Matrix Blog

Continuing Education & Licensing

Sadly, The Appraisal Institute is now working against its local chapters

December 6, 2016 | 6:38 pm | Investigative |

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I have a lot of good friends and colleagues who frequently give at least a passing thought to quitting the Appraisal Institute, the largest real estate appraisal industry trade group. At the national level, the association has lost the ability to work for its members and has instead, shifted into a political failure spiral by enacting policies that are against their chapters’ and members’ best interests.

I get these types of comments from members at get togethers who say things like…

“I am only paying my dues to retain my designation.”

“The chapters are the only relevant thing AI provides to help me.”

“The self-dealing politics at National sickens me.”

Their announcement of the new administrative policy on November 30, 2016 continues the trend:

As you might have heard by now, the Appraisal Institute Board of Directors recently took a significant step to enhance your chapter’s ability to focus its attention on providing member services by reducing your current administrative burden. This is great news for chapters.

Here’s the letter that was sent to chapter leaders:

ai11-30-16

It reminds me of an old IRS joke: The IRS agent walks into your office with arms extended for a handshake and says:

“I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help you.”

It has been discouraging to watch the Appraisal Institute (National) erode into irrelevance while the appraisal industry is crying out for leadership at a seminal moment in our history. Dodd-Frank is about to be gutted and appraisal management companies have run out of appraisers willing to work for half pay. Instead they have morphed into a trade group that is unable to help its members. I challenge my readers to provide any evidence of such leadership since the financial crisis.

One of the only remaining redeeming features of the Appraisal Institute aside from their SRA and MAI designations has been the strength of local chapters. It’s where the rubber hits the road, where appraisers press the flesh at local meetings, take classes and listen and interact with guest speakers. The real value of AI membership remains at the chapter level.

At the Appraisal Institute headquarters in Chicago (National), they clearly recognize the power of the local chapters. For an organization that has been encumbered by procedural minutae, they developed the ability to enact policy without input or oversight. Here’s the current controversy over a non-vetted decree from National that involves money.

National has enacted a new policy that requires all money at the chapter level be administered by National. It’s a political power grab that will further alienate dues paying members. This is part of the growing pattern of AI’s lack of communication to their members.

The response

The very large New York Metro chapter responded in a letter from their board 2 days later – about being blind sided by the new policy. It’s an incredible read – a full-on indictment of the thinking of National. So many great appraisers in that chapter but how long will they put up with this? You can see how hard the local chapter is holding back it’s anger for such a policy. See link for pdf or the full text below. Bold emphasis provided by me.

AI Metropolitan New York Chapter Board Letter to AI National Board


December 2, 2016

Dear Members of the Appraisal Institute Board of Directors:

This letter is being submitted on behalf of the Board of the Metropolitan New York Chapter of the Appraisal Institute as a response to the National Board’s recent decision to implement a new Appraisal Institute Chapter Financial Management and Administration Policy. The Metro New York Board met this week and unanimously agreed to communicate our disapproval of the new policy and our astonishment that such a major change could be effectuated without any sort of prior notification or consultation with the Chapters and the Membership. Furthermore, to announce this decision as a fait accompli late on a Friday before a holiday week is alarming to our Chapter’s Directors.

The Metro New York Board finds it surprising and unacceptable that such a significant policy change in the governance of Chapter finances could be constructed without any transparency, input or dialogue with the Chapters and Membership. Simply being informed that national will take over our Chapter funds, albeit with assurances of our continued control of our finances, is outrageous paired with the admission that “Adjustments may have to be made to the policy as implementation progresses.” By creating this plan, effectively behind closed doors, you have not instilled any sort of confidence that the policy you are demanding we accept is acceptable to the Chapter. Given that the Appraisal Institute has a model for gaining feedback from the Membership – with the 45-day notice model provided for other significant actions impacting Members and Chapters – the Metro New York Board feels it is not at all appropriate for the national Board of Directors to unilaterally create this new policy in such an opaque manner. Given the potentially serious impacts of this new policy on the individual Chapters, we believe a more extended, perhaps 90-day notice would be minimally appropriate particularly given that this change was basically “sprung on” the Chapters on the advent of the holiday season that creates extra demands on all of us.

