Consultant Q&A


A real estate valuation expert and expert witness, Jeff has spent over 25 years in commercial real estate, including as an Adjunct professor for NYU and Baruch, as President of the Columbia Society of Appraisers, and as an appraisal instructor for the NY Real Estate Institute. He has a particular specialty in forensic appraisal reviews, dimunition of value, eminent domain, and the valuation of minority interests, among other items.

As an instructor at the NY Real Estate Institute and President of the Columbia Society for RE appraisers you've seen the industry evolve over the years. What can you tell us about how the appraiser practice and industry has evolved?

The increasingly hostile and difficult regulatory environment and the advent of appraisal management companies, combined with advances in computer driven modeling and the continued downward pressure on fees has had a devastating effect on the traditional residential appraiser who made the bulk of his living from mortgage related appraisals for banks. The aforementioned situation combined with increasingly restrictive licensing requirements has effectively choked off new entrants into the field. Unless an appraiser is in an area where there is a dearth of appraisers and there is some semblance of equity in the client/appraiser relationship, appraisers are fleeing from “bank work” whenever and wherever they can. I expect that the number and need for residential appraisers will continue to decline. Those residential appraisers that will survive and prosper will be those with specialties like historic, unique properties or very high value homes, or in areas where there is a serious shortage. The bright spot is that there is an increasing need for experienced commercial and rural/farm appraisers and appraisers that can do specialty properties for both financing and non-financing purposes.

Which asset class or type of appraisal has been your personal specialty?

I do virtually all property types, but I only do them for feasibility studies, zoning, tax or litigation purposes. Some of my more rewarding assignments included complex cases related to disputed development rights, complex eminent domain cases with only partial takings and representing parties in variance applications as their expert. Among the more interesting cases have been valuing buildings, after they have been destroyed by fire or after they have collapsed.

With a niche specialty in real estate based tax issues, you have some rarified expertise. Can you tell us the in more detail the types of things you work on and some of your processes for helping clients?

There are a variety of real estate related tax issues. These include gift taxes, estate taxes, ad valorem taxes, income taxes, transfer taxes and tax abatement programs. I have worked on cases involving all these matters. In order to help my clients it is important that I understand their project or situation and where possible be in on the planning from the very beginning. Very often key decisions made early on in the process (good or bad) can have a major impact after the fact.

You've got a specialty in litigation work as well. Can you tell us about a complex case you worked on and its impact on real estate valuation?

I had to value a 150 year old building, that was recently acquired, expanded, renovated, re-tenanted and then shortly thereafter was destroyed by a fire caused by the adjacent building. The building owners were suing both their own insurance company and the adjacent property owner where the fire originated. I had to testify to my conclusions in court. I also just concluded a case where a multi-generational real estate family had a falling out and there were accusations of deliberate mismanagement in order to effect a roll up at an advantageous price. I was asked to value the buildings at a number of intervals in time, “as is”, as if properly managed, and “as redeveloped/or repurposed.” Inherent in the value of the buildings was also the issue of transferable development rights and their value.

Why did you decide to join StealthForce? What resonated with you?

I joined StealthForce because it presented the opportunity to work on challenging assignments and at the same time I would be providing real value and assistance to my clients.