Policies & Culture of The Appraisal Institute

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  • #86 Reply

    The purpose is to help the appraisal and related industries understand and fix the opaque culture embedded at AI National. The goal is to drive the organization to re-align with the needs of both their residential and commercial members, hopefully saving it from permanent irrelevance (functional obsolescence).

    For more than a decade I have watched AI National become mired in internal politics and self-dealing with virtually no meaningful communication to its membership. After their unprofessional exit from the Appraisal Foundation several years ago, I had enough and moved on to another organization that looked out for its membership. At some point, AI National forgot they work for their members and not the other way around. They became reliant on their membership remaining silent.

    On December 6, 2016, I wrote a post on my Matrix blog called: Sadly, The Appraisal Institute is now working against its local chapters. Using public communication from AI National, the post sparked chapter and membership outrage towards them across North America.

    On December 14, 2016, I followed up with Incredibly, The Appraisal Institute is taking chapter “excess cash” and charging them for the privilege.

    I received documents on AI National’s recent chapter “taking” policy and will be sharing them in subsequent posts. I hope others will readily post documents or share them with me to post. This forum is a central repository, so everyone impacted by AI National’s actions (AI members and non-members) can go to the same location for insights.

    UPDATE

    On December 28, 2016, I added the following post to this discussion after the AI National phone call with Unbelievably, The Appraisal Institute Intimidates A Chapter

    Because of fear of reprisal by AI National as described in the December 28th post above, we have removed all registration requirements for this site. You can choose to register or remain completely anonymous. Either way, you can see and do everything from uploading documents, writing replies and seeing everything on the site. Civil discourse is still required.

    Let’s make it rain transparency.

    REIC Forum Moderator

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  • #458 Reply

    Dave Biggers of a la mode software addresses the false narrative of an appraisal shortage pushed by AI National and AMCs.

    Twenty something years ago I stumbled into Dave Biggers, founder of a la mode appraisal software, from afar. He was in the trenches on appraisal bulletin boards, answering questions and pontificating about the challenges facing the appraisal industry. He was a tireless participant in these circles and I’m sure the feedback served him well in his software development.

    We crossed paths several times since then. Once when our appraisal firm admitted to ourselves that we weren’t a software company. We had abandoned our efforts to develop and maintain our own custom software after 20 years of building our own to run our business. It was economic. Technology changed more quickly than we could afford to keep up with. Our firm investigated all the appraisal software options out there and we went with a la mode. That was nearly a decade ago and we don’t regret the decision.  About five years ago, a la mode approached me to be part of their marketing effort and I did it (for free) because I believed in the product. I ended up on their home page and in thousands of appraiser’s mailboxes – how cool is that?

    Recently he and I were trading emails about the false narrative being pushed by AI National and the AMC industry concerning the shortage of appraisers. AI National told Congress last fall that the shortage was caused by too much regulation. This is clearly false and reflects the disconnect with their own residential membership. Just ask their residential members what is causing the shortage! AMC’s have made a concerted effort to exploit this untruth and AI National has readily perpetuated it, likely to further their appraisal standards over TAF in an anti-regulatory administration, no matter the harm it causes their own residential members.

    I’ve been addressing this “appraisal shortage myth” by describing it like this:

    There is no appraisal shortage – there is only a shortage of appraisers willing to work for as much as half the market rate. Why can’t appraisers – who measure supply and demand for a living – participate in the economy like AMCs do?

    Dave described the false appraisal shortage narrative like this (I’m clearly stealing his better version of my own lawyer analogy.)

    I have the data to prove there is no shortage — at any given time, our data shows that about 26% of appraisers are “sitting out” daily and weekly appraisal assignments. They come back in to the active pool later, within days, and they’re not part-timers. They simply aren’t willing to do the current scope of work for the current going rate, and nobody should blame them. The way I always put it is simple: There’s not a shortage of appraisers. There’s a shortage of appraisers willing to do AMC work at AMC fees. AMCs are simply not willing to pay the rate demanded to get rapid service. They are the bottom of the pile. And at the bottom, it of course feels like a shortage. If I went looking for $50 an hour lawyers, I’d claim there was a lawyer shortage too.

    We live in interesting times.

    Yes, we sure do.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #452 Reply

    Burning Question: Will AI National Ever Talk to its Members About What Transpired with FNC?

    Last October I attended the ASB public meeting in Washington, D.C. The next day I took Amtrak back to NYC and somewhere around Baltimore, some passengers got off the train, and the adjacent seat was now empty. A few minutes later, as new passengers were making their way through the train, a gentleman sat next to me. He and I looked at each other and did a double take. He said “Jonathan Miller?” I said “Bill Rayburn?” What an incredible coincidence!

    Bill is a founder of FNC and a controversial character in the appraisal industry.  I had run into him a decade or more ago when his firm was interested in running analytics on Manhattan co-op apartments. At that time, co-op sales were not a matter of public record (and we don’t have an MLS either), and my firm had amassed the largest collection of co-op sales in existence used for our appraisal practice. Co-ops are about 75% of our owned housing stock. I had several research positions in our firm calling around for the raw data all day long and then piecing it together with other information we had such as “schedule a’s” (share allocations), floorplans, offering plans, financial statements as well as information collected during appraisals. Many of FNC’s clients were headquartered in Manhattan; therefore, this was of interest to FNC. I got to know the COO Bob Dorsey – when he was developing his hedonic price index – and other executives. One of their executives was and is a friend of mine. But that was about it businesswide. I never pushed the concept, and they lost interest.  They built their web portal known as AppraisalPort, and they effectively became the communications tool and toll collector for the interactions between lenders and appraisers. Fast forward to 2015, he and his partners sold FNC to CoreLogic in December 2015 for $475 million and moved on to other things.

    According to CoreLogic, FNC platforms provide “broad connectivity” to approximately 80,000 appraisal, title and inspection vendors, and FNC’s solutions allow industry participants to automate the collateral valuation and diligence process, monitor and optimize vendor performance and facilitate compliance with regulatory and internal risk management policies.

    In the early days, FNC needed a data source to run their analytics for banks behind the scenes – the public record wasn’t granular enough. From my vantage point, I always assumed that the FNC backroom business was their real value proposition to lenders so I assumed mining appraisal data was always of critical interest. The Appraisal Institute worked with them to develop or they simply agreed to license their name on a standard called “AI Ready.” This specification was marketed as a value add to software providers. In the AI-Ready FAQ under the section “How does AI Ready(tm) Help Keep Your Appraisals Secure?” I thought this paragraph was particularly interesting:

    Does AppraisalPort keep a copy of your appraisal after you send it? As part of keeping your appraisals secure, AppraisalPort keeps a copy of the appraisal long enough to assure that it was actually delivered to and properly received by the client (we all know that computers are not perfect). After the audit period, it is deleted. It is never shared with anyone. No data is stripped out, separated or used for any other purpose.

    A lawsuit filed by appraiser Pat Turner and others claimed that it was a way to farm their appraisal data despite being told AppraisalPort was secure and private. The defendents responded and the case was eventually settled.  

    Here are a few excerpts from Ken Harney’s 2007 article on the FNC lawsuit in the Washington Post: Reprisals on Appraisals

    The suit was filed last month by appraisers in Maryland, Virginia and Oklahoma against FNC of Oxford, Miss. FNC markets a high-tech system that converts traditional appraisals into electronic formats, then sends them to mortgage lender customers. FNC says it processes about 400,000 appraisals a month and deals primarily with the 45 to 50 largest mortgage lenders in the country.

    and the big one…

    The suit quotes Bill Rayburn, FNC’s chief executive, as telling an industry publication, “When an appraisal is transmitted to the lender, we are able to pop it open and suck all the data out.”

    I’m confused.

    CoreLogic may have found another route to collecting hedonics by providing software to many MLS systems to that use it to manage their data.  However, FNC clearly remained very attractive to CoreLogic evidenced by the 2015 sale.

