We sat down with rock ‘n’ roller John Welter, Certified General Appraiser and owner of The Welter Appraisal Group, Inc. John is also an a la mode Elite member. We talked about life on the East Coast, his long-standing appraisal career, and how being Elite has helped him over the past 26 years.
John, tell me about your life in the greater New York area.
John: I am the proud father of three grown kids, married for 47 years, and am a former, professional guitar player – much to my parents’ chagrin, because I graduated college with a degree in business administration. Instead, I went to play in a rock and roll band! I still play guitar and am part of the music ministry at my church. When my back doesn’t hurt too badly, I play golf.
Rock on! How long have you been an appraiser?
John: Before I started appraising, I was working in a different industry, and the company was about to go belly-up. I had a friend who was growing his appraisal business, and he graciously took me on. This was in 1982, so I have been appraising for 38 years, or so.
“I had a friend who was growing his appraisal business, and he graciously took me on. This was in 1982, so I have been appraising for 38 years, or so.”
I’m a State Certified General, but my practice is essentially residential, at this point. I’m also a licensed Realtor, but I don’t pursue that end; I need the license to access the MLS for my appraisal practice. I also have expertise in relocation appraisals and complex properties. Hurricane Sandy opened the floodgates (pardon the pun) to appraise properties that were affected by the storm, including numerous “high-end” waterfront properties.
What technological changes have you witnessed within the industry – in software and tools – since you started appraising?
John: For those old-timers, I’m sure you remember “Forms and Worms”, a company that provided appraisal forms that we would fill out by hand. Photos of front, rear, and street were required and performed by a Polaroid camera. Comps were found by going to Realtors’ offices and begging them to go through their files. Data was written/printed on 3x5 cards, in alphabetical order. God forbid you messed up their order because you were not welcome back – I brought in donuts as a gesture of good will! Things have come a long way since then. Let us never forget the luxury of digital photography, a la mode software, MLS access, email, and all the other forms of technology that have helped us produce a better, more professional appraisal.
“Let us never forget the luxury of digital photography, a la mode software, MLS access, email, and all the other forms of technology that have helped us produce a better, more professional appraisal.”
I’m an old soul, and I feel like I missed out on some interesting times! Let’s talk about how a la mode and your Elite membership have helped your career over the past 26 years.
John: I have been a fan of a la mode for a long time. As an Elite member, I love the fact that I can call any time for help from the tech support team. Ask most appraisers, and they’ll tell you that this team is one of the biggest reasons they prefer a la mode. I went out on my own in 1993 and immediately signed up with a la mode. Since then, I’ve seen my company, and a la mode, grow substantially. I’ve traveled to Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia to attend various a la mode seminars, all of which were helpful in getting the most out of the product.
“As an Elite member, I love the fact that I can call any time for help from the tech support team. Ask most appraisers, and they will tell you that your support team is one of the biggest reasons they prefer a la mode.”
I am past the apex of my career at this point. Two more years, and you can contact me on some beach!
I bet you can already taste the salty air! What advice do you have for appraisers who are just starting out?
John: Stay the course. Finding a mentor will be a challenge, but I believe there will be a strong future ahead. It may not be the same as it has been, but don’t worry about automation taking your job – an algorithm will never take the place of a pair of eyes. An algorithm cannot see that sewer treatment plant adjacent to your subject property. The human touch will always be a key ingredient in producing a supportable and defensible appraisal report.
“It may not be the same as it has been, but don’t worry about automation taking your job – an algorithm will never take the place of a pair of eyes.”
Interview by Liana Whitehead, Professional, Marketing