(Almost) Everyone Should Join a National Appraisal Coalition

I live just steps away from the famous Southfork of the Snake River.  It is a beautiful setting and people come from all over the world to fish and experience this part of the globe.  It is not unusual to get wildlife walking through my backyard.  Just this morning, there were three whitetail deer munching on my grass next to the kids’ trampoline.  Recently, I heard a commotion in the yard and went out on the deck to investigate.  I found a large cow moose with her calf and the neighborhood dog barking loudly.  I watched as the dog would circle the moose, sneak closer, bark loudly and then retreat.  I know he was just having fun with the enormous mammal, but I could not help but think how ineffective the dog was against such a large creature.  


appraiser coalitionsThere is a reason dogs (wolves and such) hunt in packs.  One, fairly small, animal against a larger one is not typically very effective.  Working together however, canines can have much more affect.  There is strength in numbers.  The same is true for people.  It can be a lonely and challenging place to find yourself alone against a formidable foe.  Combining with other, like-minded individuals however can have a much better effect.  


As appraisers, we are constantly being presented with new regulations, increased scope-creep and other challenges.  Though we can choose to roll-over and ‘take it,’ that would not be my first suggestion.  Rather, we should find and join like-minded groups who can work together to cause change.  There are coalitions, lobbying groups, and guilds a plenty.  Which one is right for you?  


I have been asked why I have not joined a national appraiser coalition.  “Practice what you preach, Dustin!”  It is a fair criticism.  It is a decision I have not made lightly.  Rather, I have carefully analyzed reasons to join or not join given my unique situation.  I have been approached at one time or another by every national group, union, guild, or coalition out there.  I like what they are all doing (and my principles align more with some than with others).  The problem is that I do not see one alone as being a ‘best fit.’  Each have their place.  Because I find myself in the appraiser spotlight (a proverbial big fish in a very small pond), I have to be a little more careful (so as not to necessarily be seen to endorse one group over another).  Instead, I have chosen to take a different approach.  Though I have not joined a particular group, I have given my support (in the form of time and money) to most of the major appraiser coalitions over the years.  I continue to support their individual efforts as they align with my own governing principles.  


There are some who would argue that there are too many coalitions out there. In a way, each group is a ‘lone wolf,’ and would do better if they would combine efforts.  I can see that point of view and it is a topic perhaps for another day.  In the end, we can only control what is directly related to ourselves.  Perhaps it is time to stop chasing the moose on your own.  Consider joining with other, like-minded appraisers today.  Find the right group, board, guild, or coalition today and join.  Then, get involved.  They need more than your money.         


12 thoughts on “(Almost) Everyone Should Join a National Appraisal Coalition”

  1. Pingback: (Almost) Everyone Should Join a National Appraisal Coalition - Appraisal Buzz

  2. Perhaps a state association to coexist alongside a national association. I am not a realtor but see the value in partnering local, state with national to form ONE strong voice. In My state of Tennessee we have local realtor associations that are all part of the Tennessee Association of Realtors (TAR) and the TAR is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). In order to participate in the MLS, one has to be a dues paying member of an association all feeding some portion to the national realtor lobby. One united voice across the nation.

    1. Robert, its an excellent idea and one that ‘we’ already espouse. I was first, a member of my state coalition. Then I realized pretty much the same thing Dustin did (without the moose & canines though). First I looked to NAR; but it was somewhat more narrowly focused on Realtor issues than on appraisal issues. I went far out of my way to find a guild or specifically a union. The problem with state coalitions is that many of the newer ones, or those forced to exist in large populous states (like California; New York, Illinois, etc..) have to ‘learn’ how to ‘fight’ in their states. There is a learning curve that can easily take three or four years because THAT is how long legislators can usually get away with ‘dancing’ around an issue while doing nothing.

      Also, state coalitions tend to be limited to their own states issues, because each state has different laws and regulations. They don’t have the ‘reach’ to directly affect federal issues and government. Who DOES have that kind of political heft? UNIONS! (& of course NAR).

      After talking with NAR I found that as an appraiser I can become a full fledged Realtor(r); get designated and vote on NAR issues; but I didn’t see them dealing with appraiser issues. Frankly both they and I agree our relationship with Realtors has not always been ‘cordial’. More on this later.

      I kept looking. I found the John D. case involving Chase blackballing someone while denying it (no need to mention his full name anymore); and learned about the union & state coalition that helped him. I joined that union after my first conversation with Jan (Bellas); Peter and Leo. Eventually I became more actively involved and am now its National Appraiser Peer Review Committee Chairman. Admittedly a pompous sounding title, but one with sound reasoning behind it. Look up Confidentiality and sharing information with “authorized appraiser peer review committees”. We can’t help if you can’t SAFELY tell us what happened!

      Anyway, since joining the American Guild of Appraisers, Chapter 44, OPEIU / AFL-CIO we’ve become involved in NUMEROUS issues directly. We used our parent unions influence with organized labor in California to help bury AB624 AFTER it had already been passed! (THAT ‘ain’t as easy as it sounds folks!’). We’ve intervened dozens of times on behalf of appraisers with several state regulatory agencies; lenders and AMCs on a variety of issues ranging from use of agencies by lenders to create false paper trails at the expense of appraisers; to blacklisting, to undue pressure. We’ve spoken before the TAF, and authored a proposal for a MINIMUM national appraisal fee; submitting it to CFPB and FFIEC. We’ve authored many articles and letters supporting several state coalitions including Virgina (VaCap) in their efforts fighting AMCs.

