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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

Fall Conference Interview with Chair Nancy Bigham

1. What are you hoping the attendees will take away from the conference?

I’m hoping they’ll come away with something new, something they didn’t know before, or even something old presented in a new way that will help them in their work and business.

We are also hosting a panel from the Appraisal Institute National – including National President Rick Borges, CEO Fred Grubbe, Strategic Planning Chair Jim Amorin, and Government Relations Director Bill Garber – it will be a great opportunity for AI members to address any questions or concerns they have about the directions and policies of national AI.

2. How many vendors will be attending and what will they be offering?

We have at least four onsite vendors lined up and hope to add a few more. They’ll be offering E&O Insurance, data sources, web-based software and more.

3. There is a broad array of speakers and topics available this year, but, who is the Keynote Speaker and what will she discuss?

Catherine Austin Fitts is the keynote speaker; her presentation is titled “What’s Next? Primary Trends in the Global Financial Market and the Impact on Bay Area Real Estate.”

Ms. Austin Fitts is an Investment Advisor, Entrepreneur, Investment Banker and former Assistant Secretary of Housing – Federal Housing Commissioner, under President G. HW Bush.

Ms. Austin Fitts is the also the publisher of the Solari Report, a unique perspective on how to navigate the opportunities and risks in the global financial system and political economy. She’ll be discussing trends in the global markets and their affect on the Bay Area – how our area is connected to and affected by the global economy.

4. Who should be attending this Conference?

All appraisers, assessors, and our clients that want to benefit from the panels and offering we have this year, and who also want to reconnect with friends and/or network.

An example of a session that benefits both appraisers and assessors is “Fee (Not So) Simple” which was put together to address the issue of the value of assessed properties and tax appeal cases. Mr. Prescott, the moderator, serves on the Santa Clara County Tax Appeal Board. In many cases it appears that the leased fee rather than the fee simple value is being assessed. The panel will address this issue.

We’ve worked hard to put together a program with sessions that should appeal to residential and commercial appraisers. And you get continental breakfast, lunch, refreshments throughout the day, admission to post-conference reception plus 6-hours of CE credit!

5. Networking can be an important part of attending any conference, will there be any “after conference” suggestions regarding nearby establishments?

No need to rush out into traffic! There will be a post-conference networking reception at the hotel from 5:00pm to 6:30pm, plan to stay for that! The Marriott is in downtown SF, there any many good restaurants and things to do in the evening.

Register here by October 1st for the Best Value Rate

Residential Tapas Recap from August 2013

Moss Landing event  MossLanding speakers







I have been to a lot of appraisal seminars and classes over the years, as a presenter and as an attendee. The recent Residential Tapas seminar was one of the the best, if not the best, I have ever attended.

That was by far the best seminar venue I have ever been to!!  I thought it was going to be like the old Marine Lab facilities next to the harbor – sorta funky but nice to be near the water and the boats. Also, the first time that  no one needed amplification, presenter or attendee, in that size room. The room size was good – not too small and not too large . I particularly like the table layout which made for more interaction among those at the table, both visual and chatting.

For me, as a presenter, I always like to hear attendees laughing. There was laughter throughout the day. The wide variety of topics, and the ” insider” knowledge of the presenters, were outstanding!!

I lived in Watsonville in the early 70s for 2 years and seldom saw the sun. I have been driving past this marine lab building for as long as it has existed and did not know about it. You can only see it on an aerial map. But, you need to go inside the Seminar Room to see what is fantastic there.

Unfortunately, there is not much networking at one day local seminars – most attendees go home or eat in their cars. The on-site lunch made a big difference. Plus, why would you leave that fantastic venue? The food was good also, another plus.

The Stars Were Aligned!!!

Ann O’Rourke, MAI, SRA, MBA

Appraiser and Publisher Appraisal Today

Vineyard Valuation Seminar Photos

Vineyard Tour Barrel Room

The Vineyard Valuation seminar was a full day event located at the Jamieson Ranch winery in Southern Napa County. Tony Correia, ARA, MRICS started off the day providing insight into the current market characteristics that influence vineyard prices and the methodology for valuing vineyards. Historic price trends and an overview of current vineyard sales showed where supply and demand have driven prices today. An overview of the approaches to value was also presented including how vineyards can be analyzed in terms of site components.

Rob McMillan, Executive Vice President of the winery division at Silicon Valley Bank presented the local influences that drive the demand for wine. This demand for wine is important to the vineyard valuation process as it can affect crop prices.

Lunch was prepared by the on-site chef and was complimented with wine. Most of the attendees sat outside and enjoyed the panoramic views…no sleeping after lunch and glass of wine though! Right after, we went on a vineyard and winery tour and not only learned the history of the facility but more importantly the specifics of the vineyard planting on site and the complexity that existing vineyard configurations can become if not planted appropriately for geographic location, soil type or buyer demand.

After the tour, Richard “Brock” Brockmeyer, a vineyard developer and consultant, further discussed the additional complexity when searching for a site to develop a vineyard for specific varietals of grapes. Brock has been monitoring weather patterns in specific wine grape growing areas on the West Coast for several decades and has authoritative insight on vineyard development. Brian Shepard, owner of Walsh Vineyard Management, discussed current trends in vineyard planting, management, maintenance, and insight into the new vine disease called Red Blotch.

