|> The Appraiser Coach|
MPAT: Opening the Door for Prospective Appraisers
by Kendra Budd, Editor
Every appraiser knows it all too well—to get started in this industry you must be trained. It often feels like an uphill battle when you’re trying to find an appraiser to train you, let alone get the required experience hours or necessary education requirements. Then to top it all off you have to retain all of that information. It’s exhausting! Well, one appraiser in particular noticed the struggle many trainees were facing and found a better solution.
Melissa Bond, an appraiser for over 30 years, is the developer and manager of the Mississippi Practical Appraiser Training (MPAT) program. MPAT is a practicum geared toward educating and providing experience for the new generation of appraisers; it is highly focused on obtaining meaningful experience in a controlled environment. This practicum is education with hands-on experience.
The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) of The Appraisal Foundation (TAF), adopted the criteria for a practicum over 15 years ago. Melissa Bond is the first appraiser/education provider to utilize the practicum option by developing a course which was approved by the state of Mississippi. In January of 2021, the AQB adopted a change to the practicum requirements from 50 percent non-traditional client experience to up to 100 percent non-traditional client experience; this change created the additional flexibility needed for a practicum course to be developed. The forward-thinking of the AQB established this amazing alternative pathway for licensing.
The Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC), through its current grant program, provided funding for MPAT. The ASC uses its authority to make grants that improve the state regulatory processes and advance the appraisal industry through grants that support high-quality, impact oriented programming by State Agencies and partner organizations identified in their proposals. Mississippi utilized these granted funds for development and for implementation for the MPAT 2022 program. Mississippi’s focus was on recruiting and training a more diverse population of aspiring appraisers; thereby better reflecting the overall general population of the state. The ASC State Support Program allowed the state of Mississippi to deliver a practicum program that allowed for an increase of appraisers of diverse backgrounds who historically experienced barriers to entering the real estate appraisal profession.
The Mississippi Appraisal Board and Mississippi Real Estate Commission were overwhelmingly welcoming and encouraging to Bond when she presented the proposal for a practicum program that could train up to 20 individuals each cycle. The Appraisal Board and state agency sought grant funds from the ASC.
MPAT is the first program of its kind and provides aspiring appraisers the opportunity to train for licensure through a non-traditional scope. Thus far, 17 trainees have completed the program and are well on their way to paving the future path of the appraisal industry. Bond’s innovation is currently being considered by other states as a pathway to licensing. But why did Bond start this program? What makes it different from the Supervisor/Trainee pathway? Why has it produced such success?
Working RE magazine was able to sit down with Bond and learn more about her program in depth and her fascinating story of how it all started.
How It All Began
When you’re first starting out as a trainee, locating a supervisor to train you can be a daunting task. Bond noticed over the past 15 years it was becoming increasingly difficult for trainees to find the experience they were so desperately needing in order to enter the appraisal profession. Oftentimes when a supervisor was willing to train someone, it was more “watching” than hands-on experience. “I realized what we were missing: trainees were still in that antiquated mode of an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is just watching someone perform his/her tasks and emulating what they do as they carry out their duties. There didn’t seem to be a deep dive of learning the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). USPAP is all about competency and should be an integral component of the training process,” Bond enlightened.
Typically, supervisors are preoccupied with performing quality assignments and ensuring they are delivered to their clients in a timely manner; of course, this prohibits a supervisor from slowing down and explaining all aspects of researching, analyzing and reconciling to the trainee. This is just a common business practice for all—finish one assignment because several others are on the log sheet waiting to be performed. That’s when Bond got what she calls a “God-given vision.” She began to wonder, what if an appraiser stopped taking orders and focused only on educating and providing purposeful experience to the new aspiring appraiser? “We could deep dive with them, truly teach concepts—the WHY—rather than just how to be an effective form filler,” Bond envisioned.
This vision became reality to Bond; at that point, there was no stopping her. Along with Bond, six other instructors that assisted with the development and implementation of MPAT, including Pamela Teel – TX Certified General, Diana Jacob – Certified General, etc.
At Bond’s request, the Mississippi state board approved up to 20 aspiring appraisers were allowed to enter the MPAT program. At that time, Mississippi had more appraisers exiting the profession annually than new appraisers entering. The Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) through its grant program funded the development and the implementation of MPAT 2022. “We had less than 800 practicing appraisers in Mississippi in 2020. The Mississippi Appraisal Board agreed that this MPAT program could solve some of the appraiser diversity issues, could provide well-trained appraisers in underserved areas of the state, and could produce a new generation of appraisers,” Bond recalls.
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The Training Process
Bond’s vision was slowly marching forward. The training was intentionally quite rigorous and fully hands-on; the trainees would do the work and the instructor would oversee and guide. They were exposed to various types of assignments:
• Non-lender clients
Exposure to and an understanding of all the necessary overlay guidance for each of the assignment types was reinforced. “I would tell them ‘This appraisal you’re doing is FHA guidelines, go to the HUD handbook. This one is VA, read the VA chapters 10 to 13.’ I gave them specifics, while allowing them to learn on their own,” Bond tells us.
