, only a tiny fraction of appraisers take advantage of the opportunity to offer constructive feedback.
Here’s where your input is deeply needed right away: Crucial conversations are going on across the industry—about how to strengthen guardrails against unlawful discrimination in all stages of residential valuation and how to enhance fair-housing and fair-lending enforcement. And our professional community is working hard to build a well-trained, younger, and more diverse appraiser workforce, by updating qualification criteria and encouraging state regulatory agencies to ease barriers to entry.
Now is the time to collect your thoughts, questions, and requests for the Boards and submit your suggestions to the Appraisal Foundation. This can include recommendations for issuing, amending, or repealing a Standard or qualification. As a reminder, the Appraisal Foundation also holds public virtual meetings several times a year to allow industry stakeholders—including appraisers—to provide input on proposed changes to USPAP and other appraisal-related issues.
Don’t just blow off steam by griping on social media; ask your colleagues about their struggles. Brainstorm with industry leaders. Use those conversations to hone your experience into well-informed, constructive suggestions. And then contribute your voice to the process of changing our industry for the better. It’s easier than you think to convert thoughts into positive actions—and become a thought leader in your professional community.
1 How to Become a Thought Leader – Business News Daily. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9253-thought-leadership.html