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Seeking input from current and past AI Members

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brunge

Thread Starter
Sophomore Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Virginia
I would like to earn an SRA designation and would appreciate your opinions on the Appraisal Institute. The following is a short list of questions that come to mind:

•Do you feel your association with the AI has benefited your career as a real estate appraiser?

• Did you have to travel and stay at hotel to complete the required courses for designation?

•How much should I expect to spend a year to keep a designation, i.e., annual dues, continuing Ed (AI continuing Ed), etc.?

•What about the AI and their attempts to create a database of appraisal reports from the AI appraisers?

•From my experience (10 years as an appraiser) the SRA and MAI are the only designations worth having. ?????

Thank you
 

Oregon Doug

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
General Public
State
Oregon
Brian;

Responding to your questions in the order they are asked:

1) No

2) yes

3) Annual costs include national & chapter dues. Current national dues are $715.00 and my chapter dues are $150.00 (chapters vary). You need 100 hours of AI approved CE every 5 years. Their courses are more expensive than anyone elses plus you usually have to take them in some far off city (transportation/hotel costs). My total cost ranges between $1,200 to $1,500 per year.

4) The straw that broke the camel's back. I was around for the first merger attempt with the Society (not allowed to vote as a candidate), stuck it out when it finally happened. Paid the increased dues to bail 'em out of that little lease fiasco. Watched as my hard won RM was shuffled off to an SRA. And now, they've entered into some unholy alliance to give away all my hard mined data. I started as an appraiserette to an old time MAI back in 1969 and one of the things he taught me was that an appraiser is only as good as his data.

5) I felt that they were the best designations available in the past and I believe that the MAI may still hold some value in the commercial world but it's also my personal opinion that the SRA is no longer worth the paper it's printed on.

hey, you asked! Oregon Doug
 

Jo Ann Meyer Stratton

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Arizona
I am a member of the AI and hold the SRA designation. But have you considered the NAIFA? Personally I have received more benefits and more orders from the IFA designation than the SRA, and it costs a lot less! Go to the NAIFA.com web site, search for a chapter near you and start attending meetings. You can also get more info about the NAIFA from the web site.

And to give the AI equal billing, attend some AI chapter meetings, meet designated people from both organizations, investigate both organizations and then select the one that you feel the most comfortable with.
 

Paul Ness MAI

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Pennsylvania
*Do you feel your association with the AI has benefited your career as a real estate appraiser?

Absolutely. For me personally it has increased income, opened doors, provided a network of peers, and given me a sense of professional accomplishment.

I know there are many on this forum who have strong negative feelings toward AI and still more that believe the SRA has diminished in value. IMHO, it depends on what market you serve, what client base you have (or want to have) and your professional aspirations.

I guess this would be the spot to interject the results of the national appraiser survey completed at Washington State University about four years ago. The full report titled "Structural Analysis of U.S. Appraiser Income" can be found at http://business.fullerton.edu/journal/past...02/v18n2a07.htm. The study examined the impact on appraiser income from a number of factors such as years of experience, age of the appraiser, formal education, SRA/MAI designation, minority status, type of firm, etc. The survey found that those with the SRA or RM (old AIREA resi designation) earned 18% more than the average. Those with the MAI or SRPA (old Society comm. designation) earned 26% more.

Anecdotally, I can tell you from my own experience as a review appraiser that the SRA appraisers I work with and know from my AI chapter are more steadily busy than the non-designated appraisers because of the more diverse clients they have and their lesser reliance upon financing work.

*Did you have to travel and stay at hotel to complete the required courses for designation?

It depends on where you live. If you live in a fairly metropolitan area or close to one, you'll be fine. If you live 100 miles from the nearest small town that's another story. If you haven't already, I suggest you go to AI's web page (appraisalinstitute.org) and review the SRA requirements then go to the education schedule page to see where courses are being offered. However, this list is not all-inclusive. There are courses not on this list so you should also check your local chapter and surrounding chapters, as chapters sponsor the courses. There is a place on the web site where you can get local chapter contact info.

*How much should I expect to spend a year to keep a designation, i.e., annual dues, continuing Ed (AI continuing Ed), etc.?

Probably around $1,200 - $1,300 per year.

*What about the AI and their attempts to create a database of appraisal reports from the AI appraisers?

Glad you asked that question. The mainstream use of the internet and the increasingly ubiquitous nature of data is a fact of life. AVM's are a fact of life. Those that are kicking and screaming are trying to stick a finger in the dike of technology that is bursting through like a tidal wave. Better to get on top of the wave. Although it has decreased, there is still financing work to be done. But there are other sources and types of business that I believe the SRA will help you obtain. If you want to stick to financing work (which is decreasing) then you probably don't need the designation. If you see and accept the changes in the profession and want to pursue diversification of clients and types of services, then the SRA will have increasing value given these trends. I liken these technological changes to the advent of the internal combustion engine 100 years ago. Some wagon makers fought the new technology and ultimately went out of business. Some wagon owners figured out how to attach the engines to their wagons and prospered. While many here see the SRA as diminished (which may have been the case short-term over the last 10 years since FIRREA) I take the opposite opinion that going forward for the longer-term, the SRA will increase in value for the above reasons. So, it also depends on the remaining years you have in your career. If you are only five years from retirement, it might not be worth it. It may be another story if you have 10+ years yet.

*From my experience (10 years as an appraiser) the SRA and MAI are the only designations worth having.

Not necessarily. Although they are probably the best known nationally and I am obviously a biased member of AI, on this forum I have always encouraged people to pursue any designation from a REPUTABLE organization. Don't waste your money to buy a designation from a designation store. I am also not too keen personally on joining a union, but there are other meaningful designations out there beside the SRA. A designation derives its value to some extent from the level of experience and education required to obtain it.