Beyond our uneasiness with the lack of transparency and how this new policy was implemented, the Metro New York Board finds the policy itself to be unacceptable. We believe that turning over our funds to national would limit and impact the autonomy of our Chapter and potentially diminish our stature in the local real estate community. The Metro New York Chapter is one of the most active Chapters and has been diligent in providing necessary education opportunities for our members and candidates, organizing enriching events for our members and the broader New York City real estate community, and fostering a supportive framework to help candidates work towards their designations. Importantly, this last goal contributes to the health of the organization nationally. Many of these programs are supported by our members through a historically successful Chapter sponsorship program. We believe our success in these endeavors illustrates that we are proficient in managing our own funds, maintaining reserves, and knowing how to do what needs to be done on a local basis. Certainly stripping the Chapter of its funds, particularly under terms that may be subject to change, will undermine the Chapter membership’s confidence that our efforts to maintain the economic health of the Chapter constitute time well spent. Furthermore, several Chapter sponsors who have consistently supported Chapter endeavors have expressed concern about this change in policy and that it may impact their willingness to continue such sponsorships in the future considering the substantial loss of Chapter autonomy as a result of the new policy changes.

While we look forward to hearing more details regarding the new policy from National on Tuesday’s call, the Metropolitan New York Chapter Board strongly urges the National Board to reconsider implementing this new policy.

Appraisal Institute, New York Metro Chapter
John A. Katinos, MAI, President
On behalf of the Metro New York Chapter Board of Directors


I heard a rumor that AI wants to do away with chapters and I’ve also been told that is not true – but with the opaqueness of National, I don’t know what to believe. And I keep hearing rumors about AI spending millions to expand their footprint across the globe but haven’t seen any measurable success let alone share the status of this effort with members. Is esoteric global expansion worth raising dues in a compensation compressed environment? Is the membership even aware of this effort and the millions supposedly lost?

Most of my peers nationwide have expressed frustration with an organization mired in self-serving politics. And it only seems to be getting worse.

My moment of zen was their self inflicted and childish exit of the Appraisal Foundation a few years ago. I eventually left AI and moved on to two other organizations that provide what appraisers are looking for. Remember that most of us are “lone wolves” and belong to organizations to get other perspectives. I can’t tell you how many SRAs and MAIs I know are talking about leaving the organization.

And did you ever wonder why there are so many statewide appraisal coalitions popping up? It’s largely because of inaction by National or their opposition to issues important to appraisers.

Incidentally, this new policy parallels the changes made by the Chinese government a while back. They moved the majority of the tax income stream from the provinces to the national government. This forced the provinces to go hat in hand to the national government to beg for an allotment of income each year. Sound familiar?

Lots of graft ensued for the provinces to get their “share” of revenue. In fact one of the reasons there are as many as 40 ghost cities in China right now is because the provinces were incentivized to generate GDP. What better way to do that then to build cities for several hundred thousand residents that would never come.

The moral of the story: central planning is never efficient. Through the loophole that National installed allowing them to modify this policy at anytime in the future is a recipe for disastrous self-dealing.

This is the appraisal industry’s moment to have some impact on our future. There are many challenges in front of us. The Appraisal Institute on a national level is now officially obsolete.

Enough with the self-dealing. We don’t make enough money collectively to fund their boondoggle. We need leadership, not politics.

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[Appraisal Infographic] Common Myths About The Homebuying Process

March 15, 2014 | 1:07 pm |

The Appraisal Foundation published an appraisal infographic that attempts to clarify common misconceptions by the borrowers about the appraiser’s role in the home buying process. The content is amazingly simplistic, but that’s the point.

I continue to be amazed at how so few people don’t understand what the appraiser’s role is in the home buying process. Perhaps this is why the appraisal industry continues to be marginalized in the lending process (ie appraisal management companies, Appraiser Independence Requirements) and the exodus of competent appraisers into other disciplines outside of residential mortgages continues.

2014-03-06-BorrowersinfographicTAF

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[Speaking] 2014 RAC / TRN Conference in Frisco/Dallas Texas

March 9, 2014 | 11:16 pm | Public |

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I just returned from an incredibly helpful and fun annual appraisal conference in Texas. I was asked to make a presentation and ended up joining their board of directors. I’ve been a member of RAC (Relocation Appraisers & Consultants) for about 20 years and even though the organization started out with a primary emphasis on relocation appraisals in the early 1990s, RAC is so much more than that. Most of the members provide expertise in complex residential with a lot of work in litigation support. The quality of the residential appraisers in this organization is the best in the country – bar none. Most of the mainstream US appraisal trade groups emphasize or have a majority concentration of commercial appraisals and RAC fills the void.

