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Frank Gregiore Interview

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Don Clark

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Certified Residential Appraiser
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Virginia
B) Interesting article at Appraisal intelligence regarding an interview of Frank concerning a recently released GAO report.

After reading the interview, I have a question. If all appraisers are bound by USPAP should it not be an easily understood set of standards? If however, it is so hard to understand that only an ASB Certified Instructor must teach it, how can the average/typical???? appraiser understand it. As a disclaimer. I have taught USPAP since I first received it as a fax copy back in the late 1980's until the end of 2002. However, I have taken the test 3 times now to be certified. I haven't a clue as to what one must do to pass the exam. I have passed every test I have ever taken until this one. I have passed test after a week long course by the AI, as well as 2 state test, 1 in Virginia and 1 in North Carolina to be certified in those states. I have never, ever failed a professional exam until the ASB exam. And, since they will not discuss how it is graded, or what constitutes a passing grade, I will never have a clue. However, that is not my main concern. Should any standard be so difficult to understand that only a select few can reach it? How then are all the other appraisers supposed to understand it, let alone practice in accordance with those standards?

And, since all states have what are known as "Sunshine" laws, how can a private corporation dictate to them what they must do as a result of having hidden meetings where such rules are made?

I sincerely hope that Frank, and others will keep the foundations feet to the fire on these issues. And, should you ever be hauled before a state board, have your attorney ask the state board the same questions posed here.

Don Clark
 

Lee SW IL

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Illinois
Don, I totally agree with everything you said. USPAP is up to interpertation. Way too many grey areas.

Appraisal standards should be high, but more understandable for everyone, appraisers, LO, consumer ect.
 

Mike Garrett RAA

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Colorado
Don, don't feel lonely....I didn't pass the test either! Like you, I passed every test on all the residential courses offered by the Institute (University of Colorado). I did have to take my real estate salesman license exam twice but I never took any classes for it since my family had been in real estate for years and I thought I knew enough to pass the test. Missed by two points the first time. Took it again and passed with no problems. Took brokers exam and passed (did take a test course to be sure I didn't fail). I am a pilot and have passed various exams there too.

I taught numerous real estate courses including ERAs 40 hours agent training course as a single instructor. Helped educate literally 100s of real estate agents. I also facilitate the registered appraisers 75 hour basic course for Jones Real Estate College, a division of Dearborn Schools.

Perhaps I should have studied more for the USPAP Instructors Course. I did read the material and paid attention during the course...but didn't pass the test. Was in good company as half of those who took it didn't pass either.

In any event, I am hoping to screw up enough courage to take the seminar again...hopefully it will be held in Denver next year. Until then, we have another instructor who passed and is willing to do just the USPAP portion of registered appraisers class. I keep asking myself why should I even bother...but it doesn't do my ego much good to think I can't pass the freakin test.

USPAP isn't all that difficult but the method and style of writing leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion. People new to appraisal find it especially confusing. 2003 at least has all the sentences numbered making it easier to refer to a particular point. One thing that would be very helpful is requiring all loan officers and underwriters to take the 15 hour USPAP course...doubt that will ever happen.

We have a 75 hour course starting in August and I can promise you the students will get a lot more than 15 hours of USPAP because I will be teaching the first 60 hours and everything gets referenced to USPAP.
 

Austin

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Virginia
It doesn’t seem reasonable for 40% of former certified instructors not passing the USPAP instructor's test, but I have had some experience that may give a clue as to why. I have had the USPAP class about 6 times each time given by the AI chapter and each time taught by senior MAI’s. A couple of examples that may give a clue: Two years ago when I took the last USPAP class in my 6 year cycle I was told by two MAI’s AI certified within a month of each other, once in our state law class (taught by the chairman of the state appraisal board and an MAI-SRA), and once in the USPAP class taught by a very prominent MAI on the national scene, that we should all be aware of the new definition of market value in the latest version of USPAP. I read the statement they were referring to and it was not a definition of MV but a statement regarding the nature of MV. I pointed that out to them and they said I was wrong. I explained that it couldn’t be a definition of MV because it was totally devoid of the necessary factors of MV. A few pages later there was a statement saying that the previous statement concerning MV was not in any way a definition. I ask myself how a person at this level could not recognize a definition of MV? I am just a country appraiser and do not consider myself an authority on the subject but every time I have taken the required state law class every two year cycle and the USPAP class I come away more confused then when I walked into the class. When I take these AI classes most of the people in attendance are MAI’s or SRA’s and they just sit there getting their hours in and I get the feeling they just don’t give a damn what is being said. They never say a word or question what is being asked. Some of the stuff they say is so full of holes you could drive a truck through it, especially our required state law class. There is one old MAI that gives them hell at these classes and I learn more from his questions than from the lecture.
 

Francois K. Gregoire

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Certified Residential Appraiser
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Florida
Just in case anyone is interested, here's the exceprt Don is referencing:

Where do you come down on certifying USPAP instructors and the possibility of uniform state exams?

