Lost in Translation

“Boy, those French! They have a different word for everything.” – Steve Martin. Sometimes, I think commercial appraisers are misunderstood. They really aim to do an excellent job, every time. However, without productivity software, processes and an entrepreneurial office culture, fatigue sets in, sapping the energy to add je ne sais quoi, that intangible quality that makes something distinctive. Too tired to “talk” to the reader, providing the most relevant analysis. Their message is lost in boilerplate land, leaving the reader to translate their intentions.

For those who read commercial appraisal reports, the following is a helpful translation to understand what the appraiser is really thinking.

  1. “inferior demographics”: Surprising number of felons.
  2. “desirable demographics”: Surprising number of Starbucks.
  3. “tertiary location”: Kabul-like.
  4. “exterior only inspection”: Property owned by Nick Nolte.
  5. “interior rather dated”: Green shag carpeting, circa 1971.
  6. “building condition – fair”: Didn’t collapse during inspection.
  7. “building condition – poor”: Time for an insurance “fire”.
  8. “contributory value”: A normal person may or may not bulldoze it.
  9. “deferred maintenance”: Cheap and/or lazy property owner.
  10. “reader edification”: Additional discussion appraiser can’t help but add (but unnecessary).

If you order or review commercial appraisals, this translation might be helpful.

  1. “We can deliver the report in 3-4 weeks”: Office lacks productivity software.
  2. Appraiser chronically misses due dates: No workflow application.
  3. Typos in Excel adjustment grid: No in-house comp database.
  4. Market Value $2.5 m on page 3 and $2.3 m on page 80: Office lacks templates.
  5. “I talked about that on page 315.”: 1980’s report format needs major trimming.

The client and appraiser should be on the same page. That requires more communication, listening and tailoring your reports to what your clients want. Present data that’s meaningful to your specific client. There’s no one size fits all. Faisons mieux comprendre et ne pas se perdre dans la traduction. Translation: “Let’s better understand each other and not get lost in translation.”