What We Are and What We Aren’t

Since we have a long history of supporting appraisal causes, and we have the mindset and wherewithal to act on threats we see to our customers (such as the current HVCC issue), it's easy for some people to get confused as to what we're really trying to be. They feel we're challenging the role of appraisal associations, and they either love us for it or call us - or me, rather - every name in the book for it. They personalize the issue and center it on me and my tactics (admittedly, I get a kick out of a Greenpeace-attacks-whaling boat approach), rather than the serious issues at hand. (pq)

That personalization takes on odd forms, too. I've received everything from e-mails with bikini-clad photos of very cute appraisers, to moderately creative and sometimes extremely detailed hate mail. Let me be very clear: The bikini thing, I'm good with that (yes, I'm single). The black helicopter stuff, not so much.

Setting the personalization aside for a moment, I want to emphasize that under no circumstances do we want to be anything remotely like an appraisal organization. We stated our motivations up front last issue and will do so again: We're not trying to make you believe we want to hold hands, sing "Kumbaya," and save the world. I do care about appraisers emotionally because I was one of you, my father was an appraiser, and because many of my friends are appraisers. But ultimately, I'm in this to earn a living just like you are. Anything that threatens you, threatens me. Your spending power translates into my revenue. That's a great basis for an easily understood relationship, and shouldn't scare anyone. But it's far from anything that motivates an appraisal organization. I don't want to go there.

Besides, if you start acting like an appraisal organization, you have to form committees and working groups and such. I think I'm allergic to committees. But, in the socio-political world, staid committees and workgroups serve a stabilizing purpose and they do indeed get useful work done over time. Groups like the Appraisal Institute are superb at that, and I mean that sincerely. Like watching my mountain-climbing brother methodically scale an icy cliff, I have respect for it because I know I can't do it to save my life.

Instead, I prefer to take one of those black helicopters up and meet him at the top with a case of beer. Same destination, two different ways of getting there - and both are useful in different ways.

Committees will not, generally, motivate people to engage in true grassroots political activism - the kind we stirred up for the HVCC. Congress will know appraisers are willing to be political now. And that's necessary, especially in an election year, with the mortgage crisis front and center in the media. Appraisers are no longer the "Chicken Littles" of the industry - the sky really did fall, exactly as you'd been saying back when nobody was listening. Now the country is all ears. We have to decisively take collective advantage of the opportunity, and we will.

As for committees doing good work, my hat is off to the Appraisal Institute. I said last issue that I'd be their biggest fan if they'd stop throwing appraisers under the bus, listen, and become solid advocates. Thankfully, they broadly reversed their earlier pro-HVCC stand and delivered a thoughtful, methodical, broadly critical analysis of the HVCC, not too far apart from our own analysis. I feel like we just met at the top of the mountain. But I bet I get stuck paying for the beer.