Personally, I do not agree with the AQB controlled certification of USPAP Instructors and the AQB pronouncement only an AQB Certified USPAP Instructor is capable of teaching USPAP. An inference could be made that there is an inherent flaw in the compilation of the Standards if only a unique course offered by specially credentialed instructors are capable of interpreting and conveying the true meaning of the words and phrases within its cover.

Nowhere in Title XI of the FIRREA is the AQB charged with this responsibility or given the authority to limit or expand a States control of instructors. Its unconscionable a private foundation can require all appraisers in the country to complete a course available from only them and requires it be conducted only by individuals they deem to be capable. Despite the denials, wouldnt you agree this has at least the appearance of a conflict of interest?

On the other hand, Title XI of the FIRREA clearly provides the AQB has the authority to develop a uniform state examination. Individuals must achieve a passing grade on such an examination (administered by a State or Territory) to become a State Certified Appraiser. Of course, the same section appears to allow the use of an equivalent examination.

More than likely this particular AQB endeavor will be discussed by the State Regulatory Advisory Group. It appears to be a good idea and needed by several of the states. Some states more protective of their rights, like Florida, will likely insist on alternative, equivalent examinations.

----------------------------
Frank
 

Fred

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Virgin Islands
First things first, Frank Gregoire has my vote for Appraiser of the Year, :beer:
getting the Florida law re-written, attending all those meetings (AARO etc), being on committees with NAR etc., fighting on the right side of (almost :D ) every issue, putting the weight of FREAB and NAR behind his efforst, keeping track of everything that goes on – and being as fast with a useful hyperlink as anyone on the forum.

As to some of the Uspsp comments.
I disagree slightly with Frank on certifying USPAP instructors. I see the slippery slope of the Foundation taking over all education – but USPAP instructors needed a more rigorous, more uniform training and a standardized test, because USPAP instructors had been spreading a lot of disinformation. That is, instruction in the uniform standards had not been uniform or standard. The instructor cert program is part of a solution to one problem, but it may lead to other problems that concern Frank. We all know these things are like that arcade game where you take the mallet and knock one critter back into its hole and simultaneously another critter pops up. No matter how much you keep banging, you cannot keep all the critters (problems) down in their holes.

The Foundation-and-education concerns stem from the incurable problem called FIRREA. The organizations created the Foundation, which would be as arcane as its forerunner NACAO is now (and who remembers NACAO). But the organizations gave the Foundation autonomy and then Congress recognized them. Oops! Now the Foundation has real power. They have sway over the organizations and have at least some implicit authority to affect state board policy. With federal law backing to set "qualifications," and no check-and-balance system of appraisers being able to dis-elect or impeach-and-remove AQB members, it will be hard to stop the Af-AQB-ASB, an autonomous corporation, from doing whatever it wants, whenever it wants.

I have never understood the problem that folks have with USPAP. Yes, I would have written it shorter and simpler. And I sent a road map as response to the Concept Paper that does exactly that, first by ripping out the whole “applicable” business that was put in there in 1999 – and going back to the single scope question, is it necessary to produce a credible appraisal or not necessary. And yes, the AO’s need to go in a separate book, because that is the only way that people are going to stop calling them rules.

But, why do appraisers assume that USPAP is not trying to convey common sense? You can appraise anything (within limits of your license), as of any date, even if you appraised it before. As long as you hit your number, not someone else’s, you have the Ethics Rule covered. If your data and calculations are good, you have Std 1 covered. If your report includes that typical dozen-item list (definition of value, cert page, etc.), then you have Std 2 covered. Keep a file for five years. What is the problem? The only problem I have with USPAP is that the AQB can keep making me take the class over and over and over. I already have the book! All 12 of them!!

I am thinking of selling a USPAP Board Game ™, inspired by Doug Smith, and I am hoping to get the Foundation to approve that for CE. It's a sort of combination of Monopoly and Trival Pursuit. You would travel around the board, answer questions to get cards. First, you get an "I identified the client and intended user(s) card." Then, you would get an "I identified the intended use of the conclusions and opinions" card. The first one to put together a Complete Appraisal and a Summary Report wins a lifetime exemption to USPAP classes.
 

Mike Garrett RAA

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State
Colorado
What a great idea, the board game. I would like to see USPAP presented in an A/V format. Also agree that the opinions should be moved it they are not going to be given the same status are the rules. Actually, I feel they better convey the concept and principle better than the way the rules are written.

Would also like to see a series of video trials where an appraiser appears before the "court of his peers" to explain how he/she violated USPAP and what the results of the jury are. NAR once did something like that for it's Code of Ethics.

Oh yeah, I passed all the NAR courses for my CRB designation too. Maybe it's just old age, ya think????
 

George Hatch

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The AQB USPAP Instructor Course is not an easy pass. However, it isn't the course material or the concepts involved that makes it difficult. It's that danged test.

I took the first AQB course offering on the West coast. I didn't even crack the course manual until the first day of class, which I can tell you was a huge mistake. They had warned us to spend about 15 hours on the material prior to the beginning of the course, but I very foolishly didn't take that seriously enough to do it. Like I said, huge mistake on my part.