I would also reiterate what Jo Ann said about attending some chapter meetings of various organizations. It's the best way to see what's going on locally and pick some brains of their members.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
 

George W Dodd

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Virginia
1. Association as a residential appraiser with the AI was beneficial in the past, but is not now. If your desire is to become a commercial appraiser then the AI is the best choice. The AI is run by MAI’s for the MAI membership. Residential appraisers are the unwanted step children. If you don’t believe me, look who has been running the AI organization since the merger of the Society and Institute years ago. Also look at your own question #4.
2. There are a number of distance learning course available from the AI online. I have taken several and all have been VERY Good. Education is one of the few things AI does well.
3. If you choose this designation except to pay between $1,000 and $1,500 per year in fees without any tangible benefit.
4. In my opinion this was the absolute sell out of the residential members of the AI. Instead of educating the public about the HUGH risks they faced with a “AVM” and helping create an environment where “AVM” could only be used by skilled appraisers the AI decided it was easier to follow then lead. An AVM is a tool NOT A RESULT!!

If I were starting out in the residential appraisal profession I would affiliate myself with NAR. They offer a valid designation and you will need to be affiliated with them in order to access MLS, lock-box keys, etc. So why not kill two birds with one fee?

Good luck in your decision.
 

jtrotta

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Will have to agree with most here; over the years (started with AI) and then moved on to various others and it seemed they always end in the same fashion, so my last venture was with the NARA/MU and have been with them for about 7 years- they provide good resource material; have sent several good leads for various companies for work. You really have to check out wherever you want to land, and understand they are "living" groups and will change at any period of time. The IFA, also produces valuable information and I always felt they were interesting, of late I've given some thought to the "Appraisers Guild" - as they have the power of numbers and may in the end result be the only "power" that will be working for appraiser's.

Good Luck in your search

8)
 

David C. Johnson

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
<span style='color:darkblue'>jtrotta,

Keep in mind that you can "Do the Guild" (and I believe all appraisers absolutely should -- particularly residential appraisers) right along with any of the traditional organizations.

It is COMPLETELY different.

A comparison between it and the rest is a little like comparing apples, oranges, grapes and differential equations.

The AGA is a lobbying organization. Unbelievably and fortuitously, the goals of the parent organization (i.e., the AFL-CIO) in looking after the pension funds of their membership, is 100% consistent with our goals in looking after our livelihoods as appraisers -- by insisting on responsible real estate-based loan securitization. The AGA has several trillion dollars invested in the Maes alone. (And the Maes are quite aware of this.)

Access to Seven Trillion Dollars is fairly reasonable influence. Who knows, if the Maes shape up a bit, they may be due for a bit more of it. You know what they say, a Trillion here, a Trillion there, pretty soon...

dcj</span>
 

Paul Ness MAI

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Pennsylvania
George's comment that "the AI is run by MAI's for the MAI membership. Residential appraisers are the unwanted step children" is not true. Look at who is in current leadership positions. The current president is an MAI/SRA. The president-elect (2003 president) is an SRA. The current vp is an MAI/SRA. Numerous current board members are SRA's and one executive board member (in addition to the above mentioned officers) is an SRA. The AI's first president was an SRPA/SRA.
 

David C. Johnson

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
<span style='color:darkblue'>Paul Ness MAI,

Not meaning to pick a fight or anything, but my knee-jerk reaction to your recent post is:

Sure. Hey, no one ever said the AI isn't smart (i.e., politically savvy).

The truth, as I see it, is that the "Fraternal Characteristics" of the AI have been a significant problem to the appraisal community / profession for some time -- perhaps particularly so against SRAs in several ways. The AI is not always, shall we say, "a good team player."

The "lack of supervision" over some of their "more wayward" brethren parked at state appraisal boards is a good example: Our profession might make serious strides towards actually being considered a profession, if the AI would kindly enforce USPAP and it's own Canons of Ethics regarding Standard 3 for potential disciplinary concerns at such boards.

For instance, how about: "Don't want to play by the rules? Fine -- No can be an MAI in good standing."

Enjoying increased odds of getting appointed, and then breaking all the rules for the selective benefit of some of the brethren, and the selective demise of some of the rest, appears to be an AI-granted perk of membership for a few particularly unruly MAIs.

Other concerns exist.

Some other time.

Regards,

David C. Johnson, Raleigh
__________________

PS.
The AI needs good leadership. My somewhat educated guess is that you are likely a "Good Egg" MAI. In the eternal search for earthly righteousness, wisdom and truth -- perhaps particularly regarding the ways of Chicago-influenced organizations -- may you always be mindful, strengthened and inspired by the legacy of Great Uncle Elliot!</span>
 

George W Dodd

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Virginia
Paul,

I disagree. An MAI/SRA is not a SRA, they are an MAI first. I have never seen anyone use SRA/MAI, have you?

I have never known the AI to put the interests of SRA members first, have you? If you do, then please tell me when and for what?

The AI has been and always will be an 'ivory tower' that is aloof to those of us fighting in the trenches. Your own posts have asserted that residential appraisers are on the way out and that ‘AVM’ appraisals are the way of the future for mortgage business. My thoughts are that ‘AVM’ reports are a tool that should only be used by professional appraisers. To me it’s like having my tape measurer signing the report! Where is the AI on this issue? (Review answer #4 for my thoughts).

It may do well for commercial appraisers to take heed of what has happened to residential appraisers because it won’t be long until they are next.
 
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