    To my knowledge and what has been told to me for years, is that AI National has never shared the terms of their arrangement with FNC to their membership. This topic is a sore point among many members I know. I find it amazing that AI National had branded a technical standard with a private firm and was given future compensation potential by a firm that was just purchased for nearly a half billion dollars and remains silent. There has been no discussion with the membership I or anyone I know in the membership is aware of. The repeated refrain from the top executives of AI National continues to be “I don’t know anything about that.” So much for establishing trust with membership.

    My good friend Tom Allen, a widely-respected appraiser from Oklahoma and one of the most decent, upstanding men I have had the pleasure of knowing, got a threatening letter in 2004 from an attorney representing AI National for some comments he had made about AI National.   Tom was told to apologize in the letter as if he was a two-year-old, but consistent with the bullying culture of AI National. Tom recently came across the old letter in his files and decided to share it. I previously posted it in this forum but have included it again because it provided the terms of the AI National/FNC deal. Here is the letter in all its glory.

    In a questionable display of legal prowess, AI’s lawyer provided the conditions of the AI/FNC contract to give himself credibility in his rationale to Tom for threatening him.

    Now with the mega sale of FNC, AI National is in an awkward position.  It’s a game I call “stupid or liar.”  AI National either looks like:

    – they have poor business acumen if they opted to take an early buyout; or

    – they need to tell their members where the money is.

    Either way, AI National hasn’t told their members anything.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #442 Reply

    The Montana Board of Real Estate Appraisers Gave The 55 other Jurisdictions Important Information on AI Nationals Actions

    Here is the Montana email that went out to all 55 state boards and commissions regarding the congressional testimony offered on November 16, 2016. The governor’s office approved the letter (the same governor AI National tried to school on what his job responsibilities were). I have also included 4 attachments:

    – November 10, 2016 Memorandum sent to Members of the Committee on Financial Services
    – February 9, 2017 “RE: Response to Hearing held 11/16/2016 ‐ “Modernizing Appraisals: A Regulatory Review and the “Future of the Industry”
    – November 16, 2016 Testimony of David S. Bunton, President The Appraisal Foundation
    – November 16, 2016 Statement of Executive Director James R. Park, Appraisal Subcommittee

    There are additional documents that I uploaded in the reply below – this forum limits uploads to 4 documents.

    ____________________

    Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 8:44 AM
    Subject: Letter to all State Boards and Commissions

    State Regulatory Boards and Commissions:

    As most are aware there was a congressional hearing on November 16, 2016, titled “Modernizing Appraisals: A Regulatory Review and the Future of the Industry”! Many jurisdictions were not made aware of this hearing and some of the content and testimony was alarming and damning to our job as regulators and industry members. The Montana Board held a special board meeting on 01/26/2017 to discuss this hearing and our Boards submission of this topic to the ARRO committee that develops agenda items. A similar panel discussion will take place at the spring AARO conference in Tampa so all jurisdictions can have the opportunity to ask questions and better understand this topic.

    The Montana Board unanimously passed a motion to send a response to the Congressional Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance in response to some of the misleading testimony that was provided at this hearing. The Appraisal Institute, in an attempt to silence the voice of our independent citizen board, sent a letter to our board objecting to us even having this on our agenda for discussion. The AI was allowed to speak during the public portion of the meeting and expressed their objection on the record. We proceeded with the meeting as noticed and discussed the two agenda items and eventually passed a unanimous motion to approve the chair draft a letter to Congress stating our thoughts and position about the current state of the regulatory process. Several days later the AI took a bold step and drafted a letter to the Governor of the State of Montana objecting to our motion and attempting to influence and obstruct our boards right to comment on issues that would directly affect our licensees and more importantly issues that would affect the public trust in our board. The letter from the AI attempts to tell the Governor what his responsibilities are in allowing our Board to send such a letter to Congress. The Governor’s Office reviewed the letter (attached) and approved its distribution to Congress and the 55 jurisdictions under the oversight of the ASC.

    We are providing you folks with the information relating to this topic. We encourage your board to read the Montana Boards letter to Congress and consider sending a similar message to the Congressional Subcommittee as well as your state or district members of the United States House and Senate.

    As we point out in the letter, we may not always like the results of the audits from the ASC, they serve a purpose to ensure everyone is following and applying state and federal statutes and rules accordingly. Furthermore, we cannot digress from the guidance of the Appraisal Foundation when it comes to a consistent approach to licensure so all jurisdictions can be confident that each candidate for licensure has met the same criteria with respect to education, experience hours and a standardized test. Or, the consistent adoption of one set of standards and rules so ALL appraisers and regulators know what the minimum expectations are in the development and reporting of assignment results in an independent and fair manner. The AI testified that our industry is “being choked by rules and regulations in nearly every facet of their business. From how an appraiser reports an appraisal, to supervising trainees, to uneven licensing requirements, to licensing and registration fees passed down by clients, to mandates from federal agencies – appraisers’ professional lives have become extremely complicated, more expensive and less productive due to dated and archaic regulatory structure. As a result, consumers suffer from increased turnaround time, delays in loans, and potential higher costs” We find no credible evidence, nor did the AI produce any credible evidence, to support these statements. Furthermore, we find little or no support that the work of TAF or the ASC interferes, restricts or limits how an appraiser reports an appraisal, the supervision of trainees, uneven licensing requirements, mandates from federal agencies, etc. We find these to be statements without specific facts.

    Therefore we are making ourselves available to each board or commission to attend your next board meeting to further discuss this topic. The Montana Board is very interested to hear from all 55 Boards and Commissions on this topic. Our delegation will be holding an afterhours information gathering session at the spring AARO conference. This will be an informal get together to chat about this most important topic. We will provide additional information prior to the conference in Tampa. If your Board or Commission would like us to attend your next Board meeting please contact Thomas G. Stevens, MAI, SRA, Board Chair (tom@stevenscompany.net) or Peter J. Fontana, Board Vice Chair (pete@fontanainc.net).

    We have attached the link to the live stream of the congressional hearing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XwhTQsguYI

    Respectfully Submitted

    Thomas G Stevens, MAI, SRA
    Chairman

    Peter J Fontana,
    Vice Chairman

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #440 Reply

    In the Ultimate Act of Arrogance, AI National Tries to School the Governor of Montana

    It is out of sequence, but I didn’t have a copy of the AI National’s letter to the governor of Montana. Pete Fontana, the Vice Chair of the Montana Board of Real Estate Appraisers, said that AI National sent the attached letter after the Montana board meeting where they had passed a motion to draft the letter to Congress presented earlier here on this forum.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #431 Reply

    Why AI National/President Jim Amorin has no intention of changing course on “taking” policy.

    An anonymous appraiser writes:

    Amorin spoke at our regional meeting and made it very clear that although the policy implementation is on hold – it is just that, on hold and will absolutely be implemented. Our chapter was hoping for an “opt in/out” option and it seems to be very unlikely based on Amorin’s comments.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #421 Reply

    Vice Chair of the Montana Board of Real Estate Appraisers provides additional insights on AI National’s Actions

    A few days ago I commented on a terrifically clear letter written by the Montana Board of Real Estate Appraisers.

    The biggest challenge facing the appraisal industry is our largest trade group, The Appraisal Institute (National). At this moment in time, it is sad to see AI National work so hard against the interests of their members. The U.S. does not need another version of valuation standards that AI National keeps pushing. AI National remains disconnected from the needs of their members so how on earth can they provide valuation standards for an entire industry? They have repeatedly demonstrated they can’t see outside of their Chicago silo. Their continuing quest to undermine TAF is counterproductive, unnecessary and the least of our industry’s worries.

    The Vice Chair and co-author of that Montana letter wrote me a note about my original post and allowed me to share his thoughts. All I can say is I hope all 55 jurisdictions Peter mentions take similar positions. To my readers – please share any position papers with me so I can share them on REIC for all to see.

