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How to communicate with appraisers online
What’s the best way for you?
Published 6-20-20. Face to face communication is almost gone outside your home. No more live meetings, classes, etc. To connect, appraisers can use other methods for personal and business connecting.
I used to jam with my band and have a weekly lunch with another local
appraiser. Now, we have been using Zoom every week.
I attend a lot of live webinars. My local commercial real estate group met once a month for a long time. Two months ago, we shifted to Zoom meetings.
Of course, facetime, Zoom, online classes, webinars, emails, and phone
calls are not the same as face to face. Humans are social. We need face to face and physical contact.
Sometimes you can meet friends and relatives outdoors with 6 ft. distance. This works well. A friend regularly meets her daughters and grandchildren for lunch outside one of their homes. It could work with a few local appraisers.
Online communication has significantly increased, even before the
I wrote about this topic in the January 2018 issue. There have been changes since then, especially in the increasing numbers of blogs, podcasts, etc.
The amount of information and opinions is expanding exponentially. I have joined many more personal and business-related services since my last article.
In this article, I refer to them all as “services”. I focus on appraisal-related services, but most of us, including myself also use them for personal information, such as a local NextDoor site, music, and pickleball services.
Why connect with other appraisers online? There are many numerous
reasons, especially since many appraisers work solo: get and give advice, see if other appraisers are busy or slow, AMC/client issues, USPAP, Fannie, UAD, etc. You can do it any time, at your convenience.
You can spend just a little time or lots of time. Go to the groups below and see which ones you like and try one or two. The larger the number of members, the greater the number of postings.
I am only listing the ones I subscribe to. Search the services (email
discussion groups, Facebook, etc.) for other groups. For example, searching email discussion group services for the word appraiser resulted in hundreds of groups, many of them very small and with little or no recent activity. Searching by “latest activity” is a good idea.
Each online group is different.
My background online
My first online experience was before the Internet browser. An appraiser
friend showed me how to get access to IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and find information. But, it was “command line” or DOS driven and was too much hassle for me.
I joined AOL and Compuserve in the early 1990s, back when Bill Gates said the Internet was a big threat to Microsoft’s business. I set up online chats and email exchanges for appraisers.
When ISPs were available in my city, I set up both my home and my office. I used to travel giving seminars to appraisers on how to use the Internet, using a landline to connect. Very slooooow!!
I will never forget my first html class. I typed up a few commands and saw what I wrote displayed on a page on the Internet. It was magical.
When email chat groups, Facebook groups, twitter, etc. started, I signed up for them.
I started sending my free weekly email newsletters in June 1992 and set up my first business website in 1998.
When the first web browser was available, I went online and never stopped!!
Types of online communication
There are many methods used by appraisers: blogs, web-based forums,
email discussion groups, podcasts, etc.
Almost all allow comments, except for podcasts (some allow comments on their web sites).
On Facebook, email discussion groups, and Appraisersforum.com
members start a topic and other members respond.
Emailed newsletters such as my Friday weekly free newsletter do not get many comments. However, my weekly newsletters are posted on my blog where readers can comment. Jonathan Miller’s posts are online, but do not allow comments and are “one-way” communication. However, you can always email him.
I also subscribe to many email non-appraisal discussion groups, where
members start topics and others respond.
Appraiser groups – politics, flaming, lurkers, etc.
All the groups I belong to have moderators.
I have no idea why, but none of the appraisal groups allows political
discussions. When one starts it is quickly stopped.
“Flaming” and personal attacks do occur, particularly on
appraisersforum.com, but they are quickly stopped on the other groups by the moderators. They sometimes remove the person from the group.
I am a “lurker”. I seldom post anything. I tried when the groups started, but when I posted something, often it was too late in the discussion.
Who runs the online services?
Now that blogs are inexpensive and easy to use, more and more people
post on blogs. Other services, such as Facebook groups, are mostly run by individual appraisers, groups of moderators, and appraisal vendors.
Appraisersforum.com is a “traditional” forum that started before blogs and is owned and managed by Wayne McErley. It is similar to the old “bulletin boards”.
What types of posts and comments are made?
Posts are typically longer than comments and can be about almost any
Comments are typically a response to the original post with a headline,
although comments can wander and get off-topic
How many posts are made in a service?
This varies widely. The larger the number of members or subscribers,
typically the greater the number of posts.
This paid newsletter, which started in 1992, is “one way”. I send you the
newsletter and you can contact me. There is no blog for readers to comment.
