Have we reached a tipping point in social media for real estate appraisers?
Almost every other “cause” has embraced and used social media to strengthen it’s position and rally its members to action, so why not real estate appraisers? In his book “The Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell describes a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point”. I’ve started wondering if we have reached a tipping point in social media for real estate appraisers that has made it easier for our voices to be heard. A story recently occurred in the appraisal world that involved LenderVend, an Appraisal Management Company (AMC), and the ridiculous request they made of appraisers. Could this request, and many others by users and regulators of appraisal services, have created the boiling point at which appraisers couldn’t take it anymore?
LenderVend wanted what?
LenderVend, an Appraisal Management Company, notified its panel of real estate appraisers that they were going to make it a requirement for them to submit their entire work file along with the appraisal report. For those not familiar with what the work file consists of let me briefly describe what it includes. The work file includes field notes about the property, floor plan sketches, comparable sales data, property tax information, sales contract information, as well as other potentially confidential information from the homeowner.
This type of information has never been asked for before and could possibly increase liability to the appraiser. Appraisers realized the foolishness of such a request and began to take to social media to voice their anger and concerns. Over the last several years the burden to appraisers has significantly increased because of the extra requirements being asked of them. In addition to the increased requirements, many AMC’s fees have not kept up with the amount of work asked of them or the risk that they take on. LenderVend heard these complaints and realized that most appraisers would not do this so they changed their mind and did not make it a requirement but rather voluntary to do this.
Appraisers voices were heard
Could this incident be the historical point at which appraisers realize that they do have a voice? If so will they seize the opportunity and continue to make their voices heard? At the current time there are numerous associations of professional appraisers nationwide that many appraisers belong to, however over the last several years as appraisers jobs have become tougher and the fees paid lower, many of these groups have been silent or at least their actions to change what is going on have been at a turtle’s pace.
Appraisers are starting to realize that they cannot rely on these organizations to take care of them and that they must speak up for themselves. State coalitions that are run by appraisers have taken off and are growing in popularity. Many believe that attacking the problem at the state level is the place to start, and this has occurred in some states, however only time will tell if these successes will continue.
Is social media the answer?
As I asked previously, “have we reached a tipping point in social media for real estate appraisers?” Is the use of social media the next step to take so that appraisers voices will continue to be heard? LenderVend definitely changed their mind after they heard how appraisers felt about the work file requirements, but appraisers must stay aware of similar changes in the future and take to social media so their voices continue to be heard.
Most companies currently have a social media presence and it has never been easier to communicate with those in charge, including executives in the mortgage and AMC field. I have heard examples of people who have had problems with products or services and tweeted the company only to have their issue quickly resolved. Will this work with appraisers who have problems with irrational lender or management company requests like LenderVend, or with increased appraisal legislation? Who knows. What we do know is that not speaking up won’t work either, so we must at least attempt to make our voices heard. By taking advantage of all of the social media channels available to us, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or personal blogs, we can make sure that someone will hear our concerns.
What about appraisal podcasts?
On a personal level we can use utilize the social media channels I mentioned above and on a larger scale we can support actions being taken by others on a slightly larger stage. If you would have asked me a year ago what I thought about the idea of an appraisal podcast I would have probably not given it much consideration, however since then two such podcasts have been created. Phil Crawford is the creator of “Voice of Appraisal” and Dustin Harris hosts “The Appraiser Coach”. Both of these programs focus on appraising, with Phil’s podcast leaning more towards the overall profession and legislation while Dustin’s focuses on appraiser productivity.
Phil covered the story about LenderVend and I’m sure it played a large part in the company’s choice to reverse their decision. I believe we will see the most success in being heard when we utilize our own social media channels, as well as support guys like Phil and Dustin who may be heard by a larger audience. By supporting them we are making it possible for our stories to be heard and potential change to be made.
Appraisers are extremely independent and in the past we have not been the best about working together with common goals to better our profession, however we are at a point in time where the power of social media can be used to amplify our voices and to be heard by more people in higher places than at any other time. I personally feel that we have reached a tipping point in social media where we can use it to our advantage and for our voice to be heard by those that matter. The LenderVend story is proof that when we speak up our voices will be heard. Do you know of others that are fighting on our behalf through the use of social media? If so leave a comment, I’d like for others to be able to support them as well, or if you want to leave another comment do that as well. Thanks for reading.
***UPDATE-06/17/2015***– Since publishing this post an exciting announcement for appraisers was made. While it was not technically a result of appraisers taking to social media to bring about change, it was brought about by appraisers speaking up and making their voices heard through the use of a state appraiser coalition. On June 4th, 2015, the Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board ruled in favor of appraisers being paid customary and reasonable fees. This is the first time such a ruling has been made. The ruling alleges that Coester VMS was not using customary and reasonable fees established by a neutral third party nor by guidelines established by Louisiana law. You can read more about the ruling by following this link. I wanted to amend my blog post to include this because it is further proof that in numbers there is strength. Whether it be state appraiser coalitions or social media appraisers need to begin taking a stand and making their voices heard.