    Peter’s candor is refreshing.

    Jonathan

    I am the Vice Chair of the Montana Board of Real Estate Appraisers and the co-author of the letter you reference in your blog comments on Real Estate Industrial Complex. Thank you for your thoughts and comments. We are sending the threatening letters from the AI and our thoughtful and well-reasoned response to all 55 jurisdictions under the control of the ASC and encouraging all to take similar steps. We are extremely troubled by the actions of the AI and their destructive behavior to the appraisal industry as a whole.

    If I can be of any help in getting this message to as many folks as possible please feel free to contact me at anytime.

    Regards

    Peter Fontana
    406-868-2799
    pete@fontanainc.net

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #419 Reply

    AI National Works Hard to Help AMCs with Appraisal Training, Despite Damaging Their Residential Members’ Livelihood

    After May 2009, when HVCC (now embedded into Dodd-Frank) enabled the appraisal management company (AMC) industry to control about 90% of mortgage appraisal work, the AMC industry trade group TAVMA (whose website no longer exists) fought hard to present their “efficiency” to the mortgage process.  This trade group disappeared within a few years and seemed to have been replaced with REVAA.

    I wrote a blog post on my Matrix blog in May 2009 called [Appraisal Management Companies] An Accident Waiting To Happen. I wrote about the 50 cents on the dollar compensation of appraisers that work for AMCs. TAVMA had a blog post at the time arguing that no, AMCs pay an average of 60 cents on the dollar and said the pay cut had no impact on the quality of mortgage appraisals.

    My interpretation of TAVMA’s position was this: If an employer posted a job listing with a starting salary 40% below the last hire’s salary – this will result in no measurable differences in the quality of job applications received. Really???

    Bring in REVAA

    REVAA’s LOL Subtitle: “To promote awareness and advocacy for the real estate valuation industry.”

    I don’t know if there was a connection with TAVMA or how they started or who is behind it, but it was fascinating to discover that the Appraisal Institute is a recommended trainer of appraisers who wish to work for AMCs.

    Here is a screenshot from a page on the REVAA site:

    The Appraisal Institute, always looking for revenue no matter where it comes from, made sure they were embedded in REVAA to promote AI classes. This isn’t simply a link out from REVAA.  AI National even built a special landing page for AMCs called “/revaa-landing-page/”  Here is a partial screenshot of the page – which is extremely warm to the AMC industry.

    I’m not against AI National growing revenue unless it is counter to the best interests of the organization. In this case, it clearly is. AI National has essentially written off the residential members who have an SRA designation to the point where the SRA designation has little or no value today.

    AMCs are THE reason for fee compression, the false narrative about an appraisal shortage, belittling valuation experts by being subjected to check box compliance by 19 years olds chewing gum, elimination of the economic viability of mentoring, causing the need for extensive legislation to control AMCs on the state level and much more.

    Instead, AI National can only see REVAA as an opportunity to sell their courses.  This is yet another tone-deaf act by AI National, and yet senior management at AI National has no idea this is a violation of their residential membership’s trust.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #412 Reply

    Michael S. Cook, MAI, SRA

    I find it very interesting the  Chairman of the Montana Board of Real Estate Appraisers, Thomas G. Stevens, MAI, SRA, is a 37 year member of the Appraisal Institute.

    It just goes to show the disconnect between AI’s National Board of Directors and the AI Membership.

  • #410 Reply

    February 9, 2017: The Montana Board of Real Estate Appraisers posts a response to the 11/16/2016 Congressional Hearing.

    After the January 25th, 2017 threatening letter sent by AI National to the Montana Board (discussed earlier in this forum), the Montana Board rightly ignored it and from the January 26th, 2017 meeting, laid out a thoughtful response to last fall’s congressional hearing on “Modernizing Appraisals.”

    As an aside, I found it disturbing that there were no active appraisers present to provide congressional testimony last fall.

    Montana Board responded with support for the current appraisal regulatory process and pointed out that the regulatory authority already resides at the state level.  (In my view, when appraisal licensing was enacted in 1991, it was always a federal law to be implemented at the state level.) The Board said:

    You will note that the state board has full authority over the regulatory process for licensed/certified
    appraisers and appraisal management companies (AMC’s). This is true of all 55 states and territories.
    Each state is required to have statutes and rules in place to properly regulate its licensees and properly
    administer the regulatory program.

    More importantly,

    Without the oversight by the ASC and the broad objective guidance by TAF, the industry would be in
    disarray. Appraisers and State Regulatory Boards need to rely on a set of rules and guide notes to ensure
    a fair, open, honest and consistent approach to operating an appraisal business and regulating the
    profession.

    What the Board criticized and I found enraging about the congressional testimony, was the false narrative that over-regulation caused the appraisal shortage.  While the Board blamed risk management policy at lending institutions by not allowing trainees to inspect – I concur – I also feel strongly that the appraisal management company phenomenon is the underlying problem. By taking up to half of the appraisal fee, the economics no longer work for many appraisers. There is no longer a financial incentive to “mentor” and there has been a collapse of quality as experienced appraisers have retired or moved on to more financially feasible appraisal work (away from mortgage work). The incredible irony of this situation is that lenders have been worried about trainees but aren’t worried about the collapse in quality. AMCs have worked hard to convince lending executives that their analytics offset the drop in appraisal quality. Upper management at banks remains disconnected from the rampant appraisal quality problems at the street level.  AI National behavior over the years has demonstrated their favorable view of AMCs and therefore their continuing disregard fo their residential membership and the SRA designation.

    I commend the Montana Board for presenting this letter to Congress.  Their clear understanding of the appraisal industry and their disregard for AI National’s continuing efforts to work against their own chapters and membership interests is encouraging.  I hope all other state boards are as thoughtful about the current state of the appraisal regulatory environment as the Montana Board.

     

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #408 Reply

    Michael S. Cook, MAI, SRA

    This letter from the AI to the Montana Board of Real Estate Appraisers seems very “heavy-handed” and somewhat demeaning to the board’s membership.  As written, this  letter could easily diminish the image of Montana’s AI membership in the eyes of the Montana Board of Real Estate Appraisers.  Secondly, it makes no mention that Montana’s AI membership is concerned with the board’s agenda.

    • #409 Reply

      Great insights, Michael. When an organization’s national leadership repeatedly shows disdain for its members and local chapters, Jim Amorin’s Montana Board letter makes perfect sense – they had no regard for the Montana chapter’s relationship with the board – they only walked over them to make their self-serving point and threat. AI National sees themselves as a competitor of TAF, wanting to push them out of the way to make AI National, a private organization, the holder of appraisal standards.

      REIC Forum Moderator

  • #407 Reply

    Michael S. Cook, MAI, SRA

    Kevin Pollard, MAI stated in his post on January 31:  “…National needs to realize that the Regions and Chapters our the backbone of the organization and must be carefully nurtured. That does not seem to be the case with our current leadership. At my first Board meeting, I was told that I did not represent a Region or Chapter, but I represented the membership in its entirety. I was surprised, but understood that Boards typically work that way. Maybe it is time to re-think that philosophy.”

    I think the National Board of Directors need to review the definition of “represent”.  How can one “represent the membership” if one does not represent the Regions and the Chapters, which are the MEMBERSHIP.  Secondly, “representation” starts with communication which is seriously lacking in this organization.  This organization seems to have adopted the “top-down” approach to communication rather than “two-way” communication which is the key to “representation”.

     

  • #389 Reply

    AI National doubles down on their threatening internal culture by “fogging” the Montana real estate appraisal board

    Jim Amorin, in his second tour as President of the Appraisal Institute, wrote a letter to the chairman of the Montana Board of Real Estate Appraisers on January 25, 2017, mostly lecturing the state board on what they can’t talk about in the following day’s meeting. He appears to be worried about future positions that could be taken by the Montana Board relating to AI National’s long-running feud with The Appraisal Foundation.

