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hire another appraiser or a clerical/support person

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Rob Bodkin

Thread Starter
Junior Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Washington
I have a 1 person shop in the N.W. and I have been giving another appraiser my overflow but am still way too buried. I am considering "hiring" an appraiser to work for me but also wanted some feedback about anyone out there who uses a clerical or support person in a small shop. I had thought they might be able to do a lot of the very basic research (maps, flood, etc.) and basic data entry and other "routine" tasks that you would not need to be an appraiser to do. Any help would be grand. Thanks!
 

Randy Beigh

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Rob

No one can answer the queston but you.

I applaud you for looking at your business as a business and considering making business decisions. That is very important. The only thing I would change is the term "shop". Nothing wrong with shop, but it sounds like you have a store or some kind of manual labor work. You are a professional and the words you use to describe yourself are important. That only deals with attitude and attitude is everything.

While I can't answer your question, I can pose things to think about.

What is it you want to to accomplish? In other words, what are your goals? If you just want someone to take some of the pressure off yourself, maybe a clerical person is the answer. If you want to grow your business, getting more appraisers is the solution. As you do the latter, a clerical person will be more necessary, anyway.

The clerical person can do a lot more things than you described. They can keep companies up on status, something that most lenders and AMC's want and don't get from many appraisers. This will help advance your business and separate you from the crowd. Sometimes, they can set appointments as well as the office things of pulling maps, etc.

Hope this helps
 

Pat Butler

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Illinois
I've struggled with this issue too. What I started doing about 5 years ago is placing an emphasis on technology and I also hired two mostly-full-time staff. They do a lot of pre-work on my appraisals. If I have to wait a few days before I can get in to do an inspection, then one of my staffers will probably be sent by the subject to at least take a photo. I know what I'm dealing with before I get there. I'll also pull plenty of comps for a particular appraisal before I inspect the subject. On the day of inspection I'll drive by those comps and take detailed notes- but I won't photograph them. That eliminates having to manage literally hundreds of digital photos that might never get used. I'll get back to the office and work on the appraisal to the point that I know which comps are going to be used then send a staffer back to take photos of just those ones. I do enough volume that I can pretty much keep someone busy nearly full time just driving around and taking photos and stopping at assessor's offices etc.
Anyway, I find this to better than hiring another appraiser who may eventually compete against me. It's just too easy for an appraiser to develop all of the contact information from my files, then leave and try and get all of those accounts.
 

John Hassler

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
Rob

Best thing I ever did was hire an assistant. She sets all my appointments, handles all the phones, and starts all my files with the factual type data (name, address, census tract, draws the sketch from my notes, calls planning depts to get zoning, etc), and does my does bookkeeping. I just focus on appraising. Also, when something is critical we can double team it. I make way more money off of her than I do off my one staff appraiser. Now my staff appraiser is very smart (he has an MBA) and does a great job but if I give him a tough one he bogs down and it's an hour+ of questions. When the volume drops, it's an easy economic choice as to who I'll let go first.

If you get an assistant be sure to set the rules down right away. Don't let them awnser the phones for the first week so they can hear how you treat and deal with clients. You want them to be an extension of you. Get Quicken or a similar acct program so you can do payroll taxes - they are not too difficult to do but it IS still painful to write those 941 checks to this day! Good luck.

John Hassler
 

xmrdfghap

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
General Public
State
Florida
<span style='color:brown'>Do you really want to get bigger? If so, you should plan now on how to go about doing both.

A good assistant can be invaluable. Figure out the skills you need and use a staffing service to find you a temp to hire person. Former legal secretaries with bookkeeping experience are the best, in my opinion. Expect to take a lot of time in the first few weeks to break in the person you are hiring. Be selective. If they don't work out quickly, find someone else......remember, the first time they answer the phone they are representing you, so you need someone who can do the job the first time they are on their own.

Hiring an appraiser can be a problem. If you hire a trainee, you have all the nightmares of training PLUS the loss of time you have to take off to DO the training. If you hire a certified appraiser, and if he is any good, why isn't he snowed with work also?

I would look closely at merging. If you find another appraiser who is as busy as you are, then jointly you can hire an assistant, jointly you can train. Merging can also mean a substantial reduction in overhead.

To keep trainees and employees from going into competition, form yourself as an LLC, and pattern your business on that of other professionals such as attorneys, doctors, and CPA's. What that means is that a portion of every assignment goes into the group profit. That group profit is divided between the partners. You can have senior and junior partners, and you can have interns (trainees). Visit with your attorney and see how they have their business model set up. But if you and one or two other appraisers merged into a "firm," hired a good assistant and one or two interns AND if you each brought an abundance of work to the firm, you would all make more money and work less.