They gave us a little pre-test at the very beginning that was, in my opinion, intended to serve as a wake-up call for us to pay attention to the course material and other content. Lemme tell you, after I flubbed the pre-test, I did a lot of reading and studying before I took the final test. When I was done with it, I honestly thought there was a pretty good chance I'd failed, primarily because I had walked in there without adequate preparation. That's not to say that I didn't understand the basic concepts they were trying to drive into us; rather it was that danged test.

The test involves 125 or so questions, mostly in a multiple choice format. The problem for me arose because of 4 possible choices, in some cases they might all be right in relation to the question; however only one of them is correct in relation to the test. The object of the test is to pick the best answer, the one that is the most correct out of the 4 right answers. It truly does come down to semantics in some cases. It's kinda like asking what "is" is, only for real. In other cases each of the choices involve multiple elements, some which are interdependent to each other but not all of which would directly apply to the specific question. For these, it's real easy to read too much into the answers or think of exceptions to the rule, again a mistake when it comes to passing the test.

So if a person doesn't have the semantics used in the course material honed to a fine line or if they read too much into the questions and possible answers, they could easily end up understanding the material but flunking the test. This is what I think has happened to a lot of the candidates who, despite their credentials and experience, have had trouble passing the course. It has nothing to do with their true understanding of the material or the concepts, but rather with their understanding of the specific semantics as used in the course materials and that danged test. Honestly, I think the only reason I prevailed on my first try (inadequate preparation and all) when others missed out was because I'm probably a little more verbally oriented than a lot of folks.

The concepts in the USPAP and their applications are not that tough and the subject isn't that difficult to understand. It's been my experience that whenever people have had a tough time with the concepts it's usually either because they've never spent the few hours it takes to try and understand not only the what but the why, or else they're looking to find ways around doing what they know to be the right thing.

The AQB test for instructors is a different story. I guess the AQB wanted to hold their instructors to a "tighter" standard. After all, instructing others is all about communication skills and presentation. However, it is my opinion that if you want to make the whole education process more user friendly, you should start at the top and communicate everything more clearly everywhere in the process. That includes the source document (the USPAP) itself. Not hone the material in the course so finely that a person can answer the question with a right response but still be incorrect for scoring purposes. But that's just my 2 cents.
 

Don Clark

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Virginia
Frank, thanks for posting what I was trying to relate in my original post. Seeing it exactly the way you stated it is easier to understand what my post was all about.

Steve, I second the motion for Frank to be "Appraiser of the year". Also, you are correct, slowly but surely, I believe, the foundation will attempt to take over all pre-license and CE course material to be taught by their designated instructors. Actually, that process taarted a few years ago with the ASB and AQB approval of courses. In my state those courses are now accepted, sight unseen, as being approved for pre-license and CE. That is a prime example of a state abducating it's responsibility to ensure that educational requirements are adequate. To me, what the foundation is doing is akin to eating an elephant. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The foundation started to nibble on the appraisal education elephant a few years ago. One bite at a time. Now they are nibbling again, except that the bites are getting bigger.

Reminds me of the story of the guy with a one legged pig. He was out walking his pig one day, had it on a leash. A passerby asked "what happened to the pigs leg?" Well, saud the pigs owner, this is a special pig. Our house caught on fire, we were trapped inside, and the pig came in and pulled us out, one by one. "Oh, I sse said the passerby, that's how the pig lost his leg". Oh no said the pigs owner, after the fire this pig was in the woods one day and got real excited and started digging. This pig pulled up a sack of money that had been hidden for years and brought it to me This is a special pig. "Well, said the passerby, I guess the pig hurt it's leg digging?" Oh no said the pigs owner. "Then tell me, just how in the hell did the pig lose his leg?" Well said the pigs owner, a special pig like this you don't just eat all at once".

Hear that nibbling sound
:twisted:

Austin, your reasoning about why the foundation decided on using specially trained instructors is a valid point. However, it will not, and has not made some any better.

I was told by a student in a class last week that he had recently taken a USPAP class and the instructor said that you could not do another assignment based on a previous appraisal of a property, without the original clients approval. We all know that is not true. We know that the appraisal is a process and that the appraiser owns the appraisal and his/her workfile and can do one or many reports based on that one appraisal. So you see, the problem of bad information has not been solved. And no, I will not reveal who that instructor was.

It should also be noted that the foundation now has disclosed what it takes to get a passing grade. It takes 75% score. Also, my source from the foundation also states that you do not need to pass each section, just get an overall score of 75%. Still does not give you a clue on how to pass the exam. George Hatch has done the best job I know of in that regard.

So, stick around, next year we may be debating another issue like the takeover of all CE by the foundation, or, a revolution by some state. Maybe we can all meet in Boston and toss copies of USPAP into boston harbor.

Don :lol:
 

Caterina Platt

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New Mexico
For what it's worth, for a period of time this year we only had one certified USPAP instructor in New Mexico. All the other instructors failed the exam, all were what I consider sharp, knowledgeable and ethical appraisers who had taught USPAP for years.

Like George said, 'it's the danged test'.

BTW, I third the nomination of Frank for Appraiser of the Year!! Kudos, Senor!!
 
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