Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some questions that are frequently asked of the ISA Staff. Have another question? You can always contact ISA Headquarters by emailing isa@isa-appraisers.org or calling 312.981.6778.

How much are membership dues?

Answer: Membership dues for 2010-2011 are $450 USD. Membership dues correspond to when you first joined ISA. For example, if you started membership with ISA in August, your membership would be from 8/1/10 – 7/31/11. Membership dues can be paid online through the ISA Website's Current Member tab.

How do I learn more about ISA courses?

Answer: ISA course brochures are provided on the ISA website under ISA Education. Courses are held in Naperville, IL, just outside of Chicago. Specialty courses are held downtown in Chicago, IL. The only courses that are offered off-site are Core Course and the Requalification Course. These two courses are offered through distance education, the correspondence course.

Do we earn professional development credits for participating in webinars?

Answer: Yes, one professional development credit is earned per hour of instruction.

What is USPAP?

Answer: USPAP stands for Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and is a required course taught by an instructor approved by the Appraisal Foundation. It is a standardized course followed by a standardized exam. The 15-hour National USPAP course is required for all members and is good for 5 years. If USPAP is taken outside ISA, proof of successful completion should be sent to ISA Headquarters.

When do I need to Re-qualify and why?

Answer: Each member is required to re-qualify every 5 years. Requalification is completed after successfully passing the Re-qual course and submission of the Re-qual packet. The Re-qualification course can be done one of three ways:

a. Onsite: A two-day course that does not require an exam.

b. Distance Education: Students are given six months to complete the course and are required to have their exam proctored.

c. Testing out: This option is not recommended and as of January 1, 2011 will no longer be available.

Re-qualification is necessary in order to maintain knowledge of ISA standards, appraisal methodology and report writing.

How can I obtain a member login to the ISA website?

Answer: Member login can be obtained by visiting the ISA website and clicking on the Member Sign In button at the top right of the webpage. Then clicking Create New Account will allow you to obtain a member login.

What does it mean to have 3 years industry/market related experience?

Answer: Market related non-appraisal experience is associated with the act of buying or selling, market research of price or value in defined markets, knowledge of various market levels (dealer, dealer’s assistant, auctioneer, estate liquidator, etc.) Activities for this experience could include: identification, authentication, conservation, restoration, repair, claims investigation, etc.

Where can I find the requirements for each level of membership?

Answer: The Credentialing and Requalification policy is on the ISA website under Current Member. Click here to be directed to the policy.

Where can I sign up for webinars?

Answer: You can register for upcoming and past webinars from the ISA website under ISA Education. You can also register directly at the ISA WebEx page.

What are the benefits of membership in ISA?

Membership with ISA has many benefits a few of them being:

a. By joining ISA you are involved in a community of networking and have the chance to know other appraisers within the association.

b. Educational courses and webinars provided by ISA allow members to move through the credentialing process to obtain higher designations.

c. Online resources, like Forum, ISA Now, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, allow member to stay connected and learn about upcoming events of ISA.

d. The Find An Appraiser format allows the general public to find ISA members in their area.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Importance of Designations

Many of our members are in the process of earning or enhancing their ISA designations. I would like to shed some light not only on the importance of but the benefits of our designations.

When you first join and are going through the steps of attending ISA courses, three to five letters after your name may not seem like a big deal or an important goal. However, the best way I can think to prove this wrong is by asking you to put yourself in the shoes of your client or potential client. They may not know about USPAP, ISARWS, or even the slightest hint of what a qualified or trained appraiser is, but they do realize that professions have certain levels of achievement. When you take the steps and go through the proper channels to earn your designations, you tell not only these potential clients, but your competitors that you care about your business and the service that your provide. It shows you take pride in your work and value not only yourself but those you serve. Those letters after your name may not seem like much, but they are proof positive that you have taken the time and put forth the effort to ensure that you are at the top of your game.

Leon Castner, ISA CAPP, the Director of Education touches on this, “Our quest for academic and professional excellence is not just a responsibility, however. It is a benefit. You will find yourself quickly advancing in knowledge and skill that can be gained in no other fashion. You will find yourself growing in stature and wisdom, often absorbing much without great effort, just because you are part of this family. You will also find opportunities not available to those outside our society, i.e. conventions, webinars, chapter meetings, forum discussions, and networking. It’s part of being connected to a team that thrives on and strives for educational enhancement. So begin your journey with excitement and anticipation. Participate fully in all we have to offer. Your cultivation and enlightenment is our aim.”

