Thursday, 7 July 2022 | The Latest Buzz for the Appraisal Industry

What Does Your Appraisal Business Look Like in Three Years?

If I were to ask you to paint an accurate picture of what your appraisal business looks like three years from today, could you do it?  If you can’t answer this question, perhaps you are getting hung up on the word “accurate”.  Any individual can guess what the future might look like, but can you make that prediction with some sentiment of reality?

In an exercise such as this, it is easy to get paralyzed by so many unknowns that are outside of our control.  What will the markets do?  Will Fannie/Freddie come up with additional requirements?  What will my state board decide with that proposed rule change?  Meanwhile, the things we do have some control over can equally stump us.  What will my family dynamic look like in three years?  Will that great new assistant I just hired stick around?  Will my health hold up that long? There are always the ‘what ifs’ of life.  The question is: can you create some sort of game plan despite the hurdles that will surely come?

As I have studied the Greats, I have found a common theme; successful people have vision.  Those who find achievement in this life do not just sit back and allow it to happen.  Rather, they take the proverbial bull by the horns.  They look to a point in the future, spend some time visualizing what it looks like for them, and create a roadmap to get from here to there.

On the other hand, 98% (Brian Tracy’s number, not mine) of all people have no vision beyond what they are planning to have for their next meal.  Indeed, most people could not tell you what their business and/or life looks like one year from now, much less three years down the road.

As I interact with appraisers in person and online, I find a common theme, we appraisers in general are discouraged and generally fearful of the future.  It is not surprising given what we have been dealt over the past few years.  Scope creep, lower fees, challenges beyond our control, and hints of being replaced by some super-special Zillow matrix make it difficult to keep the old chin up on our present condition, much less our future.  Despite this doom and gloom, there are plenty of appraisers who are making a decent living and loving what they do.  How?

Though there is no one, single success model that fits all achievers, there are some general patterns that I have noticed.  Firstly, they keep mostly to themselves.  Rather than paint a bulls-eye on their chest, they go about doing their jobs and running their businesses quietly.  Secondly, they generally have a good attitude. I have heard the axiom “attitude is altitude” ad-nauseum, but there is still merit to its overall sentiment.  I notice some appraisers spend so much time and energy complaining that I have a hard time figuring out how they have time to do any appraising.  Successful appraisers have a system. They are continually refining and making their models better, and it works… consistently.  Finally, business owners who have vision last.  Not only are they setting goals (which is better than setting no benchmarks at all), but they can tell you exactly what their business looks like at the end of this year, next, and three years from now.  It is not a vague “I hope I am still around in 36 months,” but an illuminating “I will be doing 60% non-lender business, working 35 hours per week, have three employees, and netting $145,000 per year.”  The more specific the plan, the more focused one can be on its achievement.

The problem with most of us is that we either don’t stay focused on our plans or have no plans to begin with.  Frankly, the latter is probably the case more than the former.  We work day-to-day and paycheck-to-paycheck.  A house does not get built without a blueprint and a business does not change without a plan for doing so.

We should all be actively involved in changing our current appraisal climate on a grand-scale.  Join a coalition.  Be active in what is going on at your state board.  Write letters.  Attend think-tank organizational meetings.  Speak up!  Do not be satisfied with the status quo, but real change is faster and more effective within the walls of your own office.  What are you doing to make your life easier tomorrow than it is today?  What will your business look like in three years?  If the answer to that question is, “About the same as it looks today, I suppose,” perhaps it is time to sit down and create a vision.

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  1. Dustin, you
    live in an area (Idaho) where there are less than 500 certified appraisers in
    the ENTIRE state and it’s easy for you to stand on your soapbox and preach. Try
    working in Southern CA where there are several thousand appraisers fighting for
    work within 100 +/- miles of each other. I have issues with your statement, “I
    notice some appraisers spend so much time and energy complaining that I have a
    hard time figuring out how they have time to do any appraising”. What I have
    found from reading those same comments is that the problems facing this
    industry can be national, state, local, lender/client and AMC specific. In my
    area where there’s an expected 3 day turn time from assignment, this may not be
    an issue with other appraisers where they can demand 3 week turn times, take it
    or leave it. If most clients in my area choose to go the AMC route, and in
    other local areas there’s ample direct lender work (non AMC), this does not
    mean there’s not a problem because someone is “complaining”. As a whole, the
    issues facing this industry are much more important than what I see on a local/individual
    level, and any effort I put forth, is for the group and not myself.

  2. I predict that your business (certainly not mine) will be twice as stressful in three years, 25% less profitable and your liability will continue to climb. I also predict that you will have 10,000 fewer residential appraisers in 3 years than you have today.

  3. In 3 years my appraisal business will be cut to 50% of what I am doing now. The other 50% of my time will be fishing/golfing. Hope to completely retire in 4 years. Hope I can hang on as the road is getting very rocky. I have had 30 good years in the business, hope the rest can do as well, but I have my doubts.

  4. Dustin Harris, While he has been in the business twenty years, looks like he spends most of his time doing other things. I’ve been an Appraiser over thirty years and have never been in the position to do much more than produce the thousand appraisals a year I did for twenty two years. I didn’t have time to play other games as Dustin has but look at the experience I got from my effort..

  5. We are getting squeezed by big business/big banks. AMCs etc. owned by big banks & other “insider” tricks. Period; end of story. We are the “little” guys. Little guys ALWAYS get the screw.


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