    Like or dislike AI National’s exodus from TAF, AI has continued to work hard to undermine them as a competitor of appraisal standards since at least the period just before AI National’s exit from TAF. In a world of fee compression, the endorsement of multiple appraisal standards, especially one coming from a private organization with an outraged membership, does not help the appraisal industry in the short, mid or long run.

    About my term “fogging” in the headline…I see this technique frequently used in legal letters to throw down scary sounding statements which are designed to distract from the actual point and intimidate the recipient. Remember that AI National spent membership’s money writing this letter to tell the Montana Board that they have to get approval from the governor before taking a position on any federal legislation.

    This letter shows the disdain AI National has for appraisal professionals outside of their Chicago leadership silo. The kicker is how Jim cc’d the governor and the president of the Montana AI chapter. Since his letter includes no mention of the Montana chapter of what is specifically a Montana issue, and Montana was part of the majority of chapters who were outraged about AI National’s behavior in the “taking” debacle in recent months (see their December 22, 2016 letter posted earlier), logically, this is an AI National “dressing down” of the Montana chapter board.

    I can only assume from this letter that the culture of AI National leadership has performed no inner reflection on past behaviors that lead to membership outrage nationwide. They either have no intention or no ability to restore credibility with their chapters and members.

    UPDATE – I modified the second-to-last paragraph because I forgot about the Montana AI Chapter’s position letter on the AI National “taking” policy.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #343 Reply

    Kevin M. Pollard, MAI

    Jonathan –

    I agree completely with everything in your blog except the AI’s exit from TAF. I was on the Board of Directors at that time, and attended quite a few of the TAF meetings, as well as a special Board meeting on the matter. We were being told that we needed their “permission” to speak out about any issues, after we had been specifically asked by Congress for our opinion. TAF was going way beyond their original mandate by trying to get into the education arena, and develop best practice standards, and didn’t want us saying anything detrimental to them. We had no choice but to leave to maintain our independence, and our ability to express ourselves. Please get off the “why did we leave TAF” boat. It was the best thing the AI ever did, even though we handed them USPAP on a silver platter (gratis), and then had to pay for it after our exit. We agonized over many months before reaching the decision and tried to reconcile with them repeatedly.

    I do think meddling with Chapter finances is a very bad idea, except for those who are struggling and need help. Otherwise, National needs to realize that the Regions and Chapters our the backbone of the organization and must be carefully nurtured. That does not seem to be the case with our current leadership. At my first Board meeting, I was told that I did not represent a Region or Chapter, but I represented the membership in its entirety. I was surprised, but understood that Boards typically work that way. Maybe it is time to re-think that philosophy.

    • #439 Reply

      This is a response to Kevin’s post shared with me from Pete Fontana, Vice Chairman of the Montana Board of Real Estate Appraisers

      I find this post by Kevin M Pollard, MAI to be extremely ironic as it relates to the letter from the Montana Board. As noted below the AI left the TAF because they needed “permission” to speak out about issues to congress, and then they take the same position about an independent board voicing their concerns about a congressional hearing. This to me is not only hypocritical but way out of line for an association to challenge the authority of an independent state board.

      REIC Forum Moderator

    • #344 Reply

      Thanks Kevin – great insight.  I hear you on the AI leaving TAF issue and appreciate the input.  I derived my opinion by speaking with some recently who was there like you were at a very high level.  I also spoke with David Wilkes of TAF at the time who was a guest on my former podcast and I even offered Leslie Sellers, then president of AI the opportunity to provide the AI counterpoint.  Unfortunately he emailed me the dishonest “I’m excited about our future” answer which is how the damaged leadership culture there thinks this is how you handle an unflattering event.  Either way, their poor communication history is the basis of all that has angered the membership that has resulted in the outrage expressed across the U.S.

      REIC Forum Moderator

  • #275 Reply

    The Appraisal Institute has to be wondering: Why is that guy with the “New York Blog” airing our issues?

    The above title asks a question that is more of a certainty.  Jim Amorin, current president of the Appraisal Institute, indicated his displeasure multiple times with AI’s issues being aired on the (my) “New York Blog” when he recently spoke in Dallas. I was told this by people that were there.

    Sadly, or better yet, tellingly, he didn’t realize what he was saying.  If the “New York Blog” and all the people that publicly pushed back didn’t do what we/they did, Jim Amorin wouldn’t be standing there making such a ludicrous statement to save face.  Lack of transparency is one of the biggest “tells” of a silo that Jim and his handful senior executive peers inhabit. Jim showed the same arrogance and naivety that past president Scott Robinson showed to Texans when explaining the “taking” policy (but before I created this “New York Blog”) – his performance was also shared to me by people that were there.

    So why do I keep doing this? A better and more realistic question would be: “Why am I doing this when my appraisal firm and myself are the busiest we have ever been in our 30-year history?” or “Why am I doing this when I quit the organization after watching the disingenuous video by former 2010 AI President Leslie Sellers explaining why AI left TAF?”

    Well, why do I keep doing this?

    It is as simple as this: I hate politics, especially when it works against good people, in this case, members of the Appraisal Institute as well as the appraisal industry.

    The appraisal industry has long been the receiver of regular beatings by everyone around it and lately it is because we no longer have anyone watching over us, protecting us, leading us or helping us navigate a rapidly changing market.  Instead, our industry’s largest trade group and therefore de facto industry leader has been beating its members with lack of accountability, the perception of chronic self-dealing and terrible communications expertise (just look at Jim’s incredibly bad letter further down on this site), lack of representation to institutions we do business with and much more.  Somewhere along the way AI National forgot they work for the membership rather than the membership reports to them.

    In an era of fee compression, appraisers can no long accept this adverse behavior that impacts their livelihoods from the Appraisal Institute.  It pains me to hear high ranking people outside of the profession describe AI as a “joke” and “arrogant.”  It is time for the membership to stop believing press releases, push back and make changes.  It is too expensive for members to keep paying for no apparent “value add” and it serves as a distraction from their attempts to grow as a professional.

    AI membership needs to do one of the following using their financial muscle that AI National tried to take away with the “taking policy” debacle:

    1. Get rid of national leadership right now by withholding all dues payments collectively until they are replaced.

    2. Quit the Appraisal Institute as a distraction to their careers by withholding dues and focus on other things to make their livelihood as appraisers.

    It should be now clear to all members why the “taking” policy debacle was so important to stop.  Money does indeed change everything.   At this point, membership can only effect change with their wallet.

    The time is now.

    The emperor has no clothes.

     

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #272 Reply

    Voice of Appraisal E136 A Deep Dive into A.I. with Jonathan Miller!!!

    I speak with Phil Crawford on his indispensable Voice of Appraisal radio show/podcast, where I address and provide context to AI National’s “Taking” policy debacle. His show is something I look forward to listening to every week.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #267 Reply

    AI National Temporarily Caved-in to Membership/Chapter Pressure Against Their “Taking” Policy Debacle – My Analysis

    January 12, 2017 AI President Letter to AI Chapter Leaders letter

    “Taking” notes on the AI President letter on the “taking” policy suspension announcement

    Using this letter, I inserted [with brackets and in bold] questions or comments based on my interaction with board members, members, chapter/national officials since the Thanksgiving “taking” policy announcement.

    Sorry in advance for the cynical tone but the actual issue is AI National’s stealth culture, and the same people responsible for the debacle are now spinning themselves as being responsive to memberships needs.  Trust from membership seems fairly non-existent after the disrespect they have endured for years.  I remain very skeptical that this announcement changes anything long term, but rather delays it for a year with their hope that membership outrage will wane.  Still, it is a change, and I am hopeful AI National wants to make the Appraisal Institute relevant again as much as the membership and chapters do.

