by Eric B. Lewis, MAI, FRICS
President, Valuation & Advisory Americas
We’re recognizing the individuals within our Valuation & Advisory (V&A) group who have hit major anniversary milestones this year, by asking these veterans a few questions. After having been with the firm for 20 years or more, it’s interesting to hear about their experience, tenure, and what keeps them going. I had the chance to talk with Jim Walsh, who has worked for the firm for the last 30 years…
You’ve now been with the firm 30 years and focus on retail and litigation assignments. What changes within the appraisal industry and/or your market have you seen since you began your career? Where do you think it is heading?
During the late 1970s, I spent a good deal of my time at L.W. Ellwood & Co. appraising malls. This was before personal computers were available, so we used calculators and 11’’ x 17’’ accounting note pads to hand write the projected rent from every tenant for each year of the 10-year cash flow. Compared to current standards, it took about three to four times as long to input all the tenants and the various assumptions, but that’s not the biggest difference. If you want to revise any of your growth rates, or a market rent assumption, you simply make the changes and hit “calculate.” Back then, you had to take out a new sheet of paper and recalculate everything using your calculator. At least we graduated from slide rules!
As to where it’s heading, I’m one of those seasoned veterans who is concerned about the direction of our industry. Technology devalued residential appraisers as the perception became that heuristic models were faster, cheaper, and better than appraisers. We need to maintain the quality of our work, so we don’t go down a similar path.
How did you get your start in commercial real estate/why did you choose to go into the appraisal profession?
People tend to get into appraisal either by birth or an accident; mine was merely by accident. I was in a management trainee program when the bank’s chief appraiser died suddenly. The bank promoted the assistant to Chief Appraiser so they needed a new assistant. For three days, they asked if I wanted to take the job, and I declined. On the fourth day, they informed me that I was the new assistant appraiser.
What is it about Cushman & Wakefield that has helped you reach this anniversary/keep you here?
The people and the entrepreneurial spirit. When I came here, I told Frank Liantonio and Brian Corcoran I would stay for a few years until the market rebounded, and afterwards, I would go back into acquisitions. I never dreamed I would be here for thirty years. To some degree, it’s like having your own business, without the headaches that come with it.
How do you plan to spend your next 30 years at Cushman & Wakefield?
Unless I have a Benjamin Button type experience, there is not going to be another 30 years. As long as my health and that of my wife hold up, I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing.
When you’re not out appraising an asset or writing a report, what do you like to do?
As everyone here knows, our business does not leave much free time. I spend that time with the family, or watching football and baseball games. My favorite teams are the NY Yankees, NY Jets, and Miami Hurricanes.
Eric Lewis is the President, Valuation & Advisory Americas. In this role, Eric is responsible for the overall operations of the Americas V&A group, which spans 600 professionals across 6 core services, 17 practice groups, and 70 offices. He drives the primary business objectives and activities for V&A in the Americas, including our aggressive growth and technology initiatives. In 2017, the group appraised more than 50,640 properties valued at over $1.29 trillion USD.