Joshua Walitt

Title: Certified Residential Appraiser

BUZZ: Have you ever been to Valuation Expo before?

Josh: This was my first Valuation Expo. I had considered going to San Antonio in 2012, but the schedule didn't work out. This year, I was trying to make a decision, and when I won the free pass for submitting ideas to revise the standard appraisal forms, I decided this must be the year for me to attend!

BUZZ: What were some of your winning ideas for the contest?

Josh: I had various ideas for the next generation of forms. The current form almost treats USPAP as an afterthought; of course, compliance is the appraiser's responsibility (not the form's), but if we have a form that is better suited for compliance, I think every player in the industry will benefit.

Another improvement would be to have the form's major sections be on their own pages - a modular design. If you're not including the Cost Approach, don't include that page, for example. This modular approach allows for a more-clear appraisal report, so users can focus on what the appraiser has determined (or agreed upon with the client in the engagement letter) is important, with no worries that additional pertinent items are hidden in other sections.

Except for the most-simple property and assignment, the Improvement, Sales Comparison, and other sections are vastly inadequate, in terms of the allowable space for text. Not only does this encourage some appraisers to be brief even when a longer more-detailed summary may be necessary, it also forces the User to look at multiple places in the report to read the complete information (see attached, continued on text addenda, etc.). Why not expandable-size fields, to allow the user to read all of a section's information in the one spot? We're using old outmoded forms, and not taking advantage of the advancement of technology.

Introduce an Additional Items page. This page could be used to meet Client-specific or appraiser-specific items that the appraiser is addressing in the report, and which can easily be located and read by the User. Clients regularly ask for additional questions to be answered (such as utilities, income-producing, fee details, etc.), but appraisers type them in all sorts of locations in the report, which can lengthen QC times and lead to unneeded revision requests (when the information is already in the report, but the reviewer didn't see it). The Additional Items page would have sets of blanks (expandable for short or long responses), each set composed of the following fields:  Topic, Item/Question, Yes or No (optional), Number (optional), Response.  This method would allow Clients to request on their engagement letter, "Please include the following Topic/Items on the Additional Items page:  'Fee to Appraiser – Disclose the fee that will be paid to the appraiser', and 'Utilities – Were the utilities on and functional at the time of inspection?' for examples; and the User would know exactly where to find those items when they receive the report.

All of these improvements lead to greater efficiency. Wherever we find inefficiency, we should always be looking to fix that issue.

BUZZ: What did you enjoy most about Valuation Expo?

Josh: I really enjoyed meeting new people. I was able to talk with folks in positions to really change the industry from the top down. And the fact that I was able to pick their brains, and add my two cents at the same time, was great. I thought the debate format for Continuing Education was a great idea, since it was different than other presentations and allowed for more questions from the audience. (Oh, and winning $100 Visa Gift Card from PCV Murcor in the Appraisal Bee drawing wasn't bad either!)

BUZZ: Why did you become an appraiser?

Josh: I was working at local branches of a national bank, in sales, management, operations, etc., and wanted something that would get me out of the office a bit more, so I talked to an appraiser I knew from church and asked him about appraising. I liked the appeal of setting my own goals and hours.

BUZZ: What has been the highlight of your professional career so far?

Josh:For the past few years, I've tried to vary my work more and more, including serving as a local Hearing Officer for property value disputes, speaking to lending and realtor groups, serving on Colorado's AMC Rulemaking taskforce, and teaching classes. Being able to design a Methods of Identifying Comps and Adjustments CE-credit class for real estate agents has been a recent highlight, and have had requests to expand to present to other areas' associations.

BUZZ: What piece of advice would you offer young people considering a career in this profession?

Josh: First, learn not only the appraisal end of the work but also business management. Second, newcomers have an incredible opportunity to enter the profession at this time when so many technological tools are emerging and developing - be open to change! Third, read, read, and read more - it's the only way you'll truly know the USPAP and all the rules and regs.

BUZZ: What are some challenges you face in your current job?

Josh: My top challenge may be time management, always looking for more efficiencies that increase accuracies and productivity and that decrease time.

BUZZ: What change or direction do you see happening to the appraisal industry in the future?

Josh: I think we will see more variations to scopes of work that lenders accept, in terms of levels of inspection, who does the inspections, inspections of comps, etc., perhaps taking a lead from the greater flexibility in the Interagency Guidelines.

BUZZ: If you could change one thing about the appraisal industry today, what would it be?

Josh: The single-point value opinion is not truly useful to the lending industry. Does any person believe that a loan dependent on a property's value being $121,000 should be declined because an appraiser's value opinion is $120,000? It's more useful - and realistic - stated as a range of values.

BUZZ: Thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions and we hope to see you again next year.

Have any comments or would you like to nominate yourself or someone else for a buzzography? Email comments@appraisalbuzz.com