Second Quarter 2012
Interview with Jeff Hatfield
photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
LBM: What is your company’s most important commodity or service?
JH: We provide fair accurate market values on homes and properties.
LBM: Other than monetary, what is your company’s most important priority?
JH: We pride ourselves on being as efficient, effective and methodical and possible to provide an accurate value on someone’s largest investment. We are all from Lawrence and have a combined 125 years of experience, so maintaining our good reputation is very important.
LBM: What have been the most important aspects of your success?
JH: Working with my father for 12 years and working with Hal Crady is invaluable. I know I have resources I can respect and admire and get consistent answers to my questions.
LBM: How do you relieve the day-to-day stress of your work?
JH: I have a lot of fun at work, and I love hanging our and cheering on my kids. That’s a great stress relief.
LBM: How do you reward excellent work performance?
JH: We have a graduated income scale based on billings. The longer and harder you work the more you are rewarded incrementally. The more you bill, the more you make.
LBM: How do you manage poor performance?
JH: Luckily that’s not an issue we’ve had to deal with. We are all State and Federally licensed. We haven’t had any issues with any appraisers.
LBM: What is the biggest challenge your company faces?
JH: Without question it’s congressional regulation. What’s Congress’ next move going to be to correct mistakes of the past? Licensing modifications have helped regulate the industry, but we can’t control what legislation passes.
LBM: How many people does your business employ? How many of those live in Lawrence? Does your company encourage people to live in Lawrence? What is the benefit?
JH: We have 11 appraisers and an office manager in our Lawrence office. It’s incredibly important for our appraisers to know the Lawrence market. It doesn’t matter how many appraisers you have if they aren’t familiar with the unique Lawrence market. One house may be valued at $200,000, while a house a few blocks away is $500,000. If you aren’t familiar with the neighborhoods, you will have no idea why.
LBM: What would you change about doing business in Lawrence?
JH: Not much. Lawrence has been great to my family. My son is the 6th generation of my family to live in Douglas County.
LBM: How does your business make a positive impact on the Lawrence community?
JH: If we do our job, it allows people to stay in our community. If they are given an accurate appraisal, they’ll know if they can add on that extra bedroom or remodel their kitchen. Our appraisals have a direct impact on the interest rates on loans. Also, we help people understand the dollar for value on their investments.
LBM: You operate in a very competitive industry. How have you manage to remain relevant and profitable?
JH: We’re directed by Congress. Appraisals must be done, by law. We have been fortunate and pride ourselves on fair and accurate reports both parties can understand and relate to.
LBM: Over the course of your career, what has been the single largest change in the Lawrence business environment?
JH: The biggest change has been Congressional mandates. I think it’s been good for our industry. It’s eliminates the chance of undue influence or manipulation in the value applied in an appraisal.
LBM: What do you foresee as being the biggest challenge to the Lawrence real estate market?
JH: The real estate market in Lawrence has struggled some. Obviously that has a direct impact on our billing. Things seem to be looking up some, we are all very optimistic.