I said NO this week to an appraisal and I wanted to share about it. This might seem like a random post, and maybe it’s just a reminder for me, but I hope there are some takeaways. Any thoughts? I’d love to hear your take.
Here’s a conversation I had:
Loan Officer: Can you appraise a triplex fixer and bring a screw gun to the boarded property so you can get in? We need an “as is” value (note: picture above is not the triplex).
Me: Sorry, but I’m not willing to take a screw gun. I’m handy with tools, but that’s too much liability for me.
Loan Officer: I understand. Can you do an “as is” drive-by appraisal instead?
Me: Honestly, it’s a huge liability to do a “drive-by” on a multi-unit property. I care about my license too. I wouldn’t know the size of each unit, condition, or even bed / bath count. Besides, you just told me it’s a fixer, which means it’s even more important to see how bad it is. I’d have to make big assumptions without knowing these things, and that’s not something I’m willing to do.
Loan Officer: Thanks. I don’t want to put you in a situation you’re not comfortable with.
I have conversations like this quite a bit. People don’t usually have ill-intentions, and I don’t think the loan officer did either. The truth is though despite someone’s innocent request, it doesn’t mean it’s a good situation for me.
1) Saying NO is okay: Sometimes the most professional thing to do is say NO instead of taking on something with too much liability or embarking on a situation that might actually be unsafe. In this case I was concerned about safety because of squatters and not knowing what I might find inside a house like this. I’ve inspected quite a few boarded homes, but I don’t remove the boards or go alone to these properties. Also, what if I didn’t properly close things up? Would any future damage be my fault?
2) Developing a credible value: If we can’t get enough information to produce a credible value, it might be best to not render a value. Sometimes the most professional thing we can say is, “I’d love to help, but in order to serve you I’m going to need __________________. If that cannot happen, then I cannot give you a value.” There is nothing wrong with walking away when we don’t have enough information or a client is asking us to do something we’re not comfortable with. This happens not only to appraisers, but also to agents who are asked to do BPOs on custom homes on acreage (without seeing them or knowing anything about them). Or in other cases we get asked to give a value to something even though we don’t have any clue on the cost to cure a mold problem or some other major thing. Yes, there are times when we need to make assumptions and disclaimers. I understand that and I do it all the time in the right situations. I’m just saying if there are bigger unknowns that could radically sway value, then we might need more information instead of assumptions.
3) Be honest about limitations: There are times when we have to say, “I’m not qualified to take this on”, “I think my colleague might be a better fit (and I can partner with him/her),” or, “I’ve never worked on a property like this before, but here are the steps I’ll take to be sure I become competent.” I know, there are people who think they can value anything. I love the passion, but everyone has limitations, and being aware of that is an okay thing. And if you didn’t get the Liam Neeson quote, it’s from the movie Taken.
Well, that’s what’s on my mind today. I hope it was useful. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired this week or next to say NO to something that’s really not a good fit for you. And that’s okay. Heck, it’s actually a good thing.
Questions: When have you said NO to something? Why do you say NO to certain things? What advice would you give to someone who never says NO in real estate? I’d love to hear your take.