      On a personal level I contacted NAR and have spoken to their lobbyists on a couple of occasions when they issued their “Realtor Calls for Action”-they had my PERSONAL support and one official article of support (re hidden mortgage taxes on the Transportation Funding Bills). Had I received any direct contact from their executive officers, they’d have received MORE support from us; but they have THEIR bureaucratic hurdles too. I’m still working on them though.

      Robert all told my various dues and designation carrying fees run just under a $1,000 a year. My union renewal was $225 and a bargain at that rate. It goes up at next year’s renewal. Surprisingly, even though I’ve convinced my union to reduce the dues for one year, membership response has been lukewarm. Partly due to philosophical reasons; but most because of lack of concern that ANYTHING needs to be done at all! Appraisers DO have something in common with Dustin’s Great Outdoors after all. Not the majestic moose or the faithful canine. It’s the ostrich. That and felines, since getting ANY of us to move together in a new direction is akin to herding cats.

      But I won’t quit. Im not made that way. By the way…have YOU joined the appraisers guild yet? Save $150 if you do so before 12/31/15 (even if you do it in payments you’ll still save over next years fees). It’s easy too. Dial 1(301) 220-4100 and ask for Jan. You’ll like her. Or, go to http://www.appraisersguild.org for info and then email Janbellas@appraisersguild.org . Hope to welcome you & any others officially soon!

    1. Tom says: “I couldn’t be an appraiser without the Appraisal Institute.”


      Thats says much more about YOU then the Institute.

      That organization offered exactly zero value to me and I have calculated that had I been a member for the past 30 years that would have been about $20,000 down the drain.

    2. AI still has some of best courses around. Loved Sandy Adomatis’ Green courses. AI would have FAR more associates and candidates though if they actually DID anything for the average non MAI appraiser. Claiming to speak for us is not exactly the same thing as actually lobbying for issues that benefit ALL appraisers. When HVCC first reared its head the silence from AI was deafening! Then again, then think OUR profession involves commodities rather than unique “one off” professional services.

  3. Robert, Please consider joining the Tennessee Appraiser Coalition (TAC). I have been a charter member since it was formed five years ago, and we have joined other state coalitions, to make ONE strong voice as you mention. TAC has been key in passing legislation in Tennessee to benefit state appraisers. Check out tnappraisercoalition.com. Hope to see you at the next meeting!

  4. I have also been a member of the Appraisal Institute for many years. What I find surprisiing is that a very high percentage of appraisers (80%+- correct me if I am wrong) do not belong to any appraisal organization. “In unity, there is strength.” Look what the appraisers group in Louisiana did for standardizing customaty and reasonable fees! Let’s all get together and join up, for our own benefit.

    1. Sound advice Ken! BTW-Louisiana only affected their own state! each State has their own procedures (including NONE AT ALL in my state) for dealing with C&R. They; SC, NC, & TN, are active and effective; CA is active as is REAA out here. Illinois and TX also have several but I haven’t figured out if they are just extensions of the AI or independent thinking state coalitions for ALL. ASA also has high quality classes that compete favorably with the AI’s courses. I’d rather see al join us at AGA, but join SOMEWHERE! Heck, even the AI if their direction suits you.

  5. Great blog topic. I have been meaning to join something myself (my bad). I wonder why the Appraisal Institute, considering their clout, has not been more of an advocate for appraisers. I suppose that’s what turns me off to them. Truly this is an industry sector that could benefit from a national union. Getting “independent” appraisers to see that however, has been another story.

    1. You are preaching to the choir! As good as the AI COULD be, they specifically chose NOT to lobby for the actual benefit of non MAI’s on HVCC OR C&R. It may be related to the executive positions held by so many of their Members in AMCs and with National Lenders, or their President’s belief that appraisal’s are mere commodities as opposed to unique professional services.

      “M” if you join before years end you can save $150 off the regular $375 annual dues at American Guild of Appraisers, OPEIU AFL-CIO. 1(301) 220-4100 ask for Jan Bellas. or email janbellas@appraisersguild.org Look us up! Appraisersblogs.com “Tell ’em Mike sent you!…They’ll know who. They’ve gotten used to it by now.

  6. Barry Wilson, AGA, GVS

    I have attended classes and meetings of the AI, NAIFA and ASA, but the only organization that I have joined and paid dues to is the Appraiser’s Coalition of Washington and my only ‘designations’ are from non-appraiser organizations concerned with environmental concepts. ACOW was created by several appraisers, some members of various organizations and some unaffiliated independents, to be one voice in dealing with our legislature. At one point there was a bill before the legislature that was controversial in the industry and members of different appraisal organizations testified on opposite sides. One of the senior legislators told the entire group, “Until you can get in agreement, we are not going to listen to any of you. We will make our decision without your input.” Among other things, ACOW was instrumental in getting licensing of mortgage brokers and AMC’s in Washington.

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