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The Sure Death of the SRA Designation

Updated 10-20 This page was originally written around March 2016. The SRA designation has not died, but many appraisers gave them up. There are some new SRA designations awarded now.

The current 60 day notice materials from the Appraisal Institute contain significant changes to the requirements for the SRA designation. These revisions mirror the changes required by the AQB to obtain Residential Certification in 2008. A demo is now optional (not required) nor is there any course or other requirement to replace it. You must still submit 3,000 hours of work experience, which should not be a major challenge for competent appraisers. The only other remaining requirement to set the SRA designation apart from Residential Certification is to complete Course 420 (Business Ethics).

So submission of a little work product and attendance at a one day ethics course is all that separates the designation from Residential Certification. This is a pretty blurry line for my eyes to see much difference between, however I can see the big picture clearly enough to recognize that we are attempting to lower the bar to encourage more people to earn the designation. Sorry, but I have to ask why anyone would bother to do a little extra work for a designation that the market really doesn’t recognize, nor does it much demand anymore, particularly when it has obviously just been watered down to nearly match Residential Certification requirements.

As an SRA member who earned the designation long ago by completing requirements substantially greater than licensure, including a full narrative demonstration report on a single family residence, I am here to tell you that this designation died in the last century. Only about 10 people have earned the designation nationally each year since 2000. The market no longer demands it, nor does it much recognize it. Watering down the requirements so that we can give lots of designations away to Certified Residential appraisers is not a good solution to the problem, and will only lead to continued pain for the designation and for the Appraisal Institute.

I’m deeply saddened by what has happened to the SRA designation. Since unification of the Society and the American Institute in the early 1990’s, the Appraisal Institute has largely abandoned the residential side of the appraisal business. This is a most unfortunate course of action. Although not as grand, or glorious, as the general side of the business, residential real estate makes up about 80% of the market value of real estate in the United States, and there are many more residential appraisers than general appraisers in total numbers. At the time of the merger, there were about as many SRA designated members as MAI members in the Appraisal Institute. Today there are just over half as many SRAs as there are MAIs, and that number is declining at a very rapid rate – a clear sign of the death of a designation.

I say cut the pain now – please don’t make the pain worse by watering down the designation. We long ago killed the SRA designation. Now let’s bury it and put it out of its misery. Allow anyone who earned the designation to keep it. Anyone who is actively pursuing it should get a reasonable window of time to complete the requirements, or switch and pursue the MAI, but don’t allow anyone else to start working on the SRA designation. For the good of the organization, bury it and stop the bleeding. It is way past time to recognize this fact and move forward. Perhaps it would even be a good time to actually eliminate the SRA designation by a certain date, and offer a reasonable upgrade path to the MAI designation, for all those members who hold the SRA designation. Actually, this is a great time to consider a move to one designation, instead of continuing with a strong MAI designation and a watered down, weakling SRA designation. Someone may even have a better plan…I just know that we need a much better idea than what is currently proposed.

The current plan in the 60 day materials to “grow” the SRA designation by “streamlining” the requirements is a sure nail in the coffin for SRAs. It will require a much better plan with a clear standard of excellence that sets SRAs much farther apart in their expertise, skills and analytical abilities, than two small differences from Residential Certification, for the designation to thrive and be meaningful again (I thought we were trying to encourage SRAs to be expert in all matters residential including apartments…why is there no requirement for Course 310 or Course 330?). After all licensure is a “deminimus” standard and Professional Society designations are a standard of excellence. I don’t want to be a member of an organization that offers a mediocre designation that is just a small step above “deminimus” standards. I already have this “deminimus” level of credibility with my State Certification, and that is why the plan to amend Regulation No. 2 in the 60 day materials will ultimately fail, with a considerable amount of pain and damage inflicted on the Appraisal Institute.

Bruce M. Hahn, SRA

Landmark Valuation

Walnut Creek, California