Since it is not free, I don’t put it online for everyone to access and post
comments. However, my free weekly email started in 1994, is posted on my blog where you can make comments. I set up my blog about 5 years ago. I used to post them on my web site, started in 1998, but there was no way to post comments. I subscribe to some twitter accounts but don’t check them regularly.
Podcasts are typically “one way” However, some podcasts have a web site, website page, or blog where you can make comments.
Other services, such as appraisersforum.com have many daily postings.
Some Facebook and email discussion groups have a lot of posts and some have relatively few.
I have had a twitter account since October 2009. Another appraiser helped me set it up. Somehow it got up to over 2,500 followers, even though I did not promote it. I only use it to send out my free weekly emails. I somehow was not able to fit what I wanted to say in the limited space, so never used it to start conversations.
Some appraisers have twitter accounts and use them regularly. Check out the accounts below and see how active they are, and what are the recent topics.
From Ryan Lundquist, who has a more active twitter account, “I like the
approach to data and personal flavor too. Twitter is not just about posting stats and it’s especially not about over marketing. It’s about building relationships with people and creating conversation.”
Here are a few of the twitter accounts Ryan follows, plus his account:
Online live chats – Zoom, etc.
Another local appraiser and I have been meeting for lunch at noon on Friday for quite a while. A few weeks of not meeting after our shutdown, we decided to use Zoom.
We had both been using it to meetup with other people. It worked out great. Not the same as face to face, but better than email, text, and even phone calls. We now eat our lunches together remotely.
Zoom is very easy to use. Try it with appraisers, plus family members and friends. I am using it for weekly jams with my bandmate. Lotsa fun!! Or, for playing bingo with 60 people!
Of course, checking out the backgrounds in their homes is fun. I watch a regular nightly news program where they are all working at home. One of them has a sleeping cat in the background. When the cat was missing one day, there was lots of chat on social media about the “missing cat”, who became famous.
I have no idea why so many use bookcases in the background. Plus photos, and other items on their walls. I keep trying to read them. I gotta get a better background… Maybe a virtual one.
How to keep up with your groups, blogs, etc.
– Email notification of blog posts and comments on services such as email newsletters, blogs, forums, email discussion groups, podcasts, etc.
– Go regularly to the web site that has the service
– Automatic download podcasts to your phone and/or computer
I started with email discussion groups before the web was available to the public. I don’t like to regularly go to Facebook, blogs, etc. so I have the posts, emails, etc. sent to me by email and filtered to subfolders.
Keeping up on the information overload is difficult. For the services you are already using, it is easy to decide. For new services, you can check it out for a while and then decide.
Sometimes I decide that it is very useful for me so I use email notifications of everything. Other times it is not important and I use a daily email digest, with a list of email subject lines.
Using daily email digests or emails of each post for email services
I get hundreds of emails daily from various services. I have them
automatically filtered into email folders. Otherwise, my inbox would be totally overloaded.
For example, there is a very active NextDoor web site in my city. When it started I got an email for every post as there was local news. But, over time it kept getting more and more posts, mostly about stuff for sale. So, I changed my preferences to daily email digests, which worked out much better.
I could scan the daily digest for anything I was interested in. When there was news, such as a house fire a block from my house, I heard the fire engines and news helicopters. Info was posted immediately on the local NextDoor web site.
When appraisersforum.com started, I signed up for email notifications of every post. But, after a while, there were way too many, plus too much chit-chat for me. So, I quit getting email notifications. However, now I seldom go to the site and am sure I am missing a lot of good discussions.
How to get started, if you have never done online appraiser communication
In this article, I give you information on many possible groups. Few, if any, appraisers follow all the groups.
Join one, or a few groups, that seem interesting to you. See if you like it. If not, you can unsubscribe or just stop checking for any postings, and try another group.
If you are already on Facebook, join one, or more, of the appraisal groups, as you are used to the Facebook interface. Many require moderator approval to be sure that only appraisers can post there.
Appraisersforum.com is public on the web. You can see what the topics and posts are like. To post anything you must be a member. All the blogs are public.
Most appraiser blogs are for marketing purposes, marketing to real estate agents, and possible clients such as attorneys. Some of the blogs have useful information for appraisers. I have included them below.
There can be quite a bit of communication about a specific blog post. Or, no comments.
