The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) demanded all the states to develop systems for licensing and certifying real estate appraisers. To accomplish this, the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) was formed within the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), with representatives from the various Federal mortgage regulatory agencies. Thus, currently all the real estate appraisers must be state-licensed and certified. But prior to the 1990s, there were no commonly accepted standards either for appraisal quality or for appraiser licensure. In the 1980s, an ad-hoc committee representing various appraisal professional organizations in the United States and Canada met to codify the best practices into what became known as the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). The U.S. Savings and Loan Crisis resulted in increased federal regulation via the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, which required federal lending regulators to adopt appraisal standards. A nonprofit organization, The Appraisal Foundation (TAF), was formed by the same organizations that had developed USPAP, and the copyright for USPAP was signed over to TAF. Federal oversight of TAF is provided by the Appraisal Subcommittee, made up of representatives of various federal lending regulators. TAF carries out its work through two boards: the Appraisal Standards Board promulgates and updates USPAP; the Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) promulgates minimum recommended standards for appraiser certification and licensure. During the 1990s, all of the states adopted USPAP as the governing standards within their states and developed licensure standards which met or exceeded the recommendations of TAF. Also, the various state and federal courts have adopted USPAP for real estate litigation and all of the federally lending regulators adopt USPAP for mortgage finance appraisal.
One of the most recognized professional organizations of real estate appraisers in America is the Appraisal Institute (AI). It was formed from the merger of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers and the Society of Real Estate Appraisers. Founded along with others in the 1930s, the two organizations merged in the 1990s to form the AI. This group awards two professional designations: SRA, to residential appraisers, and MAI, to commercial appraisers. The Institute has enacted rigorous regulations regarding the use and display of these designations. For example, contrary to popular belief, "MAI" does not stand for "Member, Appraisal Institute". According to the institute, the letters "do not represent specific words", and an MAI may not use the words "Member, Appraisal Institute" in lieu of the MAI mark. The primary motive for this rule is to prevent trademark dilution.
These appraisers also perform valuations on commercial property ranging from single to multiple tenant office buildings, shopping centers, retail, industrial, malls, hospitals, health care facilities, warehouses, and hotels to multi-family apartment buildings, co-ops, senior housing, condominium developments, and even vacant land, agricultural, and golf courses. Regardless of the property type or local zoning, they'll determine the highest and best use of the project and assess the value using the actual or projected cash flow from the property's rent roll and financial statements, using both cap rates for capitalizing year one net operating income (NOI) and discounted cash flow (DCF) of multiple future income streams. If you're a commercial lender, investor, builder, contractor, architect, or agent, you'll want to use these appraisers to conduct a feasibility analysis of any income producing real estate project you may be considering. They can also help consult on construction costs and projected absorption rates. They generally produce a commercial narrative appraisal when engaged for any commercial assignment.