Stop Throwing Yourself Under The Bus

One thing that Dave has always drilled into us, and that he preaches at every seminar and convention we host, is that everything you do - everything - either contributes to or detracts from your marketing. It doesn't matter if it's how the phone is answered or what you wear to work when meeting clients or homeowners, every single teeny tiny seemingly inconsequential thing contributes to the impression you leave with others, and therefore defines your "brand".

As the Chief Marketing Officer here, I'm of course acutely aware of that in our own business. Sometimes I feel like a kindergarten teacher constantly reminding people here of these things, and have to resist the urge to break into a rendition of "The wheels on the bus go round and round..." (pq)

Maybe that's why I'm so sensitive to the issue of the "brand identity" of the appraisal industry as a whole. These days, you can't pick up a newspaper or scan a set of online headlines without seeing the word "appraisal" used right alongside "fraud" or "criminal" or "scam artist" or "liar" or "skippy" or a host of other terrible things. The part that makes me want to cry, however, is when I see that those words were direct quotes from appraisers themselves in an interview with a reporter, or a posting cited from a website, or even a letter to the editor.

Instead of feeling like I should be singing about the wheels on the bus going round and round, I have to wonder why appraisers seem to enjoy throwing each other under the bus instead. That "thump, thump" sound is the industry's image being crushed by the very people who are in it.

Make no mistake, I know there are some terrible appraisers who hit the numbers beyond reason. It has to be cleaned up, but by our own industry behind closed doors. If asked about appraisal inflation, I'd respond by pointing at the real cause and using the right word: "Lender" pressure. No legitimate appraiser ever woke up in the morning and said "It's beautiful outside. I feel like inflating values today". They did it because they had guns held to their heads. But by whom? Lenders. So let's say so.

You could be a cynic and think, "Well, she's a marketer, so she's paid to twist things". Nothing could be farther from the truth. Lying never works. It's always exposed. But we must define the battlefield properly, and there is indeed a war on, and appraisers are losing it partly by their own actions.

Think of how the lines have already been drawn: The very popular term in the media, "appraisal fraud," tells you who won the first round. Shouldn't it be "lender fraud"? Or "lender coercion"? Those terms aren't nearly as common because the lending industry has very well-paid PR firms and lobbyists who see to it that the finger gets pointed somewhere else. And an interview with a lender never contains a statement like "80% of all lenders out there are dishonest".

But I've seen that said by appraisers, in national venues. Hear the bus? Thump, thump. Hopefully, when it passes by again, we won't see appraisers tossing each other, and the industry's image, under it.