The final part of the day was dedicated to a roundtable with users of vineyard appraisals. Dana Sexton Vivier with GI Partners is a current seller of vineyards; Erik Roget, ARA with UBS Agrivest is a buyer of farms; and Dorothy Bell, ARA, manages appraisals for Rabobank. Each provided insight about what they look for in a vineyard appraisal and what they expect the appraiser to be providing in a report.

We look forward to seeing you next year at this great seminar!

Daniel Brauning, SRA
Brauning Appraisals

Another Golden Gate Branch Chapter May Workshop Review

The Golden Gate Branch held an intriguing workshop on May 16.  The location was in one of San Francisco’s largest high rise office buildings: One Market Plaza.  The start time was intentionally set at 3 pm so attendees could conveniently walk to the event.

There were three presentations from developers with projects in San Francisco.  One involved the renovation of a mid-sized South of Market warehouse building into “creative space”.  How many cities have “creative space” as a category in their zoning language?  Well San Francisco does.  It is a city full of creative people who need places to work.  The second presentation involved a property in Mission Bay.  Mission Bay was actually part of San Francisco Bay at one time, but was filled in.  So despite its name, Mission Bay now contains dry land.  The property in Mission Bay is designated for hotel use.  The developer is seeking to change the approvals to allow both hotel and residential use.  The third presentation involved the re-use of the Bethlehem shipyard at Pier 70.  The time horizon is 10 to 20 years.  So will the re-use plan formulated today still be workable that far in the future?

The highlight of the workshop was the question/answer session.  One question from the audience: “Where are we today in the cycle?”  One answer: “What is a cycle?”  I doubt that developer will be around for the next cycle.

Here is some good news.  None of the developers replied:  “It’s different this time.”

Larry Mansbach

BA, MA, MBA, MAI, State Certified General Real Estate Appraiser

President, Mansbach Associates, Inc.


Golden Gate Branch Chapter May Workshop Recap

We are proud to report that the workshop called “San Francisco’s SOMA District:  Changing Landscapes and Tenancy” has received so many great reviews from attendees!

The presentations featured three prominent developers at the forefront of the change in the “South of Market” District.  Jack Sylvan of Forest City took us through the Pier 70 redevelopment concepts.  Michael Cohen of Strada Investment offered his perspective on the redevelopment processes with the City of San Francisco.  Scott Haskins of Sierra Maestra Properties gave a wonderful spotlight on his redevelopment project at 460 Bryant Street, and gave insight on property risks specific to the district.

Within a two hour timeframe, this distinguished panel took us through this robust and unique San Francisco submarket, providing strong insights that are key to our valuations.  We look forward to bringing more high-quality programs to San Francisco!

Ariana Arredondo, MAI

Golden Gate Branch Chapter Chair
Frazier Capital Valuation (FCV)

East Bay Branch Chapter June Workshop Recap

The June 27, 2013 Appraisal Institute East Bay Branch Chapter workshop about the “City of Walnut Creek – Development and Market Trends Update” has come and gone.  The workshop was, of course, located at the downtown Walnut Creek Pyramid Brewery.  While most sampled the tasty beer and food the real treat was the top notch panel of presenters.

After a brief overview from Laura Simpson (City of Walnut Creek) on the current and future planned projects in Walnut Creek representatives from two of the current projects shared their stories.  Scott Youdall spoke about the Brio Apartments project at 141 North Civic and Andrew Baker spoke about The Village project at 1500 Newell.  Wrapping it all up was a summary of the local retail by John Sechser, Senior Vice President-Director of Retail Operation from Transwestern, and a summary of the local office market by Andrew Schmitt, First Vice President from CBRE.

The general census from the panelists was optimistic with the common underlying theme that while things are better, we are not quite back to previous highs.

The workshop was very well received and sold out leading up to the event forcing the chapter to expand into the larger room at Pyramid.  The event was very informative and after the dust settled, I think all that attended would consider it a success.

The post workshop social mixer which included hosted food and some generously donated pitchers of beer was just one more highlight to a successful workshop.

Trentin Krauss, MAI

Smyers & Krauss Appraisal

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

Review of the 2013 Fresno Agricultural Valuation Symposium

I recently attended the 2013 Fresno Agricultural Valuation Symposium which was held at the University of Fresno on January 23.  This event was the brainchild of Brad MacLane MAI, our current Chapter President and John Maus, ARA of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA).  Both worked hard to create this Symposium at no cost to the attendees.  The University of Fresno was gracious enough to host the event to an overflow crowd.

The Symposium presented an overview of the agricultural Real Estate market in the southern portion of the Central Valley.  The information was very detailed and well received based on comments I heard during the breaks.  Attendees included lenders, realtors, investors, and other appraisers.  Speakers were a former member of the  World Bank, attorneys, water specialists, Farm Credit lenders, and Realtors. Stanley Xavier, Jr., or Correia-Xavier, Inc. gave a detailed report and analysis of current agricultural values and trends.

The general census from the panelists was that agricultural values were on a significant upward trend.  This is due to the high cost of commodities and the lack of large parcels of production land.  The one sour note was that dairies and dairy-related land values were severely depressed.

Read more about the event in these articles by the Fresno Bee and the Business Journal.  And to top it off, four hours of OREA continuing education credit was received at no cost!

Rich Paddock

Certified Residential Appraiser, Senior Partner, Paddock Appraisal Service, Inc.


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