Take pride in the time and effort that you have put forth to enlarge your understanding, deepen your knowledge, and enhance your expertise. If you have not yet taken full advantage of all the educational opportunities that ISA has to offer, do. Register for a course, take a webinar, get involved with your local chapter and watch yourself grow--not only personally but professionally. Your business will as well.

Michelle Stearns
ISA Education and Credentialing Coordinator

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Welcome New Members and More Congratulations are Due!

We’re pleased to welcome the following new members who have joined the Society since January 1, 2010:















If you know someone you’d like to recommend for membership, please forward their contact info to Sara Porter, ISA’s Membership & Operations Coordinator, at sporter@thesentergroup.com.

ISA would also like to acknowledge those who participated in the Requalification Course offered in Toronto, May 4-5, 2010. These individuals have recognized the importance of maintaining their professional designations and have done so through the participation and completion of this course. Congratulations to the following for successfully completing the Requalification course:

The next on-site Requalification Course takes place in Naperville, IL October 4-5, 2010. For more information and to register, visit the ISA Education Page or call ISA Headquarters at 312.981.6778.

Friday, June 18, 2010

ISA Plans Shift in Dues Cycle

In ISA President Judith Martin’s inaugural post to ISA Now she mentioned several new initiatives. One of those undertakings is to change the dues payment and invoicing cycle from a rolling year based upon month of membership to an annual cycle with all dues invoiced on the calendar year. This change will assist ISA in numerous ways, but first a little background.

When I joined ISA in 2000 (I can’t believe it already has been 10 years) all members were billed on an annual basis, and the billing cycle was primarily October 1 – Sept 30. Without budgets and strong internal controls in place, it became difficult to manage our finances and we soon found our cash flow to be unnecessarily hampered. In an attempt to alleviate the cash flow problems and more effectively manage membership income, ISA shifted to a rolling monthly dues invoicing process. ISA also procured a bank line of credit to aid in cash flow during the year. This worked well for a while, and then as the economy turned it became more and more difficult to pay off the line of credit and to plan for future cash needs.

After closing the Seattle office and hiring Sentergroup to manage operations, we have been consistently receiving professional financial advice from Sentergroup, ISA attorneys and our new CPA firm. These professional advisors have been instrumental over the past 18 months in aiding and supporting ISA and the Board in reducing our outstanding debt, creating realistic budgets and managing cash flow. They have also assisted in implementing financial industry standards and internal controls while supplying organized monthly accountant-reviewed financial reports. Our advisory team also recommended that ISA close the line of credit, noting to the ISA Board that it is very rare for a not-for-profit membership association to have or even need a line of credit. The ISA Board of Directors accepted the advice, and converted the line of credit into an amortized loan with a small balloon payment. Soon that too will be paid off in full.

ISA has close to 800 members with nearly 60% renewing dues in September. The other 40% is spread out over the other 11 months of the year … not a very efficient system for invoicing or tracking. The next recommendation from Sentergroup and our accounting firm is to shift the membership dues cycle from the existing rolling method to a calendar year cycle to align with our fiscal year. This will support staff and benefit ISA members in several ways:
  • We will have stronger membership management capabilities and be able to better track and follow membership renewals and attrition
  • We will know sooner and earlier in the calendar/fiscal year if there are financial indicators on the horizon (both good and bad)
  • Invoicing and membership record updating will be more efficient, as will the accountant’s monthly review and reconciliation process
  • We will process membership renewals only once instead of 12 times a year, allowing more time to focus on advancing and strengthening the Society
  • The dues invoicing change will benefit staff efficiency, create economies of scale and save ISA staff and members both time and money
Our goal is to implement the calendar year dues cycle effective January 1, 2012. During 2011, we will make some accommodations and pro rate many members dues in order to synchronize the new cycle with membership balances, but once it is complete our ability to manage cash flow, membership tracking, and budget and planning abilities will all be greatly enhanced.

As a banker in a previous life who reviewed many financial statements and made many loans to small businesses, and as Treasurer of ISA I am pleased to see the progress ISA has made in such a short period of time. ISA's accomplishments and societal growth show what a dedicated membership, board and management team can accomplish by working together. Should any members have any questions about this upcoming change, please feel free to contact me at toddsig01@gmail.com or our Executive Director Joe Jackson at jjackson@thesentergroup.com.

