Monday, October 7, 2013
Blog Post 1: Informative Interview
An Interview with a Real Estate Appraiser
Tony Wolfe was born in San Jose, California and currently is a real estate appraiser for Wells Evaluation. He has been an appraiser for 28 years and is licensed to appraise single-family residence to fourplexes. He has been a chief appraiser and managed about 15 appraisers under him. He has worked for a savings and loan, a bank, and now an appraisal management company.
Q: What educational background do you have?
A: I graduated with my bachelors in business administration from La Sierra University.
Q: How did you get started in the field?
A: It had been a year since I graduated and had been doing some odd jobs so I applied at banks for a teller position. I was concurrently in the process of getting my real estate sales license as well. At an interview for Home Savings of America, the manager posed the question of if I would be interested in becoming a real estate appraiser. I had no idea what that was. The manager continued to explain a bit of what it was and informed me that they had training in house for appraisers. After a few days I called back to confirm and then started the training. I have been an appraiser ever since.
Q: What is the process to produce an appraisal?
A: A request is sent to me. It is crucial to have knowledge of geographic location of its neighborhood, USPAP. I’ll then go measure the house and take notes of the house condition. I check to see if there are any improvements or additions to the property. I then verify my comparables, which are houses that sold in the area no more than 6 months back, and choose the most recent and most alike properties to be my window of the current market. There is a standardized form called a URAR that I will submit my appraisal number and comparables, 3 closing sales and 2 acting sales. The number I produce is an estimate of what the property will sell for in the current market if it had an adequate market expose which is about 30 to 60 days.
Q: In the 28 years that you have been an appraiser, what have you seen change?
A: At first appraisers didn’t need to be licensed. It was a much simpler job in a much simpler time. We had no standardized form to use but an 8 by 6 card, we used Polaroid cameras, everything was handwritten, information was taken out of books written by the board of realtors, and no education was required. We did have to wear a suit and tie so I would be walking though bushes trying to make sure I didn’t snag my suit jacket. Now we have the URAR, the use of computers, the Internet, digital cameras, requirement of a degree, attire is business casual, and an apprenticeship.
Q: When the licensing became required, were grandfathered in?
A: No, at the time they started requiring a license, which was in 1991, they found that actually working in the field took care of all the prerequisites so we were told to just take the test.
Q: With all these changes and stricter requirements are new hires at a low?
A: The demographic of this field as definitely swung to the older generation. The problem is no one has time to train the next generation and as it is a requirement to become an appraiser new hires can’t complete all the requirements. Another factor is the ignorance the general public has about being an appraiser. You don’t have people saying, “When I grow up, I want to be an appraiser.”
Q: Is their anything you’d like to cxhange in the field?
A: We been given more duties that I feel we aren’t trained to do. The new duties are that of a home inspector and I feel it is shifting the liability to us appraisers. We have to check toilets, and attic spaces, whether there are any exposed wires.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: I don’t really have a typical day. It’s all dependants on my workload. I try to break up my days into all inspections or al paperwork. This is rarely possible so everyday is a new mixture of the two. I’m also at the will of the geographic locations of the properties because sometimes I have appraise homes in opposite sides of the city
Q: What are the skills that will help you thrive in this field?
A: You must be detail oriented because of the specificity the industry requires. You need to be proficient in writing and math. The only way you can express yourself in through the form you submit your appraisal on. You also need to be personable. You have to interact this the owner of the house and if you don’t have good people skills, you won’t be able to enter and inspect the house.
Q: If you could do it all over again, who you be an appraiser again?
A: No. I say this because of the government influence over time. It has over complicated the field in an unnecessary manner. The past sins of the underwriters and appraisers creating values to make loans work also complicated the field. I used to be able to talk to the underwriters directly with any questions or concerns. Now I work through an AMC, Appraisal Management Company, instead of through the bank as before since we can’t communicate with underwriters directly.
Q: Even though you would be an appraiser if you could do it all over again, what do you like most about the field?
A: I like that it is more than just an office job. I’m able to get out of the office and I like that. This aspect isn’t so true here in Fresno, but when I worked out of San Jose, I was able to see homes in Palo Alto or Atherton and there are some nice homes over there. Not only is there very different architecture among the homes but I also get to interact with people from all walks of life. Its something new to face and I really enjoy it.
I very much enjoyed doing this informative interview. It helped that the person was my uncle. It took lots of the pressure off. At the end, he even joked that I had probably got more information than I wanted. This was of course false. I got lots of great information and didn’t notice that we had actually spent about an hour and a half in this interview. I can say that I was one of those people that are ignorant about the field like he had mentioned before I did this interview, but now I feel I have a better grasp of the field. I’d agree with him when he said appraisers are a necessary evil, they may intrude in your home but it’s a field that is here to stay.