As we all know, appraisers are still feeling the pressure to meet numbers for lenders. The industry is taking a beating in many national and local publications – several of which were previously highlighted in this blog. So, what can appraisers do? It seems like there is a movement afoot towards professionalizing the appraisal industry. This movement needs to pick up steam and quickly and come from the bottom up (not the top down).
In my mind’s eye, professionalizing an industry requires two key components: 1) increasing education components and 2) collective organization. Appraisers must organize – join an appraisal organization at any level – the Appraisal Institute, the National Association of Realtors, the Appraisal Foundation, the American Society of Appraisers – and those are just a few at the national level. Just joining an organization is not enough. Be actively engaged in your organization and accept no less than the highest standards for your industry (after all, it is your industry). Attorneys, at a minimum, obtain a bachelors degree, attend law school for 3 years, and pass the bar before they can practice as “professional lawyers.” Should “professional appraisers” be required to attend school for 7 years after graduating high school? I can’t answer that – the appraisers on the ground know best. However, I believe in Florida there are community colleges offering appraisal courses that comply with USPAP and count towards the education requirements of becoming a licensed appraiser. When I attended the AARO Conference this past April in San Francisco others mentioned making appraising and valuation a four year program at colleges and universities.
I understand that it’s hard enough to get people into the industry and today’s standards are higher than ever before. Besides, grassroots organization and increasing education requirements is a long term solution that could be very painful in the short term for the industry. However, the real estate industry is perfectly situated for this type of change right now. No other groups in the industry have taken on this type of effort, which would leave appraisers as the most progressive and proactive in ensuring a mortgage crisis like we have today never occurs again. If appraisers wait for changes to come from the national level they will wait too long and have new rules and regulations imposed on them. They will get no say and the mortgage crisis will have ended with few outside the industry concerned about what is imposed on the appraiser. Appraisers should take it upon themselves to make the change – at the grassroots, ground up, level – and start making it today.