[ˈhīdˌbound / adjective – unwilling or unable to change because of tradition or convention]

My industry is hidebound. Stuck. Full of rules. 50% to 70% of my reports are standard boilerplate that has to be there. That’s a lot of senseless murder of trees.

After the real estate crash in the early 1990s, the Federal Government decided that the problem was the appraisers, who, somehow and mysteriously, controlled the real estate industry like the Mafia controlled the docks. We now have the  Appraisal Standards Board that promulgates the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, also known as USPAP (pronounced use-pap).

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong about having standards. Miss Karen had standards, but was willing to lower them and marry me. That worked out for me at least.

I think the term that troubles me most is uniform.

I have had the opportunity to read reports prepared by my peers. Oh, how I pity their clients! Pages and pages of disclaimers and how this report conforms to this or strictly adheres to that. 20 pages deep you might actually find out whether the subject property is residential, industrial or crustacean. To see a photo of the subject property requires skipping back a hundred pages or so to Addenda Section D – Subject Photographs.

You know why USPAP was invented? To contain the scoundrels. The bad eggs. The worst of us. The professional equivalent of the smash and grab robber. Those not interested in a professional practice, only a quick buck.

Now we have an industry that’s happy and cozy, writing reports required by law or by third parties, like lenders. We are considered a necessary evil by most.

The idea of entrepreneurship, or using one’s knowledge, experience and creativity to better a client’s position is, well, met with blank looks.

I had the opportunity to spend some time this week with a smart and talented young appraiser friend. At one point in our conversation, he mentioned a time when he was ill at ease with a challenge. He said [I am paraphrasing to protect the easily offended], “In those situations, I just tell myself, don’t be gutless.”

There is hope for us yet.

– Bob Gagliano

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