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2013 Northern California Chapter President’s Year End / Pre-Holiday Message

Wow, what a year!

This Thursday, November 21, 2013, at the Lafayette Library complex, we will hold our final Chapter Board of Directors meeting and Chapter workshop for 2013. Kelly Stevens, SRA, this year’s Chapter Vice President, has been working hard to prepare the agenda for this last board meeting of the year. He is doing a great job of transitioning to the role of Chapter President in 2014. I want to thank the other members of the Executive team, Kathryn Sturgis-Bright, MAI and Michael Lockard, MAI for carrying out their respective roles as Treasurer and Secretary. Gene Williams, MAI will be added to the Executive team in 2014. My thanks to Lisa Estes, our Executive Director, who has been working with new accounting & audit requirements from National and has still charged forward with all the other management tasks she does so well.

The chairpersons and committees who organized the Spring Litigation Conference, the Spring Conference, and the Fall Conference more than lived up to the expectations for their respective parts in our success. All of these special conferences and courses were magnificent. The educational topics were outstanding, the appraiser networking opportunity superb, and the financial results were exactly what we needed to keep our chapter on a sustainable financial footing. This year, I also need to give a special thank you to those who helped put on the Vineyard Valuation course. Added to this were the efforts of Jeff Enright, MAI, and the Education Committee, to build up our course offerings for 2013 and complete the planning for 2014. We have had a very good year in the arena of education…on so many levels.

I want to thank the members of this Chapter’s Board of Directors who all worked so well to provide the Chapter with direction and guidance. It is not a secret that our Chapter’s financial reserves, while still adequate, have declined significantly over the past decade. Both the 2012 and 2013 Chapter Boards made tough decisions regarding our revenue and spending goals. We are still waiting for the final results from our recent Fall Conference, but the word from last week’s meeting of the Finance Committee is that the Chapter will be slightly in the black for 2013. We had budgeted for a loss of about $11,000 for 2013 and it looks like we could instead end the year at that same amount to the positive.

To put this in perspective, with total dues, fees and education revenues of more than $500,000 per year, the bottom line net margin is very slim. We are a non-profit entity. The Chapter Boards for 2012 and 2013 have been working hard to achieve long-term sustainability for the management and operation of the Chapter. Protecting the current reserve balance is important because the truth is that offering education has its risks. A disappointing conference, or series of under attended courses, could quickly require the use of some of those reserves. Fortunately, we have an experienced Executive Director and dedicated conference and committee leaders who help to steer us through what can be difficult waters.

I want to thank everyone who worked to make growth of our seven Branch Chapters a success. However, there is still more to do and it is a momentum that could easily be lost. The Branch Chapter teams proved this year that in a large Chapter like Nor Cal, which is so geographically expansive, that Branch Chapters are a critical part of meeting the member need for local education and networking. The Chapter Board and the seven Branch Chapters agreed to a grand experiment for 2013. The Board did away with the four or five Chapter Board meetings that were generally held in Pleasanton and followed by a Chapter workshop.

Instead, the Branch Chapters hosted the Chapter Board meetings and held joint Chapter and Branch Chapter meetings and workshops within the core area of our Chapter. BC Workshop attendance in 2013 far out distanced the results from previous years. A combination of reduced board meeting expenditures and the series of very successful Branch Chapter workshops and seminars turned a $10,000 projected expense into a positive $10,000 source of net revenue for the Chapter. The Chapter Board’s actions proved that we can make changes to our “traditional” methods of Chapter operation and, through reliance upon the efforts and energies of our members, achieve a sustainable Chapter operation. Nor Cal will have a successful year for 2013 because members and candidates like you put in the effort to make it work.

We also enjoyed increased support from sponsors and that also helped to build this into a successful year. CBRE, Navigant, Comerica Bank, Valbridge, and Exchange Bank all provided free access to space for us to hold Branch Chapter workshops and various committee meetings. A special thanks also needs to be extended to Norm Hulberg, MAI / Valbridge for the financial sponsorships provided to our three annual conferences.

Upcoming Board Meeting/Workshop:

At the November board meeting we will review 1) the 2013 education results, 2) our new member designation efforts, 3) the advisor support for Candidates for Designation, 4) a report on the chapter’s preliminary budget results, 5) approve the 2014 Chapter budget, and 6) review the local networking and workshop results for our seven Branch Chapters. We will be awarding at least one new MAI designation at the workshop following the board meeting.

The workshop will be a State of the Profession event. It will not be the same old run through of statistics. First, the moderator will be Kurt Reitman, MAI. Kurt has retired. Perhaps I am in denial but I find that it very hard to believe that Kurt will truly retire. Maybe while he is the moderator, he can spend a few moments to give us all some guidance on how we can prepare for that happy day…retirement. Neil Lefmann, MAI, has worked hard to organize this final (and only) Chapter workshop. With speakers from the BREA, the Federal Reserve Risk Management division, as well as speakers with residential and commercial valuation perspectives, the workshop overview should be broad and informative. In particular, I want to extend an invitation to Candidates for Designation to attend. New members of the 2014 Chapter Board are invited to the second half of the board meeting and we would like to see you at the workshop.

