Todd Huttunen began appraising more than 20 years ago with a few years off in between to pursue a career in cabinet making. He relegated that to hobby status and is currently an appraiser in an assessor’s office. His best friend dubbed him The Hall Monitor because of his rigidity and respect for rules. He offers Soapbox readers tongue-in-groove insight on appraisal issues. Today Todd suggests we all rip the Caps Lock key from our keyboard. …Jonathan Miller


I’M BEGINNING TO WISH SOMEONE WOULD JUST GO AHEAD AND NAME THEIR COMPANY CAPS LOCK AND BOILERPLATE APPRAISAL, INC.

CLIENTS CAN’T HELP BUT BE IMPRESSED WHEN THEY OPEN AN APPRAISAL THAT LOOKS LIKE THIS. NOTHING SAYS QUALITY, THOROUGHNESS, AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL QUITE LIKE A REPORT WRITTEN IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.

WHEN THE BODY OF THAT REPORT INCLUDES BOILERPLATE COMMENTS THAT DON’T APPLY TO THE PROPERTY BEING APPRAISED, SO MUCH THE BETTER. AND IF YOU REALLY WANT TO SHOW EM WHAT YOU’RE MADE OF, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SOME TYPOS IN THE BOILERPLATE.

Now I realize that appraisers need to use all the tools available to them in order to work efficiently enough to make a living. The programs out there today are truly fantastic and light years ahead of the literal “cut and paste” drafts I wrote by hand before giving them to a secretary to type when I started appraising in 1985. Does anybody remember Forms and Worms?

In a way, the technology available today makes the caps lock and boilerplate sloppiness even more unforgivable since you really only have to do it slowly one time. One carefully crafted phrase per section (maybe three for market conditions property values are up, down, stable) followed by spell check and that should hold you for years.

There certainly are appraisers out there who are doing quality work and know how to use the shift key. But of the appraisals that come into my office, about three out of four are SCREAMING. And no matter what words they write, this is what I read: I NEVER LEARNED HOW TO TYPE AND THIS IS FASTER. NO ONE REALLY READS THIS STUFF ANYWAY (unfortunately, that is frequently true).

If your reports look like a tabloid newspaper headline, do yourself and your clients a favor. Leave the caps lock for those occasions where it’s appropriate, like DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN (come to think of it, maybe that’s not the best example either and without question some of you are wondering, Who’s Dewey and what did he win? ).

By the way, for those of you who may have been wondering why I’m called the Hall Monitor, I trust this post has answered that question.

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