Seminars
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Having fun filming a video with clients
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[Pre-Nor’easter Keynote] Long Island Housing Market: Transitioning from “Recovery” to “Recovered”

February 12, 2014 | 12:17 pm | fedny2 | Public |

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A while back, I was invited by the Long Island Chapter of the Appraisal Institute to keynote for their winter dinner/seminar tonight in Westbury, Long Island:

LI Housing Market: Transitioning from “Recovery” to “Recovered”

It’ll be great to catch up with my friends and colleagues and I always love to talk appraisalspeak for extended periods of time.

The presentation will cover (2 CE credits):

Long Island Market Reports, Key Trends, Drivers of the Current Residential Market, Fiscal Cliff, Pent-Up Demand, Record Low Inventory, Mortgage Rates, Federal Reserve, Transitioning to a Sustainable Long Term Housing Market Recovery

In a question and answer period, discussion will include Snapshot of the Long Island Housing market, including 4Q 2013 market research results in Long Island, Hamptons and the North Fork; Affordability, What is driving Sales Activity?; The relationship between Sales and Prices – Why is inventory low?; Spike in Mortgage Rates; Federal Reserve taper miscommunication; Why are Housing Prices Rising?; Long Island and Manhattan real estate economy, Credit Issues, Lending, Market Trends, Impacts, and Challenges in Year 2014.

The latest Nor’easter is supposed to start at about 2AM so it looks like we’ll get this done just under the wire!

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[Interview] David C. Wilkes, Esq. CRE FRICS, Huff Wilkes & Cavallaro LLP, Chairman The Appraisal Foundation

September 15, 2010 | 10:13 am | Podcasts |

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[Interview] Ilyce Glink, Author, Blogger, Columnist, TV Reporter, Talk Radio Host, Think Glink Publishing LLC

August 20, 2010 | 11:26 am | inman2 | Podcasts |

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[Vortex] Palumbo on USPAP: The Fool’s Gold of AMC Licensing

June 17, 2010 | 10:07 pm |

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Guest Columnist:
Joe Palumbo, SRA

Palumbo On USPAP is a column written by a long time appraisal colleague and friend who is currently the Director of Valuation at Weichert Relocation Resources and a user of appraisal services. He spent seven years at Washington Mutual Bank where he was a First Vice President. Mr. Palumbo holds an SRA designation, is AQB certified and he is a State Certified residential appraiser licensed in New Jersey. Joe is well-versed on the ever changing landscape of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice [USPAP] and I am fortunate to have his contributions. View his earlier handiwork on Soapbox and his interview on The Housing Helix.
-Jonathan Miller

The Fool’s Gold of AMC Licensing

Since I landed in the world of Relocation some three and a half years ago, I really did not pay much attention to what was happening in the trenches of the lending world. That changed when the concept of licensing appraisal management companies came about. My interest became more of an occupational study since these laws are so “broad-brush” and vague. As the manager an in-house appraisal arm of Relocation Management Company I was shocked and disappointed that that these laws cast a net on just about anyone who manages selects and retains appraisers for third party use. Clearly this type of legislation was created out of a knee-jerk reaction to one of the many “crisis-type” issues that came AT the appraisal community in 2008 and 2009. I am specifically referring to the attention to the “appraisal process” brought about by the ill-informed attorney general Mr. Cuomo of NY and the infamous HVCC. I agree with the basic the tenets of the HVCC and the AMC laws I just do not think there will be a net tangible positive affect and that the “real issues” are being conquered. AMC laws and HVCC are not the PANECEA. I WISH THERE WERE a panacea because some calm is needed. Being the realist and institutionally tenured manager of the appraisal process I just know reality of what happens VS what is supposed to happen.

foolsgold

For starters let me say that the relocation world has no direct OTS-like government oversight or appraisal requirements for the appraisals which are NOT intended for lending. The relocation industry is self- policing and we rely on what is set up by state licensing and our own quality control. Let me also say that while my department may perform some of the same functions that an AMC does, we do not TAKE ANY of the appraisers fee. We do select maintain, review AND USE appraisers as well as arbitrate valuation disputes. Also for the record I am not anti-appraisal management company.

