Always Forward, Never Back

“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains”, a foreboding philosopher’s quote for commercial real estate appraisers. We are thought to be historians, always looking back to what’s occurred in the market. While that’s true, I feel our industry has chronically looked to the past and often doesn’t talk about the future. Appraisers should re-brand. Actively be involved in current deal flow. Become the “go-to” due diligence professionals.

Commercial appraisers are some of the smartest people in the room relative to the transaction. However, trends suggest diminished participation of commercial appraisers in the transaction.  Senators Dodd and Frank have regulated us to the basement of the conversation. Out of sight. Regulation and bank policy are not likely to change. So, what’s the solution? Lyrics from Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground, “keep on learnin’” is the answer.

Keep on learning what? Diversification and productivity. Appraisers love comps, so look at other historical-looking professionals like CPAs to see our potential path. The accounting profession has substantively revamped itself by offering a slew of new services, way beyond just doing your taxes. They have positioned themselves as strategic business advisors and decision-makers. Progressive CPAs have made a significant investment in technology and productivity.

As commercial appraisers, we can continue to look back to the past and lament how things used to be or we can stop looking over our shoulder. Turn our heads forward and see what’s in front of us. This involves an investment of time and money in technology, best practice processes and real estate community participation.

Lack of a public face as commercial real estate experts is a significant detriment to the repositioning of our industry. However, the good news is there are solutions. I recommend grabbing a cup of coffee or lunch with a progressive CPA and ask them questions. Lots of questions. Then listen. What they say might astound you. Mr. Wonder proselytizes, “Gonna keep on tryin’. Till I reach my highest ground.” Always forward, never back.