Category: RAC Leaders

Getting to know RAC members Arnold Schwartz and Pat White

by Sherry Kaley

Arnold Schwartz, SRA, SCRP

Once an Appraiser – Always an Appraiser

Coming from a family rooted in real estate, Arnold grew up in Ohio, and majored in Real Estate/Property Management, graduating from Ohio State University.  After graduation, he moved to the Atlanta to pursue his appraisal career and raise a family. 

Sherry:  What kind of appraisal do you do and how long have you been appraising?

Arnold:  I was working with an appraisal firm with residential and commercial projects, and the opportunity came up to start my own residential company when the firm split between residential and commercial.  I have been appraising mainly residential and some commercial properties for the last 52 years.

Sherry:  If you had not been an appraiser, what do you think you might have been?

Arnold:  Well, I might have been a cartoonist because I like to doodle.

Sherry:  Any hobbies?

Arnold:  Prior to CoVid, I enjoyed walking, reading, and traveling.  

Sherry:  What is your most memorable achievement?

Arnold:  My involvement in ERC over the years has been a highlight with RAC being an offshoot of ERC.  One of my most memorable achievements was participation with ERC and others to develop and co-author the ERC appraisal form and the guidebook for relocation.

Sherry:   Do you have any Weird/Wonderful memories:

Arnold:  I relish the times when the value comes in on target and you get that A+ report card!  One weird moment I recall, was after ringing the doorbell, a dog came racing to the door, lost his footing and skidded to the full view storm door, with his front paws pushing out the door panel and getting caught.

Sherry:  Do you have any thoughts of slowing down?

Arnold:  The relocation work has slowed down.  Most of my current work is divorce work, a possible result of CoVid.   I have worked from home the last 5-6 years and keep saying I would like to slow down.  It is just hard to say “no” when you love what you do.  

Arnold hopes to see everyone in September at the RAC Conference.

Pat White, CRP

A Genuine, Respected, Ethical Appraiser and Family Man

Pat still lives close to the area of this home place in Cincinnati, Ohio…never relocated, although having done much relocation work over the years.

Sherry:   How long have you been appraising?

Pat:  It has been 37 years.  Starting out, though, with a major in secondary education, I was a social studies teacher and coach until 1984.  With a poor teacher’s salary, at that time, it became time to “jump on my father’s coat tails” and change careers entering the appraisal profession.  My father was an appraiser and opened the doors.  Looking forward, the ability to slow down and yet not give up the profession looms as a challenge in the next few years.

Sherry:  What has been one of your most Weird/Wonderful assignments?

Pat:  One of the most bizarre inspections was in a Showcase Home that was also a relocation assignment.  The interior of the home displayed huge taxidermy wild game trophies from Africa, a little out of character for the Showcase suburban home.

Sherry:  When you are not appraising, what do you enjoy doing?

Pat:  I have a love of gardening… flowers, tomatoes, and greens.  Zinnias and Mexican Sunflowers are favorites. 

In thinking ahead to the retirement years, I’ve been thinking about “recycling”, my idea of “flipping homes’ as an alternative.

Sherry:  What do you consider to be your life achievements?

Pat:  Being married, being a father, and being a grandfather with 5 grandchildren are my greatest achievements.   Simple family vacations to Disneyland and to Lakeside on the shores of Lake Erie are some of the best memorable vacations.

Getting to know RAC members Mike Brubaker, Craig Stebner and Michael Cook

by Betsy Hughes

Mike Brubaker, SRA

Mike Brubaker is one of our newest members but not new to appraising. He’s been an appraiser in the Houston area for nearly 40 years and is known as the “Expert in Disasters”. He knows a lot about a lot and if he doesn’t know he’ll act like he does; it can be difficult to determine the difference. Brubaker and Associates, Inc is a full-service Real Estate Appraisal firm with over 20 appraisers and staff. When Brubaker is not in the office you can find him outdoors doing some kind of stupid big kid trick. If he’s not riding his electric skateboard around the neighborhood, falling off and somersaulting down the street, he may be mountain biking and diving off bridges to avoid hitting others.  Most who know him are surprised he is still in one piece and functioning somewhat normal. Although his body has taken a beating over his lifetime, he refuses to grow up which is why he’s loved so much. While he has had several mishaps over the years, the one thing he absolutely loves and is extremely safe at is when he’s piloting his Bonanza (not the tv show, the plane).

