Anyone in Utah and 47 other states can simply hang out a shingle and call themselves a professional appraiser.
But that practice may soon be coming to an end, according to Terry Oetzel, immediate past president of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers.Efforts are under way in at least 20 states, including Utah, to require certification of appraisers - much as doctors, lawyers and other professionals are certified, he said.
Oetzel was in Salt Lake City Friday for the installation of Kenneth R. Wamsley as the new president of the institute's Utah Chapter. Wamsley is replacing outgoing chapter president Mardell D. Topham.
Although the institute favors certification by the individual states, it opposes broad-based certification at the federal level. Oetzel said legislation requiring federal certification of appraisers was introduced unsuccessfully in Congress last year and will likely be reintroduced this session. But federal certification would prove too cumbersome and that the job can better be handled by the states, Oetzel said.
Currently, only Louisiana and Florida have certification legislation on the books.
He said everyone benefits with certification - the real estate industry, consumers and even the appraisers - because it would mean that all appraisers would have to pass certain tests and meet certain standards.
Oetzel said the national real estate market has shifted to a regional one during the 1980s. He said states where growth was fueled by the oil and energy boom of the 1970s are now trying to recover from the energy bust of the 1980s; while the Northwestern and Northeastern states that were faltering a decade ago have reorganized and are a going concern again.
He also said that after three years of favorable interest rates, there is growing concern in the industry now that they have started creeping up again.
The American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers is the nation's largest, with more than 23,000 members and candidates. Membership is awarded after candidates show their ability to meet stringent requirements, including years of practical appraisal experience and passing extensive written tests.