My “blog” is used to post my weekly email newsletters and does not have comments on the current paid subscribe newsletter. The newsletters are way too long to comment on one part of the blog. I started it in 2010, with photos and small posts, but quickly realized it would take too much time and switched to just having a place to put my free email newsletter. Putting them on individual web pages was
way too time-consuming.
www.millersamuel.com/note/ – Jonathan Miller Housing Notes. Written by Jonathan Miller, based in New York City, writes about his area (and a few other cities) plus info of interest to appraisers, usually in the Appraiserville section. This blog-style writing is like mine but is not in blog format. It is mostly used for marketing purposes.
I subscribe to the blogs below and receive email notices of new posts. All allow comments.
www.Appraisersblogs.com – Very active, somewhat controversial. Started in 2011 by Desiree Mehbod, Virginia Certified Residential, appraising since 1993. She does not take advertising. She and her helpers do all the work on the blog.
Georgedell.com – George Dell is a long time appraiser and instructor, based in San Diego, CA. He has regular blog posts for appraisers.
Regular blog posts on business and appraisal topics by Dustin Harris, The Appraiser Coach. He also has a podcast.
www.Clevelandappraisalblog.com – Very creative and interesting posts.
Tim Andersen. Interesting comments and analysis of USPAP issues.
Ryan Lundquist. The purpose is non-lender marketing in Sacramento, CA area, but has posts that are interesting for appraisers.
Tom Horne. The purpose is marketing but has posts of interest to appraisers www.birminghamappraisalblog.com/
These are mostly one-way communication, with no comments. But, some allow comments.
I have listened to the podcasts below and have been a guest on two of them. Very well done with good topics. I also subscribe to many business podcasts (Freakonomics, Marketplace, etc.) and listen to podcasts on my iphone – in my car or while exercising.
www.theappraisercoach.com/podcast – regular podcasts on business and appraisal topics by Dustin Harris, The Appraiser Coach
Tim Andersen . USPAP topics, short and sometimes entertaining, which is hard to do with USPAP.
Phil Crawford. Entertaining and controversial focusing on appraisal topics in the news. Phil started as a real estate radio “personality” and is now doing appraisal topics. His podcasts are on youtube where you can make comments.
How do the groups differ?
They are very different. Some of the factors:
– Appraiser experience. The email discussion groups and LinkedIn groups attract appraisers who have been appraising for a long time and tend to focus on appraisal issues.
– Flaming, negative postings, etc. The larger the group, the more negative postings. Some groups attract people who tend to “attack” other appraisers or make rude comments. All groups have occasional problems with this. If there is a good moderator, it can be handled by kicking the person off the list or deleting their comments. Approving every post is the best way, but requires that someone take
the time to do it. This tends to cut way down on postings.
– Number of postings. Varies widely, from a few posts a month to hundreds a day.
– Pre-approval before joining. Some require it and some don’t.
– Finding old postings. You can search Facebook groups, but it is not as good as
Email discussion groups and Appraisersforum.
What about privacy?
Most services for appraisers require using your “real name”.
Appraisersforum.com does not. Sometimes in the email groups, you don’t know the name of the person who posted. The moderator, or someone in the group, requests that the person use their real name.
The only widely used group that is indexed by Google is
www.appraisersforum.com. Be careful what you post there.
Most of the appraiser Facebook groups are private or “secret”.
The only communication in this country that is (almost) completely private is
postal mail. Emails are not private. Internet communications are not private. Phone calls can be monitored by government agencies and are accessible by people with monitoring equipment.
Some of the online services allow the use of “screen names” and others
require your “real name”. Screen names do allow some privacy, depending on how your real name is kept private. Appraisersforum.com has allowed screen names for many years.
Most of the Facebook groups only allow licensed appraisers or someone referred by a member.
The Primary Rule for any Internet communications – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email discussion groups, etc. is that you must assume that any of your communications would be published on the front page of the New York Times and indexed by Google.
What about groups for personal interests?
I belong to groups on Facebook for my personal interests, mostly
experimental music groups, activities in my small town, and family facebook pages.
Do you have any personal interests you would like to discuss online? It is a very easy way to communicate.
How much time do you want to spend online?
There are so many groups, you can spend hours every day online.
I am online a lot because of this newsletter, plus the free email newsletter.
Even without the newsletter, I would check the groups I like to see what is happening. If business was slow or I was feeling burned out, I would spend more time.
With many appraisers working solo who don’t know other local appraisers to contact, online is a good way to replace the office “water cooler”.
When you need a break, spending a half-hour or so online can help.
When you need information on a specific issue, search the groups. Email discussion groups are good. Appraisersforum.com has the best searching. Facebook is limited.
