I've included this article since it discusses some real life situations you will encounter in real estate and the appraisal business. This article is reprinted with permission from Ken Jones.


Who's The Expert, Anyway?

In seminar after seminar, and in virtually every discussion that I have with appraisers regarding their reasoning pertaining to something that they did which was inappropriate and/or inconsistent with sound appraisal practice, or something that they failed to do in accordance with sound appraisal practice, the universal excuse used in an attempt to exonerate themselves from their failure to live up to their ethical responsibilities is, "Well, the client wanted me to do it that way. ". Which begs the naturally logical follow-up questions, which are, "Who's the expert, anyway? You or the client?", to which they most frequently respond with a blank stare as if I asked them to comment on Einstein's theory of relativity; they haven't got a clue.

Believe it or not, the appraiser is the person who is recognized as the expert in matters of real property valuation. Maybe that's why there is a requirement that an appraiser demonstrate competence through examination of their work product, as well as prove that they have successfully completed various levels of specialized professional education before even being qualified to sit for written examinations to achieve recognition by credible professional appraisal organizations as well as to achieve the appropriate level of state licensure.

Then, there's always the wise guy who says, "Well, I'm the client, and, since I'm paying for the work, I have the right to tell the appraiser how I want it done.", to which I usually reply with the following analysis of his statement: "So, Mr. Client. It's your position that the customer is always right. Correct? (Reply : Right.) Well, Mr. Client. To carry on the logic of your premise, you'd have to agree that I would be correct in assuming that, if a cash paying drug addict/patient walked into his doctor's office and asked the doctor to give him a prescription for morphine, which was not otherwise justified by the addict's physical condition other than the fact that he was an addict, using your logic, the doctor would be obligated to write an illegal prescription to that patient merely because the patient was a paying customer. Right? " (No Reply)

After the absurdity in the original statement is recognized, I usually hear a chorus of whimpering that goes something like this: "I know your right, BUT, if I don't do it the way the client wants it done, somebody else will. " To this morally bankrupt statement, I usually reply: "Well, if I don't sell drugs to that kid, somebody else will. "  OR  "If I don't sell that kid a gun, somebody else will. Right? " WRONG! When you, the professional expert, are hired by a client, you are REQUIRED to perform your service by applying your expertise in providing the client what they NEED, NOT what they WANT! The attitude that, "If I don't do it somebody else will ", is nothing less than the utterance of the morally weak who, by this statement, are demonstrating how low they will stoop to justify unjustifiable deeds in exchange for money; the common word for such an act is "prostitution".

I imagine that if we were able to go back in time to Germany during the period between 1938-1945, we might probably hear these same words uttered by those "good " citizens who helped their government to round up Jews, knowing full well that they were being sent to certain death. Yet, those same "good " citizens, being too concerned for themselves, knowingly let those people suffer and die because they didn't have the moral fiber to stand up and say, "NO! I WON'T DO THAT! IT'S WRONG!". Therefore, if YOU don't live up to YOUR moral and ethical responsibility to perform YOUR service by applying YOUR expertise in the way that YOU know to be proper, then YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

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