    ____________________________________________
    January 12, 2017

    Dear Appraisal Institute Chapter Leader:

    I hope that your new year is off to a great start. I’m excited about serving as your president this year, [no disrespect meant, but isn’t it odd to have a repeat president?  Does anyone know why?] and I look forward to working with all of you to help lift the Appraisal Institute to even greater heights in 2017. [AI has not been rising to any heights for more than a decade. Rather it has seen sliding membership and created a legacy absent of trust toward AI National leadership long ago that brought on the sudden large-scale, national, widespread outrage in December.]

    Here’s some important news that I think you’ll be happy to hear. [acknowledgment of the widespread outrage] In November, you’ll recall that the AI Board of Directors approved a new Chapter Financial Management and Administration Policy.  [implemented without membership awareness and even worse, AI National tried to pass it off as merely a “bookkeeping” change] The directors have spent considerable time since then hearing from you and other Appraisal Institute professionals about the new policy. [AI National leadership was inundated with angry blowback yet has been outwardly silent since the outrage began in early December until now – they were probably hoping the outrage would fade away over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays – there has been no mention of a change in the process to prevent such a debacle from happening again]

    Responding to the questions and concerns many of you have raised, [likely the proper phrase should be “most of you”] the Board of Directors on January 10 decided to suspend full implementation of the policy – currently targeted for January 1, 2018 – to a date to be determined later.   The Appraisal Institute will continue to solicit and receive feedback on the policy, so we encourage you to share this new information with your respective boards and to continue to convey your constructive feedback to members of the National Board. [wondering if leadership understands how to solicit feedback as the current culture has not demonstrated this in many years]

    The Appraisal Institute also will continue to offer financial management and administrative services, as feasible, to Chapters that would like to take advantage of them. [this is a reasonable offer for the handful of chapters that want to opt in for help versus making it mandatory for all] AI will work with Chapters that wish to be part of the policy’s initial implementation (I.e., “beta test”) and will incorporate those experiences and other feedback this year for potential adjustments to the policy. [the phrase “potential adjustments” to the policy is poorly articulated coming from the context of eventual implementation after a few tweaks] Although the policy approved by the Board in November encourages Chapters to provide their input this year to enhance the policy, this apparently wasn’t made clear in prior correspondence. [THIS IS THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR because no one seemed to know anything about it, and it was already in place when most of the chapters and membership became aware of it, hence the widespread outrage]  Therefore, based on this information, the Board decided to suspend full implementation [which as worded could be taken as the policy will be implemented with some possible tweaks], a move that is intended to help clarify any confusion or uncertainty or lack of knowledge about the policy … while allowing more time to solicit Chapters’ input. [there has been no explanation why they did not implement any such solicitation of input, to begin with which begs the question, “how will AI National know what to do with the membership feedback if solicitation of such feedback had not been part of the AI National culture for years?]

    The Board has received plenty of input – both pro and con [this is classic public relations spin – as presented it looks like it was a 50/50 outlook when betting money would think it was more like 99/1 against] – on the policy since its passage. While many Chapters [prior AI National correspondence claimed there were ten chapters that accepted the policy – I suspect very small chapters that need help or politically connected chapters like Houston are probably in only because the top leaders are part of AI National’s inner circle] are eager to participate in the new policy, others have raised questions and concerns indicating a lack of clarity over what the policy does and does not do. [again a 50/50 inference which appears very disingenuous] The Board’s recent suspension of full implementation [again, hedging to install partial implementation which could be 99 of 100 items in the original policy] will allow Chapters more opportunity to learn about the policy and to share their feedback.

    Please be sure to reach out to your respective region chair or vice chair [this seems particularly ironic since many members have told me that AI National intends to dismantle the regions]  to let them know your thoughts. I look forward to working with you on this topic and others during 2017. [for AI National to rebuild the trust of the membership, he will need to answer a lot of questions, such as the AI-FNC deal terms, details on spending for international expansion and the travel accommodations of each member of the executive team including him, the actual reason AI National left TAF (whether or not you were in favor of it no real reasons were provided the membership other than being excited about the future), addressing high headquarter overhead and compensation given poor performance, so-called senior executive allegiance to themselves rather than to the membership and many more I’m told]

    Thank you for all that you do for the Appraisal Institute. [this sentence conveys that the members are working for the organization when the organization should be working for the members]

    Sincerely,

    Jim_2017_signature.png

    Appraisal Institute President

    ______________________________________________________

    Conclusion

    I have inserted comments and questions adjacent to virtually every sentence in this letter.  I have found AI National leadership’s behavior unprofessional and self-serving (amateur) which is why I quit a while back.  I’m not a disgruntled ex-associate which is how they have tried to portray me.  Like most of you, I work too hard to allow a disconnected few screw around with my future and my industry’s future.

    If none of my concerns are valid and you feel they should be brushed aside, then AI National’s communication skills continue to be very poor.  If you trust them implicitly, then at least you can take solace in the fact that everything will be great and you can be excited about AI’s future as much as their previous and current presidents are.

    Members have worked too hard to achieve and maintain their SRAs and MAIs to see them fade away from branding neglect.  I just want AI to be relevant.

     

     

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #261 Reply

    Wednesday January 11, 2017 Discussion of the Appraisal Institutes’ New
    Chapter Financial Management and Administration Policy
    with Jim Amorin, MAI, SRA, AI-GRS, President, Appraisal Institute

    During yesterday’s meeting, Jim Amorin announced that on Tuesday, the AI National Board voted to put the controversial financial policy (the “taking”) on hold for membership feedback. Note: This policy has already been forcefully rejected by many chapters in writing.  I don’t see what additional feedback is needed.  The membership outrage clearly demonstrated is how the membership already feels.

    Thanks to Jim for validating this blog’s (REIC) purpose.  He mentioned his displeasure with this “NY Blog” multiple times during this event. GOOD. That is the point. If the collective action of many members wasn’t undertaken and REIC wasn’t created, it would be AI National business as usual and the disrespect towards AI membership would continue unabated.

    And membership continues to decline.

    This forced AI National decision is only a baby step: While this controversial policy is on hold, the cause of AI National disconnect is still not being addressed.  This is merely a band-aid on a symptom.  AI National of old still remains AI National of old.  Let’s make it relevant again.

    Next step: earn trust

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #259 Reply

    2004 Allen letter with FNC-AI Deal Terms regarding the “Appraisal Institute Residential Database”

    This letter has been in wide circulation lately concerning the AI National deal with FNC. I have confirmed it’s validity with the recipient.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #255 Reply

    Letter from the Past Presidents of the North Texas Chapter

    Given this lack of respect for the membership and lack of transparency, we respectfully
    request that this policy be rescinded and brought to the membership for discussion, vetting
    and analysis to ensure the most optimal outcome and member support. After all, our
    organization exists to SUPPORT the members.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #252 Reply

    Metropolitan New York Chapter Board of Directors response to new AI chapter policy

    Here’s a little housekeeping post.  I realized that the first chapter protest letter I ever saw that denounced the AI National “taking” of chapter funds and the subject of my first post on this debacle, was not actually sitting on this site.  So I dropped a copy here for your convenience (see attachment below).  Sorry, New York!

     

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #250 Reply

    AI National continues to remain silent on membership outrage over their unvetted “taking” of chapter funds policy debacle.  It was not addressed in their monthly newsletter to all AI chapters today.

    On the second monday of each month, AI National sends out a chapter newsletter called “Chapter FYI!” to each chapter’s officials.  This is the landing page for the newsletter.  http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/designatedcandidateaffiliate/chapter-fyi/

    I created a PDF of the public facing landing page as an attachment below.

    From the landing page – The second Monday of each month, Chapter FYI will be sent via email to the following chapter leaders: President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Director, Education Chair (and co-chair), and Candidate Guidance Chair. Each issue includes important information and updates pertaining to AI chapter leaders. Please feel free to share pertinent information with other leaders or members of your chapter. The current issue of Chapter FYI can always be found on the AI website.

