Friday, November 11, 2011

Important ACOW News for all Appraisers

Dear Washington State Appraisers:

As ACOW nears the end of the 2011 calendar year, I want to make sure that we appraisers do not forget that there is a special session starting up in the next few weeks and that we need to be cognizant of what can happen to WA State appraisers when politics are involved!

ACOW had to fight really hard this year for the continuance of REAC, getting the new AMC Law rules in place, as well as not increasing our license fees in successive years.

Achievements that ACOW accomplished this year have included:

• In January, I had the opportunity to offer comments at a House Committee hearing about the elimination of the Real Estate Appraiser Commission (REAC), this was the third year our commission was slated for elimination by the Governor’s office and the third year that ACOW has lobbied against the legislation. We quickly got the REAC removed from the bill, but along the way, it got renamed to the Real Estate Appraiser Advisory Committee (REAAC); something that ACOW fought for 16 years ago in changing the original advisory committee to a commission we have today. Along with this name change, the appointment process would be moving to the Director of Licensing rather than from the Governor. ACOW kept at it and with our lobbyist’s efforts, finally got a sponsor to keep the commission as is, but with the Director’s appointment, in the Special Session. I am happy to report that the Commission has been kept as is, with only the appointments coming from DOL. A new appointee recently has been accepted and will begin a term beginning in December 2011 meaning that there will now be six commissioners with the seventh appointment hopefully coming in December 2012.

• Additionally, in the midst of this year’s budget process, a 484-page document this session, our lobbyist recognized one line that was left over from the prior budget: the ability to raise appraiser license fees! From prior discussions with the Appraiser Program Director at DOL, this was something that caught us off guard. Calling the DOL frantically to find out whom asked and why this was to be included in the budget, their response was “we didn’t ask for any increase!” A day later, I received a callback indicating that this was merely a mistake, left over from the prior budget language in 2009 and that the budget writer was new(er) and it was only an oversight—though a potentially costly one to appraisers, especially given that are license fees increased 30% last year. Hearing that, ACOW took a two-pronged approach: One was to talk to the policy-makers and explain the problem; the other, have our members call our respective legislators and ask them to remove this from the bill. After a week of calls and conversations from and with several appraisers across the state, I am also happy to report that this language was recognized as a mistake and it too, was removed from the bill!

• Another item that has been in recent news is the rule making process for implementing our state’s new AMC law. As you may recall, in March 2010, Washington State became the ninth or tenth state in the country to pass an AMC law; this was several months prior to the Dodd-Frank Act and shows how successful our organization has been for appraisers. In late 2010, the REAC created a rule-making work group to help DOL write the rules for the AMC law; three ACOW board members were on the work group and the draft has been sent to DOL to work through the language. We only found out yesterday afternoon that the AMC Law rule making hearing is today, November 8th, in Olympia. Rest assured that ACOW will be down there at 10:00 am to make sure appraisers’ voices are represented.

ACOW still has an outstanding balance of $4,375 owed to TK Bentler, our lobbyist, due to the limited number of Washington state appraiser ACOW members. I am hopeful that we can raise enough over the next two weeks to retire our 2011 lobbying debts and assure that we can retain the services of our lobbyist in 2012…this is where you come in!

The Olympic Peninsula Chapter of NAIFA, with approximately 20 members, recently sent out a challenge: they mailed ACOW a $2,000 check to help with our lobbying expense; on a per capita basis, this amounted to roughly $100 per chapter member. They are hoping that other chapters or individuals will rise up and contribute an additional $100 for the 2011 campaign!

What ACOW is asking is that appraisers will make a $100 contribution with $55 going towards retiring the 2011 debt and the other $45 going towards your 2012 membership.

At "The Summit" in August, TK mentioned that the AMC’s now have a full-time lobbyist in Olympia looking out for their interests. With January 2012 shortly upon us and the beginning of Washington’s AMC registrations taking effect, we will want to pay special attention to what transpires. With situations like the recent Appraisal Loft debacle, we want to make sure the bond requirement that the AMC Law calls for remains intact and possibly look to strengthen the language to make sure that if any AMC that is licensed in Washington State does something similar to what Appraisal Loft did, that appraisers will have some recourse in collecting on their unpaid debts (For those that are not aware of what happened, Appraisal Loft recently shut its doors with a reported $3 million in outstanding appraisal fees due to appraisers that they have already collected from their clients).

Looking into 2012, ACOW is taking a different approach than what we have done in recent years. ACOW will become a more "all volunteer organization" and limit our administrative costs paid out to Seattle Operating Support. We already have had several board members and other appraisers indicate that they will commit to more of the administrative work to cut costs and we will be looking for more volunteers in the weeks and months to come.

So please, consider contributing now to ACOW to help retire our 2011 debt and continue your membership in our state's coalition for 2012. With your help ACOW will continue to have a strong voice in Olympia for all Washington State Appraisers!

To contribute to ACOW, use the payment link at or mail a check to:

6351 Seaview Ave. NW,
Seattle, WA 98107

Best Personal Regards,
Justin Slack, SRA
2011 President, ACOW Board of Directors

P.S. Annual ACOW elections are coming up so if you have an interest in serving on the board or want to volunteer in any capacity, please be sure to contact us.

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