Then came the site visits. “We would go out together and physically measure a house then spend two or more hours on-site identifying construction components, discussing types of mechanics, noting the difference between single crown & triple crown, flooring types, functional utility, ceiling types, and so much more. So, basically, we would spend this inordinate amount of time discussing how each of these contribute to value,” informs Bond.
“MPAT’s trainees were well-trained and fully prepared when they sat for their licensing exam. These trainees are educated straight out of the gate with that brand new license smell,” Bond happily boasts. Her trainees are greatly prepared for their exams and confident in their abilities which makes them the perfect candidates for the next generation of appraisers.
To Train or not Train?
Now, it is no secret that trainees find it increasingly difficult to get an appraiser to take a chance on them. A large percentage of appraisers prefer not to take on even one trainee. Bond is aware of appraisers’ reluctance and theorizes that there are two main reasons for it.
The first reason appraisers don’t want to slow down their business to take on a trainee. “Time is money. It doesn’t matter what the appraiser is doing; the trainee is going to have questions, which is going to cost time,” Bond explains. Many appraisers fear that the constant stop and start of training while on the job, will cause an income deficit to their practice, and many can’t afford to take that risk.
The second reason is one we hear time and time again: trainees will only steal away future work. Many appraisers fear that the newer generation will sweep them under the rug and take work from them. This fear not only hinders trainees, but the future of the appraisal industry as whole. “Here’s what we have to realize as appraisers, someone trained you, someone trained me. Also, let’s be honest, we are much like other professions that have a largely aging workforce that may be looking for retirement within the next decade or so. “We should feel a responsibility to replenish our own human resources,” Bond clarifies.
The Future of MPAT
Mississippi’s MPAT program has proven to be a viable method for gaining meaningful experience and quality training. Currently, MPAT is the only program of its kind and has yielded great success. First-time testing scores exceeded the national average for the National Uniform Licensing and Certification Exam.
So, what is the future of MPAT? Well, Bond hopes for it to expand across the nation. “The initial vision was for MPAT to be duplicated in other licensing jurisdictions. I made the wheel turn, and I can assist others to make that wheel turn for them too. It needs to be an education provider to develop the program and an instructor/manager/residential appraiser to run the program. Effective communication skills for the instructor are key to success,” Bond tells us.
Not only is Bond’s goal to expand this program across the country, but also to bring in more gender and ethnic minority groups into the appraisal industry. As a woman in this line of work, Bond understands the hardships of getting started when you don’t see yourself reflected in a room of your peers. “When I first entered this profession, I was an extreme minority. I would go to continuing education classes and be the one woman out of 100 men,” remembers Bond. However, she acknowledges that this wasn’t an intentional agenda of the appraisal industry, it’s just the way it was. As Bond says, “people just tend to gravitate toward training their own—whether that was a relative or friend—then it would progress generationally—typically from male to male. If we take programs like mine and we pull in those minority populations, this affords the opportunity for each of those minority individuals also to build generationally,” Bond envisions.
Of course, the door to this industry has never been locked. Many have tried to jiggle the handle when they weren’t invited in—but to no significant avail. MPAT can open those doors for aspiring appraisers that may feel like it has historically been closed on them.
What started as a seemingly impossible feat became an incredible success story. Especially because, according to Bond, this practicum isn’t for the faint of heart. “I had three individuals that pulled themselves from the program, because this intense learning doesn’t work for everyone. They realized they didn’t have the necessary available time. Although it requires extreme commitment, there is great reward when success comes in the form of a new state-issued license,” Bond recalls.
In fact, Bond has one success story in particular that has helped her stay motivated, “I had a student that was so worried he wasn’t going to pass the national licensing exam because he wasn’t a good test taker. However, he was committed to studying incessantly and reviewing my lesson videos daily. When he took his exam, he passed it the first time! Beaming with pride, he turned to the receptionist at the front desk and said, ‘Stand up! Somebody must hug me right now!’ Bond happily remembers.
Maybe someday soon, other states will be able to follow in the footsteps of Mississippi; this would allow for an even wider open door—just as Bond envisioned.
To be clear, without the Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) adopting a practicum and the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) funding the development and implementation of MPAT through its grant program to licensing jurisdictions, it would not have taken wings and changed lives as it has done.
Stay safe out there!
About the Author
Kendra Budd is the Editor of Working RE Magazine and the Marketing Coordinator for OREP, a leading provider of appraiser E&O insurance—trusted by over 10,000 appraisers. She graduated with a BA in Theatre and English from Western Washington University, and with an MFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. She is currently based in Seattle, WA.
OREP Insurance Services, LLC. Calif. License #0K99465