Here is the issue: As pointed out by the OTS, last year FIRREA laws of 1989 already contain much of the language that the AMC Laws cite. States have also set up Appraisal Boards who are supposed to monitor fraud egregious issues and such. The problem with FIRREA and the State Boards is simple: money, resources and time. So along come laws that state it is unlawful to coerce an appraiser, unlawful not to pay them, unlawful to tell them which appraiser to use, unlawful to have people who select and review who are not “trained in real estate”, and so forth and so on. So the new laws are just restating the same of what we already had but we still lack an efficient mechanism to enforce. If the AMC laws are governed and enforced by the state boards who are short on cash and time then what makes AMC laws different? Currently 18 states have such laws on their books.

On top of the AMC laws many states are requiring AMC’s to be “registered”. This process is costly and requires plenty of paperwork. KUDOS to the Governor of Virginia, who signed his states law basically making it illegal to engage in the “appraisal nonsense” described above, but NOT requiring a registration process or fee. Also noted as being proactive is Arizona, which requires licensing and registration for AMC’s but which has a single line exemption for the relocation industry simply because: “we are not the problem” (the law reads the exemption for appraisals prepared for the purpose of employee relocation) .

Recently I was contacted by a state board attorney whose state passed AMC legislation in 2009; she stated “this law was not intended for your business model….because you use the appraisal with the client, whereas an AMC does not use…. it they get it…Q C it and pass it on”. It is great to see some realistic thinking for a change. The AMC- appraiser relationship is much like the HMO doctor relationship: mutual need mandated by external forces peppered with some mistrust. Don’t get me wrong there is a lot of merit to the underlying premise of HVCC and such I just do not think it is going to result in a changed world for the appraisal community. What the appraisers do not like about the AMC’s are the request for fast appraisals, some at a lower fee than they have seen in years, requests coming with numerous assignment conditions many of which are not realistic and unacceptable (3 comps within 3 months and 1 mile) the occasional “can you hit the number request” before the analysis gets done (comps checks)…among many others.

Many of the pressures ON AMC’s…yes I said ON AMC’S, are a result of what has transpired in the world: Increased competition, web-based valuation tools, fingertip internet real estate research, fraud, secondary market issues, and MISUNDERSTANDING of the appraisal process in general. I wonder what planet the “investors” live on that have guidelines they will not purchase loans in declining markets? I also believe that a lender than asks an appraiser to “remove a negative time adjustments” should be reported to the LVCC hot line” . Oh… that’s right there is none? Call your department of banking they say. Good luck. I had an appraiser the other day who did not read or adhere to the engagement letter I sent tell me “we have an AMC law here and you have to pay me regardless or you are breaking the law”. I stated, “great, I will take my chances since you signed the engagement letter but yet failed to meet the (simple) requirements stated in the letter, which is why I have called you three times ”. We’re not talking about value here we are talking about basic development and reporting issues that were not clear to me as user and client. Is this what the AMC laws are for?

Does anyone really think that the requirement of an AMC to fill out an application, pay a fee and require a few staff to take a 15-hour USPAP will stop the madness? Actually if the fees are an issue it could increase the cost of operating for the very folks that are presumable not paying a “fair rate”. Since the BIG 3 lenders (all using profitable AMC’s) have 60% of the market now via servicing or closing every US loan, I don’t see things changing until we see a UNIFIED industry, an industry that will unilaterally agree to push back on any conditions that are deemed to be unreasonable. It is very difficult to push back on three financial giants, but without a push, it will not happen. The other day a friend told me of a lender (his client) who is seeking to create a special list outside the AMC they use; their claim is poor service and product….betcha licensing that AMC would fix that! I also heard of a request coming from a AMC in a state that requires they be licensed and registered. The “caller” asked the appraiser if he could “hit the number”. He asked “isn’t that a violation of the HVCC and the AMC laws?”. The caller laughed…who is enforcing this stuff anyway..we do it all the time and we just send a text message to our appraisers telling them what they need”. There are approximately 97,000 appraisers in the US handling over 1 trillion dollars in mortgage money. Over 75% of the states require licensed appraisers for federally related transactions and 45% require for all appraisals. Imagine if ALL 97,000 decided to make change by just saying “no” on unreasonable compensation or assignment conditions. If we did not have state licensing there would be a clamor to get it. Remember what was stated twenty years ago? “State licensing will change everything” .

