BUSINESS LEADER PROFILE
Kathleen 'Kathy' G. Ball, Ball Appraisal Service
Kathleen 'Kathy' G. Ball of Ball Appraisal Service poses for a photo in El Centro. (JOSELITO VILLERO PHOTO / October 28, 2011)
780 Olive Ave., El Centro, CA 92243
Tell us how you ended up in this line of work.
I moved to the Imperial Valley in the fall of 1993 with my husband, who transferred to the Brawley factory of Holly Sugar, now Spreckels Sugar. After having had various real estate jobs for my entire career, the last of which was as an escrow officer at a title company in Northern California, I made the switch to residential appraisal. Thanks to Jack Dunnam, who trained me to be the appraiser I am today, I began my new career in residential appraisal in my new home in Imperial Valley in 1994.
Describe what your business does.
Ball Appraisal Service provides residential appraisal services, mostly for lending purposes, but also for other private purposes such as bankruptcy and divorce. We remain busy despite the current difficult economic times with most of the properties being foreclosures, short sales, and bankruptcies. I and my staff, consisting of Debbie Walk as an appraiser employee and Venessa Ramirez as my assistant, are “On the ball, so give us a call.”
What are memories from your career that stick out with you the most?
The two that stick out the most were opening an office outside of my home and purchasing my existing office building. When it came time to add an employee to my business, I thought it necessary to move my office from my home to a more public location. That was a momentous occasion for me as I had to sign a lease and incur additional expenses, but it was a risk that I was willing to take. Several years later, with three employees, I purchased my own office building that would not only accommodate my business but also other offices for lease to generate income that will eventually pay for the building.
What do you most like and least like about your work?
What I like the most is being my own boss and the variety that each day brings. I am not chained to my desk as I was in earlier positions. And, each home that I inspect is different. Compared to the homes I see in any given day, some days I go home to a “castle” and other days I go home to a “shack.”
What I least like about being a business owner are my administrative duties and the regulatory constraints of the appraisal industry today. As a very small business owner, I must constantly multi-task my many administrative duties that take time away from my productive work. And, as a result of the recent housing crisis, the government has implemented many new regulations such as Home Valuation Code of Conduct and Dodd-Frank, the financial reform bill. These new regulations have hindered the appraisal industry rather than help it as it was intended.
What makes your business unique?
Simply put, I make my business unique as I am one of only a few local appraisers. With 17 years of experience appraising in the Imperial Valley, I truly understand the local real estate market including its differing neighborhood nuances; and I am therefore geographically competent to appraise here whereas many appraisers from out of the area are not as they do not know the neighborhoods nor do they know our market.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to open a business?
Be prepared to work seven days a week because that is most likely what you will be doing. And since you will be spending so much time in your office, be sure to create a comfortable work environment. My office reflects this concept. I created a very cozy and “homey” feel to my office; and I even have two cats that live there to keep me company while I work.
How do you give back to the local community?
I support many women-based organizations in the community but the one organization that is near and dear to my heart and one that I am passionate about is Soroptimist International. I am past president and a current member of Soroptimist International of El Centro, and have served as an officer in every possible position within the club. Over the 17 years that I have been a member, I have participated in many service projects but my favorite ones were the shelter makeovers we did for Woman- Haven. In addition to my active involvement at the club level, I now serve at a higher level within the organization. Currently, I am program council member for the desert coast region which as the name implies has a territory that includes both the desert and the Southern California coast. In my current position, I coordinate the Soroptimist programs in support of our mission to improve the lives of women and girls both locally and globally. Recently, I have become more active within the local business community by serving as a board member of the El Centro Chamber of Commerce. And, I am currently serving on the Air Show Gala Committee and coordinating our inaugural kick-off event for the gala called “Gala Gown Showcase.” As California probate referee for Imperial County, which is another business entity of mine, I and my assistant Venessa Ramirez are active in and support the Imperial County Legal Professionals Association.
More about Kathleen “Kathy” G. Ball
YEARS IN BUSINESS: Entire career in real estate; 17 years in residential appraisal
HOMETOWN: South Bend, Ind.
FAMILY: Married to Chris; no children other than cats both at the house and office
HOBBIES: Bunko and international travel, when time permits
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