Betsy:  How long have you been appraising?

Mike:  Since 1982.  

Betsy:  Why did you get into the appraisal industry?

Mike: It was an accident. I started doing it for gas money. True story.

Betsy: What areas do you cover?

Mike:  The Texas Triangle – Houston – Austin – Dallas – San Antonio …… Now – I know a triangle has three sides, but this is Texas …. I have no other explanation for this.

Betsy:  Why are you a RAC member?

Mike:  I was invited to speak at a meeting and enjoyed the comradery of the group. I recognized the value of being affiliated with such a knowledgeable group of appraisers and hope I can contribute in some small way.

Bartenders Corner:

Brown Water (Houston style of course) – Crown Royal (Original, none of this pansy flavored stuff) on the rocks

Craig Stebner

Craig is the Past President of RAC and has worked in the relocation world for many years. In a past life, he and Ron Box would travel around the country visiting appraisers for relocation companies (imagine all the havoc these two have created). These days he stays extremely busy appraising in the northern Virginia area. Craig has never met a stranger. He can tell you everything about all of his clients from their Mother’s name to their pet’s names, how many children they have, and he has most of their cell phone numbers. He has definitely built his business on relationships. If you need to grow your business, Craig is the one to talk to, just don’t ask him about tech fees!

Betsy:  How long have you been appraising? 

Craig:  22 years +/-

Betsy:  Why did you get into the appraisal industry? 

Craig:  It was a career change that was an easy transition from being a Vice President in the relocation world.

Betsy:  What areas do you cover? 

Craig:  Northern Virginia.

Betsy:  Why are you a RAC member?  

Craig:  Ellen Borofsky from Cartus, Butch Hicks and Ron Box were strongly encouraging me to join.

Michael Cook, MAI, SRA

Michael is a Past President of RAC and a huge supporter of the organization.  He became a member of RAC in 1998 and plays a key role in planning the annual conference and planning meetings.  He started his appraisal career in 1986 after three years in real estate sales.  Prior to that, he spent 11 years in the retail business.  His company, Michael S. Cook & Associates, Inc. was formed in 1991 and is located in McKinney, Texas.  He provides a variety of appraisal services across North Texas with a concentration in the private and relocation sectors.  He enjoys litigation work and looks forward to testifying.  This is not surprising to those that know him well, as it brings out his competitive side.  Everything is a competition to Michael and winning is everything.  So next time you are looking for a friendly competition, give him a call!

Betsy:  When did you begin your appraisal career?  

Michael:  1986

Betsy:  Why did you get into the appraisal industry? 

Michael:  I needed a job.  When the real estate market crashed in ‘86, I was in real estate sales.

Betsy:  What areas do you cover? 

Michael:  I work mostly in the North Texas area, but am available almost anywhere, for the right price. 

Betsy:  What type of properties do you appraise?

Michael:  I have appraised a wide range of commercial and residential properties, and a lot of land.  But today, it’s mostly residential.  I get a little bored doing “regular” houses.  I love appraising the “hard ones” that no one else wants.

Betsy:  Why are you a RAC member?  

Michael:  Ron Box told me I should join RAC.  But I stayed a member because of the people.  It is a great group of really good people and appraisers. 

On a more personal note, Michael has perfected the dirty martini on the rocks.  His recipe consists of 4 ounces of Tito’s Vodka and 1.5 ounces of olive brine poured into a shaker of ice.  Then shake it for a minimum of 15 seconds; but 20 is preferred.  You then pour it into a TALL glass and ENJOY.  A pic of olives can be added for décor, but he considers it a waste of time. 

RAC member Jim Gargano lends relocation expertise to Mobility Magazine

Relocation companies are expected to ramp relocation activities back up, but when they do, they’ll find challenging conditions on the housing front, according to The 2021 Housing Picture, by D.H. Coburn.  With home sales hitting a 14-year high in October 2020, mortgage interest rates continuing to hover near historical lows and a persistent supply-demand imbalance, experts say all signs point to continued tight housing markets that will present challenges for companies and the employees they are relocating in 2021.

Join RAC member Jim Gargano, IFAS, ASA, SCRP as he lends his relocation expertise to The 2021 Housing Picture, as published in the February 2021 issue of Mobility Magazine.    


