Woody Fincham, SRA
Hampton Roads Chapter
Option: 45-Hour Residential Demo Package
Which options did you select to pursue the SRA Designation (GMAT college degree alternative, 21 credit semester hours college degree alternative, residential equivalency exam, Narrative Demo or 45-Hour Package option) and why?
I chose the 45-Hour package because it allowed me to get the requirement finished in a set amount of time. I was always told about the difficulty of trying to work and complete a demo in your spare time. It seems that is a major hurdle for everyone, which makes sense if you consider we are either too busy or too slow as a profession; rarely is business at equilibrium. I cannot stress the things that one learns during the demo process: you learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, you learn the application of sound theory and your confidence is enhanced as a professional.
How did the Appraisal Institute help you on your journey to designated membership?
The instructors that I had have always been willing to go the extra step for their students. I have never left a class that I did not contact the instructor later and ask application questions, and never have I been turned away.
The experience screening process that you go through near the end is invaluable. My screener, Jennifer Marshall, SRA, did a great job at breaking me down while also building me up during the process. I was shown some things that I can do better, and things that I do well. It is not just a review, but also an exchange of information that helps establish better practices. I honestly think that this would be a great requirement to do every CE cycle with the AI for everyone.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced during the process and how did you overcome it?
Time. The 45-Hour Package really helped with this. It was painful going that long without making any money, but being locked away and working through the process was so worthwhile. I also made myself a deal early into the process: we all need continuing education every year, so I promised that all of my CE would be obtained by taking courses required for designation. I knocked it out systematically by doing this.
What surprised you the most about the membership process?
Without a doubt, the personal relationships that I have established during the process have helped me the most. I have been encouraged by all, but specifically members Pat Turner, SRPA, SRA; Richard Borges, MAI, SRA; Sandra Adomatis, SRA; David Braun, MAI, SRA; William Whitley, SRA; Jim Atwood, SRA; Glenn James, MAI; Earl Wynings, SRA and Mark White, SRA were all rooting for me and helped me (and continue to do so) accomplish my goal. I also have to mention the help that Karie Walker, previous Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth Chapter, and Myra Withers, Executive Director of the Greater Tennessee Chapter, provided. The willingness of individuals involved with the AI to help and motivate you is one more intangible benefit that you do not know is there until you ask.
I guess the other thing that I can mention is the quality of the education and the instructors that teach it. All of my qualifying education was taken with a non-AI school that is located in my region. I was shocked at just what I did not know that is taught in the AI courses. I retook several of the classes that I had taken to obtain licensure. It was worth every hour that I spent in the classroom.
What is the biggest benefit of becoming designated?
I told myself in the beginning that it would enhance my status among potential clients, that it would make me better, and that it would help me generate more income. All of those things ended up being true, but the biggest benefit is the increased confidence I have in my work.
It is hard to explain, but in the residential valuation market, there is a lot of competition. Our biggest sector of potential clients comes from the mortgage and banking industry. They are willing to hire less competent appraisers to fill a need that is there. I know many non-designated peers that are extremely competent, but there is also a large sector of incompetent appraisers that are hired in lieu of better qualified appraisers because they are less expensive. They are less expensive for a reason, and it is not because they are being competitive.
I have no issue turning away clients that only work with the less-qualified appraisers out there. What I turn away in mortgage use work, I have picked up (and increased my fee base) with litigation and consulting work. Attorneys and lenders that put value on collateral, and other prospective clients look for designations. They understand the commitment to quality that the designation implies.
What advice do you have for Associate members working towards designated membership?
Do not put off doing it. Take the time to invest in yourself; it pays dividends monetarily and in professional self-development. Do not be afraid to ask your chapter peers and classmates questions. Just the friends that you make in the classes grants you access to so much combined valuation knowledge.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do different, knowing what you know now?
I would have started earlier and only enrolled in Appraisal Institute education.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I have to take the opportunity to plug the Leadership Development and Advisory Council. I am enrolled for my second year, and next to earning my designation, I consider it the most important thing I have done as a professional. The opportunity you are given to partake in the profession at such a high level really opens up your eyes to just how valuable membership is. Bill Garber and his office work diligently for the profession and you get to partake in the process. The access and networking with Executive Officers that happens during LDAC is another intangible benefit.