Start your own group
If you can’t find any groups for Connecticut appraisers, for example, start your own email or Facebook group. Send emails to other appraisers asking them to join.
You can post a message in a larger group to let them know you have started a smaller group. A Florida appraiser recently started a Facebook group for his area.
The key to getting a group started is having someone who will regularly post and respond to postings. If you start a group, hopefully, you can do this. See what types of questions or topics are popular in other groups and make up your own for your group.
How to find and evaluate groups
Some forms software vendors have discussion groups on Facebook or other services. Check with your vendor.
All the services in this article have good ways to search for groups. See how many members there are, typical topics if you know anyone in the groups, and how many postings there are.
If you subscribe to a group and don’t like it, quitting is very easy.
Using groups to market online
Primary Marketing Rule: If no one knows who you are and what you do, no one will ever contact you for appraisal assignments.
Posting on these groups would be good marketing for you. You can be seen as a knowledgeable appraiser and may receive some referrals.
You can find out about other appraisers’ experiences with clients. They are a good way to find out about AMCs. You may have a new client contact you, but this is unlikely for residential appraisers.
Linkedin is sometimes used by appraisers for marketing, particularly for
Getting advice online – marketing, help with an appraisal problem, etc.
Every appraiser needs at least one local appraiser to contact for advice. You can use online groups, but posting a question about a local issue is often not useful unless there is someone who will respond who is in your local area. Of course, you can get advice on general issues such as USPAP, dealing with AMCs, etc.
The “quality” of the advice varies widely. The only one that is somewhat
difficult to use is appraisersforum.com because of the large number of aggressive postings and a wide range of knowledge. You have to sort through the postings to figure out which are okay and which ones are not.
All the other groups discussed in the article are small enough that you can figure out which answers are useful.
“Lurkers” and active members
All groups have a relatively small group of regular posters and a larger group of people who seldom, if ever, post.
Most members of a group are “lurkers”, like me. I have been using online communication with appraisers since I started a weekly live chat group on Compuserve in 1993. I have never posted much, usually because by the time I can think of anything to say, it has already been said.
However, it is better to post something occasionally, or often, so you will be better known and may get some referrals. Plus, it is a lot more fun than being a lurker.
On all the groups, you can view them online and receive emails. Because some of them are very active, I recommend viewing them online first. If you have been viewing them online, try getting email notices from your favorite group, but be sure to set up filters and folders in your email.
The Facebook interface is very different than the other groups. Facebook is social media, not based on postings and threaded comments like the other groups.
The LinkedIn “look” is similar to Facebook but is for business.
Email discussion groups are email-style and are flexible – view by date, view threads, etc.
All the email discussion groups have a web location, which can be easier to search and follow threads.
Facebook is different than the other groups as Facebook is social media, focusing on personal connections.
The appraiser groups use the same interface. The appraisal groups require using your “real” appraiser name.
There is a search box on the left side of the group home page. To get notifications of all group activity, change your settings – upper right of
screen. Facebook allows for saving posts and comments. Click on the upper right with … to access the pull-down menu.
You can get email notifications of all posts and can see a list of all the
The Facebook groups tend to be newer residential appraisers (since
licensing) as many older appraisers don’t use Facebook. However, there are many “old-timers” on the appraiser Facebook groups.
Many comments focus on handling AMC requests, UAD and lender
requirements such as Fannie Mae guidelines, AMC hassles, etc. Good place to get advice. Moderators try to keep flaming and rudeness down and remove some appraisers.
Joining is by invitation only in most of the groups. Open only to licensed appraisers and the group leaders check each applicant at www.asc.gov. However, there are AMC employees and managers who are licensed appraisers. Most of the groups started about 7-8 years ago. I have been a member since they started. Some are spinoff groups of other Facebook groups. The most active groups are listed below. Some have increased membership in the past two years and others are stable.
I am a Real Estate Appraiser- The National Appraisal Coalition is the most active group with 6,901 members.
I Am a Female Appraiser has 1,907 members.
100% Real Estate Appraisers has 2,853 members.
Mobile Appraisers has 2,200 members.
Real Estate Appraisers Forum has 1,444 members.
Appraisersforum.com – the largest group
Editor’s Note: I was unable to get current information on this group. Below is from January 2018. It is still active.
Appraisersforum is the largest group and is much, much larger than any
other group with 73,383 members. The monthly average postings are over 8,000 new posts. The total posts since it started are 2,027,676. AppraisersForum.com was registered in 2000, although the owner, Wayne McKerley, had a small forum under
his other domain going from 1998.
