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Large independant appraisal firms

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MARKETVALUE

Sophomore Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Georgia
Hey gang----

With the risk of being labled as a sweat shop and other misnomers, wanted to see if there are any other larger local firms represented on the board.

I would like to start a couple of threads specifically pertaining to the pros and cons of a multi appraiser firm. Think we may all be to each others benefit sharing war stories and the like.

Always looking for a way to improve our business model.

Let me know if anyone out there would be interested in discussion.

Thanks in advance.

MRM

BTW--can anyone define what a "large independant appraisal firm" is?
 

Pine Tree

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Maine
Hmm Interesting topic.

I cut my teeth in what I would call a Large Independant Appraisal Company.. Prior to digital cameras and email .. there were two locations and 19 appraisers total..
this was also prior to the Appraiser trainee level of licensure we now have in our state :wink: I found this to be a great place to learn.. I was allowed to try anything that interested me from complex properties to new data filing systems to marketing for new clients... I made use of as many opportunities as I could ...

there were three of us that were at about the same level on the learning curve and we learned from each other and shared the leasons we learned from the more experienced appraisers. It was an awesome place to learn...

Flip side :wink: Turn time was expected to be 3-5 days. The firm attempted to cover the state and sometimes I was expected to travel distances to markets I wouldn't even consider now.. Also there was the inevitable office politics .. Full fee jobs verses all the other stuff and who gets what.. Don't miss that!

Now, I am a one appraiser shop and I work with an assistant ( my DH) .. At one point I had three appraisers working for me and determined that I have NOT got the temperment to manage and teach ... So that didn't last for me... There is still alot to be said for having peers that you can use as sounding boards for problem properties or even problem clients.. And over the years I have developed a network of appraisers I trust that I can do that with which replaces the office discussions I found valuable in the larger firms..

I don't know if I have targeted your concerns or interests.. Just one persons thoughts. 8)
 

MARKETVALUE

Sophomore Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Georgia
Wendy, all input is welcome. I'm just looking for different perspectives to the same experience. Inherently there are different and unique experiences that are involved as you grow larger, problems, benefits etc..........

Thanks for your input.

Its very difficult to find appraisers with similar work ethics and desire to be in this business for the long haul....I find alot of advice on these boards and am curious to see if there are any 'firms' out there. The individuals on the bulk of these boards seem to have choosen the route you ultimaely have. There is alot to be said about running a one man shop. It takes away alot of headaches. Personally, I felt limited with what I could do, and had to expand in order to grow myself and the business..

The one thing I shake my head at is that I got in this business to not be a slave to the desk, to be in my car listening to talk radio, eating lunches out, and having a ton of freedom. Now, I work 60 hours a week in front of this computer reveiwing countless files..........Ironic.

MRM

MRM
 
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
It depends upon how well managed they are, how honest the appraisers are, and what size area they try to cover ( I guess that's also true for smaller shops). As far as quality of work goes, I have to say I've never had a positive experience with large mills. There are large shops in this area that cover even more than one state. Area is just to large to manage and the quality of work shows it. Large mills also tend to be the type that never saw a number they couldn't make. I'm a small shop and have all I can do to stay on top of a market that covers only one county where we have +125,000 housing units and a population close to 500,000.
Anybody who thinks they can effectively manage an entire state by themelves with a dozen or more appraisers is betting againist the odds.
 

MARKETVALUE

Sophomore Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Georgia
Joe-

Interesting comment about large mills and number hitters. Its been my experience in this neck of the woods, the larger firms care much less about hitting the lo's number. That is the case for two of the larger firms here, they both are truely churn and burn regardless of value or communication or anything else.

We have groomed alot of our clients successfully into sending us the "good" work. They know better than to expect the inflated value out of us. Our work motto has always been call someone else for value but use us if you need a good, clean, addenda filled report that will slide through underwriting with no red flags. Fortunately it has worked so far.

MRM
 

wyecoyote

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Gvmt Agency, FNMA, HUD, VA etc.
State
Washington
Marketvalue,

I would like some input on this as well. Myself and my partner have been at the point where we need to consider expanding. Our work load has put us to this point. The first step is getting office space which we have been actively considering for the past couple of weeks as a must. The second step has been looking at a) initially hiring an office support person or b) hiring another appraiser. The problem that we see is that hiring another appraiser we need to be able to trust that appraiser to do the correct thing and not p*** off our current clients and possible future clients. Obviously you have been there, what were some of the things you thought of and considered?

Ryan
 

Restrain

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Florida
Having worked with and talked with people who have had larger firms, larger is not necessarily better. You have to deal with ensuring that your additional appraiser(s) meet your quality. You have additional management time, you have to adequately allocate assignments between appraisers, etc. I have heard from more than one appraiser that had several appraisers working for them that when they went back to a one-man shop, they actually cleared more and worked less. Just a thought.
 

Mike Garrett RAA

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
Interesting topic....I find myself going the other way. We were never big but at one point had 4 appraisers. I found it was counter productive. Spent more time fielding calls about everyone else's work. Probably wasn't big enough to be a full time manager and too small to justify the headaches. Thought for the day..."No one will do it the way you want it done. No one cares about it like you do. No one is as committed as you are." If you can live with that then maybe.......
 

Karl

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Arizona
As an older player in this & converting from other fields of self employment & as one that has been on all sides, Here's my OPINION. I Worked with the biggest & most crookedest outfit anyone could imagine. A licensed appraiser made 1 million plus in a year. Then went with a small 4 person shop learned the HONEST way, much harder much more detail for a lot less money, but could sleep at night. Then when that got split up. I went on my own 1 man shop way too much headaches at my age, some may find this the way to go. My personnal feelin for a 1 man shop is how do you stay up with the changes & bounce questions & ideas & rule changes around? Time & Pressure is unbelievable for a TRUE 1 man shop (MY OPINION) Now I work in what might be described as a large shop HOWEVER way different then the dishonest one I worked for on the East Coast. Each Appraiser basiclly specializes in a certain area of the County with the ability to HELP any area that gets behind. Asking the Appraiser of that area any questions that they might have. Works great for courses also, different appraisers go to different courses & trade knowledge learned. (Havin the "owner" treat everyone as an equal HELPS) This may not work in all parts of the country but works great for what I want. So what I'm trying to say is different for different folks. U can work HONESTLY or DISHONESTLY in a big outfit, a medium outfit or a 1 person shop. It all boils down to the INDIVIDUAL not the SIZE of the SHOP. It's not the size that matters it's what U offer the client.
 

Syd Warburton

Sophomore Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
I own WSH, LLC. We have fifteen appraisers on staff and we cover the entire southern California region. This has been made possible by the opening of MLS boards to appraisers. Several of my apprisers are raw trainees. I have had to hire a good chief appraiser to review every file that leaves the office. I have also hired a training appraiser who spends the entire day training. After paying the split to the appraiser's, the salaries to the reviewer and trainer, the receptionist, the rent, the data bill, the utilities, the equipment maintenance, etc. I make far less than I did working out of my home with my wife. I am in it for the long haul though, and I truly feel if our profession is ever going to be elevated to a true profession, we must have larger firms, perhaps along the lines of a professional partnership. That way every person has a stake in the firm, and will take personal responsibility for their contributions.
 
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