Blockchain and crytptocurrencies


By RAC member Ernie Durbin, SRA

Not a day goes by without multiple news stories about cryptocurrency. Numerous cryptocurrencies are active in the marketplace but the oldest and most well-known is Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, all rely on the foundational technology known as Blockchain. Cryptocurrencies are disruptive and have created a great deal of excitement, however, the Blockchain technology they are based on promises to revolutionize any industry that relies on big data. Some have said that Blockchain technology will transform our lives the same way the Internet has over the last several decades. So, what exactly is Blockchain technology?

At its heart, a Blockchain relies upon a system of “ledgers,” which is certainly nothing new. Ledgers have been around since clay tablets were used to record financial transactions. Double entry accounting is based on permanent ledgers where new entries are added, and previous entries are left unmodified. Each transaction builds upon previous transactions. Blockchain technology takes a simple ledger to a whole new level, one that is completely decentralized. A Blockchain ledger system is distributed over a peer to peer network. Everyone in the Blockchain network has an instance of the same identical ledger. Rather than relying on one trusted entity to maintain the ledger, all participants have a validated record of every transaction. Transactions do not have to be financial in nature; they can be any digital data. Financial transactions, medical records, retail inventory, anything of value can be tracked in a distributed ledger via Blockchain technology.

Blockchain stores information in batches called “blocks.” These blocks are linked together in a chronological order creating a continuous “chain” of information. If you need to make a change in a previous block of information you do not overwrite it, you simply add a new block with the correct data. The new block records that “X was changed to Y;” all renditions of the chain of data are kept intact and distributed to everyone in the Blockchain. This is a nondestructive way to track data changes over time similar to the centuries-old general financial ledger. The big difference is no one entity is in control of the master ledger, everyone in the peer to peer Blockchain network has the same complete “master” ledger. In addition, each block contains a “hash” which is essentially an electronic fingerprint unique to that particular block. As blocks are added to the chain, they include their own hash as well as the hash of the previous block. Tampering with or changing the data changes the hash of that block. This ensures that data cannot be modified or changed on any one node in the computer network. Combination of immutability and the distributed nature of the Blockchain creates trust in the data without a central authority required.

Before a new block of information can be added to the chain, a few things have to happen. First, to create the block, a cryptographic puzzle must be solved by the initiating computer. Next, the computer that solves the cryptographic puzzle shares the solution with all the other computers within the Blockchain network. This process is called “proof of work.” The network of computers will then verify this “proof of work” and, if it is correct, the block will be added to the chain permanently. The verification process works by consensus, requiring a majority of the computers on the network to validate the information before it is added to the Blockchain. Combining a complex math puzzle with the verification by numerous computers ensures every block on the chain can be trusted. Trust in the data is fostered by the distribution of transparent peer-to-peer information, without a central keeper of data.

By establishing trust in the data, Blockchain technology removes intermediaries from the data verification process. Many transactions today require a trusted intermediary such as an attorney or financial institution. We rely on these intermediaries to keep our information confidential and to verify the information of the other person involved in the transaction. As an example, title companies verify the “chain of title” on a piece of real estate prior to transfer. If the verified information was available in a Blockchain network, a history of all transfers of title and other property rights would be instantly available and verified as accurate. Title companies serve market participants by reducing risk, but they do so at a cost of time and money. Removing intermediaries and relying on trusted data would greatly reduce transaction time and cost while also controlling risk. Blockchain provides a trusted interaction with data completely changing the way we access, verify and transact with other parties.

Blockchain technology is currently in its infancy. It has been widely deployed by cryptocurrencies and its use in this sector has demonstrated some of its weaknesses. The largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, has an enormous distributed ledger. Every transaction since Bitcoin’s inception is included in the Blockchain that is distributed globally. Since Bitcoin is a monetary transaction, very few data points are required to be added to each block. In spite of the small amount of data, each distributed ledger has grown to gigabytes of information. Bitcoin is demonstrating that a broad public Blockchain has scalability issues.

The Bitcoin Blockchain, because of its size, can only process approximately 7 transactions per second. Compare that to approximately 20,000 transactions per second MasterCard can process. Time to verify a transaction is prohibitive by modern standards. Imagine ordering your favorite coffee from your local barista and trying to pay with Bitcoin; it might take 30 minutes to complete the transaction! In addition to the slow verification process, the energy costs of maintaining a globally distributed network are staggering. Forbes Magazine reports that global Bitcoin Blockchain consumes enough energy to power a country like Switzerland each year or 1.5% of the energy consumption in the United States. Most of this energy is a result of the proof of work calculations, essential to the distributed ledger.

