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Ethics or Competence

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larryhaskell

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Nevada
I've had the opportunity to discuss the current housing problem with a few people recently regarding the role of appraisrs and their contribution to the problem. Invariably, our negatively perceived role generally comes down to a matter of ethics or competence on the part of the appraiser.

As I see it, a case could be made that there can be four categories of appraisers as follows:

An ethical, competent appraiser.
An ethical, incompetent appraiser.
An unethical, competent appraiser.
An unethical, incompetent appraiser.

Based on the reviews I have completed over the last few years and the fact that I know some of the appraisers, I feel that ethics is a greater problem than competence. By no means do I want to diminish the role of competence, but I believe that an incompetent but ethical appraiser would work to become competent while an unethical appraiser would never concern themselves with their competence.

I was just wondering how some of you feel about these two characteristics. Is one more important than the other or are they equal in importance?
 

Lawrence R.

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2007
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
South Carolina
An ethical, competent appraiser.
An ethical, incompetent appraiser.
An unethical, competent appraiser.
An unethical, incompetent appraiser.



I was just wondering how some of you feel about these two characteristics. Is one more important than the other or are they equal in importance?

Yeah, that just about sums it up. I think you must start with ethical. If you can only pick one, that is. If an appraiser is ethical, he will become competent, even if he is mentored incorrectly. It may come at the urging of a board, or a loss of clients, or an anonymous call from another appraiser.

If you have ethics, you generally do what you know to be best, and once you know better, you do better.

The problem is, that ethics must be taught at the same time you are developing your self esteem, and most educators think that those two are mutually exclusive, which is to say most "modern day thinkers" will say that teaching a child ethics will stunt their self esteem.
 

jeanwillick

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2003
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Michigan
I think you summed it up very well. According to the reviews I've done, I'm not always sure if it's Ethics or Incompetence I see. Sometimes I believe appraisers go out of their area for $$$ which results in Incompetence so I guess that becomes an issue of Ethics.

It could be compared to a dog chasing it's tail in circles so maybe they become one and the same.
 

Hamlet

Elite Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Ohio
Good post. I feel that ethics is the most important of the two. Like you said, an ethical person will work hard to make themselves competent. A lack of ethics is a character flaw.
 

George Hatch

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
Most of the really bad appraisals I see involve outright lies of omission or commission. I very rarely see horrible results stemming primarily from ignorance.

Personally, I believe that whatever actual competency gaps we have in our profession are minimal and easily correctable. Our problem is primarily one of ethical misconduct.
 

TJSum

Elite Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Maryland
The greater problem is that the system is set up to reward incompetent and unethical appraisers. To add insult to injury, with the advance of the AMCs many times work goes to the lowest bidder. So you have a system that rewards the unethical, imcompetent and for the most part least experienced.

IMO 2/3 of the Appraisers out there are very honest, competent appraisers, just like most professions. But unlike most professions, these 2/3 are pushed to the side because the other 1/3 are sought out and are doing the majority of the work.

Focusing on the individual bad appraiser will never irradicate the problem, just like the drug war, get rid of the corner dealer, and another one will take his place because there is a demand for it. As appraisers we need to constantly point this out instead of throwing the profession under the bus, no need for us to do that, the system does it for us.
 

larryhaskell

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Nevada
As I think back to all of the pre-licensing and continuing education appraisal classes I've taken, I really can't remember any discussion on the topic of ethics. Even in the USPAP classes I've taken I really don't remember much discussion of ethics. I agree with George that competence is more easily corrected with a willing student than ethics would be.

I know people in every possible career choice have their ethical challenges but I'm most concerned right now about ours. I would like to hear from some of our instructors on the forum regarding the topic of ethics in appraising. Do you USPAP instructors emphasize ethics or do you not mention it at all. It seems to me that an ethics component could or should be included in every class.

I'm convinced that if we don't reverse our ethical challenges in appraising, our future is very gloomy.
 

TJSum

Elite Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Maryland
Back in the day before licensing, there were classes called "Standards and Ethics", which were the original "USPAP" type class...
 

Hamlet

Elite Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Ohio
I do agree that the issues of ethics is what is troubling our procession and needs to be addressed, but I don’t believe that it is because of a lack of discussion in classrooms.

I mean, appraisers are not a dumb bunch of people, and the Ethics Rule is pretty clear cut, IMHO. Those that cross over that line into the realm of unethical behavior know that they are doing it; otherwise they wouldn’t fall back on the trying to feed their families, or trying to help the homeowner/client excuse. We hear enough of that from the MBs and we all doubt their ethics continually here on the AF.

We already have the rules in place with USPAP. Enforcement is the only answer to cleaning up our part of the mess.
 

Terrel L. Shields

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Arkansas
I feel that ethics is a greater problem than competence.
Yes and that's why I don't think increasing the education requirment, or CE requirements or anything like that will do one whit for improving the profession.
 
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