    In today’s January 9, 2017 edition, links to the previously released documents regarding their “taking” policy were slid in with a non-descript mention in between a large list other announcements:

    FAQ mention in Chapter FYI! Newsletter 1-9-17

    No other mentions – as if the flurry of events between Thanksgiving and New Year’s never occured.  AI National continues being very disrespectful to both the membership and chapter leadership, especially given the level of outrage expressed.  AI National works on behalf of membership and the chapters.

    As anyone can tell you in public relations crisis management, addressing controversy immediately and transparently, helps resolves a crisis much more quickly than pretending nothing happened. This is why AI National’s stealth culture has driven the organization to such a disconnect with it’s membership.

     

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #242 Reply

    January 4, 2017 email from an AI member with MAI, CRE, CCIM designations making the rounds

    Subject: Chapter Financial Management and Administration Policy

    Below is likely my last dues payment to the Appraisal Institute, which is attributed to the Chapter Financial Management and Administration Policy. I started to pay the entire amount for 2017 dues but when doing the math on the payment plan it made no sense to pay at one time. FYI, the CCIM has a payment plan but it costs a significant amount to use. Poor business decision by the AI to have such a lenient payment plan, but good for member who take advantage.

    Since I do not know any of you, let me say I was a member of Exec when Spence Powell was president, as I was the chair of GAB. The takeover of chapter money came up during this time period. It was DOA.

    I was one of the lone voices on Exec that made it clear Education was not the money generator being represented by the department. I had gone through the financials as I was also on the finance committee. The AI finances were a mini Enron.

    I also made a motion in 1996 on Exec for the AI to drop out of the Appraisal Foundation. This was not well perceived, meanwhile the AI was paying the Appraisal Foundation disproportionate dues. In years later the AI dropped out.

    Many mistakes in leadership over the years, including mismanagement by the person running the day to day operations. I was involved in getting one of the Executive Directors terminated.

    I know the AI is faced with demographics that are not favorable. This may or may not come to pass. The problem is no one doing day to day appraisal work is being compensated for their skills, knowledge, education, experience and training. If this were not the case the industry would attract young members. Moreover, where the MAI once highly recognized, large companies have taken its place with name recognition – CBRE, JLL, Integra, etc. Whereas when the organization began the MAI credentials provided that name recognition as the real estate industry was made up of small businesses.

    To be blunt, the MAI designation is not important to me today. My business has changed from a mix of appraisal work generally lender appraisals: to expert witness work, counseling and brokerage. The client needing an expert for litigation will pay two to three times the fee and be glad you are on the team. I made this shift at least 10 years ago when the bidding process for appraisals began, i.e., file stuffer. At that time I told many colleagues I believed I could rely on the CRE and CCIM designation for credibility.

    My unsolicited advice to leadership:

    · Drop this change in finances, except where a financially impaired chapter needs help.

    · Quit confusing the market with an alphabet of designations and programs: clean up and drop the SREA, RM and SRPA. If you need to give the SRPA members the MAI, move on and just do it.

    · The AI litigation education I have not taken, as I obtain that education from SEAK, who provides training to a myriad of experts. Why the AI needed to invent a class when it was offered by another provider, if membership wanted the training.

    · Quit tying up our time with education requirements, i.e. the class requirement every 5 years. Time is money to the members. Membership knows the AI is just attempting to generate more money.

    · Move to an affordable city for business. Why we are in Chicago is beyond me. I was involved in being highly critical of past president Pat Marshall when the AI moved to the John Hancock building and purchased a $1.0 million in new furniture.

    · Accommodate designated members who work for businesses not engaged in appraisal work, i.e., my wife works for INVESCO. She dropped out even though her dues were paid by INVESCO. Members like her simply do not have the time keep up with education that is not meaningful to their employment and career.

    · Consider a realignment with NAR. The company story give over the years is not totally true: as there was an irreconcilable personality conflict between the two organizations at the highest level.

    My thought is the AI ship is taking on water and needs a bailout. Possibly the AI has an underfunded defined benefit pension plan? Overhead is out of control and technology is not being used to reduce staffing.

    The membership will stand behind the organization so long solid business decisions are made – the Chapter Financial Management and Administration Policy is one more example of a bad decision. Do not play hide the ball with membership they are as smart and likely smarter than many of the organizations leaders.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #238 Reply

    Senior AI National Executives Travel The World Trying to Find New Members

    UPDATE A reader just suggested this alternative title: AI leaders take their message overseas (fiddling, while Rome burns).

    Here are a few comments shared with me on the attached travel photos from the 4Q2016 issue of Valuation Magazine – it chronicled the globe-trotting of senior execs at AI National last fall.

    “How many %$&?!!*@ members do we have in Romania? Who accompanied him?

    “Would like to know how much travel money was spent overseas by the organization last year.”

    “Page 5 exhibits clearly why the AI, absent huge changes, will never again get a penny from me. While the residential appraisal industry fades away in the USA the organization’s feckless leaders party in Bucharest, Munich and Kyoto in the space of less than one month.”

    My curiosity as a non-member begs a few fundamental questions about AI National travel policy:

    – Do they fly first class at AI National expense?
    – Do their wives accompany them at AI National expense?
    – Do they ever bring friends at AI National expense?
    – Do they stay at five-star hotels at AI National expense?
    – Do they dine at five-star restaurants at AI National expense?
    – When will AI National’s travel expenditures for both expanding membership and any other reasons be disclosed?
    – What is the ROI on new international membership for this marketing effort?

    These are the questions that come up in conversations with members. If AI National had the trust of their members and was transparent about such policies, there would be no need to ask. No one I know seems to know the answers to these simple questions.

    [click on attachment below]

    Attachments:

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #237 Reply

    That AI National Youtube Videos Don’t Get Any Love is Eye Opening

    I just noticed that the AI National Youtube video landing page has surprisingly low page views. The 2017 Ottawa conference video has 255 views in a month, less than 10 views per day. And how does a conference in Canada help the vast majority of membership in the U.S.? It seems like a pretty abstract concept given the lack of traction for recruiting international designees. At the bottom of one of the 2 attached graphics below, the category “consumer videos” has the lowest viewership with one having 8 views in 10 months (less than 1 view per month).

    Divide page views by days and this landing page is essentially unused by any reasonable standard of today’s online world.

    Why not mobilize all 18,000 AI members to get them excited about new content?  I’ll bet most members aren’t aware of these videos, just like the chapter “taking” policy debacle that prompted outrage (as evidenced by the all the AI chapter BOD letters on this site). And if the members were aware of these videos, the lack of views says something about the irrelevance of the content, no?

    High quality production values are expensive and since these videos appear to attract nominal viewership, this seems like a robotic endeavor, a “have to do” – for AI National to be able to say they have a video library of many topics to help their members be successful (or something along those lines).

    When leadership operates in a vacuum, they can’t serve the needs of their membership because they don’t understand what those needs are.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #233 Reply

    Questions from an Upset AI Member to AI National

    A very upset AI member passed this list of questions along to me and asked me to share here. I think these questions are in the minds of most members, at least those that I know….I especially appreciate the last paragraph.

    1. Why don’t the AI Board Members represent their Regions, their Chapters,
    and their Members rather than the Board itself?

    2. Why was something as earth shattering as the New Monetary policy NOT
    openly discussed rather than sent out as a surprise holiday gift?

    3. Why must all National meetings be held at such expensive venues?

    4. Why does AI continue to waste precious time, money, and effort on foreign
    alliances that don’t benefit the most Members? Why must their spouses be
    included?

    5. Why does governance remain in the control of a cadre of directors, etc.
    with VERY little turnover?

    6. Did A I, or any of its members past or present, or any of its interests,
    profit in ANY regard resulting from the sale of the AI sponsored data
    mining company? Was sale price really $475 million?

