It all starts innocently enough. Telephone Call Number 1 is a pleasant exchange inquiring about our services. ” I am thinking about selling my building and I am interested in getting an unbiased value before I list the property,” says my prospective client.

The proposal goes out, is executed, and comes back. I do an inspection of the subject property, pull some comparables, call some brokers and the crack team at Gagliano & Company swings into action.

Not long thereafter, an appraisal report is drafted, checked and delivered. Then comes Telephone Call Number Two [Number Two in more ways than one]:

“I have never been insulted in my entire life! You are clearly incompetent! Were you dropped on your head as a child? Did you get your MAI by collecting cereal box tops?”

I try to stay calm, but, truth be told, I am shocked, defensive and starting to get angry. So my response is not always ideal. But I try, and say, “What exactly is the problem?”

“You say my property is worth $800,000, but my friend, who is a [fill in the blank: real estate broker, experienced businessman, accountant, attorney, exotic bird enthusiast] tells me it is worth at least a million bucks!”

“First of all,” I say, “My ESP must be on the fritz, because I couldn’t read your mind. Second, you asked for an unbiased value estimate, which is what I gave you. And lower case C, let’s look at the facts. I have five recent sales and six recent leases in my report within three miles of your building, none of which support a $1,000,000 value. [Under these circumstances is is safe to assume that the report has not been read. Or skimmed for that matter]

“But,” sputters the soon-to-be-ex-client, “I want to sell it for more!”

Gathering myself, I reply, “And in a perfect world, you would sell it for more. In a world populated with unicorns, wizards and uninformed buyers with more money than sense, you would get everything your heart desires. But in the world we occupy there are two things working against you. The first is the market itself. Buyers can look at any number of similar substitute properties, and like it or not, buyers set the market. Second, most buyers will have to finance the purchase with a bank loan, and those evil bankers will hire their own appraiser. And that sneaky, no good appraiser will research the market [probably not as well as we did, but adequately], find the same set of facts we found and probably reach a similar conclusion. You are asking me to lie to you to make you feel better for the time being, but the truth will eventually come out. Then you will be mad at me for misleading you.”

I hear a muttered curse and a distinct profanity aimed at my parentage. And then a click as the telephone is hung up.


– Bob Gagliano

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