Commercial Grade is a weekly post by John Cicero, MAI who provides commentary on issues affecting real estate appraisers, with specific focus on commercial valuation. Today John talks about the misuse of the word “expert”.

Disclosure: John is a partner of mine in our commercial real estate valuation concern Miller Cicero, LLC and he is, on Thursdays, one of the smartest guys I know. …Jonathan Miller

I remember going on a job interview many years ago, where the interviewer, the owner of a small fee shop, chewed me out for calling myself “an appraiser” with only two years experience. He snarled that an appraiser is one who gives an “expert opinion” on property value. He scared meI didn’t want to work for him!

Some 20 years later I still vividly recall this interview though, because it recently dawned on me that he was absolutely correct. This business (profession?) is full of state licensed young bucks that appraise a shopping center in one state on Monday, then head hundred of miles away on a Thursday to appraise an office building in a totally different market. Getting paid on a “fee split” basis (time is money!) they race through the market snapping photos of comps that they may have begged off of a local appraiser, then run to town hall to look up the assessments and zoning data.

Experts? Hardly. They are going through the motions of “the appraisal process”, but the majority of these appraisers have neither the experience or market knowledge to render a truly “expert” opinion. I know..I used to be one of themand I can tell you at the end of every assignment I would pray that I didn’t miss anything critical in my market blitz.

The internet has put market data in easy reach of all appraisers..even if they are thousands of miles away. However, there is no substitute for being a real local expert, having the years of experience and intimate knowledge of the local market.

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3 Responses to “[Commercial Grade] If It’s Thursday, This Must BeCanarsie?”

  1. John Philip Mason says:

    As one who obtained his real estate salesperson license a couple years ago (as a part-time gig), I’ve often thought many of us newbies are potential lawsuits just waiting to happen.

    Which brings to mind; will you be thinking of this the next time you or a loved one is having an important and invasive medical procedure? Because every doctor and technician had to get their start on some poor and unsuspecting souls.

  2. martin tessler says:

    As Professor Harold Hill said in “Music Man”:

    “but you gotta know the territory”

    Unfortunately, most of the internet data gatherers toiling in the appraisal world today do not even know what a territory is…

  3. Stephen says:

    First, the appraiser is required to provide an opinion of value, not an “Expert opinion of Value”. Your former potential employer was just trying to intimidate you.

    Second, in my 11 years of experience, experience and capability are not synonymous. I’ve found the most experienced appraisers tend to be dinosaurs and quit learning after the first year. All they are concerned about is amassing a fortune. I had several supervisors who didn’t even know how to use MSOffice, can’t type and couldn’t do statistical analysis at all. The best and brightest are the ones entering the field with college educations and extensive work experience in other fields.

    Third, residential real estate appraisal has the depth and breadth of a wading pool. 10 years’ experience is 1 year 10 times.