Industry leader: Meet Jenny Falck
Every month, SAIV profiles some of our most established property valuers who have become leaders in the industry due to many years of experience. This month we are profiling Jenny Falck, a professional valuer at Appraisal Corporation, to find out more about her 30 years’ experience valuing, the changes she has seen in the industry, and her advice to others looking to pursue a career in valuations.
What made you pursue a career in property valuations?
I did a B.Comm Hons at Stellenbosch and one of my subjects there was Property Valuation and Investment. I enjoyed the lecturers, amongst others the late Steyn Rivett-Carnac, Gert Wilkenson and Koos Jonker. Their love for the industry was infectious so when the chance came for an interview, I grabbed it with both arms. I have always loved working with figures, so the job fitted me like a glove.
Who do you think has had the biggest influence on your career today, and why?
I was most fortunate to have Saul du Toit as my first (and only!) boss. His passion and the confidence he put in me, throwing me in at the deep end straight away, will always be appreciated. He continuously pushes the boundary, putting new challenges to you, and I love this about my work. He expects his candidate valuers to be informed, think out of the box and give a service better than the rest. This attitude results in high quality work and a market that appreciates you going the extra mile.
The strangest property you have ever been asked to value?
I am not sure what is meant by strange, but weird and wonderful – yes plenty! From the Caltex / Astron refinery in Milnerton, the V&A Waterfront, game reserves in Sabi Sands, and a hospital in the middle of Covid season. I enjoyed the interactions with residents in Athlone when I had to value all the commercial properties for the GV, and my recent valuation of Discovery Place in Sandton is also a highlight.
What do you think is one of the worst, but perhaps most common, mistakes a property valuer can make?
As valuers get older and more experienced, they think they are “super valuers”, who do not need to do proper market research. The old adage of “been there, done that” does not apply to property valuations, as no two properties are the same. Valuers must interpret the market, and as the market changes on a daily or weekly basis, it is important to ask yourself: What would the market do? The only way to get an answer to this question is to do a proper market research.
A second mistake, which in my opinion is unforgivable, is not reading the title deed. Unfortunately, I see this more and more.
Complete this sentence: Every property valuer needs….
To have a willingness to learn, in terms of alternative assets competing with property, valuation methodology, using technology and most of all property case law. This sets the basis for any good valuer.
Looking back on your career, what has been the biggest change you have noticed in property valuations in South Africa?
Technology! Having asking prices, selling prices, title deeds and SG diagrams at the tips of your fingers! When I started valuations some 30 years ago, I had to physically go to the Deeds and SG office for every single valuation. Transactions were obtained from interactions with (often unwilling) estate agents and reports were done on slow computers and printed on dot matrix printers.
What risks do you see facing the property valuation industry today?
Unfortunately, technology has also made valuers lazy. Market research is often based on info received from Lightstone or a similar platform, with the inspection done by Google Earth and Street View. This is just not good enough. There is nothing that gives you the same background to a property as driving through the neighbourhood area and past the comparable transactions. Valuations is not just number crunching – there is also emotions involved in the buying or selling of a property and this cannot be gauged by Google Earth.
Any advice for young people looking to pursue a career in valuations?
Be willing to innovate without compromising on quality – and go the extra mile to set you apart from all the average quality valuers in the profession.
Are there any specialised properties which you believe would be worthwhile for any valuer to develop specific skills in valuing?
Valuing farms is not as easy as some valuers make it out to be. Soil, climate, carrying capacity are some of the many attributes that valuers need to understand. If one adds the high prices that farms attain to this, making it easier to quote a fee that is worth your while, I think this is a good route to follow.