If You Build It, …?

Solovar effectively started with a phone call. A local installer here in San Diego found my name in the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) web directory, and called with a question, “Do  you appraise residential solar installations?” The call was precipitated by a client of the installer asking if he knew of any appraisers that might help with an appraisal related to a lease buyout option. Of course, my answer was, “I can.” While I didn’t really answer his question, I was confident that my academic background (MSEE) and over a quarter century of working with high-tech semiconductor manufacturing equipment would enable me to satisfy the competency rule required of my appraisal accreditation to complete the assignment.

However, as I was answering, I was also contemplating how the typical homeowner might not have much experience pertaining to appraisals outside the occasional home value assessment. While such home appraisals might be in the $250 to $750 range, many high-tech equipment appraisals with inspection and a USPAP-compliant certified appraisal report might have fees with one or more extra zeros. But I also saw this as a growing unmet need, as residential solar installations continued to grow at a strong pace in California and other regions in the US and around the globe. I further recognized the need for more competent solar equipment appraisers in the growing commercial (e.g., non-residential, utility) installation arena.

Solovar was founded to address the foregoing challenges pertaining to appraisal affordability in the residential market, and appraisal expertise needs in both the residential and commercial solar equipment markets. Affordability can be addressed by limiting the scope and improving the efficiency of the appraisal assignment, among other things. More specifically, residential assignments might be limited to a single value standard and premise, with a single valuation approach being implemented at least in part using custom software. The expertise aspect can be addressed by, well, developing the expertise. As with all the classes of high-tech equipment I appraise, continuous learning is a must. Such learning is effectively the only way any appraiser can stay aligned with the latest technology such that competent and meaningful valuation results can be determined.

I acknowledge there is a notion of an “if you build it, they will come” strategy with Solovar. But if only a few come, I will still appreciate the knowledge and experience gained. By the way, I did not get an assignment from that original call.