Sound Off!

Dear Henry,
I see some merit to your proposed solution to the housing industry crisis (June 2011 Editorial). I just do not give it much hope. There are too many powerful lobbies that would rather just suck off the taxpayers while they sail to the Hamptons in their newly redecorated yachts.

I am sorry to say that the lessons that should have been learned from the RTC back in the mid-1980s were soon forgotten like a bad dream. The exuberance of lessened oversight allowed a new class of lenders that have brought back the dream as a recurring nightmare. The cost to taxpayers this time is more than money -- it's a fundamental sense of security and faith in our leaders and elected representatives that has been lost.

Regulation and the standardization of the appraisal industry should have been a good thing. New forms (then the MC and now the UAD) were supposedly designed to help. Now, appraisal is being delegated to the lowest common denominator generated by a computer model. May as well call it an AVM and be done with it.

Yes: we as an industry are growing old. There will be no new blood when the pay is less than a mindless position in a fast food or retail associate's job. There is no substitute for experience and honesty -- and experience is damned expensive. Tell me how many less than honest people have been reprimanded or lost their certification? Tell me how many young people can withstand years of substandard pay and costly education to qualify for a tenuous crack at independent self employment? And what is the meaning of "reasonable and customary fees"? All I know is that back in the 1970s, fees were in the $300+ range, there was a rotation at most lenders, and if too many bad valuations surfaced, you got drooped like a hot potato. Maybe there was more time and physical labor involved. Today, the cost of everything from insurance to data sources to software and hardware has skyrocketed. Rates have not changed much, except that the AMCs take a hefty cut. Many appraisers do not want to or will not work for an AMC -- or so they say.

Try to live in this market if you do not have some steady work! I would like to know just what percentage of assignments are not involved with an AMC. Perhaps someone should do a survey!

Joe Johnson
Cert. Residential Appraiser, FL