I want to thank everyone who took the time to read my last (first) blog post. I had a lot of fun writing it. Now, everyone who knows me well knows that I am a perfectionist. Of course, this can be a blessing and a curse. One of the problems with being a perfectionist is that I find that I am never quite satisfied with anything that I do (make, build, design, etc.) and I am compelled, no, driven to continue to tinker with whatever it is in a futile effort to attain perfection, which of course is unattainable. Or, if I am unable to fix it, I am forever haunted by those unfixable flaws, whatever they may be. It really does drive me nuts! Well, it seems that writing this blog is no different. I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but after my last (first) blog post, I just couldn't leave it alone. I swear, I went back a half dozen or more times to correct, change and refine that one simple post; I probably spent more time re-editing it than I did writing it, and honestly I'm still not satisfied. I'm afraid that I'm going to find myself doing the same with this post and every other post I ever write. So, I'm not so sure I'm cut out for this blogging thing, I just don't know if I have that kind of time. Or maybe... it will be therapeutic for me, and as I go along I'll get better and better and soon I'll just nail it right out of the shoot, and won't be tempted to keep returning to it over and over again, it will be perfect. Right! So that's what I'll go with, blogging is therapy for my perfectionism disorder. We shall see.
Appraising real estate is a messy business. There simply is no perfectionism to be found in this business. After all, appraising a property is really just stating an opinion, a very well informed, analyzed and well-thought-out opinion perhaps, but an opinion nonetheless (and you know what they say about those). Even the definition of market value stated on the standard forms we use everyday contains the word "opinion", as in "opinion of market value". The word opinion, is by its very nature, messy. It is, in a word, "imperfect". Case in point: If you were to ask three different competent appraisers to evaluate the same piece of property, it is more likely than not that all three would arrive at slightly different value conclusions. There is simply no way that anyone of them could objectively say "this property is worth exactly this much and not a penny more or less, period!". The reality of that is sort of tough for someone like me. I want to be right. I want to be perfectly right every time. But, alas I know this is not possible. In the end I have to settle for "it's the best that I can do". I have to settle for my well-informed, skilled and objective opinion.
There have been many times in my career when I was faced with the unpleasant task of informing someone that the value they were hoping for was just not possible. I have had people cry, get irate, threaten to take their business elsewhere and accuse me of being a crook, I have even had people demand their money back. I have heard nearly every sob story out there. Sometimes I felt bad for them or at least I felt bad for the tough situation they found themselves in. But, honestly, I usually did not feel that bad. After all, I am just the messenger. Often times a lower than expected appraised value meant that a borrower couldn't get the loan that they were planning on. In my experience, most people don't care about the long term consequences that an inflated appraisal might bring, such as being "upside down" on their mortgage; they were only concerned about their short-term desires. I remember once speaking to a particularly irate woman who demanded her money back after receiving a displeasing result, I asked her if she would expect money back from an attorney who lost her case or from a doctor who couldn't cure her disease (good luck!). She could only curtly reply "it's not the same thing". But isn't it? I was tasked to perform an appraisal, a professional estimate of value, which is what I did. It's what every appraiser does each time they perform an appraisal. When you pay for an appraisal, you are in reality paying for an opinion. A professional, objective opinion. You are not paying for a particular "result".
I guess, when you boil it all down, that's the best I, or any good appraiser can really do. I may not be able to achieve perfection in performance or result (who can?), but if I can achieve a high standard of objectivity when appraising a property then I have accomplished my first and most important task. Sure, being a good appraiser is about knowledge, experience, skill and a little bit of art, but none of that has any value unless it rests on a solid foundation of objectivity. So, in the end, it is objectivity not perfectionism that is the goal of every good appraiser. Now that is something I can do. Just remember, don't shoot the messenger.
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