The Right Start was about the "possibilities", collective action to move the profession ahead as opposed to going backwards or standing still. That led to The URARS, ways to convey the message, enlist the support of appraisers and get the process started. While I anticipated debate, I also expected a spirit of cooperation. After all, the URARS was about "improving our lot in life" so to speak something all would benefit from.
After witnessing (and participating in) a conversation on the WinTotal User's Group regarding "effective age", I had to take a step back and rethink our course of action. While the discussion was (for the most part) constructive, a simple question prompted 80+ responses. To be honest, I don't think there was a clear consensus in the end, although I do believe most involved (and those lurking) have a far better comprehension of the issues surrounding effective age and the use of the term in the URAR.
Having watched Brian Davis, Lee Hill and others "get busy" with the topic, my observations led to a few fundamental conclusions. Appraisers are in the "opinion business", so like other things, we all have one (or more), often we are quick to give it (asked for or not) and when we do, we defend it vigorously (right or wrong).
What starts as a simple question or observation can quickly become "sport" and in doing so, all bets are off and we lose perspective. This is a key point for the URARS and the state of the appraisal profession. At times, we are so quick to take a position that we lose objectivity and become indifferent to the views of others.
One of the final posts really hit home. After being a key part of the effective age discussion (and having endured the onslaught) my friend Brian Davis wished me good luck with the URARS, knowing that if I put it out there, I was perhaps destined for a far greater degree of frustration than he had experienced.
His words were not lost on me. While I believe in "open debate" and "gathering as many opinions as possible", I also know how quickly the focus can shift from "constructive critique" and "a spirit of cooperation", to simply "digging in" and defending a personal "status quo".
Shifting our thinking
Rather than start from scratch and attempt to create a URARS, it might be best to do what Brain Davis did when he created the "Clarification of Scope of Work". The first draft was basically his thoughts, gathered from a variety of sources and organized over several pages. From "that draft", comments were solicited and from those comments, edits made.
As we continue the series, I will be identifying various issues (my own and those sent to me by others), soliciting feedback and creating a "rough draft version". From that we can all provide "constructive critique", suggest additions/deletions/modifications and hopefully, in the spirit of cooperation, find the "common ground" needed to create a document that represents "best practices".
As we progress, I hope that each of you will remember "Patience Persistence and Compromise". The URARS isn't about "my way vs. your way", but rather about a way that all of us can agree upon and "a way that is defensible, via reference to widely accepted techniques, definitions and methods".
The URARS is about better communication "with the reader", finding the best ways to support and document what we do, being open to alternative views and working together. Effectively, what I am asking is for all of us to "be nice and play well with others", by avoiding "digging in" and "subjectivity", in favor of citing a sources as a basis for your position.
The source should be available to all, such as The Appraisal of Real Estate, The Dictionary of Real Estate Terminology, The Essentials of Real Estate Economics and ANSI Standards or perhaps a Federal Government or legal definition source, since many of the issues we will address may have limited discussion in those publications.
We need to define that which is vague and support our "best practices" with references to widely accepted techniques, procedures and definitions, placing the ball in someone else's court to dispute the best practice by citing a better one, something most will be hard-pressed to do.
For the URARS, lets look at "the larger issue first", that is finding "common ground" from different perspectives. To accomplish this, we must consider issues and viewpoints "open-mindedly", not from a defensive posture, but from an exploratory one, allowing for examination of perceptions that might be different from our own.
Focus on what I write, provide the readers with better sources, different viewpoints or clarification to what I have cited. Do so however, not with your opinion but rather with "verse and chapter", so that all may consider your position for a "best practice", and do so in a manner that is constructive as opposed to argumentative.
The object of the URARS is to focus on more on our similarities and less on our differences to find common ground. Doing so advances our cause and in the long term, benefits appraisers and users of appraisal services. I hope you'll keep the comments suggestions and e-mails coming.
AUTHOR: Patrick Egger is a Certified General Appraiser located in Las Vegas, NV. He teaches continuing education classes on the housing market, appraisal issues for real estate agents and appraisers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Look for the new Outside The Boxes category for a collection of Patrick's articles on Appraisal Scoop!