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The American Guild of Appraisers
The voice of the professional appraiser, protecting the public interest

This is a long overdue update of events to date in California.

First let me apologize for not contacting each of you sooner. As you are aware we are in a growth stage of development while also trying to deal with members issues at the same time, so there are certain growing pains to overcome.

I want to assure all that we have the full support of The Guild and our parent Chapter 44 (Pete Vidi, Jan & Leo). Proven support. I’ll elaborate further in this message.

To date we have actively engaged in about a dozen member individual issues that I’m aware of; and one major statewide / national issue in coordination with The Appraisal Foundation; CCAP, ASA and several other organizations.

We have had several successes, and a few issues remain ongoing.

First, we have investigated each individual case and then contacted State Appraiser Authorities; One Governor, National Labor Relations Board, Major National Lenders & their in house AMCs; or provided members with legal referrals as was considered most appropriate. Several results were immediate and favorable resulting in our members being removed from blacklists.. A few involved defense of members against alleged USPAP violations. These are ongoing. One involves seeking reinstatement for a member on the Freddie Mac do not use list for minor infractions that took place over five years ago by a (then) novice appraiser that has since been approved by her state to test for and upgrade to certified. On the issue where we contacted NLR we also invoked the OPEIU/AFL-CIO connections and influence. It DOES make a difference!

I continue to post on blogs in an effort to get our name and organization out to other appraisers across the country. Jan tells me that appraisers in other states have joined us from this exposure. I need and encourage others (you) to help in this area as well. Please make it a point to sign up for appraiser blogs and post there frequently. Where possible point out that whatever the issue is something the AGA is currently working on or has an interest in working on subject to input from our members. Primary issues were are actively working on are: Reasonable fees (I no longer use “customary” fees); black listing, collateral underwriter abuse and hoped for modification, and National Political Appraisal Issues (like trying to get Chapter 11 of FIRREA completely rewritten to encompass and address appraisers specific issues in one fell swoop instead of piecemeal. If you are bashful and not comfortable posting on national boards or blogs then just give a thumbs up and write something like “I agree!” or better yet, “I agree and that is why I joined the AGA!”  By the way, THAT really works. You can also join LinkedIn (free version) and indicate your AGA membership and join more appraisal blogs there. I urge ALL members to start signing your reports with AGA after your name as well as other designators you may have earned. As we grow, that AGA becomes more and more meaningful.

We have also “partnered” by voice and written correspondence  with other organizations in individual issues. Recently, Malibu Appraisal (Rey Cano) sent one of his frequent newsletter emails to us (I urge ALL to contact Rey at Malibu Appraisal and get on his free mailing list-he ALWAYS sends helpful free tips and links). Anyway, Rey was forwarding a letter from TAF dated 6/1/2015 about the Appraisal Institute lobbying to have a new passed in California to modify appraisal law so that difference standards could be used instead of USPAP. It already PASSED the State Assembly (AB624)by the time most of us ever heard of it. TAF opposed the bill because it had not been properly vetted and the impact on upcoming TAF reconciliation with the International Valuations Standards Council (IVSC) standards was unknown and undeterminable at that point. There were other reasons as well. The AI rebutted the TAF position and “spun” their position in the issue of this and national lobbying claiming that Congress Members had approached them out of the blue to inquire as to how Congress could improve appraisal conditions in America (I paraphrase). Sure. When is the last time you are aware of that Congress magically decided there was a problem and they had to fix it without anyone lobbying for it first? Their rebuttal was 6/15/2015.

I had already planned to speak before the TAF in Redondo Beach 6/26/15 anyway to introduce our California Chapter (in formation) to them.

George St Johns of California Coalition of Appraisal Professionals was contacted to see how we could work with him to oppose the bill and seek to at least have it tabled until ALL appraisers could study it or at least read it and offer opinions. CCAP and AGA and several other groups all worked together to coordinate opposition. I spoke and presented written opinions before TAF in Redondo. The President of the Board (TAF) then introduced me to a former ASA Chapter president who agreed to hand carry a letter from AGA to the Senate Finance Committee the following week for AGA.

At first it appeared we ‘lost’ and the bill was approved by the State Senate Finance Committee. It was a so called “consent calendar” item which for those that don’t know, is the “Pet projects no opposition” calendar used by legislators to slip changes though with minimal fuss.

Then Peter Vidi and Leo got OPEIU involved. A conference call was set up between AGA, OPEIU and CCAP. Jeff at OPEIU contacted or caused contact to be made with California Labor Relations folks. Next thing I heard is the bill was tabled by the Appropriations Committee at least until August; and possibly permanently. I don’t think that was coincidence in a heavily union-favored state.

Whether the table resulted from OPEIU, or George discussions with other state officials, I cannot say. All I CAN say is that OPEIU was there when we asked for help and between them and coordination with TAF, CCAP & ASA the already passed bill was tabled without becoming law. We were also provided with documentation that indicates the AI is trying the same thing in several other states (TN, IL and TX) where they have more control or influence over those state coalitions. Our opposition was not the concept of change to law itself, but the carving out of law for one appraisal groups benefit with no input from all the others. The AI does many wonderful things, but they DO NOT SPEAK FOR US!

This battle is ongoing. Please keep an eye or ear open for issues pertaining to AB 624.

AGA is not so big as to be able to station legislative monitors or watch dogs in every state, BUT. OPEIU and AFL-CIO are! We need to demonstrate to them numerically, by increased membership that California is a state worth their spending the extra effort to watch for or monitor appraisal issues and proposed legislation so we don’t get caught by another “after the fact” bill being sneaked through. I am asking each member to make a serious concerted effort to obtain just TWO NEW AGA MEMBERS each in the Month of August. Have them call either Jan or myself (me at 1-714-366-9404 or Jan at 1-800-660-1835). Jan has the ok to extend EASY payment arrangements for the dues. First year membership for California members is $225.

Also, I encourage all to contact George St Johns or go to the CCAP website and join or at least get on Georges emailing list there as well. We ALL have to work TOGETHER to get anything done.

Also, get on Rey Cano’s email list ASAP! Rey is the guy that helped get the FREE AI 21 hr  CE “Green” course info passed out to everyone. Every issue has helpful appraisal tips. I’ve been doing this for 30 years now, and I’m still surprised how much info he has that I was unaware of.

Last item: The National Association of Realtors® NAR  allows appraisers to join as Realtors® WITHOUT BEING BROKERS. Even some local boards are unaware of this. NAR also offers two Realtor® Appraiser Designations; GAA and RAA. If you had a good month or are planning for future expense needs consider joining. Call or email me for the contact info. Like I said, you may have to have NAR contact your local board and tell them how to do it, like I had to.

That’s all I have for right now. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions. If you know of appraisers with problems we can help with send them our way, but they MUST BE MEMBERS before we can get involved in their cases!

Now that I have a partial email list, I’ll do much better in keeping you all up to date.



PS-Your friends do not have to become “progressives, liberals, independents” or anything else to be a union member. I PROUDLY introduce myself at public events as a ‘Center right, free enterprise advocating republican UNION organizer’…. You’d be amazed at what you can say publically in any mixed political group after THAT disclosure. Like our individual political beliefs, few are ALL left or all right or pretty much all anything…the same is true for our union. You do not give up your core political beliefs by membership. You simply join like-minded appraisers working for OUR common good.