Maybe it didn’t because we didn’t MAKE it matter.

What we had already in FIRREA and state law is part of the mechanism to get us to the next level. The missing ingredient is unity. It does not mean abolishing the AMC’s or AMC laws either. Let’s look within and stop trying to reinvent the wheel with both the products and the process. We are miners of fool’s gold until we make real change happen from within, which while not easy is the only way for true meaningful change.


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[Interview] Ryan Slack, CEO, Green Pearl Events

February 19, 2010 | 11:18 am | Podcasts |

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[Vortex] Palumbo on USPAP: It’s OK To Be Bored…Just Pay A Little Attention!

September 13, 2009 | 8:39 pm | nytlogo |

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Guest Appraiser Columnist:
Joe Palumbo, SRA

Palumbo On USPAP is written by a long time appraisal colleague and friend who is also an Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) certified instructor and a user of appraisal services. Joe is well-versed on the ever changing landscape of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice [USPAP] and I am fortunate to have his contributions here. View his earlier handiwork on Soapbox and his recent interview on The Housing Helix.
…Jonathan Miller

I received a call the other day from an appraiser who had recently completed an appraisal for my organization. The file had gone through “review” and there were no “hitches”. The appraiser was calling only to ask me some questions about my “suggestions” regarding some of the redundant and unnecessary commentary in the report, including some technically incorrect labeling. He was very polite in seeking some guidance, and we chatted for 25 minutes or so. I said “if time is money, I think I can save you some”. He was eager to engage me in this discussion, probably because it had nothing to do with the appraisal he submitted but more because he said he was always looking to streamline the process to be more productive. He recognized my name from both working with us in the past as well as from an article I had written this year for an industry magazine so he was aware of the potential for me to quote USPAP which, of course, I will ONLY do if absolutely necessary. Anyway, I started to tell him about the aggregate changes that have taken place over the several years and some of the retired terms and concepts. His reply was “gee I get so bored in that USPAP class it is hard to absorb anything”. “Yes”. I said, “I understand”. “ Imagine how difficult it is for me to present what has a reputation for being boring”. “too many changes” he said…”I cannot keep up”. Again I said, “I understand”.

Imagine what I go through…. It’s mandatory for me to understand that stuff; being bored is not an option when you are a speaker or instructor ”. “Let me give you some tips” I said: “ USPAP changes every two years and those changes will always effective occur at the beginning (January) of the third year”. “The reason for the changes are because appraisers and users of appraisal services ask questions, raise new issues, revisit old issues under new circumstances or because the Standards Board observes something as not applicable, no longer meaningful or something new as pertinent and topical”. USPAP is a working document an evolutionary doctrine that will change with the needs of the business. All you need to do is pick up a few past issues and look inside. Hindsight will really be 20/20 because looking backwards will reveal what was needed most of the time. Along the way the ASB will provide public exposure drafts (with specific rationale) and obtain public comment. Once changes are decided the summary of changes will be made available a few months prior to implementation and when the new edition is published there are a few pages dedicated to what the changes are. Other professions have to deal with similar issues as it relates to CE, changes in laws or regulations. While too much change can be cited as confusing and time consuming it is arguable that not changing at all can be considered detrimental. One cannot argue that today’s issues are different than those from five or ten years ago. Change is a scary word for most people and that is part of the challenge.

Let’s be fair here, being bored in the classroom is not exclusive to USPAP. I took some pretty boring classes myself during the past 43 years: college courses, appraisal courses, on-line courses. “Boring” can also be an instructor attribute and one can suffer through some tough classes even if the material commends excitement. I remember my Economics class at the University of Maryland… 8 AM or something…with 100 or so students. Boring stuff for an 18 year old but I had a great animated instructor who did his best to make the supply curve interesting. I am glad he did because despite my boredom, I did learn something…and I did not have to sit in the front row and take 10 pages of notes each class. I also had history teacher in high school, who despite being boring herself, DID manage to successfully explain the nuts and bolts of the Confederacy. What’s not boring? It really boils down what you absorb and IF you want to pay attention. In today’s world we go to the movies with IPODS in our ears and we text while we watch. I see the same in classes: newspapers, laptops and magazines. It seems as if we set ourselves up for minimum absorption capabilities.

