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

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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 [2] and his recent interview on The Housing Helix [3].
…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.”