Arlene Blake-Brown Diversifying a CRA practice for future success
Given the shifting sands of the residential appraisal landscape (AVMs, AMCs, downward pressure on fees, etc.), a growing number of CRAs are diversifying their practices in order to decrease their vulnerability to disruption by these external factors. We have seen individuals across the country move from 100% residential point-in-time work to a more varied mix of assignments, including machinery and equipment, reserve fund studies, property tax appeals, insurance appraisal, expropriation, building condition reports, and much more. Leaving the familiar to embark on new lines of business may seem daunting, even intimidating, but our Members do it every day with great success and with great benefit and satisfaction. In this issue of Canadian Property Valuation, we devote our Executive Corner column to a profile of one such CRA who took steps, in midcareer mind you, to diversify her practice and decrease her reliance on mortgage finance work.
rlene Blake-Brown, CRA, P.App is but one example of the hundreds of AICdesignated appraisers who are applying their rich and varied skill sets and expertise across a variety of assignment types. Arlene first joined the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) in 1994 and received her CRA designation in 1997. She also obtained her real estate brokers license in order to have access to multiple listing data and to have a greater understanding of the real estate industry and its practices. Today, she is the owner of Absolute Appraisals and Consulting Inc. and is a partner in AB Appraisal Services, which was incorporated in 1999 and continues to operate as a residential appraisal office with eight appraisers. The company predominately completes appraisals on residential, multi-family and rural properties for financing, matrimonial, estates, estate planning, relocations and foreclosures in the Hamilton/Niagara and Owen Sound areas of Ontario. Absolute Appraisals & Consulting Inc., meanwhile, completes machinery and equipment appraisals as well as property condition reports. In describing how she made the decision to go beyond traditional residential appraisal work, Arlene recalls
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how she broke her leg in February 2017. The break required surgery and six months of recovery. “I was unable to do the daily fieldwork required for mortgage financing residential appraisals,” she says. “This actually became a positive for me, as it allowed me the time to reflect on my life and to prioritize my work. I was aware that the AIC had expanded the Canadian Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (CUSPAP) to allow CRAs to expand their scope of practice and to increase the complexity of their work, which, in turn, enabled them to charge higher fees. I decided to look further into my options in this regard.” According to Arlene, knowing where to start was her biggest challenge. In order to gain insight into the different specialties that might be open to her, she decided to take the BUSI 352 online course offered through the University of British Columbia (UBC). Entitled Case Studies in Residential Valuation, the course provides a variety of considerations on expansion of services for the CRA. This includes reserve fund studies, assessment appeals, expropriation, appraisal review, arbitration/mediation, First Nations land claims, and personal property valuations. Arlene also attended the AIC’s provincial and national conferences in Return to CONTENTS