Getting back to my appraiser friend from the other day. He was very appreciative that we were able to trim his “canned” addendum from 2.5 pages to 1 page. We eliminated terms from his report that are no longer considered up to date or not accurate (limited appraisal, Departure Provision/Rule) and crafted an appropriate “2009” type reconciliation. “WOW”, “I guess really need to pay a little attention because I missed all this stuff! “Yes”, I said “but imagine what you could absorb if you wanted to.”


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[Sounding Bored] Get An Edge!

February 4, 2009 | 12:25 am | Columns |

Sounding Bored is my semi-regular column on the state of the appraisal profession. There have been more changes made to the profession in the past several years than in the entire history of the profession, and most of the changes have not resulted in a more credible service. Still, I’d like to hope that the latest financial services sector turmoil will bring a clean slate approach to better regulatory oversight (devoid of insanity).


Sent from a reader of Soapbox – from a college course offering book. Competitive and rewarding field?


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[Inman Connect] No one is living in tents…yet

January 15, 2009 | 2:36 pm | delogo | Public |

Here’s a quick video snippet of the last two panels of the 2009 New York Inman Connect conference which is always a great time. I was invited to speak at the main session for the last panel of the conference.

The Real Deal magazine parsed out some of the conversations, specifically from Dottie Herman and moi.


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[On Stage] The Real Deal Takes Lincoln Center

September 10, 2008 | 11:00 am | curbed2 |

The 4th New Development Forum held by The Real Deal magazine, led by publisher Amir Korangy packed the house yet again, the second consecutive year the event was hosted at this venue.

Larry Silverstein, the storied developer and owner of the World Trade site, shared insight and his vision for the downtown market. After all, tomorrow is 9/11.

I was initially concerned because most of the panelists have commercial rather than residential real estate backgrounds. But they spoke in the context of both and it was very informative. I did miss Mark Zandi, founder of Economy.com whom I greatly admire for his analytical insights, who had to cancel at the last minute.

Stream of consciousness:

  • Amir, you are unable to think small. Congratulations once again for pulling off another one.
  • Stuart – I met your parents – don’t worry, I put in a good word.
  • Lauren – keep the web site going, but still call.
  • Brian – You’ve got the richest voice in business news television and can moderate with the best of them.
  • Cathy – the plum color worked – thanks for keeping me in my place.
  • Lock & Josh – Offering a great vehicle for listing advertising, better yet, Josh with a tie on (if Lock wore one = end of the world).
  • 30 second advertisement onstage before the event showed Bruce at C&W and me 120 times (at last count) on the big screen.
  • The best Real Deal bag yet – to replace last year’s model.
  • Happy that the audience was very supportive of the opening sponsors.
  • 3,000 attendees suggests real estate is not dead in New York, no?
  • I ran into my attorney at the show.
  • Larry taught us all the importance of cycles and taking the long view – and we knew he was right.
  • Larry thinks that luxury development prices, on an average sales price basis, will be higher next year than this year.
  • Bob emphasized segmentation and shared a 1% cap rate story. He knows his craft.
  • Steven was particularly articulate, being the first to be open about looming problems and answering my question about the new development pipeline.
  • Charles recently learned how to calculated IRR but probably has a higher IRR than hedge funds that live and die by formulas like cap rates.
  • Barbara continues to radiate – her marketing contrarianism can intrigue.
  • Don is looking at a $13M penthouse and was by far the most bullish on Manhattan – it’ll be back in a year?
  • Michael Shvo was at the event – he was the main draw card at the 2nd forum held at Cooper Square two years ago. That one sold out too.
  • Ran into a former dotcom era real estate development guy who lost millions (of other peoples money) but is doing very well now.
  • Paul, with beard, is itching to be a major player again in the brokerage business.
  • After asking my question to the panel, 2 people in line behind me told me I asked their question.
  • It is apparent that the audience has come to terms with the new market reality.
  • Don’t hold your breath, real estate is still first in the New York conversation.

And that’s the real deal.


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