Final Thoughts:

I know the Chapter will be in good hands in 2014. Lisa, the Executive team, and the Chapter Board for 2014 are all very experienced and are tuned into the challenges that confront the Chapter. The Branch Chapters are developing into a core source of strength. Kelly has worked hard to get the Chairs of the various committees, conferences, and Branch Chapters ready for January.

The proposed Chapter budget for 2014 is expected to be approved at this board meeting. As proposed, it is once again likely to be slightly negative. My hope is that through hard work, continued member/candidate efforts, and growing sponsorship support, that next year Kelly will be writing to you that the Chapter’s actual 2014 financial results will be at a breakeven point or slightly in the black. Achieving operational sustainability and maintaining our current reserve level are important. Both need to happen if for no other reason than Nor Cal is one of the largest and leading Chapters within the Appraisal Institute. Our success can be a model for others.

If you have read the latest memos from the National President, Rick Borges, MAI, SRA, several new initiatives for the organization have been announced. These new education related initiatives reflect changes that are happening in the delivery of national education courses and the increased competition that is in the wind from other education sources (think: The Appraisal Foundation spin-off).

Another National initiative is focused on the need to continue to expand the number of designated AI members. We are still retiring members as fast as we are adding new designated members. The hope is that by adding specialty “certifications” available to both designated and eventually non-designated members that it will be one way to increase the relevance of the Appraisal Institute in an increasingly diverse market.

My personal proposal is that we add an interim designation level. It would recognize the achievements of both certified general and certified residential appraisers by awarding CGAI and CRAI designations. These would be awarded on the way to the more senior MAI and SRA designations. Add those two new designations, along with reasonable dues, and both the National and Chapter memberships will improve dramatically (as will their respective budgets). The Appraisal Institute would also then truly represent the majority and upper quartiles of professional appraisers. I know…this apparently remains an idea ahead of its time.

So…thank you all for making this a successful year for our Nor Cal Chapter. I look forward to seeing you at this Thursday’s Chapter Board meeting or the 2PM workshop event (3 hours of CE credit). Afterwards, there are lots of great restaurants within walking distance of the Library where the event is to be held. Friends and colleagues will be there waiting for you.

Bradford MacLane, MAI
2013 Northern California Chapter President

President’s Message February 2013

Welcome to the new Appraisal Institute circa 1/1/2013.  As of this New Year’s Day, we are now a professional society and this message is directed to our Northern California Chapter’s roughly 298 designated members, 144 candidates for either the MAI or SRA designation, and about 206 former associates who have been moved to the Practicing Affiliates.  On many levels, the chapter is in a period of change and adaptation.

I want to communicate that all three categories of being part of the Appraisal Institute are important. The success of the chapter in any year depends to a very great extent on volunteer interests and efforts. In other words, it is made stronger by your interests and efforts.  To many, this is my special “thank you” for serving on the chapter board of directors, one of the branch chapter teams, a committee, a conference, or one of the new candidate advisor roles.

If you are reading this newsletter it likely means that you are the person who strives to do better today than the work completed yesterday and you grasp the importance of the availability of appraiser education.  If you are helping right now, in any form, to keep this collection of appraisers we call a chapter moving forward into a better future…please keep at it.

For everyone else, it doesn’t matter if you have been designated for 40 years, you are a Candidate for Designation, or you have decided to hold a Practicing Affiliate status, if you have an idea for a panel discussion, a workshop, a needed class, or a social event, I am asking you to help make it a reality…your suggestions and modest help can bring it to fruition.

You are requested to reach out to our Executive Director, Lisa Estes, or me, or one of the branch chapter chairs or team members with your ideas and volunteer time.  You will be amazed at what you and the chapter will gain in terms of shared knowledge and new connections.  It can happen if you give your time to help put on a workshop in your area or help make a conference a success.  With credit to Nike: “Just Do It!” and with credit to the US Army: “Nor Cal wants You.”  Read More…

Bradford MacLane, MAI

President’s Message December 2012

Most chapter presidents wonder what big challenges will arrive during their term to surprise them. I was fortunate enough to be informed in mid-2011 that the change of the Appraisal Institute’s business model would be the focus in 2012 in anticipation of the planned implementation as of January 1, 2013. And indeed, this has been a large part of activity on both National and our chapter levels. There has been no shortage of e-mail blasts, notifications and reminders over this year about the Candidate for Designation and Advisor programs. And while these notifications may seem overwhelming at times, please keep in mind that in order to make this switch to a business model that puts emphasis on the designation from the Appraisal Institute (both in helping those that want to achieve designation and those that have a designation already to be recognized as the top in the appraisal field), constant communication is needed. Please take the time to read the e-mails both from National and our chapter that have the information for signing up for the Advisor and/or Candidate for Designation programs. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or any of our Board members for clarification.  Read More…

Melissa Bach, MAI