Thursday, July 17, 2008

Riding the rollercoaster...

Coming to the end of this week, I'm mentally exhausted. Despite the financial turmoil that the news seems to delight in reporting, I'm still very busy with appraisals. I've put a lot of effort into being very versatile for exactly this type of market, and it seems to be paying off. While conventional lending has slowed somewhat, FHA is booming. While real estate purchases are lagging a bit, my private work has increased dramatically. I'm grateful that I can shift my workload into other areas and that I have the tools to make the transition effortlessly. With a huge plug to A La Mode/Aurora, my software provider, they keep the behind-the-scenes invoicing and accounting simple so that I can focus on valuations without losing track of the financial end of my business. They are the most expensive software option for appraisers like myself............and worth every single penny.

With all of this said, the weak economy takes a toll on my mental state some days. With fewer properties selling, my selection of recent comparable sales is much smaller than it was 12 months ago. With properties that are unique to begin with, I feel like I'm sometimes pounding a square peg into a round hole just to come up with three comparable sales that barely define "comparable". I don't blame the lenders when they call and ask, "Is this the best you've got?" I sometimes find myself apologizing for the lack of good data, as if I could go out and create better sales.

And then things happen like the IndyMac Bank failure last Friday, which creates deepening concern for other lenders and consumers alike. IndyMac appears to have been deep into fraudulent practices, and most appraisers can tell you that fraud has become a common practice in the mortgage business. We find ourselves voraciously defending the lenders we find to be ethical, while at the same time hoping that the fraudulent ones go bust. When appraisers chat together, the "David vs. Goliath" conversations are common. Which big lender will be the next to fall?

Over the past three years, I've cultivated wonderful friendships with other appraisers across the nation. When I feel like I'm losing my perspective, they're always there to make me realize that appraisers, as a group, are all deranged. Its a career requirement. If you don't enter the field deranged..........just give it a year or two.

And so we sit and continue to type, report after report after report. We watch the news along with the rest of the nation, and watch the stock market rise and fall with the most recent financial news. Just like a roller coaster, its too late to get off, so we might as well enjoy the ride. Let's just hope that there are still appraisals to do at the end.

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