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  • Writer's pictureJesse Ledbetter

Last year I appraised $176,976,500 in real estate.

I see agents award each other around the end of the year for "The Million Dollar Club" and other such metrics. Often an agent will put in their advertising that they did 2.5 million in business last year, or something similar. So, for the first time in my career, I wondered, "How much real estate did I appraise in the last year?" The year that I measured had a few self-imposed slow seasons, but I was shocked at the number nonetheless. Imagine if I had made 3% of that figure....

I feel that this number expresses the difference between the expertise of real estate agents and appraisers. Agent expertise is in sales and negotiation, not valuation. Appraiser expertise is in valuation, not negotiation. From the difference in education at the beginning of each career (Agents receive 0 hours of education in valuation vs. 200 hours of education and 1500 hours of supervised experience for appraisers) to the volume of sales each sees in a year (a good agent may see 10 million in sales in a year, versus portions of billions for an appraiser) the scales are tipped to keep appraisers in the value field, and agents in the world of contract negotiation and sales.

This past year was tough on both of those. I saw many sales where the "winning bid" was one of 20 offers (the record I personally saw was 44)... that's 19 families without a home, and 19 agents without a commission. Appraisers struggled to find the data to keep up with rising home prices, which resulted in many buyers offering to waive part/all of the appraisal difference (ie. pay over market value in cash). Many of my conversations this past year had the "It must be tough for you guys," passed genuinely from one to the other. As I write this on 08/23/2021 for it to post in February, maybe things will have changed. Perhaps the market will have cooled back to the normal stable growth that central Virginia has seen for many years. Maybe we're in for a roller coaster... either way, agents and appraisers will continue to navigate this market like every other year before.

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