By providing "ownership" potential you will eliminate most of the "go out on your own" syndrome that hits guys like us when we see us doing all the work and getting less than half the money....that kind of inequity breeds disloyalty. </span>
 

Terrel L. Shields

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Arkansas
If you need immediate help, trust me. You need a tech assistant. A trainee is time consuming especially the first 90 days. Further, you need to review their work constantly. And guess what? You are the one called if the appraisal stinks, because (likely) it is your phone number on the order and the appraisal.

I have to catalog comparables for future reference. Put data in binders, That is a job pretty easy to train an assistant. Calls, logging in the request, writing and sending the letter of engagement, pulling up the tax cards off the computer, etc. can be handled by an assistant. Screening the phone. Going to the office supply. Billing and book keeping are so very time consuming.

You likely will hire a woman. Men want more money or want to work as appraisers. They quit more frequently. A woman will have better luck with a man than a man would have.

The drawback is you have to pay enough to keep 'em and you need a place to put them. A home office is often overcrowded. That suggests maybe a 400-800 SF office space as a minimum. another expense. Some of the best are ones you can let flex...such as moms who need to pick up junior at 3:30 or cannot get them off to school until 8:30. If you require a fixed 8-5 schedule and little flexibility, your help won't stay long unless you pay out the wazoo. Young ones are more computer literate, old ones are more dependable....it's a choice. Just don't hire 1) a family member 2.) wife of a client or 3.) your wife or girl friend (unless you don't want her for a wife/girlfriend anymore)
 

Mike Garrett RAA

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
Why not do both.......

Hire an appraiser wanna be as an assistant. Let that person start out as an hourly doing the grunt work. Once they are familiar with your office and proceedures slowly work them into appraisals.

I had a leased office and full time office manager in addition to another appraiser. The cost was about $3,000 a month. I finally wised up and closed the office and moved into a new home with room for a home office. I presently have one trainee who doubles as office help and appraiser. Much cheaper!
 

Pat Butler

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Illinois
I did something similar when I figured I had already spent nearly $50K on rent for an office that I was spending less and less time at. I build a new office addition onto the house and outfitted it with all the goodies I wanted and it was much cheaper over the longer term- especially at these rates.
 

Charlotte Dixon

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Delaware
When our daughter-in-law started with me, about 5 years ago, she started as a clerical worker and I paid her minimum wage. She set up files, kept the dry erase board up for my son and I, ran the county record for the subject off the computer, & looked up census tract numbers. I'm a "Nervous Nellie" about having someone fill out my URAR form....just can't do it. After about 5 months, she took the Trainees' course and knew exactly what she was getting in to. But then, no more gopher. Just recently, I've devised a new plan so I'm not stuck with all the clerical duties. I try to get them in here, all at one time a couple times a week (family business with 3 kids and myself) and THEY all set up files. Then THEY decide who wants what, according to geographical location or complexity of assignment, or if it's a repeat, the one that did it before gets it back. I have the final say if there's a non-meeting-of-the-minds. Of couse, they know that all the V.A.'s are mine, as well as my regular older clients' requests. The "kids" have it made here, because they are employees and I only take $25 out of each appraisal they do, which sometimes (many times does not) covers the social security & medicare I have to match, plus the unemployment. I still handle all the phone calls, but the phone stays on "message recording" until late in the day, unless I hear someone saying they want to postpone or cancel...then I pick up the phone. "Screen Calls" ????? Yes, we're guilty. Our place of work is in our 100 yr. old home, and in a former dining room. The refrigerator, microwave, t.v. and couch get heavy use here. Kids will be kids! We have an ideal situation here because we're family. No back stabbing, no bickering....Just everybody trying to do a good job and make a living. Company parties are great!
 

Restrain

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Florida
My wife runs the office, getting comps, setting appointments, handling the books, answering the phone, etc. My daughter-in-law is my trainee and she helps with the reports. I have an assistant on my field inspections so I can do 5-6 per day. Long days, long nights. Could't even start to keep up without help.

Problem is with an appraiser trainee is two-fold. First, sooner or later, they will go out on their own. Secondly, you have to train an appraiser trainee to replace your appraiser trainee, and that takes time. I would start with a clerical-type person that is solid and mature. You'll be surprised how much time you spend on clerical matters.

Roger
 
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