Larry Dybvig: Seven Quick Questions

Larry Dybvig is President and principal of Grove, Elliott & Co. Ltd,  a Vancouver real estate appraisal firm.  Larry will participate in the AAOM’s 2013 Great Minds Symposium through a  live, web-streamed presentation from his office in Vancouver . Recently, we spoke with him about his experience as an appraiser.–Rick Sherrin.

LDybvig (1)Larry, what is your current occupation, and what led you there? I am a fee appraiser, and the owner of a commercial real estate appraisal firm in Vancouver, Grover, Elliott & Co. Ltd. Several appraisers in our shop–me, more than others–regularly work on various tribunal matters, typically having perhaps 20 or 30 files on the go at a time (they tend to have a long life, sometimes, extending over four or five years.). The BC government recently appointed me to our provincial Assessment Appeal Board, and I am most interested to see things from the other side of the fence.

What is your main professional interest, passion or expertise? My work is primarily what I would call forensic work, mostly appraisal review; my role in the office is client relations, work project planning, monitoring and control.  And I’m a resource in our office, and handle training for our new staff.

What do you mean by the term tribunal? “Tribunal” is a generic term meaning something that has the power to determine or judge. There are many kinds of tribunals. It can be a provincial, territorial, or federal court, a private “court” such as arbitration; it can involve a quasi-judicial entity such as a court of revision, assessment appeal board, or a utilities review commission. Tribunal work can extend to alternate dispute mechanisms such as mediation.

What types of property or real estate situations/transactions typically involve tribunal work? There really isn’t any specific property type; a tribunal can involve a wide variety of property types, and they do not always involve transactions “gone wrong”. However, the most common tribunal work involves house appraisals for mortgage defaults and divorces, where the judge needs advice as to property value.

 What skill set does an appraiser require in situations involving a tribunal? As a foundation, a good tribunal appraiser needs an above average level of knowledge in valuation theory and practice, good research skills, and strong report writing capability. At the end of the day, your success is judged on the credibility you have with the judge, so equally important are the “soft” skills needed to present your opinion in your report and support it in testimony.

What is the most frequent flaw encountered in appraisal practice? Deficient market research and analysis skills; poor report writing skills are a common deficiency for assessors, often because of a lack of experience, but also cultural factors – many assessing organisations have never developed expertise in reporting, so its not well understood, and thus its harder to pick up the skills from your peers and coworkers.

What are the rewards and/or drawbacks to working in a tribunal setting? Perhaps the biggest reward is that the work makes you really “learn your stuff”. The files can be interesting, as can be the people for whom you work. The cross-examination exercise is stressful, because the objective of the advocate for the other side is to discredit you and your evidence; so, many appraisers won’t do it.

In April, what message are you looking forward to sending  to Winnipeg?  Go Jets!

Thanks, Larry!

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