Alabama HBA’s New Course Tackles Appraisal Issues

Class attendees in Decatur, Ala., listen as instructor Buddy Eslava discusses market- and cost-approach appraisals.

Home builders in Alabama are making progress toward getting a fair shake — at getting a fair appraisal.

In an effort to educate industry pros about changes to state energy codes and clarify the costs and values associated with those changes, the HBA of Alabama recently developed and launched a new course focused on the appraisal process.

“Education was the best approach to tackling the appraisal issues we have experienced over the past few years,” said 2017 HBAA President Dan Taylor, who was central to implementing the appraisal training course. “There is no single regulatory fix to the appraisal problems. The fix is understanding the process and knowing what you can do to help the appraiser find additional value in new homes.”

The purpose was not to tell appraisers how to value homes, but rather to educate attendees on the regulations that govern the appraisal process. And instead of a typical classroom setting in which attendees simply listen and take notes, the course format strongly encouraged debate and discussion.

“It was great to get it out on the table and talk through some of the challenges we are all facing,” said current HBAA President Jimmy Rutland, who attended one of the sessions.

“Countless times before, I’ve had appraisers tell me, ‘I can’t talk to you about this [appraisal].’ But there are no rules that say we can’t talk, and I’m not trying to influence them,” Rutland said. “I’m merely informing them about some of the efficiency features of the home that they might not know about or that aren’t readily accessible.”

The concept for the course was developed from scratch in a joint effort between the HBAA leaders and the two appraisal instructors — both of whom were appraisers themselves and members of the Alabama Real Estate Appraisal Board.

So far, the day-long course has been held in eight locations across the state and hosted more than three hundred professionals from a variety of fields — not just appraisers — many of whom have given the course two very big thumbs up.

“I know [a local home builder] who used to hammer on appraisers repeatedly,” said Mandell Tillman, one of the instructors. “But when I saw him a few days after we held a course [in his area], he was smiling because his appraiser had found a way to give value for a feature of his homes that he had not previously gotten. That is what this course is all about.”

Rutland agrees, saying that the course is a win-win for both appraisers and builders.

“New regulations and codes continue to drive up our costs — in many aspects, higher than what we’re getting in return,” he said, “This education is key so that appraisers can more quickly and easily recognize the value we’re adding to each home, and better reflect those aspects in each appraisal.”

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