NEW YORK, April 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Union of Real Estate Appraisers (UREA), based in Maryland, has voted unanimously to join the American Guild of Appraisers/Guild 44 of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, AFL-CIO (OPEIU).
"With so many small organizations representing appraisers, we didn't have a strong and collective voice," said Coleen Morrison, former UREA president. "We needed a voice that we haven't had for the past 25 years, and decided to come together so we could be a more powerful organization better able to represent the interests of appraisers."
As a result of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC), and the current Financial Reform Act of 2010 (aka Dodd-Frank), appraisers have had to work under difficult circumstances in recent years, with most appraisals for mortgage purposes being funneled through a third-party source known as Appraisal Management Companies (AMC). These middlemen are enforcing unreasonable working conditions upon appraisers by unrealistically reducing the completion time for appraisal assignments, adding exhaustive addenda requirements while reducing in half the typical fee paid to the appraiser. Under Dodd-Frank, whose regulations take effect today, appraisers are now faced with government agencies and big banks determining what should be "reasonable and customary fees" for an appraisal. As of April 1, 2011, AMCs are telling the appraisers to expect to be paid yet lower fees for their service. AMCs are racking up huge profits on the backs of consumers and appraisers.
"There are many problems with this relationship," said Lisa Alvarez, former UREA legislative liaison. "Before HVCC, loan officers would tell an appraiser, 'if you don't give me the value for the property that I'm looking for, then I won't give you the work.' Now appraisers are being told by AMCs to turn appraisals more rapidly, with more work for less fee or they (AMCs) will find someone else."
The new Maryland chapter is working with the Guild to further legislation to better regulate AMC activities and to secure the independent role and compensation of the professional appraiser, legislation that is also supported by the Board of Realtors among others.
"We have to fight for the integrity of the appraisal process, as well as to preserve our industry, to stop it from being swallowed up and lost," said Colleen Johansen, AGA vice president. "We are not going to let that happen, but are going to stop it in its tracks. We will fight for our members, and in the process draw in even more Maryland appraisers by showing them what we can do for them."
"Our members also benefit from our affiliation with OPEIU," said Peter Vidi, Guild 44 president. "OPEIU is a progressive organization that is all about representing professionals in the workplace. Its mission is to ensure that professionals have a collective voice, whether it's negotiating a contract or representation on the legislative front. That's what OPEIU is all about, and that's the kind of strong collective voice that the appraisers have as part of Guild 44. The credo of the American Guild of Appraisers is, 'We Value America's Future.'"
ABOUT THE AMERICAN GUILD OF APPRAISERS/OPEIU GUILD 44
The American Guild of Appraisers/OPEIU Guild 44 seeks to represent the interests of appraisers, developing a strong presence before the U.S. Congress and each of the state legislatures. By working closely and exchanging dialog with other like-minded organizations, the AGA works to educate consumers about the appraisers' non bias, independent role in the value process, while ensuring the accountability of both the appraisal profession and the financial institutions with which the appraiser provides services.
The Office and Professional Employees International Union represents more than 110,000 members (representing 125,000 employees) in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. OPEIU represents employees and independent contractors in banking and credit unions, insurance, higher education, shipping, hospitals, medical clinics, utilities, transportation, hotels, administrative offices and more.
Professional organizations and Guilds affiliated with OPEIU are a diverse group that includes physicians, pharmacists, chiropractors, appraisers, podiatrists, clinical social workers, hypnotists, teachers and helicopter pilots.
SOURCE Office and Professional Employees International Union, AFL-CIO (OPEIU)