Todd W. Sigety, ISA CAPP
Treasurer, ISA Board of Directors

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Core Course Reflections and Congratulations

During May’s Core Course, Joe Jackson and I went to visit the attendees. It was their first day and we had gone to introduce ISA and ourselves. The classroom is located in the Northern Illinois University satellite campus so it was convenient for us as we are both here in the area. It dawned on me later that ISA had come a long way from the time that I took my Core Course in Rolling Meadows; then we met in a hotel classroom setting. Our manuals were really just outlines of the material and we filled in the information as it was given. The instructor, Elly Rosin used a dry erase board or chalk board to give us diagrams etc., and we wrote like crazy. When I began, I believe there were 25 of us taking the class; this week’s class had 13 members.

Today’s class had the new two part manuals in paperback fashion; one manual is the coursework and one manual is the resource materials. The manuals are a first version and not ready for general consumption but that day is soon approaching. There are Power Points to go along with the topic of discussion, there are projects to complete, there are internet connections for each student, and laptops are used during the class – quite a change. But something that is very much the same is the amount of information that is given in such a short amount of time and how confusing and frustrating it can be at times during the course. By the time the course is finished you know you have accomplished something.

Another thing that dawned on me was the cost of the course has really not changed if you consider the cost of living and the change in the economy. Today’s course is $1299 and I believe the course I took well over 15 years ago was $900. Plus, it’s a really good value for your dollar.

The changes in the Core Course made me think of the changes to ISA in the past 15 years. We have moved our headquarters from Chicago to Seattle and back. We went from a for profit organization to a member owned not for profit. The member owned ISA went from a group management system to a stand alone office back to a management group with Sentergroup. Changes made for good reasons and because of the times we were or are in.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Introducing the ISA Promotions Committee

In an effort to make life easier for future conference committees, the board of directors has recently formed a Promotions Committee. Our goal is to find eager members from different parts of the country and Canada to allow us to have contacts outside the East coast ... those people are tired of hearing from me (Libby)! This is what we will be doing:
  • Taking over the role of selling sponsorships for conference. It will work better if this is an ongoing process rather than an add-on for the conference committee.
  • Selling ads to be placed on the web site, newsletter and webinars.
  • Promoting ISA to related industries such as shippers, insurers, attorneys, financial planners, etc. We do a lot of promoting ISA to appraisers but we will be able to get our name out to the folks who hire us ... yeah!
  • Creating the ads ISA will place to promote ourselves.
  • Structuring a policy for ads we trade. This has gotten a little out of hand at conference with ad space in our program being traded for ads about conference in newsletter and magazines. We need to make sure these trades are more meaningful for us. For example, not sending out ads for conference attendance (which don't work) and sending an ad about hiring ISA appraisers.
  • Recruiting other members to help under the committee’s supervision.

This is an exciting opportunity for ISA to create some income for ongoing projects and to put more power behind our appraiser search benefit as more related industries understand the value of hiring us. I won't kid you, this is not an easy committee to be on. I do promise that I will jump in and work hard with you (as a board member I cannot chair a committee but that doesn't mean I have to sit back and "advise" you from afar).

We’re still looking for candidates from the central and western US. Also, please respond soon ... we are on the countdown to Nashville!

Please contact me at Libby@LibbyHollowayAppraisals.com or 843.379.0130. I look forward to working with you to make ISA stronger.

Libby Holloway, ISA CAPP
Secretary, ISA Board of Directors

Friday, June 4, 2010

Welcome to the ISA Blog - a Message from President Judith Martin

Welcome to our first blog entry. ISA has started a blog focusing on society information, questions, answers, and ideas for the members. We want this to be an avenue that can be used for communication from the board, the office, and to the membership at large. So, I have been given the task of writing our first entry – here we go.

For those of you who did not attend the Toronto conference – you missed a great time and terrific seminars. But you will have a chance to visit with your colleagues again next February when we go to NASHVILLE for our annual conference (Feb 18 – 21, 2011). ISA has been trying to think outside the box for our future conference. And we know how much it takes for our members to join us, both in time and money. We have decided to make you all country music stars! – just joking, we have decided that next year we will have our conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, right at the end of the Heart of Country Antique Show (www.heartofcountry.com). We thought this might be a great way for our members who wish to visit a well known popular show and attend our must be there conference for a reasonable travel cost. Kill two birds with one stone idea. Plus we will be able to ask select specialists to stay on a few more days to speak to our attendees. Another plus – is the opportunity to spotlight ISA to the show goers as well as the dealers who are attending. We already have our division chairs working on the speakers, as well as the chair of the conference working on tours, guests, highlights and everything else. So, please mark your calendar, save your money and join us Feb 18 – 21, 2011 (can you believe it) for a good old time in Nashville. For those worried about the recent floods, we have been assured that the hotel will be just fine, and think of it this way – it will be new, new, new!