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Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't Hire Help

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Doug in NC

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
North Carolina
So irritating the way the appraisal industry is set up. It is extremely difficult to work hard enough to make a good living for your family as a one person shop appraiser, but if you hire help you are just training them to take your clients once they've been added to the approved appraiser lists. Very frustrating.

I know of only one appraiser who found a way to successfully increase his own income, while at the same time being able to retain the assistance of an experienced appraiser. This appraiser had to set up a separate business partnership. Almost like having a franchise I guess.
 

Elliott

Elite Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Oregon
So the appraisal industry regulated itself for decades, then along came AMCs, squeezed fees, limited competency to 35-miles, squeezed fees some more, broadcast orders to low fee and fast turns, and then a refi boom came along and they found there was a shortage of appraisers. Now all the kings horses, and all the kings men, are running around and wondering how to put the supply of appraisers back again. If we just lower entry standards to a minimum then the AMCs will come to the rescue and have large staffs of in-house, Humpty Dumpty will all be good again. Sure.
 

Howard Klahr

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2004
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Florida
This appraiser had to set up a separate business partnership.
Rather than turn this thread into another AMC bashing how about we discuss some practical options to address the issue?

Appraisers really are not much different than many other professions in terms of a business model. Look at law firms, accounting firms, architect, engineering companies, etc. Doug you are correct it is a little bit in the form of a partnership and depending on how you choose to structure things it can actually be that way. Just remember not all lawyers are senior associates or equity partners for their firm, not all are fresh out of school wet behind the ears either. Just because there are only two primary license categories in most jurisdictions does not mean that is the only way to structure a compensation package.

Another option is to align yourself as a sole practitioner with another sole practitioner or more than one to share certain responsibilities in exchange for some agreed upon compensation. This would allow for coverage during sick leave or vacation if properly arranged, This would allow each to also take on peak workloads here and there as well.
 
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Doug in NC

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
North Carolina
I wish it were as simple as hiring an assistant to take up some slack and improve productivity, but when you are on vacation or out of work for health reasons, production is likely to go to zero if the principal is off the job for more than 2-3 days. That's why it is so important to have a qualified appraiser to fill in the gap while the other appraiser is not available to take assignments (at least that is one of my problems as a one man shop currently). I would love to take at least 2 weeks of vacation a year, but I'm lucky if I can take even one week all at once. It's easy enough to decline orders, but there is no telling how many clients I lost over the years because their work did not stop while I was away.
 

WestMichiganCG

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2014
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Michigan
Not everyone wants to run their own company, if you treat your employees well I've found they stick around. On top of that, some of our best clients are also our competition. The trick is getting enough profitable work in to keep people busy, that is what is keeping us from expanding. Our shop has four appraisers that share clients, E&O, office space and comparables with each person having their own business.
 

Vermonter

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Vermont
The problem is that the way the system is set up, supervisor appraisers have little choice than to use trainees as assistants.....and then the assistance dries up when they get licensed.

I've had a 2 assistants over the years, well 3 if you include my wife. 1 college student and 1 retired assessor. Strictly clerical. Both were great because they weren't planning on becoming my competition later.....and at $12-$15 per hour, they were cheaper than a trainee. The college student moved on to a career as a veterinarian and the assessor moved on to true retirement in the south somewhere.

If you're looking for an assistant, find someone that want's to be an assistant, office manager, whatever. Don't expect a trainee to fill that roll and never move on.
 

Doug in NC

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
North Carolina
The problem is that the way the system is set up, supervisor appraisers have little choice than to use trainees as assistants.....and then the assistance dries up when they get licensed.

I've had a 2 assistants over the years, well 3 if you include my wife. 1 college student and 1 retired assessor. Strictly clerical. Both were great because they weren't planning on becoming my competition later.....and at $12-$15 per hour, they were cheaper than a trainee. The college student moved on to a career as a veterinarian and the assessor moved on to true retirement in the south somewhere.

If you're looking for an assistant, find someone that want's to be an assistant, office manager, whatever. Don't expect a trainee to fill that roll and never move on.
Yeah, finding a quality, long-term assistant has got to be like finding a needle in a haystack too. I actually do need an appraiser though. I'm not going appraise to the day I die, so I'd like to have someone who can take over the business as I begin to phase out of appraising one day - hopefully sooner rather than later.
 
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