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One of the first questions you should ask your appraiser is if he or she is a member of a major professional society such as The American Society of Appraisers (ASA). Professional societies have stringent requirements for accrediting their members. Each of the three major societies has a different program. The American Society of Appraisers has the most difficult program and it also is the most prestigious; the other two majors are AAA and RICS.

Accredited members must complete an educational regimen similar in difficulty to a Master’s degree program. They are tested in appraisal theory, principles, methodology, and ethics. The Board of Examiners of The American Society of Appraisers reviews their written appraisal reports and work log (a minimum of 4000 billable hours). Members have to pass a Federal test called the USPAP (yoos-pap). And like many doctors, they are tested in an area of specialty of their choice, e.g., art or antique furniture, etc. Furthermore, as with most professions, members are required to satisfy a continuing educational program mandated by the professional society. All of this takes a vast amount of time and considerable resources.

Is it worth it? Yes. You as the property owner can know automatically that a member with a designation after their name (ASA) meets the highest standards for professional appraisal service.

Can’t anyone place initials after their name? No. It is against the law and perpetrators are prosecuted just as they would be if they claimed to be a medical doctor. Look for the designation after your appraiser’s name. Ask what it stands for and to which society he or she belongs. Also, look for the logo of the member’s society. Logos can only be used by accredited members.