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I know that many real estate appraisers would like to expand their business into taking more private work, such as getting appraisals orders directly from attorneys’ offices. Although the financial compensation could be rewarding, and you would have more control over your business model, some may feel daunting as this could be new territory for most appraisers.
Also, so many appraisers turned down private work for the last four years because they were so busy with lending work. But the work volume from lenders could be a lot lower as the real estate market slows down.
In one of my recently published posts, Timothy S. Evans, SRA, a Certified General Appraiser at Monroe Valuation, Inc, has shared his journey into transiting his practice into getting private work. (Here’s the post if you haven’t had a chance to read it.)
This time, I connected with Timothy again to lay out some actionable steps to obtain private works from different sources.
Here’s what Timothy suggests for getting more private or legal appraisal work
- “Learn to write an extensive narrative. Explain things in your report.
- Take the AI report writing class for CE.
- Take the McKissock litigation class. It is basic but decent.
- Take the AI litigation class. It is more in-depth.
- Think about getting a designation (a real one, not a fake one you can write a check to get), lawyers like alphabet soup behind their expert witness name.
- Throw out the canned comments. I read so many canned comments in litigation work, and they’re really unnecessary.
- Get rid of all references to lending or FNMA, or FHA. A recent divorce appraisal I read referenced 15% and 25% adjustment guidelines and distance guidelines (those things were retired in 2015, and some appraisers still reference them in lending work). Those things do not apply to private work.
- Have a separate template for private work. I have a word document that I use as a template.
- You MUST be willing to testify. In most instances, when lawyers know an appraiser is unwilling t do so, they won’t use them.
- Write your reports with the assumption that there will be an appraiser on the other side who might be more talented than you are.
- Know your limits. If it is something you shouldn’t do and can’t get someone to assist or team up with, turn it down. You don’t want to take on something you shouldn’t and fail and lose that lawyer-client. I was offered a divorce for a large industrial property. I knew that if there were another appraiser, I would not look good. I referred that one out. I had a divorce earlier this year with five properties. One was a commercial property only 20 miles from my office, but I turned it down because it was in Ohio, and I don’t have an Ohio license. I could have gotten a temporary license, but I don’t know that market well enough. I worked on four of the properties and referred the fifth one to someone else.
- Build a network of other appraisers. Get to know others that you can refer to and that might refer to you. Some commercial appraisers don’t do residential work and might need a residential appraiser. I know many other appraisers in my area that I can pick up the phone and talk to at any time. I refer work to them, and they refer work to me.
- Join AI. Even if you dislike them, still join. AI people refer to AI people. I referred two appraisals to AI people this week. I appraised vacant land in my county, and the client had land in another state. Over the years, the volume of referral work I received has been a lot more than the AI dues I paid
- Join AI for networking and go to their meetings with business cards in hand.
- Offer to speak at your local Realtor’s board or local offices. Sometimes, they could also be a good source of referrals.
- Offer to speak at your local Bar Association meeting. We don’t have that here, but I have heard that it could be a good source of referrals in some areas.
- Try to go to the local or area assessor meetings or lunches.
- If you have a website, make it better. Customize your website to attract this type of work.
- Join a service organization like Lion’s, Rotary, Kiwanis, or Key Club.
- Be part of the community. I sponsor the yearly Catholic High School football banquet and local charities. That builds goodwill in the community.
- Become involved in your local MLS. Run for office or committees.
- Listen to podcasts to keep up on things and hear how others are doing things. Blaine Feyen, Dustin Harris, Voice of Appraisal, The Appraisal Update podcast, and others are good and keep you up to date and many times have great guests. You can listen to them when you are typing instead of watching old TV episodes”
The appraisal business is slow right now for residential lending, and folks need to think out of the box. Timothy started giving talks with Realtors, and they could qualify for CE credit for his presentation.
This is a win-win situation, as Realtors will get a free lunch sponsored by a lender and two hours of free CE from his presentation, while Timothy will be viewed as a trusted source when it comes to appraisal matters.
In addition to the above tactics, Timothy also emphasizes the importance of producing high-quality work. This is crucial since the work could be used in litigation. I’ll continue to pick his brain on how to produce high-quality appraisals and share it in another post.
Jacob: “If you’re thinking to obtain private works from attorneys, it is important to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge. McKissock has two courses on Introduction to Expert Witness Testimony for Appraisers. and Divorce and Estate Appraisals: Elements of Non-Lender Work. Be sure to check it out (**)
Other articles you may find it helpful:
- An Inspiring Journey on How a CG Appraiser Transitions into Private Works
- How do Real Estate Appraisers Remain Competitive? (Insightful ideas shared by a CG Appraiser)
- Constructive Things to do When your Appraisal Business is Slowing Down! (Polls from appraisers)
- Real Estate Appraisal Expert Witness – Alternative Niche to Success
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