AN EDITORIAL BY MICHAEL SIMMONS
November…. For some, it means the end of daylight savings time. To almost everyone else, it signals winter and the start of the holiday season. It also marks the final two chapters of 2018. But to absolutely every one of us, this November should mean one thing above all others: We here at AXIS hope that everyone exercised their civic duty and voted. To understand the issues of our day and express our personal opinions in concert with all our fellow citizens is a nearly unique privilege and duty that we owe to generations past, present and future. It defines us as Citizens of our democracy.
Now let’s look at what defines us in the world of appraising:
For many of us, the tendency is to settle back and wait for the year to end. After all, there was much about this year that tested our goals, our confidence, and our beliefs. It would be tempting to want to disconnect from the fray; after all, we’ve worked hard and earned that right. Besides, the forces aimed at what we do are all way above our collective pay grades…except they’re not. Many of those forces are the product of people who’ve volunteered their time or the result of organizations exercising influence. Or sometimes they’re just the byproduct of apathy on our own part from not exercising our civic responsibilities.
Instead, I would challenge us to prepare for 2019 by staying focused on service, re-examining our process, and asking ourselves what -strategically – we need to do to better prepare for the changes we’ll be seeing in our industry. While attending the Annual Mortgage Bankers Association Convention in Washington DC, three weeks ago, I listened to the National Association of Realtors and a couple of large lenders who are building disruption of the lending and collateral process into their business models in new and diverse ways. What did they all seem to have in common? I believe it was how to advance their own agendas’ without the typical burden in time and cost of an appraisal. All of this in the face of what some of you are experiencing as a shift in market sentiment and even a drop in values in some markets.
One of the FinTech companies on the panel is already claiming a $1 Billion valuation. Real Estate Agents, as a group, claim some 1 Million members. Appraisers have less than 100,000 voices to stand against all of them. Has the cause already been lost? No…unequivocally no. But it has been changed. We’re faced with an ever-accelerating push to replace an ever-increasing percentage of appraisals with one form or another of Waivers and AVMs from those who view appraisals as (1) largely unnecessary or (2) as an impediment to lending.
We know better – and so do a number of important people in Washington who have a belief in the value of an appraisal. But we need your voices and your actions, and most importantly, your work to support their efforts. Many of you have already embedded the tools and techniques into your service levels needed to make you competitive under the new lending models, but we need more of you to step up. Silence is no longer an option.
We’d like to leave you with one more challenge today. It’s an encouragement really that transcends political parties, religious (if any) affiliations, gender, age – anything that would in the normal course of events define who and what we are. It’s this: find something, some cause, some group, some organization – find anything – that’s not connected to yourselves and reach out to help. This is not a challenge to adopt a (new) cause or even make an ongoing commitment. I don’t think it matters who or what we choose – the lists are nearly endless and all are worthy. I don’t think it matters what (or how much) we give. It only matters that we find a way to commit a single, selfless act.
Just a reminder: holidays play havoc with most everyone’s schedules. It’s doesn’t stop commerce though, but it can add undue stress and complications to transactions. Your role is always critical to any transaction – but that means a singular level of responsibility rests with you. The solution is to be prepared for eventualities and communicate your availability.