Recently Allterra Online launched the online continuing education class "A Practical Guide To Appraisal Review" which is taught by the instructor Greg Stephens Chief Appraiser, SVP Compliance at Metro-West Appraisal Co., Inc. We were lucky enough to sit down with Greg and ask him about the new course and the industry in general.
Buzz: Tell us a little about yourself and your history in the appraisal industry.
Greg: I started in the appraisal industry by riding shotgun with my brother who was a partner in an appraisal firm in San Jose California back in 1977. In late 1978, I formed G. E. Stephens & Associates that developed into a five-office regional residential and commercial appraisal firm providing valuation services in Northern California.
In 2001 I divested my interest in the appraisal firm and moved to Dallas, Texas working for a national lender in quality assurance. A decade later I joined Metro-West Appraisal Company LLC as SVP Appraisal Operations and Compliance and then Chief Appraiser, SVP Compliance.
While in California I also co-founded an appraisal course provider, Appraisal Seminars, which I still own and through which various courses and seminars are approved. I have always had a passion for compliance and began teaching USPAP classes in California in the early 90s, becoming an AQB Certified USPAP instructor in February 2003.
My involvement with appraisal organization leadership began in the early 1980s as board member and officer of the local chapter of the Society of Real Estate Appraisers. In 2013 I became President of the North Texas Chapter and currently I represent the Appraisal Institute as a representative to the Texas appraiser coalition known as FACT – Foundation Appraisers Coalition of Texas.
Buzz: Why was this course developed?
Greg: In my 35-plus years in the appraisal industry I have been fortunate enough to own my own appraisal firm, work internally for a national lender and work in compliance for a national appraisal company. In each of those capacities I witnessed every level of quality from exceptional to marginal to subtle/deliberate fraud.
Over time I realized the same issue we are experiencing in the development and communication of an appraisal we are also experiencing in the development and communication of a review.
The reliance upon a form with check boxes and engagement criteria developed by individuals who are not experienced knowledgeable appraisers, lacking knowledge in what constitutes recognized methods and techniques in appraisal development and reporting as well as appraisal review development and reporting has over time adversely impacted the quality of both products being completed in the markets today, especially in valuations for mortgage-related lending.
Combine that with the diminution of appraiser competency over the past couple of decades and it creates an environment where the individuals conducting reviews are sometimes challenged in the level of knowledge regarding those recognized methods and techniques required to develop credible valuations as well as the resources available to gain that knowledge. That said, this review course is not Appraisal 101. It is designed for competent appraisers wanting to take their knowledge and skill set in valuation review to the next level as well as the users of appraisal services who also wish to expand their knowledge base. Over the years numerous non-appraisers in the mortgage industry have taken appraisal courses from me for the purpose of helping them better understand what is required to develop a credible appraisal and how to recognize one that is not.
Buzz: Who is the intended audience for this course?
Greg: This course is designed to be meaningful to practicing appraisers already conducting review assignments, appraisers wishing to add reviews to their suite of services as well as the users of appraisal services wishing to increase their knowledge of the review process, available resources for appraisers to access useful information relating to guidelines, state and federal requirements.
Buzz: What topics does the course cover and why are they important to appraisers?
Greg: The course contains nine modules that include discussion about the significant role of the reviewer, which is an important message for both reviewers and the clients who rely upon those reviews.
Because so many review assignments involve analysis of valuation reports prepared by licensed and certified appraisers several modules relate to USPAP compliance as well as compliance with guidelines mandated by the GSEs, other state and federal laws and regulations governing the activities of appraisers and review appraisers.
Also, because the results of appraisal reviews might involve identification of significant deficiencies in the appraisal reports being reviewed, the course also provides a cross reference of the guidelines that will prove helpful to the client(s) who might be required by federal or state laws to report the appraiser to their respective state appraiser regulator.
The course also provides a module covering major deficiencies noted in appraisal reports as well as helping reviewers identifying fraudulent content within appraisal reports that could save lenders and investors from significant losses.
Buzz: Can you tell us a little bit about the Allterra Online format?
Greg: As a course provider, developer, and instructor I was extremely impressed by the advanced innovative technology Allterra Online utilizes in the development and delivery of the courses, including the High quality HD videos incorporated into the presentation of the course materials, the mobile technology that enables Allterra Online to offer iPad and Tablet compatible courses, the easy-to-follow engaging format that enhances the student’s learning experience.
Buzz: What makes this program stand out from other CE providers?
Greg: I have been involved in the development and delivery of educational courses and seminars for over 25 years and a student of appraisal-related courses and seminars for over 30 years. With that background I am very confident in saying Allterra Online provides innovative educational experiences utilizing state of the art technology and some of the industry’s top Subject Matter Experts in a delivery medium that enhances the learning experience of each individual student beyond anything I have seen to date.
Buzz: How can students sign up for this course?
Greg: Students can sign up for the course by going clicking HERE, or going to www.allterraonline.com. Once they create an account they can begin to register for courses.
Buzz: How many CE credits is the course approved for and is it approved in every state?
Greg: This course is approved for 7 hours of continuing education. The course is not approved nationwide yet, but it will be available in every state soon. Click HERE to find out if it is approved in your state.
Buzz: Thanks for your time Greg. We hope the Buzz readers will enjoy your class.
If you would like to find out more about Allterra Online or register for online continuing education visit www.allterraonline.com
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