Perhaps the biggest threat to our world is the danger that we will all begin to take ourselves a bit too seriously. I see signs of that on Facebook and in the lives of people I know. The world seems to be getting angrier, or more depressed. Maybe it’s the product of politics. I’m not sure but I think it can eventually get to most of us. We’re more divided for sure.
We live in a pretend world, a world where we have to at least seem to have all the answers to very, very complex questions. Everyone is an expert. We’re pretending – telling ourselves stories that may or may not be true. Make no mistake about it, I love my job. But even in my own occupation as a commercial appraiser we are asked to form, defend, and publish a single value estimate, to the exclusion of all other values. In a conversation with a close friend, he noted the importance of defending a single value in a court of law.
Here’s the paradox. I cannot be your advocate. That’s the job of your attorney, or banker, or broker. I must be an advocate for the truth. Veritas. Commercial appraisers who have reflected on the issue for more than a moment have already thought ahead of me and realize the paradox. Embracing the light requires an appraiser to recognize that what we do can’t be reduced to a science. There is always room for error, even in a linear regression equation. Defending a single value estimate to the exclusion of all others is an impossible task.
The courtroom scenario posed by my friend pictured an opposing attorney asking an appraiser on the witness stand if a buyer would pay one dollar more for a commercial building. “Could it be worth, say $1,200,001?” An affirmative answer would, ironically, undermine the credibility of the appraiser (assuming they appraised the building for $1,200,000). The value must be defended. But even at the cost of truth?
As long as society demands it, commercial appraisers must provide a single estimate of value. We must pretend. There are some conundrums in life too difficult for me to solve. But I’m always looking for someone who may have better answers.
What’s your opinion?