Article reprinted from "The Tidewater Builder"
By Lori Gomez

Stephen Donahoe is celebrating a very special anniversary this year. 1996 marks his 20th year as a real estate appraiser. Donahoe, president and founder of Stephen D. Donahoe & Associates in Virginia Beach, believes that he knows what has brought him successfully to this benchmark. "service and accuracy are key in our business, and we work very hard to give our customers this combination."

A real estate appraisal course taken in college was all it took to convince Donahoe that this was the field for him. "I really enjoyed it," he said, " but I found the field to be difficult to break into."

Real estate appraisers typically work independently or in very small offices, with few opportunities for new appraisers. While studying at Old Dominion University, however, the Norfolk native found a job as a researcher at an appraisal office, started part time and worked his way up to full time. He was a certified appraiser and partner in the company when he decided to go out on his own. In 1986, he made the move.

Working alongside Donahoe today are three associates who are themselves certified appraisers. Susan Barco (SRA), William Callahan, Jr. and David Green (SRA), along with office manager Dana Davis, make up the staff of Donahoe & Associates. Donahoe stresses that "it's a team effort, we all work very closely together."

Together, the team at Donahoe & Associates provides appraisals to clients within a very competitive market. Their territory includes Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Newport News and Hampton. Their clients include most lenders, as well as homeowners, realtors, attorneys and builders.

Appraisals are very time-consuming. They involve gathering the most current, applicable data on the property, doing an inspection and taking pictures. Then the property is looked at in relation to other comparable properties. Appraisers look at the neighborhood for factors that may affect the marketability of properties in that neighborhood, as well as recent sales. This information is then analyzed in order to determine the fair market value.

"It's a very detailed business, and we're all attentive to detail," Donahoe said. He insists that several quality checks be part of every appraisal done by Donahoe & Associates, because accuracy is a primary concern for their clients. Appraisals are usually requested for transfer of ownership, financing and credit, to determine just compensation in condemnation proceedings, and in tax, estate and divorce matters.

Donahoe believes strongly in the importance of continued growth within one's own profession. "the biggest investment you can make is education," he said. In addition to his Virginia certification, Donahoe earned the professional SRA designation from the Appraisal Institute, the largest appraisal organization in the country. To earn the SRA designation, an appraiser must prove that he has a combination of education and experience to qualify.

Continuing education is part of the reason Donahoe enjoys being a member of TBA. "It's been great," he says of his affiliation. Through the organization he has the opportunity to learn more about the industry and related topics through periodicals such as The Tidewater Builder. Donahoe also cites TBA's diverse membership as an attractive feature of his affiliation. "members have the opportunity to learn from each other," he said. "It's a strong organization with strong leadership."