Monday, May 19, 2014

USPAP From An Intern's Perspective

Earlier this month, ArtTrak appraisers John Buxton and Kim Kolker attended USPAP classes. Unless you’re in the appraisal business—or if you have been in need of an appraiser—chances are you’re not familiar with USPAP, the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. 

Encountering professional jargon can be frustrating, which is exactly why it’s important to hire an expert to help interpret the things you don’t understand—but where do you find such an expert, and how do you know you’ve picked the right person for the job?

Taking these issues into consideration, we decided to have the ArtTrak intern Sam Mason give her take on USPAP in order to demonstrate why everyone should familiarize themselves with these standards in preparation for their future appraisal needs.

“Fresh out of college and just starting a job, at first this seemed pretty low on my list of priorities,” says ArtTrak intern Sam Mason. “I decided to talk to Kim Kolker and John Buxton about USPAP and why it would be important for me to understand it, the answers to some of my questions surprised me”

As members of the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), Kolker and Buxton are required to take USPAP courses as a means of ongoing education. USPAP regulations are constantly being monitored and updated; a new book is put out every two years to adapt to the needs of clients and appraisers. Simply put, Kolker described the main function of USPAP as “promoting and maintaining the public trust of appraisers.”

Mason probed Kolker for more details on how USPAP can directly affect people in their everyday lives. “All of us will use the services of an appraiser at some time in his/her life—whether that is a real property appraiser (appraises real estate) or a personal property appraiser (appraises objects), It is important that you hire someone following USPAP standards,” said Kolker.

“You might use the services of an appraiser in a number of instances—when valuing your home for resale or refinance, or when you hold an estate sale for your grandmother’s items,” said Kolker. “Perhaps you want to buy an object but don’t know if this particular painting or piece of furniture is worth the offering price. An appraiser could assist you in all of these situations.”

Now that Mason understood the main function of USPAP and the general uses of an appraiser, she wanted to know one last thing—how was it relevant to her and her peers, specifically?

“I finally understood why USPAP was important, but as a graduating college student, I wanted to know the specific scenarios where my knowledge of USPAP might be helpful to me,” said Mason.

Thinking about her own future, Mason came up with several potential real-life situations in which she would want to have a good, USPAP qualified appraiser on her side:
  • I move into a new home and need insurance on the contents, who do I trust to determine their value?
  • A family members dies, leaving me executor of the estate, and I have no idea what to do. Who is qualified to help me?
  • I am involved in a divorce, who do I trust to value community property?
  • A family member sends me a family heirloom for my new house, but it’ shows up broken, who do I trust for the damage claim?

“With a basic understanding of USPAP I can quickly find out if the appraiser is qualified to do my job,” said Mason. “USPAP also informs the public as to proper ethical standards for appraisers.”

Find out more about USPAP on the Appraisal Foundation website, here.

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