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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Certification Process is Nothing to Fear

“Be all you can be! Join the army!” We are inundated with this commercial for the U.S. Army at the movie theaters as well as on television. But, have you ever thought that this slogan also applies to ISA?

A certified appraiser is the highest designation that our society gives to an appraiser, denoting the pinnacle of achievement in the appraisal field. In order to earn the right to have “ISA CAPP” after their name, certified appraisers have worked many hours in their chosen profession, have been tested on their knowledge of methodology, and their appraisals have passed peer review. So why do so few of our accredited members actually seek to achieve this level of professionalism?

“I am too busy, or “I don’t need it where I live” are commonly heard reasons for not pursuing certification. It does take time to complete the paperwork, document the hours, ask for references, but not much more time than when putting together the paperwork for requalification.

“I always do poorly on tests” or “I don’t like to be tested” are also common reasons for staying at the accredited level. No one likes to be tested. It is anxiety-producing for everyone and even terrifying for some. As appraisers, we probably know the information that we are tested on because we use it every day. However, ISA’s Requalification Course or the Core Course are good reviews of what we must know and attending one of these classes, can help you overcome your testing anxiety. The purpose of the certification test is not to trick you, but to make sure you know what is necessary. Remember, there are NO trick questions. Review in preparation, then take a deep breath and go for it.

So, you’ve turned in your hours and referrals and passed your test. Now, only the peer reviews of your reports stands between you and your certification. Yikes! “I’m afraid of what others may say about my reports.” Or, “I have been doing this for so long that I know how to write good reports. I don’t need to pass a review.” As appraisers, we should be rightfully proud of our reports because they are the culmination of our research and experience. But, hearing what others have to say is ALWAYS beneficial. We are often too close to our reports, so that although we understand what we are saying, others may not. The peer review process is anomymous and provides an objective, third party perspective on the reports. Reviewers offer helpful suggestions and point out valid errors that will improve the accuracy, readability, and usefulness of the reports. In fact, the comment I hear most often after a candidate receives their CAPP is “Thank you. I’ve learned so much.”

In the past few years, we have seen an increase in demand for professionalism in the practice of personal property appraisal. For example, USPAP will be demanding an increase in general and specialized education. The Internal Revenue Service is requiring a declaration that IRS appraisals contain a statement of qualifications of the appraiser. Certification is ISA’s highest designation. Consumers and peers alike recognize that those who reach that level of achievement are considered at the top of their profession. While the process may be time-consuming and at times frustrating, receiving ISA’s CAPP designation is well-worth the effort. Consider being “all that you can be.”

Cathy Peters ISA CAPP
Chair, Designation and Review Committee

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