The Memphis Chapter of The Appraisal Institute presented veteran real estate appraiser Robert Stephenson with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award on Friday, Dec. 5.
Robert Stephenson, left, with Allen McCool, was awarded the Memphis Chapter of The Appraisal Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Speaking before a packed audience of 90 real estate professionals, fellow appraiser Allen McCool commended Stephenson’s multi-decade record of service to the Institute and to the appraisal profession in general.
Outgoing chapter president Michelle Alexander and former chapter president Eric Trotz both echoed McCool’s remarks, calling Stephenson “a true pioneer in the industry, always on the cutting edge of technology” and “a great mentor to up-and-coming appraisers.”
A former Air Force missile combat crew commander who spent four years in an underground missile silo, Stephenson entered the appraisal profession in 1972 with the Hunt-Dailey Co. In 1975 he became a partner with James T. Dailey in Dailey, Stephenson & Associates. While there, in 1978, he earned his MAI (Member of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers) designation.
In 1994 he left Dailey and formed his own appraisal firm, Stephenson & Associates.
Stephenson served as Memphis chapter president of the Appraisal Institute for two annual terms, in 1988 and again in 1991. He has also served at the national level of the organization on its Governing Council (1990-1991) and its National Board of Directors (1994-1995).
He has maintained a steady presence as a teacher and lecturer on appraisal practice at the University of Memphis, the Crye-Leike College and nationwide.
Beyond mentoring and teaching, Stephenson’s reputation as a local innovator in the appraisal field is well-deserved. Perceiving early on an imminent change in the appraisal needs of lenders and Realtors, he licensed an automated appraisal software program in 1993.
By 2002 he had founded his own real-estate software firm, thereby offering lenders and other clients the first automated valuation system in the Memphis region.
Eventually this firm became the provider of real estate data analysis for the Memphis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR). The automated valuation tools developed by Stephenson’s company initially raised eyebrows in the appraisal community but are now seen as invaluable to lenders and Realtors alike.
Former MAAR executive director Jules Wade, who presided over the changes Stephenson’s system brought to that organization, praised Stephenson’s foresight and innovation, saying that when it came to delivering what he had promised, “His word was gold.”
So, have a depressed real estate market and automated valuation signaled the end of the appraisal profession as traditionally seen? Absolutely not, said Stephenson, now well into his fifth decade in the business.
“The 2008 recession thinned the ranks of appraisers, just as it did in the trades – plumbers and electricians, for example,” he said. “So we are now facing what amounts to a labor shortage in a resurgent market, and I see great opportunities ahead for young appraisers.
“This is a profession which will always need boots on the ground to function properly, and with that in mind we are now hiring two new trainees, our first new hires in five years.”
Clearly, here is a man looking toward the future and not toward the past.