The Appraiser Qualifications Board released its most recent proposed changes on Sept. 15 to the Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria. These changes, if approved, will impact the qualifications needed to become a property appraiser.

One issue is how much college education is needed to enter the profession. The requirement that appraisers complete a bachelor’s degree has been debated for years, said John S. Brenan, director of appraisal issues at The Appraisal Foundation.

In 2011, the AQB adopted changes that became effective in January 2015, requiring a bachelor’s degree for the certified residential and certified general classifications. In recent years, however, Brenan said there have been significant changes in the residential mortgage lending sector of the appraisal profession, including the proliferation of appraisal management companies; the emergence of big data, with a greater emphasis on tools such as regression analysis; and the desire of many users of appraisal services to stop letting licensed appraisers and trainee appraisers perform assignments.

John S. Brenan

“These changes have resulted in the divide between residential appraisal and commercial appraisal widening,” Brenan said. “While there has been virtually no opposition to the requirement for certified general appraisers to possess a bachelor’s degree, a large segment of the population now questions whether the same requirement is needed for certified residential appraisers. In fact, many of the same individuals and organizations who in years’ past submitted written comments supporting the bachelor’s degree requirement for certified residential appraisers have changed their perspective on the matter and more recently submitted written comments opposing that same requirement.”

As a result, the AQB is proposing to revise the bachelor’s degree requirement for the certified residential classification, and remove the college-level education requirement for the licensed residential classification, he said.

Practical applications of real estate appraisal

Some trainee appraisers are frustrated by how difficult it is to find competent supervisory appraisers who are willing to train them – and many licensed residential appraisers have found the marketplace unwilling to use their services, Brenan said.

“These individuals have found it difficult to obtain experience hours needed to upgrade their credentials,” he said.

Since Jan. 1, 2008, the AQB has allowed applicants to claim up to 50% of the hours required for a credential through practicum courses.

Such courses are intended to be hands-on learning experiences, where students perform actual appraisal assignments, Brenan said. “Unfortunately, the marketplace deemed such courses as financially unfeasible. The costs have simply been too high to develop courses that would only result in a relatively few hours of experience.

“With Practical Applications of Real Estate Appraisal, the Appraiser Qualifications Board is proposing to revamp the requirements and guidance for such courses, with the intent to award students hundreds of hours of experience for each course. The Appraiser Qualifications Board is enlisting a panel of experts in appraisal training and education to assist in developing the course outlines and program parameters. The board intends to issue an exposure draft regarding this topic in early 2017,” Brenan said.

Experience requirements

The actual number of hours of experience required for a credential has not changed since Jan. 1, 1998. However, the AQB has adopted the following requirement changes, according to Brenan.

  • The number of hours of qualifying education required for a credential has increased dramatically.
  • Qualifying education must follow a specified required core curriculum, including completion of case study and report writing courses.
  • Successful completion of each qualifying education course requires a candidate to pass a closed-book, proctored, final examination.
  • College-level education is required.
  • Applicants must pass the practice-based National Uniform Licensing and Certification examinations, which are far more robust and challenging than the pre-2008 exams were.
  • A comprehensive program for instruction related to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice has been implemented.
  • Qualification requirements have also been added for supervisory appraisers.

The board “is examining whether the existing hours of experience required are appropriate for public trust, especially considering some of the difficulties appraisers have found in obtaining eligible experience,” Brenan said.

“The board believes a reduction in the hours of experience would represent a more balanced approach to the qualifications required to obtain a credential.”

The board is proposing that the licensed residential requirement goes from the current 2,000 hours required to 1,000, for example.

Potential impact

Brenan said some think the AQB’s proposals might be lowering the bar to become an appraiser.

“Some believe this is a reaction to the shortage of appraisers reported in certain markets across the country,” Brenan said. “However, the [AQB] does not lower the requirements to attract more appraisers, just as it doesn’t raise the requirements to deter potential appraisers. The [AQB] has one primary focus: public trust in the appraisal profession.”

Still work to be done

The AQB continues to get input on the most recent draft of the document.

“After deliberating over all of the feedback received, the board will determine whether the proposed revisions should be adopted, dismissed, or revised and re-exposed in a subsequent exposure draft document,” Brenan said. “It’s important to note that if the board adopts any revisions to the requirements, the effective date of such revisions will likely be months after the adoption date, which allows states, educators, potential appraisers and others the opportunity to revise laws, regulations and policies to conform with any revised requirements.”