The MAI means something to some people - namely lawyers and CPA's. MAI is agressively marketed but of course, it costs a mint to get and keep so you'd better market it agressively. All others to my knowledge are invisible in the market place but fairly painless to obtain. I felt they weren't worth the effort personally.
Residential -- I never worked at a residential lender who cared about residential designations.
Commercial -- Once in a while I lose out on an opportunity because I am not an MAI. No one has ever asked me if I am an ASA or IFA. So if a commercial appraiser feels like he needs a designation, the MAI is the one to get.
Matt, I'm aware that OK has has an active NAIFA presence. As a member of an active chapter (Chicago Metro), I can tell you that a significant part of the benefits of membership is via your affiliation with other members.
Everyone has a different perspective on this topic, but all I can share is my own personal experience: I have benefited from my membership in the NAIFA and what I have received far outweigh any dollar costs that I have incurred.
Regional (#5) Governor, NAIFA (well, at least through 12/31/07!)
It depends on whether you plan to do residential or commercial work. I would say if you do residential work, it may not really mean much. The SRA would be good to get only because the educational requirements to obtain it would likely make you a better, more knowledgable appraiser. However, many residential appraisers, including SRA's say that the designation won't make a big difference in their incomes.
However, if you plan on doing strictly commercial work, getting an MAI designation will make a world of difference.
I personally don't know anything about the NAIFA or the ASA so I can't comment about their benefits. However, I would say that membership in either organization would likely allow you to network with other appraisers and likely open more doors for you than if you were just a Certified "lone ranger".
If you could, please tell us a bit more about what kind of work you plan on doing and what type of benefits you are looking for by being affiliated with one of the major appraisal organizations.
Welcome to the forum. I had never heard of IFA until about 5 years ago. I have been impressed with the way most of the members handle themselves on the forum. They appear to be well informed and knowledgeable and conduct themselves as gentlemen (I have not seen any ladies within the ranks so the comment is not intended as sexist). In fact I even made comment on the matter a couple months back. Good luck and hope to see you regularly (that is unless you start disagreeing with me) .
It is my opinion that anyone who takes all the required classes to get ANY designation will be a better appraiser. Whether or not they actually apply for it (the designation) is debatable in terms of recognition.
The MAI is highly respected and takes great efforts to get and the fees are reflective of it no matter what anyone says. I can prove it (I am not an MAI).
In some ways the benifits to an appraiser are similar to an educational degree. Say a master's degree. The value to you personally is much more than being able to market that extra education. There is value in the education itself and there is value in the association with other accomplished and possibly better connected appraisers.
Depending on your client base it may be a good marketing item, or it may not. But it will never be a negative. In any case, it may help you at least sometimes.