Anyone can view the posts, but you must join to post anything. Easy to
search and good threading. Many different forums, including state forums. I have been a member since it first started. You can get emails with postings. You can subscribe to individual topics. There are many, many lurkers like me. Like with any group, there are regular
However, because of the large number of members, this is the worst group for flaming, name-calling, etc. If you are a new member, don’t post for awhile as newbies tend to get flamed.
Most of the forums are indexed on Google, so be careful of what you post. It is good to post once in a while to let people know who you are as a marketing tool.
Email discussion group change – very few use Yahoo groups now
Yahoo quit saving messages in 10-28-19, so all of my groups, except one, shifted to www.groups.io/ or google groups.
Only one appraisal group I use, REAA, remains with yahoo.
All the other appraiser email groups (and most of the personal groups) I
subscribe to have shifted to www.groups.io/. To search for groups go to
www.groups.io/ or type the group’s name.
Email appraiser discussion groups
These are the only online posts I read every day. All of them focus on
residential issues but sometimes have commercial and litigation support topics. These have been around for a while. Not much ranting, etc. And well moderated.
I have listed the groups I subscribe to. There are many other appraiser
groups. To find the groups, go to www.groups.io/ and search for the name.
All these groups have experienced, knowledgeable appraisers with little
ranting and are a good resource.
– National Appraisers Forum (Formerly Inland CA Appraisers Forum). At Groups.io Started 2/16/06 by Steve Smith who is still active. 438 members. Before leaving yahoo groups, there were many more members, typical when a group moves. Many of the members are in Southern CA, but often issues relevant to all appraisers are discussed, thus the name change. Name and location are required. This is my primary “go to” group.
– Total, formerly Total2000usersgroup. Started Aug 7, 1999. 2,234 members.
– Real Estate Appraisers Association. Run by REAA, based in Sacramento, CA. Many local topics, but some very interesting discussions of issues important to all appraisers. You must include your name and city/state, company name or web site URL in your posts. Started Apr 12, 2008. 373 members. To find the group, go to
groups.yahoo.com and search for the group’s name.
I use LinkedIn regularly to find information on someone for articles I am
writing, or am just curious about. Sometimes the email address is included on their Contact information. This is very helpful, as email addresses can be very difficult to find.
LinkedIn is very different than the other online services discussed in this
article. It is primarily used by people looking for jobs and recruiters. However, putting your profile on LinkedIn lets people know about you. When searching someone’s name, their LinkedIn profile often comes up high in the search.
There are a lot of “endorsements”, invitations to join, etc. as it is a business networking service.
I subscribed to 5-6 groups, but there are few postings now so they are not very worthwhile.
Individuals, such as Ryan Lundquist and Peter Christensen and George Dell sometimes post info on their profile page, such as their blog posts, comments, etc. Readers can post comments.
What about joining, or starting, a local group?
Search online to see if you can find a group in your area. Be sure to check if it is active (how many members and postings).
If you can’t find one, start your own local group. A good way to do this is to announce in a larger group that you are starting a local group and see if anyone is interested in joining the spinoff group.
Which groups are the best for you?
Most groups discuss residential lender appraisal issues. Some LinkedIn
groups are for commercial appraisers and it has specialized groups for litigation and reviews.
How active is the group? If there are only a few postings per month, you may not want to join.
Groups and services often have a different “tone” depending on the number of members, who manages the group, and who posts most frequently. Do you want to go to the group online or receive emails? All of them have both options. For example, there are so many postings in appraisersforum.com I only get the messages online and don’t get them emailed to me. But, when I participate in a discussion, I often check a box at the bottom of the screen that I want to receive
messages from that group.
Be sure to set up email filtering and folders for the active groups if you get emails so your email will not be overwhelmed.
Another option is to set up an email address just for the groups. If you do all your email on your smartphone, you definitely want to do this. For example, a gmail account for all your emailed group postings.
What about non-appraiser services?
I subscribe to many mortgage and business-related services. Plus services for my personal interests such as music and pickleball. All notices are filtered to folders so my inbox does not have way too many messages.
Should you go online to communicate with appraisers?
Most appraisers like finding out what other appraisers are doing, their
opinions about Fannie Mae, UAD, AMCs, etc.
Some appraisers worry about spending too much time online. Fortunately, if you don’t get postings emailed to you, you decide when to get the messages by going to the web sites.
If you don’t like one group, there is always another one!!