Who Serves Whom?

I just returned from the NAR Convention and Meetings in Orlando Florida. One of the meetings I attended was the Appraisal Committee. There, I learned to my disappointment that the talks which had gone on for two years between the Institute and NAR had broken down. Although we were given scant information, with NAR citing confidentiality agreements that they had entered into with the Institute, Joe Traynor, who was on the task force, bluntly said: “Let me assure you, it was not NAR’s fault”. We heard from Laurie Janik, who was able to tell us that after much effort, and with NAR thinking that an agreement was extremely close, the Institute came back with over twenty demands, some of which would have called for changes to NAR’s Constitution and/or bylaws. The sense we got at the meeting is that staff and past leadership at the Appraisal Institute did not want the merger to happen.

The history of this relationship, for those who are newer to the business is that at one time we were one big happy family. Then, the Institute left NAR. In a nutshell, the Institute is known for education and educational products (and high dues, in my opinion, but that’s another matter); NAR is known for political clout. NAR wanted to add good educational opportunities for its appraiser members. Appraisers, for the 25+ years I have been one, and have been teaching them, desire political clout.

What is inexcusable to me, as a member of both the Appraisal Institute and NAR, is that I got, as a member of the Institute, no information about this merger. I was never asked my opinion, nor was I asked if the merger was important to me. The other appraisers present at the committee meeting, who like me, have membership in both groups, confirmed this; they were never consulted either. We did get some information from NAR, albeit not as much as some of us would have liked. This begs the question: “Does an organization exist to serve its members, or do the members exist to serve the organization?” Shame on the Appraisal Institute for not finding out what members think about this, and if the scuttlebutt is correct, shame on them for continuing for two years, only to throw unreasonable, ‘deal-breaker’ items on the table at the very last minute. That’s not negotiating in good faith. The Appraisal Institute has had a very good corner on education, but they don’t have the entire corner. NAR has a great track record of finding and hiring good educators to develop courses, and great instructors to present them. As an appraiser, REALTOR®, and educator, I hope this happens. Competition is good; and if you can’t get them to join, well, maybe you have to beat them.

Any organization is only good when it serves all the needs of their members, and when those in charge realize the members are their clients. Appraisers need a lot of things from an organization: they need education, they need networking, they need political clout. NAR can, and should provide all three. Two years were spent chasing a dream; it is time for NAR to just respond to their members and give them what they want.

Melanie McLane

Melanie McLane, ABR, CRB, RAA, is owner of McLane Solutions, a real estate education and training company in Jersey Shore, Pa. She is also a certified residential appraiser and an associate broker with Jackson Real Estate in Jersey Shore. In addition to the ABR, CRB, and RAA, McLane holds a number of other designations and certifications from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and other organizations, and she is a nationally recognized speaker.

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  1. Concerned

    I do not know what happened, but inflammatory comments of the author above are not professional. How we act after the fact may confirm a decision. I also doubt that 20 demands were made in such a cavalier manner. There is more to this story; there has to be. And for the record, I know several AI members who were surveyed by their staff and the results were reportedly about 50/50. Dont know how many people or if it was scientifc, but if other details are accurate, the AI needed at least 60% to pass this.
    Blogger’s comment: I only know what I heard at the meeting. I don’t think my comments are inflammatory; but I think members deserve more transparency. We are in another financial mess; I remember the last one when the appraisers were blamed for everything. I’d like some political clout for appraisers.

  2. greg

    I would like some political clout, too. Also some transparency and some honest communication from the Institute, which I feel like I never get. But I believe what the Institute said when they gave the reasons for not merging with the NAR. I don’t think a professional organization should be subordinate to a trade organization no matter how much political clout it gives you. That would only make us look like prostitutes. We don’t need any help with that.

  3. kat

    Where can I find the “unreasonable, ‘deal-breaker’ items” on the internet?

  4. I’m both a member of NAR CA broker) and the AI. I did get email from the institute requesting comment about what was going on with the proposed merger; it was put out last year. Information has shown up on the AI site as well. That said – while I did see an article about it, I was not asked for my opinion by NAR or CAR, at all.
    While I would love to see appraisers get a stronger voice in congress, I did not like the idea of merging with NAR.
    Statistics show that, while there’s been a huge increase in appraisers in the last few years, there has not been a corresponding increase in membership at the AI, or other organzations. That being true, it seemed ridiculous to believe that we should expect Realtors to fight for us through NAR, in Congress – when, in fact, there is always some level of conflicting interest between the two professions.
    One thing that NAR has over appraisers is that they have a trade-marked name: you must be a member in order to use the word “Realtor.” That means the vast majority of real estate sales people are members of NAR. That was very smart.
    And it is not true of appraisers. Most appraisers do not belong to any organization – and that is why we have a small voice in congress. My belief is that, if you really want to increase our voice in congress, then you need to help get other appraisers involved with the AI – and other groups. Getting them involved in one of the organizations that represent us specifically, is the best way to strengthen our legal position – not merging with a group that has dissimilar objectives.

  5. I am an MAI and SRA member of the Appraisal Institute and I am also a member of NAR, though not its Appraisal Section. I am also President of the SC Professional Appraisers Coalition. AI did ask my opinion of the merger, as they asked all members of AI by e-mail. I was not asked my opinion by NAR, SCAR, or my local Board of Realtors; however. If affiliation of AI and NAR were to benefit appraiser members, then where has NAR’s political clout been for NAR’s Appraisal Section members? Political capital will only be spent wisely and for the majority, so the majority Realtor members who are real estate brokers and sales pros are NAR’s political priority, not appraisers. I daresay that AI’s list of requirements included a strong and autonomous political agenda for appraisers as well as a requirement that the MAI brand be well protected. We the real estate professionals need to continue to work together to serve the public and insure its trust.

  6. mister d

    The Appraisal Institue sold itself out along time ago. IN my community the SRA’s and the MAI’s are the worst of the worst.