    The membership is entitled to honest, open, and direct answers. There must
    be sweeping changes moving forward. The time is now or never.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #227 Reply

    The Board of Directors of the Montana Chapter of the Appraisal Institute opposes the adoption of the Appraisal Institute Chapter Financial Management and Administration Policy.

    “The Board of Directors of the Montana Chapter of the Appraisal Institute does not support the policy and urges the National Board of Directors to reconsider the implementation. Collaboration with Chapters and their Members is vital in developing significant policy changes.”

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #225 Reply

    NEW YORK METROPOLITAN CHAPTER – PAST PRESIDENTS

    “The Past Presidents of the New York Chapter of the Appraisal Institute whose signatures appear below
    wish to add their voice to the denunciation of the recent actions of the National Board of Directors in
    implementing, without any discussion or input from the membership, of the new Financial Management
    and Administration Policy.”

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #221 Reply

    Newsletter from the Houston Chapter Embedded With AI National Political Influence

    One of the things I learned over the years, especially as a fan of Edward Tufte, is to identify the source of information in order to determine the credibility or neutrality of the message.

    I was interested to see that the Houston chapter newsletter sent out today presented their position on AI National’s “taking” policy. The position was written by Eric Schwartz, the AI Region VIII Chair for 2017-2019. I don’t know this person but I am skeptical he can be neutral in this matter and still be able to keep such a coveted position in the AI National hierarchy. In fact, the rationale presented by the Eric seemed to be largely taken from the AI National FAQ. To paraphrase Eric’s presentation – “Yes AI National was terrible at communication on this new policy but it is only a bookkeeping change and we are all on the same team.” Unfortunately, this is political rhetoric that is not quite right. Here are some thoughts.

    – The directors have not demonstrated being committed to being better at communications to their members at any time in recent history that I or any members I know are aware of. This is clear from AI National behavior since at least the exit from TAF. Recent actions are consistent with past practice and in fact the trend line is moving toward less communication. For example, AI National published the FAQ after membership outrage and rushed to release it on a Friday afternoon before Christmas. Therefore this is nothing but a silly comment.
    – Out of the blue, after 80 years, Eric says that AI National claimed that the chapter “taking” was in the best interest of members yet doesn’t explain why. They did the same thing in the FAQ. Yes, they said chapters will be able to spend more time on other things but this has never been an issue with the majority of the chapters that I am aware of.
    – Eric wisely dropped benefit #9 from the FAQ since AI National is not particularly gifted at financial management. As presented earlier on REIC, AI National stated benefit “9. Enables Chapters to benefit as a whole from greater potential returns on investment
    based on volume, professional investment services, etc”. The AI National Annual Report for 2015 reported their investments as loss of $92,157. Entrusting chapter funds, therefore increases risk to members by submitting all their hard earned funds into AI National’s stealth culture that loses money on their investments.
    – AI National has been “one entity” for 80 years but only now they feel bylaws are being violated? What about the previous 80 years? Not reasonable.

    Here is the big one…”The change is primarily a bookkeeping change.” That seems to be an incredibly misleading statement. If you read the “taking” policy, it is clearly not a bookkeeping change. I would submit that the taking of chapter funds into a commingled account (but kept track of) is deeply disturbing for an entity that has demonstrated increasingly stealth behavior for years.

    And the fact that Jim Amorin, a repeat president-elect (which is very odd, in and of itself) was at the Houston chapter meeting to swear in new leadership, shows how strong their AI National political affiliation is. As a large chapter, I assume AI National badly needs them to be on their team.

    I am confident that the Houston chapter members are good, honest and hardworking appraisers. I would love to know if the Houston membership voted or even discussed this announcement as a group before sending out the newsletter. Call me skeptical.

    Here are Eric’s thoughts in the chapter newsletter on the “taking” policy, appearing to rely almost entirely on AI National’s 12/23/2016 FAQ.

    I know that some are upset as to how this issue was communicated to chapter leadership and membership. The board had no input as to how and when it was done and virtually all the board members have the same concern. The directors are committed to being better at communicating to our members. Please remember that this action is in the best interest of all members. It is designed to maximize accountability, while minimizing risk. The change is primarily a bookkeeping change. No one is taking the funds held by the chapters. The operating funds are simply being moved to one financial institution and the reserve funds are being moved to an investment account to allow for maximum return.

    The misunderstanding associated with this issue lies with the Appraisal Institute, and its Board of Directors. Over the years AI has allowed the chapters to operate independently which is in direct conflict with the By-Laws. We are one entity, a national organization with 80 chapters. All funds held by the chapters are held in trust for the whole organization. We must break away from this “us” vs. “them” mentality. We are one and the national boards of directors, along with the Houston Chapter board of directors are dedicated to serving all of our members while minimizing risk to the entire organization.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #205 Reply

    AI Chicago Chapters letter to AI National on the “taking” policy is attached. My apologies, I thought I had posted this a few days ago.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #202 Reply

    AI Nevada Chapter response to AI National’s “taking” policy is attached.

    Final sentence of letter: “We urge the Appraisal Institute Board of Directors to withdraw the implementation of this policy,
    immediately.”

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #189 Reply

    AI National Distributes FAQ Policy on Chapter “Taking” Policy

    After intense nationwide chapter and membership backlash, AI finally opted to provide some of the details for taking control of most of each Chapter’s cash (“taking”). Their FAQ was distributed on December 23rd, 2016, the Friday before the holiday weekend. See link below.

    Unlike the Thanksgiving release of their already BOD approved “taking” policy decree, the odd FAQ release date infers AI National’s deep sense of urgency to counter the negative conversation that exploded from their disastrous (lack of) communication. The idea that the cheery letter from the AI president back in November would be enough to both take and control all chapter funds for a fee was the height of arrogance and showed disdain to its membership – as I’ve written about before.

    Unfortunately for the chapters and membership, this FAQ appears to be a document to fog the “taking” issue by loading in a lot of procedural rules that should have been disclosed with their initial announcement and doesn’t address the heart of the matter. These housekeeping items should have been thought through and disclosed back in November. This clerical procedural document (FAQ) seems to be an attempt to cause a member who reads it to say “With all this detail, it sure SOUNDS like AI National knows what they are doing.” Fogging is a time-honored public relation and debating technique.

    Their FAQ addresses some of the open-ended language of the “taking” policy but it also suggests that the original “taking” policy had been rushed out in November to coincide with the Thanksgiving Holiday in order to minimize membership resistance. Of course, I could be wrong. Only the BOD would know that.

    Incredibly, this FAQ doesn’t address the actual problem that caused chapter and membership outrage: The lack of trust towards AI National and their stealth culture by the membership and chapters. And it doesn’t leave open any opportunity to undo this massive change in the organizational culture that blindsided the membership and chapters. They just say “no.”

    Early next week, I’ll break it down.

    CFMAP FAQs–122316_FINAL

    Otherwise, Happy Holidays to all!

    REIC Forum Moderator

    • #200 Reply

      Current and Former Employee Reviews of AI National via Glassdoor.com

      Since one of the biggest criticisms of AI National has been their stealth culture and top-down authoritarian management style, it is probably helpful to take a look at what current and former employees think of working at AI National. Glassdoor provides a number of reviews that are presented below.  It provides a sense of how the anti-chapter “taking” policy could have evolved within AI National culture and how blindsided they became from the membership backlash.

      Glassdoor holds a growing database of more than 8 million company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, benefits reviews, office photos and more.

      Here is one of the telling comments consistent with many of the others provided on the site.

      I’ve never worked at an association before where the volunteer leaders are treated like royalty–we were actually instructed NOT to ever talk to a board or committee member, as if we were too stupid to say anything intelligent, even though we were the ones carrying out the work for the projects determined by the Board and the Committees. The director-level staff employs this same attitude–if you’re not a director, not only are you not worthy of ever attending a director-level meeting, you are also not able to talk to a director outside of your area without permission from your own director. And forget about getting credit for any work that you do. You’re supposed to just be happy you still have a job. Job security is awful–good people get let go all of the time for emotional reasons on the part of the all-knowing directors. And the CEO? If you’re lucky, you’ll see him about 4 times a year. Walking the halls and talking to staff? Why would he do that? He already knows everything there is to know to run the association.

