Scott Humphreys, Principal at D. R. Coell & Associates
|For our September 2020 Newsletter, we asked Scott Humphreys about D. R. Coell, his work there, and a bit about his life outside of work.
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Can you briefly introduce yourself and D.R. Coell & Associates?
I was born and raised in Victoria with both my parents working in real estate. I have been around and worked on construction job sites for most of my life. At an early age my dad would take me with him to different buildings and development sites that he was involved in. My mom was the first AACI designated female real estate appraiser on Vancouver Island and she would often take me with her on site inspections. Later in life I worked in construction to pay my way through university. During my time at Royal Roads University (RRU) I decided to apply to the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) as a Candidate appraiser. When I graduated from RRU in 2009, having already been granted Candidate status with the AIC, my career path was pretty much laid out for me. I studied hard at night while working full time at one of the local commercial real estate firms here in Victoria for about 3 years before becoming fully designated (AACI, P.App) with the AIC. In 2013 I resigned from my position as Director of Valuation and acquired the well known commercial real estate appraisal and consulting firm called D.R. Coell and Associates.
D.R. Coell and Associates Inc. (DRC) is a Victoria based firm providing professional real estate valuation, consulting and advisory services to a broad base of clients in both the private and public sectors throughout British Columbia. The firm was founded in 1974 and has grown into one of BC’s most renowned leaders in today’s real estate appraisal industry. Our accomplished team of appraisers offers a combined depth of experience that spans all areas of real estate, backed by both the Appraisal Institute of Canada and the Real Estate Institute of Canada. Our collaborative approach to helping our clients find the right professional for the right job, allows each member of our team to specialize in unique segments of the marketplace.
In 2015, DRC acquired Canadian Self Storage Valuation Services (CSSVS), a boutique valuation and advisory services company focused 100% on the self storage industry across Canada.
In 2018, DRC acquired IDB Solutions (IDB), a leader in the unique market of depreciation reports, or reserve fund studies, to benefit our existing clients with additional financial reporting services. IDB now operates under the D.R. Coell & Associates name within British Columbia.
What sets D.R. Coell & Associates apart from other Appraisal firms in the area?
D.R. Coell and Associates has excellent working relationships with other appraisal firms, whether located here in Greater Victoria or other parts of BC. As appraisal assignments often require more than one appraisal firm to be involved, DRC is dedicated to long lasting relationships with other appraisal firms so that our clients get the most accurate and cost effective solutions for their valuation requirements. In terms of setting ourselves apart from our colleagues within the industry, our primary goal is to deliver quality reports that are timely and competitive which has motivated us to invest greatly in new cloud based technology that ensures our appraisers are equipped with most up to date and efficient programs whether in the office, on a site inspection or at home. In 2018, DRC integrated all of its systems to the cloud using Microsoft Office 365, Azure, SharePoint, Teams, PowerApps, Stream and Power Automate. This investment into the future of real estate appraisal was a game changer for our appraisers, staff and data collection processes, allowing anyone in the organization to work from anywhere having the most up to date, accurate and available data in the industry.
What is the most challenging part of your job, and what do you love most about it?
The most challenging part of the job for me is time management. Appraisers typically work on multiple assignments at the same time throughout each month and must manage their time wisely. As a business owner I dedicate a significant part of my time to marketing, human resources and finance. On top of that my two year old daughter keeps me busy chasing her around and picking up after her! Since becoming a father, maintaining time management has become even more important to me, as I strive for a balanced work/family life.
DRC has always maintained a minimum of two support staff and without the help of my Office Manager and Appraisal Coordinator, I would be lost.
I think the most attractive part of the profession is being able to get an inside look at how investments in real estate are being put together. I have always been curious about how real estate was handled by all the different professions involved, and as an appraiser you get to discuss properties and proposed projects with investors, developers, brokers, lenders, lawyers, accountants, government officials, architects, engineers, business valuators, foresters etc. Aside from the good earning potential and freedom that working as an appraiser can provide, I think the knowledge and experience that the profession offers is what I love the most about it.
What made you want to pursue a career in Appraisals?
As mentioned previously, my background in real estate provided me with the initial understanding of the appraisal industry, however becoming an appraiser was definitely not the be all and end all career for me. I graduated with a B.Comm in Entrepreneurship and at the time (2009), the world was experiencing the greatest financial crisis since the great depression. I viewed becoming an appraiser as a great way to get employed when most companies were reducing their workforce, and to gain the experience and knowledge of how commercial real estate investments were being made. In the end I was able to incorporate my educational background in entrepreneurship by acquiring and operating appraisal companies.
What should someone look for in a proper appraisal – how can one tell it is a quality appraisal?
The Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) is the most recognized governing body within the real estate appraisal industry. I would first ensure that the appraiser writing the report is a member in good standing with the AIC and is designated with either the CRA, P.App (residential designation) or the AACI, P.App (commercial designation). Both designations are required to apply the Canadian Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (CUSPAP) in all their professional affairs. First introduced in January 2001, and now revised every two (2) years, CUSPAP respects the expanding role of the valuation professional within the AIC and regulates professional practice through a set of eight standards which are available to the public online. A good test to qualify if an appraisal is of the highest level of quality is to review the standard within CUSPAP for which the valuation assignment applies. The eight CUSPAP standards are detailed below:
- Ethics Standard
- Reporting Standard
- Real Property Appraisal Standard
- Review Standard
- Consulting Standard
- Reserve Fund Studies Standard
- Appraisal of Machinery and Equipment Standard
- Mass Appraisal Standard
Furthermore, an appraisal report should tell a compelling story as to why the appraiser reconciled the final value conclusion. Evidence used to support the value conclusion should be well documented and verified. And finally, appraisals are supposed to be a third party, nonbiased opinion of value, so be wary of an appraisal report that reads more like a marketing brochure than a statement of facts and conclusions.
Now that the initial shock of Covid-19 has passed, and we realize it will be around for quite a bit longer, what does the “new normal” look like for appraisals?
To say that the past seven months have been an exceptional time is a gross understatement. Our lifestyles, and our entire economy have been completely upended, to say nothing of the thousands of people who have been directly impacted by Covid-19. I think we all share a common responsibility to follow the directives of Public Health Authorities to flatten the curve and save lives.
It’s difficult to predict what the lasting affects of Covid-19 will be and how that will affect appraisals. I can say that all our appraisers and staff have had to implement the obvious precautions into their daily routines. Our office is still on an ‘appointment only’ basis with mandatory hand washing stations and physical distancing protocols in effect. All appraisers are required to wear face masks and gloves when inspecting properties and I think this will be the new normal for some time to come.
In our office, new technology has allowed appraisers to provide services to their clients while minimizing interpersonal contact. With the implementation of Microsoft 365, all of our appraisers now work from home with the ability to utilize the corporate offices on a scheduled basis with our Covid-19 protocols in place. Our weekly meetings are conducted virtually using Microsoft Teams which has allowed us to stay connected and up to date on the market. Our new SharePoint system allows multiple appraisers to collaborate on documents at the same time with notifications and versioning capabilities that were never available before. We have built mobile apps for virtually every one of our company processes making the appraisal writing experience seamless with our modern lifestyles. This has also enabled us to enter sales and lease data into our system from virtually anywhere with a Wi-Fi signal.
In times like these you have to look at the positive side of things and for us Covid-19 forced us to start utilizing our existing cloud based system that we invested so heavily in previously. Now that we have been working virtually for some time now, we are able to recognize the benefits of our investment more than ever before the pandemic.
Do you expect to see any lasting changes to how appraisals are conducted, and if so, what?
Innovation in technology has never been more prevalent within the real estate industry. In general, real estate companies and data systems needed a complete overhaul. In the last three years there has been significant investment throughout the industry and many companies have had to make some serious decisions about where they see their business in 5, 10 and 20 years time. Recent advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have proven that certain processes within our industry are at risk of being taken over by computer based systems. There is no doubt in my mind that AI will have a significant impact on the appraisal writing process, however I do not see technology removing the human input entirely. I predict only certain processes will be taken over and that the companies that join forces with this new technology will be the ones that survive. The benefits will be huge for business owners and appraisers alike.
What do you love most about living in Victoria?
Besides the natural beauty of living on an island and being surrounded by ocean and abundance of outdoor activities and adventures to be had, the thing I love most about living here is the fact that we live in one of the most, if not the most, sought after real estate markets in Canada. Now more than ever our real estate is viewed as one of the safest and most attractive investments for both families and commercial investors. Over the years I have found that there has been no better way to grow equity than investing right here in my backyard. Whether it be residential homes or commercial buildings, investing in the real estate market here in Victoria has, and will continue to, provide my family with a lifestyle we are truly grateful for.
When you’re not working, what are your favourite activities?
When I’m not working in the spring and summer you can either find me cruising around the islands with my family on our boat, down on the docks at Oak Bay Marina, fishing up in Barkley Sound with friends or playing a round at Victoria Golf Club. The ocean is my happy place so I try to get out on the water as much as possible. In the fall and winter we like to get out of the rain and head for the palm trees. We usually do Maui in the fall and Los Cabos in the spring. On good powder days we head up to Mt. Washington for some snowboarding and try to make at least one trip to Whistler every year
Tell us something that might surprise us about you
Believe it or not I was struck by lightening back in 2003! I was living in Edmonton at the time and if you’ve ever seen the summer storms there, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The entire sky was lit up with lightening one night and all of a sudden the lamp post outside my bedroom window was struck and because my window was open it jumped through the window and struck my arm which was resting on my metal bed frame while I was sleeping. It threw me across the room and blew all the breakers out in my house. I ended up going to the hospital to get examined and they said I should go buy a lottery ticket because I almost died. It was one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me. I went to the store and bought a lottery ticket the following day but unfortunately my luck was all used up on the lightening.