AAt first glance, real estate appraisal and wrestling don’t seem to have much in common. But as Konner Hopkins has shown, both endeavors take a lot of practice, flexibility and determination.
Hopkins trained as an Apprentice Appraiser from 2015 to early 2021, when he opened his own business, YKM Valuations, as a licensed appraiser. And there was also a connection with wrestling.
“After college I was working at the bike shop (Bearded Monkey), I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I got a call from another assessor in town, Jason Ray, whom I had coached kids wrestling,” Hopkins mentioned. “That’s how I knew he was looking for someone to coach. It’s just very lucky that it happened – there aren’t many opportunities to do so.
As a residential appraiser, Hopkins serves as an independent “middleman” between appraisal management companies and lenders for people looking to buy or refinance their home. He does between 400 and 500 appraisals a year – inspecting homes and then comparing them to similar homes recently sold in the Yakima Valley.
“Homes of similar quality or in similar conditions that have sold recently are our No. 1 factor for value,” he said. “Obviously housing prices are going up. The easiest way for me to handle this as a reviewer is (to use) as recent comps as possible…comparable sales that sold within 60 days. There are percentage adjustments we can use with dated comps, but really in a market like ours, nothing is going to replace something that sold out within 60 days.
Son of Jeff and Lynda Hopkins, Konner was a standout wrestler at East Valley High School who wrestled for Yakima Valley College as a freshman. When the school dropped out of the sport, he took the mats to Highline College in Des Moines, Washington, where he graduated in two years.
Like many evaluators, Hopkins did not imagine himself in this career when he went to college.
“If you’ve heard of appraisers, you’ve probably heard that it’s a declining field. The first reason is that it is very difficult to find someone to train you,” he said. “There is a lot of responsibility in training a trainee assessor. And that just takes away from our work time. So the fact that I had a personal connection with Jason is the only way it works.
He continued wrestling, first as a volunteer coach at his alma mater, then as an assistant and currently as the head college wrestling coach for the East Valley Red Devils. Hopkins recently qualified four boys and four girls from his team for the regional wrestling tournament.
“There are so many good teams in the valley. Culturally, wrestling is so important in the valley that it is truly competitive,” he added. “Toppenish is the best team in the state, year after year, so you hear about it, but we’ve probably got 10 other programs in the valley vying for the top 10 in the state in their rankings.”
Besides spending time with his girlfriend, Mackenzie Franke, Hopkins also enjoys racing mountain bikes. He volunteers for the Yakima Greenway, serving as President of the Yakima Greenway Foundation for 2022 and organizing the Gap to Gap race.
With so many activities outside of work, he is happy to run his own business because of the flexible schedule.
“I couldn’t see myself not running my own business. I set my own schedule. … I can work weekends, I can work nights,” Hopkins said. “It’s hard to take a vacation when you have a bike race you just want to go to. But in this job, I can work in my motorhome, on a laptop.
“Also, I don’t have to ask my boss to take half a day off to go to wrestling practice at 2 p.m. every day.”
Profession: Real Estate Appraiser, YKM Valuations