Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Monday, September 20, 2010, 10:09 PM
Nearly 2 weeks ago I couldn’t restrain myself after listening to the official Appraisal Institute video from President Sellers with his explanation why AI left The Appraisal Foundation. It wasn’t so much the idea of AI leaving TAF that irked me, but rather the sanitized press release quality of the video and the FAQ.
I had trouble with believing a major league spat like this could be explained in such a one sided way and even worse, making the assumption that Appraisal Members weren’t savvy enough to pick up on the spin. This violated Public Relations Rule #1 (like an appraisal, incidentally) FULL DISCLOSURE.
As a result of the post, I was able to have an informative discussion with the Chairman of The Appraisal Foundation, David C. Wilkes, who actually drove into NYC to meet me directly and lay out the situation on my podcast. I had hoped to receive the same eagerness to clear the air from President Sellers.
Here was my email request to Appraisal Institute:
From: Jonathan J. Miller [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:22 PM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; JoeMags@AppraisalResearchInc.com; email@example.com
Subject: [Podcast] David C. Wilkes, Chairman The Appraisal Foundation
Dear Fred, Joe and Les,
I have been a residential appraiser in the New York City metro area for 25 years, who hosts a widely followed blog and podcast that covers the housing market. I have been a friend of the Appraisal Institute and advocate for solving the problems facing appraisers today.
Here is my blog, Matrix:
Here is my guest list for The Housing Helix podcast:
In my frustration with what I perceived to be a less than transparent presentation of this situation by AI on your breakaway from TAF (which is also the opinion of most of my colleagues), I wrote what I thought was a balanced summary of the situation between TAF and AI.
David Wilkes of TAF commented on my post and I ended up interviewing him for my podcast.
In the interest of being fair, I want to extend you the same courtesy as I did to David so I don’t provide a less than accurate account. This is not a “gotcha” inquiry or an attempt at being sensational. I am not interested in a he-said-she-said discussion or making this bigger than it is but rather your take on what happened. How did this happen? What does this mean to the Appraisal Institute? Its members? Can this relationship can be repaired? Is that is even an option? What are some of the directions AI is moving in? Is this part of a larger strategy?
Since I am in NYC, this can be a phone call where I capture the audio and post it to my blog/podcast at your earliest convenience.
What say you?
Jonathan J. Miller, CRE, CRP
MILLER SAMUEL INC.
When an individual or institution hides behind a press release, it suggests that they are unable to speak to the issues without self-incrimination. I thought this was an important enough issue to have a neutral conversation with President Sellers.
President-elect Joe Mags, was extremely responsive to my request (and has been a stand-up guy in this whole debacle) but correctly deferred to Sellers. I also got the same positive impression of Joe Mags during my interview with David Wilkes, Chairman of The Appraisal Foundation.
Since President Sellers opted to reply to me by cc’ing a slew of people I do not know (which appeared to be board members and a lawyer), sadly I can only assume this was intended to intimidate me. Therefore I feel it is appropriate to share his reply.
From: Leslie Sellers
Date: September 16, 2010 5:34:17 PM EDT
To: Jonathan Miller
, “firstname.lastname@example.org” Cc: ‘Joseph Magdziarz’ , “‘Sara Stephens, MAI, CRE’” , “email@example.com” , “‘Chitester, Ken’” , “‘Liskar, Jeff’” , “firstname.lastname@example.org”
Subject: RE: [Podcast] David C. Wilkes, Chairman The Appraisal Foundation
Thanks for inquiry. I have been traveling and just got back to the office this afternoon. Sorry for the delay in returning you email.
I’m sorry to hear you feel otherwise, but I can assure you that the Appraisal Institute’s Board of Directors has been fully transparent with its members, the profession and the public throughout the recent issue with The Appraisal Foundation. As you know, all relevant documents are posted on the members-only of the AI website
Having closed an unfortunate but necessary chapter in its history, the Appraisal Institute’s focus is now on moving forward. The Appraisal Institute will be sharing additional information in the coming days to its members regarding what AI’s withdrawal as a Foundation sponsor means for them and for the profession. Beyond that, the Appraisal Institute is not interested in further rehashing history but rather is working toward lifting valuation to a new, higher lever and providing members with the education and tools they need to succeed in a continually challenging real estate market.
Thanks again for your interest.
Leslie P. Sellers MAI SRA
119 South Charles Seivers Blvd.
Clinton, Tennessee 37716
My response to this canned “moving forward” email is presented below. So much for an open transparent discussion.
From: Jonathan Miller
Date: September 17, 2010 5:38:33 PM EDT
To: Leslie Sellers
, ‘Joseph Magdziarz’ , “‘Sara Stephens, MAI, CRE’” , “email@example.com” , “‘Chitester, Ken’” , “‘Liskar, Jeff’” , “firstname.lastname@example.org”
Subject: Re: [Podcast] David C. Wilkes, Chairman The Appraisal Foundation
Thank you for your reply and Joe’s updates. I admit I am disappointed but not surprised by the type of response provided – given what just happened.
I encourage you, AI board members, AI executives, attorneys and whomever else was copied in this email to reconsider what transparency really means. The presentation of a large number of documents and a one-sided public response is being confused with transparency.
I had hoped to have a fair and open conversation with you like I did with David Wilkes of The Appraisal Foundation. My request is a standing offer.
There – I’ve said my piece so now it’s time to “move forward.”
Enjoy your weekend.
Jonathan J. Miller, CRE, CRP
To all my readers, I apologize for the wonkiness of this post but it is been frustrating to observe. One of the murmurs about this situation has been a fear of retaliation to members (consistent with the not-so-subtle email cc technique) so I suspect nothing will change until the leadership changes and perhaps some culture readjustment.
It is a shame that appraisers in the organization have not been given a plausible explanation for the upside benefits of this major action but we get micro analysis of lesser issues nearly every day.
Back to work.