This latest ASFMRA Member Spotlight highlights Larissa C. Gordon, ARA, from the New Mexico Chapter. Larissa earned her Accredited Rural Appraiser designation this summer, and is currently working as a farm and ranch appraiser for Ag New Mexico Farm Credit Services, ACA.
How did you get started in ag appraisal?
I began my ag career as a Credit Analyst in 2014 within the Farm Credit System. It was an eye-opening experience that quickly made me realize how little about agriculture I actually knew. I seized the opportunity to learn from loan officers and the senior appraiser, taking in all I could and asking countless questions. The appraisal side really interested me, and when a position opened up, I applied. Since accepting the appraiser position, I haven’t looked back! It’s the career I never knew I wanted. I am still grateful for the chance they took on me.
What ag or real estate issues are you most passionate about or interested in and why?
It constantly changes! I follow several podcasts to stay informed about appraisal and ag-related issues – they make those long drives much easier. However, one issue that I continually follow is water. Water rights have always interested me and are an integral part of my work. If I don’t understand the water, I don’t fully understand the property. Outside of that, my passion for agriculture stems from the men and women dedicated to this industry. The issues I find interesting are the challenges they face, day in and day out. I love the opportunity to talk to experienced farmers – those with history in the industry. I’ve learned when an old farmer talks, you better listen. Their wisdom and advice are some of the most valuable lessons I’ve received in my career.
How does it feel to have earned your ARA certification? Did you learn anything especially useful or interesting?
Earning my ARA certification is immensely gratifying! Completing the demonstration appraisal report was a very humbling experience. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and prompted me to reevaluate how I developed my reports, ultimately resulting in a better work product.
The most valuable lesson I learned on the path to accreditation was the power of networking. Prior to applying for the ARA designation, I built relationships with Society members who helped me with various appraisal projects throughout the beginning of my career. Many I still stay in contact with today. When pursuing the designation, I reached out to them as well as past instructors for advice on property selection, demo/exam preparation tips, and demo review before submission. I might have even called my first supervisor for help because I was pretty sure if I couldn’t figure out breakdown depreciation, I didn’t deserve accreditation. Like I said, a very humbling experience. The best piece of advice I got from many of my peers is trust your instincts (the KISS principle) because your instincts are usually right. I also came to realize the lasting value of my class textbooks. They come in handy when breakdown depreciation becomes a breakdown of your mental capacity.
What are you excited for going forward with your career?
There is still so much I have to learn, and I am continually grateful for those who continue to teach me. I hope to become an exceptional mentor to others, just as my mentors have been to me. Beyond that, the future of this career is a constant source of excitement. The economic rollercoaster we have been riding for the last few years doesn’t seem to end, AI is making its way into the appraisal world, technology in mapping and portfolio management is excelling. The list goes on! We are witnessing history in the making. I find it both exciting and a little daunting to be a part of it. My only hope is that I can look back and say that I, as well as my peers, made the right decisions to protect and preserve the integrity of the appraisal profession.
Any advice for new appraisers?
For newcomers in the appraisal field, I strongly recommend attending in-person classes whenever possible. The relationships I built in those classrooms have endured since day one, turning into countless networking opportunities and great friendships. I don’t know if I could have done it without all of the support I received… or working through drill problems together in the hotel lobby… or the trip to the zoo after feeling like we failed the first day of the ARA exam... or axe throwing with the instructors…. Those are the memories you can’t miss out on and relationships that will last your entire career.