Many appraisers at some point during their appraisal career contemplate whether to take the road less traveled to obtain a designation from the Appraisal Institute, or from one of the other recognized appraisal organizations. Some eight years ago, I, too contemplated whether to undertake the commitment necessary to obtain an SRA designation from the Appraisal Institute. Less than five years after receiving my designation certificate from the Appraisal Institute, I am without a doubt, convinced it was one of the best appraisal business decisions I have made.
Initially, the decision revolved around the time required to take the courses necessary to meet the Appraisal Institute guidelines for SRA designation. As most appraisers will agree, this means time away from the office, and time away from the office means time away from completing appraisal work, which results in some lost income. And, of course, the classes and potential travel will cost money. At this point in the decision-making process, many non-designated appraisers stop the process and determine the cost will outweigh the benefits. But this is a flaw in the thought process. I constantly receive calls from potential clients, and when questioned on where they obtained my information, many say they found my name on the Appraisal Institute website. Many of these potential clients state they looked specifically for designated members and choose my name for just that reason. So we may lose some income and incur costs initially, but the financial benefits do eventually come.
By committing to the task of obtaining a designation, we are telling potential and existing clients as well as the public in general, that as a designated appraiser, we are going the extra distance to improve our knowledge base in order to better serve them. As a designated member, we are under more guidelines than non-designated members to act professionally and in the best interest of the public. USPAP discusses the need to promote public trust. Since becoming a designated member of the Appraisal Institute, I have raised my level of concern on how to promote public trust to a higher standard. The concept of promoting public trust and confidence is woven into my business plan and daily practice.
I need to mention that becoming a designated member does not make a designated member a superhero. We cannot tell a client that has an issue with an appraisal we completed that since we are designated, we cannot be challenged on analysis/data included in our reports. We need to recognize that earning a designation proves our commitment to the appraisal profession, but, that just like a driver's license, it can be taken away. To a certain degree, a designation is a privilege we have earned. Use it properly and you will reap the benefits.
Clearly in my practice the benefits outweigh the cost of obtaining a SRA designation; financially, ethically and without a doubt, a separation from the non-designated residential appraiser. In the long run, I am convinced that during the up and down fluctuations of the residential real estate market, potential clients that need appraisers with a solid educational background, and a commitment to raising the standards of their appraisal practice, will look for designated members from a recognized appraisal organization such as the Appraisal Institute. I see this fact constantly in my daily practice.