       

      UPDATE A reader pointed out that AI National only has a 17% approval rating.  See attachment.

      REIC Forum Moderator

    • #190 Reply
      Profile photo of John McMahon
      John McMahon
      Member

      AI National stated benefit “9. Enables Chapters to benefit as a whole from greater potential returns on investment
      based on volume, professional investment services, etc”.  The AI National Annual Report for 2015 reported their investments as loss of $92,157.

  • #180 Reply

    My personal take on not only the current situation but the context of how this controversial decision came about is that the issue is organization’s management culture. After receiving information and visiting with a number of people who have been involved with AI a very long time, my current opinion, subject to change based on additional or revised information, is that the overriding focus on centralized decision-making, management and finances is putting national at odds with active local involvement. My current thought is that for real substantive change to take place will require what the military calls a “stand down” (stop the bus) and complete a review that allows for input from for example a consultant in membership driven non-profit management and culture as well as from those of us who are objecting to how things are done. This current situation is only a symptom of the management issues that many of us resent. AI is a great organization and has been and continues to be a leader in real estate valuation. Our goal is improve its responsiveness to the “stakeholders” who provide the vast majority of the financial support.

  • #179 Reply

    The President’s message from the Chicago Chapter provides a good overview of their chapter perspective towards AI National. It is the same theme seen across other chapter letters that are in the public domain through the slew of emails by the membership.

    Here’s is the link to the Chicago Chapter’s on point president’s message by John G McMahon, SRA:

    http://www.ccai.org/presidents-message.php

    And a screenshot of the letter from their website is attached below.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #173 Reply
    Profile photo of Gene Rhodes
    Gene Rhodes
    Member

    Some thoughts from a member of the North Texas Chapter of the AI

    • #175 Reply

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. One of the unfortunate things embedded in AI National culture has been a fear of repercussions for speaking out. That’s sad and is one of the symptoms that shows how much AI National has drifted from relevancy. Member input is the lifeblood of an essential and vibrant organization. Your “devil may care” letter says a lot about what a stand-up professional you must be.

      REIC Forum Moderator

      • #243 Reply
        Profile photo of Jim Plante
        Jim Plante
        Member

        I’m a little concerned that you would advocate a democratic organization while patterning its origin after the US Constitution. This nation is a republic, and I would offer that any reorganization follow that pattern. If it were so, then we might not be in the situation in which we now find ourselves. The republic draws lines in the sand, beyond which neither executive, legislative, nor judicial may proceed. Changing those lines requires full knowledge and consent of a supermajority of the members. Think about it, please.

        On another topic, much criticism has been heaped on AI for withdrawing from The Appraisal Foundation (TAF). In my opinion, this criticism is unjustified. Mr. Rhodes also posits that we should rejoin TAF. I don’t agree. We should avoid TAF at all costs. Why? It is funded by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC). These people are clients for an enormous number of appraisals. Allowing them to effectively direct the standards under which we appraise is IMO a conflict of interest. Effectively direct? Yep. At last check, TAF gets over $3 million per year from the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) of the FFIEC. He who has the gold makes the rules. Check TAF’s form 990 on Guidestar.com for current figures. You’ll find that like most government-sponsored entities, it is top-heavy with executives drawing more pay than their contribution justifies. And, BTW, AI’s annual contribution to the TAF coffers was $40,000.

        TAF tried to sanction AI for describing their desire to intrude into appraisal education as a “power grab.” It was an accurate description, and also would have damaged a major source of revenue now being provided by its member organizations. AI would not tolerate it, and its then-President would not kowtow to the New York tax lawyer who managed to get himself elected Chairman of TAF’s Board of Trustees.

        We were right to withdraw from TAF, and I don’t want to see us return.

         

  • #150 Reply

    Miscellaneous feedback…

    I was told the LA Chapter is writing a letter.  Another one from New York, Atlanta, some New England Chapters and possibly Minnesota.  North Texas sent something a month ago – already posted here.  Please post these BOD chapter letters on the forum when you have a copy or send to me and I’ll take care of it.

    Someone told me that the correct term for this action is “receivership.”  That the National Executive Board is placing all chapters in involuntary receivership.

    I also heard that AI was going to do a daily sweep of the chapters’ accounts with interest.

    REIC Forum Moderator

    • #166 Reply

      I saw this term used in an email as well– “involuntary receivership”. I am not an attorney but do valuation work for bankruptcy attorneys. This is a technical legal term and I offered the opinion to the user of this term that it might be better to use something that does not imply that some type of legal action involved. Furthermore, this would not be necessary since AI is one organization presumably and the chapters are not separate organizations or chartered as such– that is my best guess.

      This could lead to rumors and mis-information and personally I consider it hyperbole. At the current time we have seen way too much of this from a political candidate. So my personal view is that we should stick to the facts, use terms that are not inflammatory, inaccurate, misleading and be careful of making accusations that are not based on solid information. If we are speculating or stating our opinion about what current events might lead to, let’s be clear that it is speculation and opinion and NOT fact. I think that would help everyone. Most people are torqued up already over the election and massive change that might result in the govt and the results for our business and profession.

      • #167 Reply

        Thanks for the thoughts Joe. Yes, you are correct, we should focus on the facts. I deal with lawyers in our appraisal practice all day long so your point is well taken. But the problem we have with this situation is the byproduct of an AI organizational culture that isn’t known for sharing important information with anyone outside their circle – this puts the membership at a disadvantage when trying to get everyone to understand what is going on at AI National. That is THE problem that needs to be corrected for AI National to be relevant again to the industry. When speculative items about AI National are brought up here, they should be characterized as someone’s opinion or a rumor, etc. but not be hidden from view. It’s a great opportunity to clarify to the membership what is actually a rumor and not a fact. Thoughts?

        REIC Forum Moderator

  • #148 Reply

    “Inland Northwest Chapter membership voted unanimously to formally express our dissatisfaction with the Appraisal Institute’s new Financial Management and Administration Policy.”

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #146 Reply

    Past Presidents’ Chicago chapter letter to AI.   Need the BOD letter too – anyone have it?

    Attached please find a letter to AI in regard to the new Finance Policy. In addition to this letter from the Board of Past Presidents of the Chicago Chapter, a Chicago Chapter letter is also being sent to National today. You will all receive a copy of that letter also. Please read and redistribute if you wish. Those members of the AI Board that voted for that Policy have disregarded their fiduciary responsibility to our Members, Chapters and Regions. Transparency and accountability to the Members, Chapters and Regions, the life-blood of the Appraisal Institute, was nonexistent. Your Regional Directors will receive this letter also, and you are free to support our position or not. Let’s make the AI Great Again! This can be accomplished by transparency and accountability. No more stealth planning when it effects our Members, Chapters and Regions.

    Joe Mags
    Joseph C. Magdziarz, MAI, SRA, AI-GRS, AI-RRS
    2011 Past President of AI

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #141 Reply

    The AI stealth policy decision currently in effect and rationale.

    Chapter Financial Management and Administration Policy
    Adopted by the Appraisal Institute Board of Directors on 11/18/2016

    Background Regarding Chapter Financial Management and Administration Policy
    Adopted by Board of Directors on November 18, 2016

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #134 Reply

    AI November 30, 2016 email blast to members presenting the news to all chapters after the policy was already enacted – to take control of chapter cash. “This is great news for chapters.”

    View image of emailed announcement.

    REIC Forum Moderator

  • #131 Reply

    North Texas Chapter Board of Directors response to AI chapter policy.

    REIC Forum Moderator

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