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Valbridge Women's Council Executive Spotlight: Big League Appraiser Blazed New Trail for Analysts

Image: When Yvonne received her MAI, the company had a celebratory lunch, including her four children and husband.

Yvonne Broszus was promoted last year from director to managing director of Valbridge Property Advisers in Northern California.  How did she rise through the ranks to become one of the most visible appraisers in Valbridge’s San Jose office?  Grit and a loving partnership with her husband, Ben, are at the heart of her success.

“Life happens quickly, so it’s a good idea to have a direction in mind,” Yvonne says.  In college, she majored in marketing because she enjoyed scrapbooking and thought a marketing degree might help her get a position producing a different type of scrapbook:  the Sunday magazines that came with newspapers.

After graduating from Santa Clara University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, Yvonne was ready to begin her career.  It was hard to break into the advertising business, so she had to work as a receptionist at an advertising agency for six months until she was assigned to work with an account manager on a fast-growing account, Ross Stores.  Unfortunately, Ross outgrew her small agency, and she was laid off after two years.

Choosing Between a Job and a Relationship

Yvonne then worked as a market analyst for a television station in San Francisco called KRON-TV, where she worked in the sales department rating TV spots for sale.  Commuting from Santa Clara to San Francisco every day for work was beginning to take its toll when Yvonne met her future husband, Ben, who lived near her home.  Commuting made it difficult to date Ben, and she decided that she had to choose her job or Ben.  Yvonne chose Ben.

While looking for a new position near Santa Clara, Yvonne saw an ad for a market research job at a commercial real estate appraisal firm named Hulberg & Associates.  She had no idea what a commercial appraiser did, but she sent them her resume anyway because it was a market research position and it was in San Jose.  Someone from the Hulberg firm called the next day to schedule an interview, and she found the Hulberg people friendly.  Although she had no real estate background, Yvonne believes she was hired because she had the skills that were important in the industry.  Skills are more important than the industry from which you come, she says.

The Importance of a Mentor

Yvonne was interviewed by a woman named Claudia.  Throughout Claudia’s tenure as vice president and second-in-command at Hulberg, Claudia was always an advocate for me, Yvonne says.  The Northern California Chapter of the Appraisal Institute created an award to honor Claudia after she passed away in 2011, and today the Claudia B. Carleton Legacy in Leadership Award recognizes a female member of the chapter each year for outstanding leadership, accomplishment and/or support of the Northern California Chapter and the Appraisal Institute.  Consequently, Yvonne was very surprised and emotionally moved when she received the award during a special lunchtime presentation at the Northern California Chapter’s 2017 Annual Fall Conference.

During Yvonne’s first six months as a market researcher (a position called “analyst” today), she saw what appraisers did (i.e., market research, math, analysis, and writing reports).  Eventually, she became the market researcher for all 10 appraisers on staff.  She asked the appraisers many questions, and she kept asking them to give her more tasks.  Claudia gave her extra work; and the top biller at the time, Rob Saia, let her write whole appraisal reports, giving her feedback for each one.  (Today Rob is a senior appraiser/director in Valbridge’s Pasadena office.)

Yvonne notes that when she began working as a market researcher, she excelled in math and was weakest at writing.  Now she considers writing reports one of her greatest strengths.  It is important to write clearly and avoid overly sophisticated language, she says.

Recognition Has To Be Earned

Three-and-a-half years after Yvonne became a market researcher, Claudia told the firm’s owner, Norm Hulberg, that Yvonne should be an appraiser.  Fortunately, Norm had the foresight to promote Yvonne; however, this was the first time that a market researcher had been promoted to appraiser, and there was no precedent to follow.  A replacement had to be hired and trained first, which required a transitional period.  Yvonne blazed a new trail for future analysts in Northern California to follow.

After being promoted to appraiser, Yvonne experienced much success and was eventually promoted to senior appraiser seven-and-a-half years later. She credits Walt Carney, senior managing director in the San Jose office, for supporting her promotion.  At the time, Yvonne thought that it took her about one to two years longer than it took a typical male to be promoted to senior appraiser.  Later in her career, however, Yvonne felt that the timing had more to do with her visibility within the company than her gender.  It is very important for male and female appraisers to be visible in the industry in order to get recognized and promoted, she says.

Balancing Work and Family

Yvonne adds, earning the MAI designation was her greatest obstacle after being promoted to senior appraiser because she had no time.  Once married, she and her husband Ben agreed that he would stay at home with their children, and she would be the sole breadwinner.  Work made it more challenging for her to find time to complete the requirements for a MAI, and she waited until her children were a certain age before she began the process.  Therefore, the process took longer than she expected, but Yvonne managed to earn the MAI designation less than five years after being promoted to senior appraiser.

When asked to name her most important accomplishment, Yvonne says without hesitation that it was being able to have four kids and a career.  She is most grateful for this, and she says it was only possible because her husband Ben stayed home.

Be Visible

If she were a young woman beginning a career in appraisal today, Yvonne thinks staying focused and never giving up are the keys to success.  She would advise any young woman starting out as an analyst to concentrate on the many training resources that are available.  She says, seek out relationships and find a mentor.  Be visible!

Yvonne’s Practice Areas

Yvonne’s areas of specialization today are tax appeals and special purpose property, and she continues to experience much success.  She represents many high profile clients and has helped them re-claim millions of dollars of tax refunds due to them.  Her most recent success included a ruling that left the client with annual tax savings of over $6 million per year.

“It’s hard to believe that the first sports venue appraised by Yvonne was a softball field,” exclaimed Norm Hulberg.  “Yvonne is truly an inspiration to aspiring appraisers.  If you work hard enough long enough, you too can become a big league appraiser.”