Rachel L. Richardson
October 21, 2021
VPA Office: Spokane Valley
My journey to Valbridge has been, well, a bit circuitous. I graduated in three years from Seattle Pacific University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and an emphasis in Creative Writing—and no, my plan wasn’t to teach. I held a variety of job titles in the years that followed, including online salesperson, prep chef, janitor, custom frame clerk, and, of course, writer and editor. While employed as an assistant manager for one retailer, I was approached by a coworker who asked if I’d ever considered commercial real estate appraisal. I had not. In fact, I had not even heard of the industry. She explained her husband, Michael Naifeh, had a position open at Valbridge Property Advisors | Tucson. He and I met and after learning more, I signed on as a data analyst with his office where I worked for several years before transitioning to remote employment with Spokane.
What is your title and what do you do at Valbridge?
As a Researcher, I conduct an initial investigation into our subject properties, add them to Datappraise, and prepare the front end of the appraisal report. It essentially involves gathering data and exhibits, and then generating, filling, tweaking, and polishing the report template so all but the analysis (valuation) sections are essentially ready to go when the appraiser is. I also investigate market trends and love to uncover new tools and data sources.
How did you become a part of Valbridge and VWC?
When I first heard about the business of commercial real estate appraisal, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. At the time, I had no idea what an appraisal was or why anyone would need one, but when Mike Naifeh described the analyst role as part reporter, historian, and sleuth—I was intrigued. I gave it a try and found that it tapped into my natural curiosity.
Years later, I had heard about the Valbridge Women’s Council in passing but had no real sense of who or what was involved. Last November, when I learned Karlene Perry (Spokane) and Heather Barnes (Palm Beach, Treasure Coast, and Atlanta) were slated to present on the nature of the analyst/researcher role, I was eager to listen in. I’m so glad I did! It was great to hear both perspectives, including Karlene’s message about companies leveraging their assets. It proved to be a validating experience, bolstered by the encouragement of both speakers. I connected with Heather and Karlene that week, joining the Women’s Council at Karlene’s suggestion. A few months later, the opportunity to work remotely with the Spokane office presented itself, and I was thrilled. I transitioned last spring, and by August I also joined the VWC Board of Directors and the Communications/PR Committee.
What are your specialty areas?
As an analyst/researcher, I’ve worked on a variety of property types—office, retail, industrial, multifamily, hospitality, assisted living, churches, event centers, land, and so on. Lately, though, I have found myself wrapped up in the agricultural sphere, learning slowly about the realm of possibilities this category can cover.
What are some of the most interesting projects you've worked on at Valbridge?
For me, each new project has its own story and complexities, and thus its own level of intrigue. Since starting work in the Pacific Northwest, I have encountered many unique projects and property types I had not previously worked with (including airport hangars, a marina, RV campground, and an equine hospital) though it’s the agricultural projects that I’ve found the most fascinating—from the proposed conservation easement for riparian habitat, to the orchards, farmsteads and packing plants.
What do you like most about working at Valbridge and being a member of the VWC?
As a part of Valbridge and the Women’s Council, I feel I have access to useful resources, and a collaborative, encouraging network that promotes professional and personal growth. I am grateful for the chance to connect with people from across the nation, hearing their wisdom and perspective on the industry and how to navigate an evolving professional world.