As new president of the North Star chapter of the Appraisal Institute, Michelle Koeller's main initiatives are promoting the real estate appraisal profession and increasing membership. The Appraisal Institute is a regional organization of about 450 residential and commercial appraisers, most of whom are in the Twin Cities area.
While appraisers may not be as high-profile as developers or brokers, Koeller - who's been valuing real estate since 1991 - says they're a vital part of the real estate process. Koeller, who is also executive director of Integra Realty Resources' Twin Cities office, appraised more than $740 million worth of property in 2012 - a 23 percent increase over 2011 and a record year for her. Koeller serves on Integra's national board of directors and was named a "Woman of Influence" in 2011 by Real Estate Forum.
QWhy is promoting the profession a goal?
AOne of the big challenges the Appraisal Institute faces is the aging population. More than half of the appraisers in the United States are between the ages of 51 and 65. The number of appraisers could decrease 25 to 35 percent during the next 10 years due to age attrition. One of my goals is to get younger people involved in the organization. ... Part of that is going to local colleges and making the career more known.
QHow did you get into the business?
AMy aunt and uncle have an appraisal company in Wausau, Wis., and after my first year of college they asked if I wanted to work there during the summers.
QWhat interested you?
AEvery property is like a case study in itself, and it's really challenging.
Q2012 was a record year for you. Why the increased activity?
AA lot of it was lenders are lending again, and there's a lot of refinancing because the rates are so low. The market is coming back. We're seeing leasing again. The vacancies are coming down so the fundamentals are turning around finally.
QHow difficult was it to value properties during the downturn?
AVery difficult. There were no sales to speak of to hang your hat on. We base everything on stuff that's happening in the market, and there really was nothing happening, so there was a lot more research time that went into appraisals. You had to look at old sales. Pick up the phone. Talk to brokers and investors active in the market ... and use your expertise and judgment to value properties. It's gotten a lot better because there are more sales and leasing activity ... so you have something to compare.
Liz Wolf is a freelance writer in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org