Technology advances will eventually solve some of the weaknesses of Blockchain and overtime, Blockchain will change the way we do business. Trusted data sources that do not require intermediaries in transactions will disrupt many industries including the real estate industry. In a future article, I will address how Blockchain is being used and might be used in the real estate industry. As with any application of technology, there are tremendous benefits and unintended consequences. The real estate industry is entering the era of big data and Blockchain technology will be a part of how we interact with that data in the future.

Republished with permission by Appraisal Buzz – found here

This article was first published in the Appraisal Buzz magazine. Subscribe now to receive your edition of the Appraisal Buzz Spring 2019 Magazine!

RAC Member Ernie Durbin Receives 2018 Valuation Visionary Award from CRN

Our very own longtime RAC member Ernie Durbin, Chief Valuation Officer for Clarocity Corporation, was named the 2018 Valuation Visionary award winner by Collateral Risk Network (CRN). Here’s the interview with Appraisal Buzz.

Each year, the Collateral Risk Network presents the award in recognition of the person who demonstrates leadership, innovation, professionalism, and one who strives to better the industry for their peers. We will be presenting the award at Valuation Expo in Charleston in March.

Ernie Durbin is renowned for creativity with technology advancements and industry-wide involvement. Ernie is widely recognized as an innovative leader with vision and foresight. Ernie was nominated by his peers and we are honored to recognize him as the 8th recipient of Valuation Visionary.

I can’t think of anyone who is more future-orientated in our profession than Ernie and we thank him for all he does for RAC.

Congrats Ernie!

Jonathan J. Miller CRP, CRE
RAC President

Dwellworks Featured Appraiser: Sherry L. Kaley, Knoxville, TN

One of our RACers, Sherry L. Kaley, was the first featured appraiser in the new Dwellworks newsletter.

Sherry L. Kaley is a Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser, and partner of Kaley and Tuck Real Estate Appraisers, the only two-woman appraisal firm in Knoxville, and has been appraising in Knoxville/Knox County and eight adjoining counties for nearly 20 years…

Congrats to Sherry!

Jonathan J. Miller, CRE, CRP
RAC President 2017-2018
Relocation Appraisers & Consultants


RAC Conference Frisco TX: Changes, Challenges, Solutions

As I’ve said many times, the annual RAC conference is the best appraiser-centric conference I’ve ever attended. It is developed and operated by active appraisers who are working to help you thrive as a professional.

As the current president of RAC, I’m proud to be part of an organization comprised of the best residential appraisers in the U.S.

Click here for more information.

RAC member Tom Allen elected to represent TAFAC on TAF Board of Trustees

RAC president Jonathan Miller spoke with RAC member Thomas E. Allen, SCRP from Oklahoma this morning (who is also first vice president and a former president of RAC). Tom mentioned that he attended the The Appraisal Foundation Advisory Council (TAFAC) meetings last Thursday/Friday in Washington DC and was elected to represent TAFAC on The Appraisal Foundation Board of Trustees next year.

Tom recalled that:

without RAC, this would never have happened. RAC has presented so many opportunities for me.

Congratulations to Tom for this achievement and for his leadership in RAC and the appraisal profession!

The Appraisal Foundation Advisory Council (TAFAC) is composed of 60 non-profit organizations and government agencies. TAFAC member organizations represent various professions and occupations with an interest in valuation including appraisers, home builders, real estate brokers, financial institution regulators, federal land acquisition agencies, the secondary mortgage market and the private mortgage insurance industry.

Customary and Reasonable Fees: The Elephant in the Room

Appraisal Buzz, Spring 2016Ernie Durbin

By Ernie Durbin, SRA, CRP, RAC Member

Wikipedia describes the metaphor “the elephant in the room” as, “an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.”

Somehow, recent events in the valuation space have deflected attention away from the elephant in the room, customary and reasonable fees. Real estate appraisers are resilient folks. They can adapt to change as well as any other professional. But like everyone else, they don’t want to do more work for less pay. Most of the issues facing the valuation space today point to one simple problem- customary and reasonable fees. It’s time to address this obvious problem and the risks that it poses to our industry.

Enjoy the full article here.