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Exploring Life & Business with Jamie Owen of Aspen Appraisal Services

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamie Owen. 

Hi Jamie, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
I grew up in Denver, Colorado. I moved to the Cleveland area in 1996 when my wife and I were married. At that time, I was working as a sales manager for Kelly Services. While Kelly Services is a great company, I wanted to do something different. I wasn’t sure what to do though. I had experience and training as a fingerprint examiner for the Denver Police Department. However, at the time, that work was cared for at the Ohio Bureau of Investigations. They were not hiring. 

At the time, my wife was working as a loan officer and manager of a local mortgage company. She told me she thought that I would enjoy being a real estate appraiser. So, I took a class to see what it was all about. She was right! I found it really interesting. So, I went thru the Yellow Pages calling appraisers until I found one that would hire me as an apprentice. At that time, it required a two-year apprenticeship to become licensed. 

After about the first year, I realized that the appraiser that had taken me on as an apprentice was lacking in some of the more technical aspects of being an appraiser that I felt I needed. So, I was in search of a new appraiser to finish out my apprenticeship. My wife and I had just purchased a home. As you may know, appraisers take pictures of homes they are comparing to the ones they are appraising. I saw a gentleman stop in front of our home and take a picture of it. I knew that they had to be an appraiser. So, I ran out the door and explained my case to the appraiser. He agreed to take me on as an apprentice to finish out my training. 

The rest is history. 23 years later, the appraiser and I still refer business to each other. I am grateful that he provided the training I needed to have a successful start in my appraisal career. 

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
For the most part, it has been smooth. The most difficult times for me were in the years leading up to the housing bust of 2008. At that time, if the appraiser’s opinion of value were lower than desired, they would go find another appraiser who would hit the number they were looking for. The closer we got to 2008, the more aggressive many loan officers became. 

It was mind-boggling how some appraisers at the time were finding market support for the values they placed on some homes. I just couldn’t compete. Once marked as a conservative appraiser by some, the business dried up. I have always taken conservative to mean honest. 

Then came the housing bust of 2008. For a while, it was so slow that I decided to take some schooling to become certified in mold remediation. However, shortly after becoming certified for mold remediation, my business picked up doing appraisal work for banks that were foreclosing on properties. I was also hired to perform some forensic review work for some backs on loans that had gone bad. 

Interestingly, upon reviewing some appraisals that were performed back then, I quickly understood how appraisers were achieving much higher opinions of value that I was able to find support for. Some were completely making up comparable sales. The homes they mentioned as comparable homes in some cases didn’t exist! Furthermore, some of those appraisers were using sales from completely different neighborhoods or making up adjustments that were not market-supported. All to achieve values that their loan officer clients desired the appraiser to hit. 

Those were the most difficult years for me. 

We’ve been impressed with Aspen Appraisal Services, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am a self-employed State Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser. I specialize in appraising residential properties including more unique properties and luxury homes. I am known for being a friendly appraiser that works hard to write my reports in a way in which my clients clearly understand how I developed my opinion of the market value of a home. I put a lot of work into analyzing the market where the property is located. 

On a monthly basis, I also run county-wide stats for Cuyahoga County, which I share on my website and blog. 

I am also the author of the Cleveland Appraisal Blog. (www.ClevelandAppraisalBlog.com). There are not many appraisers who blog about appraisal-related items in Northeast Ohio. I’m proud to have been blogging for many years. 

I regularly visit real estate offices in the area and provide lunch and learn sessions where I share what I know about my profession with other professionals. I am also the host of the podcast Home Value Stories with Jamie Owen. I have not been airing new episodes as much as I had hoped to due to a very chaotic year in the housing market and other personal health issues that have recently been resolved. So, I hope to start recording new episodes soon! 

One thing that sets me apart from others, at least in my mind, is that I am approachable. I really want to be known as a resource for others who have questions about real estate appraising. I find satisfaction in helping answer people’s questions. And I truly love people. I love meeting and visiting with others and hearing their stories as well. 

My Aspen Appraisal Services and Cleveland Appraisal Blog branding have set me apart in Northeast Ohio in terms of recognition as an expert in real estate appraising. I am also known nationwide due to my work with my blog. While I am recognized as an expert in my market, I think that it’s important to note that I am always learning new things. And the more I learn, the more I need to learn. So, while I share what I know with others, I don’t have answers to every question. But, if I don’t know the answer, I will find the answer for my clients. 

With regards to my services, I perform real property appraisals for all types of residential real estate from vacant land to four-unit apartments. Half my work is for non-lending work, like for pre-listings, divorce, litigation, probate, or for anyone who just needs to have an idea of the market value of their property. 

I also offer a home measuring and floor plan services. Sometimes, a person doesn’t need an appraisal. They just need to know how larger their home is or to have a layout of the interior. I offer all of those services. 

I have a free monthly newsletter where I share the most recent blog articles from my blog as well as charts with market stats for single-family homes in Cuyahoga County. You can also find those charts on my website at www.AspenAppraisalServices.com and on my blog at www.ClevelandAppraisalBlog.com. 

As mentioned earlier, I also offer lunch and learn classes where I will visit an office in person or over Zoom and teach a class on any appraisal-related subject requested. 

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
I think a desire to constantly improve in my craft is very important. There are always new things to learn. I get excited about learning new aspects of valuation that I can apply to my business. Without a desire to learn new things, we become stagnant in our work. 

The desire to learn new things has been very important in my growth as an appraiser and in my business as a real property appraiser. 

Contact Info:


Image Credits

Jonathan Miller
Phil Crawford
Tom Horn
Ryan Lundquist
Joe Lynch
Bill Cobb

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