QUESTION: I found your blog while searching real estate topics on the web. I am an appraiser of 17 years whose business has collapsed in this downturn due to all of my clients going out of business. Can you help me with any suggestions as to what I can do now to make a living. I am too old to retrain for another field so I am really desperate. Thanks Fred

ANSWER: I could probably write a book for this answer. Well, my first suggestion would be for you to follow the money. Where is the money right now in the real estate market? I would have to think that if there is money in a certain area (niche) in real estate, there would also be money for appraisers, too. I’m not sure where you live because you didn’t include this information in your email. Here are a few ideas for you to consider..

1) A few areas where agents are doing very well is bank foreclosures, short sales and distressed properties. Could you become an expert on valuing these types of properties? Your expert services might be helpful for banks owning the properties, real estate agents in pricing the properties and finally with buyers in evaluating the properties. Notice how I’m starting to switch who your customer is? Can you offer and get paid for providing Broker Price Opinions? I’m not sure – I’m just asking…

2) I’m assuming that your in the States based upon your situation. Could you start and market a new service for home sellers who are trying to sell their homes? You could charge a flat fee and provide them with unbiased accurate pricing to get their home sold in today’s soft market. I could see the advertisement now… "Don’t listen to your real estate agent about the price of your home…" Yes, I’m knocking real estate agents with this marketing, but I think it might just work for you. Something to think about.

3) What about commercial properties and apartment buildings? These properties and lenders haven’t been hurt as badly in the States as residential real estate has. Could you offer appraisal services on these properties?

4) After 17 years in the business, I would think could you start a new program or class teaching other people how to determine value on properties. Serious real estate investors would want to take a class on how to value properties in a down market. I just gave you the name of the class… By learning specific valuation strategies, investors might be able to increase their investing profits by buying properties at the right price points. We have all seen mistakes of investors paying too much for their investment properties. You can teach them how to avoid this costly mistake in your class. They would obviously have to pay for this class.

In a nutshell, you need to change how you see your business. There are opportunities all around you. You must stop and look for them. Where is the money flowing? Where is they demand? Can you change who your customer is? What services do people need in a soft market? Hopefully a few of these ideas sparked something for you!

Blog readers, please feel free to add any comments you might have for Fred in the comments section for this post. I’m sure he would appreciate any ideas you have.

If you would like me to answer one of your questions, simply send me an email at: ro*@re***************************.com

    3 replies to "I’m almost out of business, can you help?"

    • Dan Weis

      Hi Fred,
      I think Rob gave you some excellent ideas. I believe that offering agents a pre-listing appraisal would help many agents. It may not need to be a full-blown appraisal (not sure what appraising guidelines allow you to do), so you may have less time involved and offer lower cost to the seller or agent.
      Good luck! The money is out there! Just go get it!
      To your success,
      Dan Weis

    • Joe

      These are good questions and answers. I think it is very important to be adaptable in a changing market as Rob mentioned. I am also a real estate agent and investor and I now see opportunities in this “changing” market more than ever before. I haven’t thought about the opportunities for appraisers as in depth as Rob, but I know from my personal stand point that there are many. If you find and successfully implement a niche business, then you will profit in this market. The best part about taking this action is that you really have nothing to lose. Think about it… If you create a related niche in this market, then what is lost for you be when the market rebounds? Nothing is lost, and there is plenty to gain – more experience, more expertise, and more income!

    • Brian Beck

      In reading Rob’s answer, I have to agree with his advice on finding a niche market. Heart surgeons get paid more than general practitioners because they specialize. Change your mindset about your job. There are tons of appraisers out there, what can you do to seperate yourself from the rest of them? You need to study your profession of choice and figure out what is missing, where there is a need that is not being filled. After 17 years of experience, you should be able to see what others are not seeing.
      I also agree with the “follow the money” mentality. Where is the money today? I am a real estate investor and at least from what I’ve seen in this market, we investors are having a field day! Could you specialize and only cater to real estate investors? You could bring something to the table that other appraisers can’t, 17 years of experience. As a real estate investor myself, I can tell you that stress just comes with the territory. Someone offering me 17 years of experience would ease my mind, and I’m always looking for someone to ease my mind. I would venture to say that I would pay more for a service from an established guy with experience who knew what he was doing for that peace of mind. This leads into the whole “Less Clients More Money” way of thinking that is stressed throughout much of what Rob is teaching.
      What about doing something part time that is related to your field? I have a side business buying and selling mobile homes. It’s not real estate appraising, but if I had to, I could connect the two occupations. I don’t know your monthly expenses, but I’d be willing to bet that one or two deals a month would more than cover your lifestyle. Look around for opportunities, lose the desperation, which leads me to my last point which might piss you off.
      The bottom line is your mindset. “I’m too old and desperate” “The market destroyed my business.” Changing your mindset and your attitude will do amazing things. You’re too old and desperate are horrible excuses which are actually making you old and desperate. The market did not destroy your business, your business was not ready when the market changed and because of that, YOU destroyed your business. All is not lost though, realize that YOU have control over your business, YOU do not have control over market changes. YOU need to make your business able to deal with whatever comes your way.
      And if you are one of those cynical guys that thinks what I just said is “new age mumbo jumbo,” let me ask you something,
      What do you have to lose? Changing your attitude and way of thinking doesn’t cost you anything except your complaints. You need to check those at the door….

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