Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Somewhere along the long and arduous path towards attaining recognition as an expert, it became starkly clear, not everyone within my profession shared my view on ethics. This was more than a little unsettling. Early on, I remember spending time searching for legitimate reasons why some of my colleagues so openly cast aside key ethical provisions. The answer was not an easy one for me to come to grips with. They just didn’t care. I spent the remainder of my professional career knowing many of my “peers” were, in my opinion, frauds; they were unworthy of being classified as experts and/or professionals.
I could easily digress from what needs to be the focus of this topic…why it should matter to you, and turn this into a rant. However, on to the meat…
What is the role of an appraiser of real property? Quoting the Appraisal Institute, “The role of the appraiser is to provide objective, impartial, and unbiased opinions about the value of real property—providing assistance to those who own, manage, sell, invest in, and/or lend money on the security of real estate. Appraisers assemble a series of facts, statistics, and other information regarding specific properties, analyze this data, and develop opinions of value. Each appraisal assignment challenges the appraiser’s ability to put analytical skills into practice, exercise sound judgment, and communicate effectively.”
My summation of the above is they are intended to be the gatekeepers…the ONLY objective person involved in transactions involving the valuation of rights in real property. Why should you care? Because you are now paying for their errors, and their inability to adhere to the ethical standards they were supposed to uphold.
No, it wasn’t just the appraisers. In fact, many of them were hoodwinked along with bankers, mortgage originators, regulators, congressional members, auditors, and…you get the broad picture. Thank you special interest lobbyists. You were misled. You were deceived. You deserved a heck of lot better. Why didn’t you get better?
In part, human nature. As I found, not everyone is willing to forgo their profession, and with it, their livelihood, to stand by the professional code of ethics. Eyes were closed; some looked the other way, while others just did not know what they were doing. Once again, you and I are going to pay the price.
Has it ended? Is it being changed? No, and not really. There are some conciliatory steps being taken, yet in the larger scheme, they will allow this to recur, just as it did after the now infamous “Savings & Loan” crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. Why? Many reasons. Some complex, others…in my opinion, downright sinister. Oh, I can’t forget to include another all too common reason, appraisers not competent to do what they are suppose to do.
During the unwinding process of the S&L crisis, I was interviewed by members of the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC). This was prior to being accepted to perform a ton of subcontracted, appraisal work for them. The interview was conducted by what was supposed to be one of their crackerjack teams. One of the first questions posed by this team’s designated appraiser left me not knowing if I should laugh or cry. I realized the Peter Principle held actual truth. “The Peter Principle is the principle that ‘in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence’”.
So, the upshot of this rant (I just knew it would become one) is, you have once again been scammed, you are being scammed as I type, you are being scammed as you read this, and it won’t end anytime soon. Why won’t it? This systemic, devious scheme has been in existence for more years than some of you are old. It is costing you tens of thousands of dollars over relatively short time frames, and will probably continue going the same old way.
I’ll revisit this topic, and I’ll continue working on my plan to provide some actual help. In the meantime, we need to embark on a quest for fairness through demanding proper ethical behavior from those charged with doing what their profession dictates…and demand they stand up to those continually undermining your rights. The special interests need to have the door slammed in their faces.
Mahatma Gandhi stated, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I went that route and was shown the door…now I’m on my way back in!