Taking USPAP Online is Foolish

I took the 7-Hour National USPAP Update Course yesterday in a classroom and enjoyed it tremendously.

This is notable because, as an AQB Certified USPAP Instructor myself, I don’t have to attend the class if I teach it during the effective two-year period. I’m not teaching at this time, so off to school I went. I was very tempted to take the class online, but I always tell the appraisers I consult they should take courses in the classroom, so I had to practice what I preach. I’m so glad I did.

First of all, it was great to rub elbows with other appraisers (there were 14 or so in the class). Some were from out of town – hats off to them! Others were people I’d worked with nearly 20 years ago. None were appraisers I’ve consulted when they had a complaint, and, to my knowledge, none were appraisers I’d investigated during the five years I was at TALCB. I can comfortably work all day in a room, by myself, with a single light on and no phone calls. I forget that socializing is good for homo sapiens and that the live exchange of ideas with appraiser sapiens* is beyond beneficial.

Secondly, I got to see USPAP being taught by another expert with a style that’s very different from mine.  His batting stance is different, but he hit itout of the park! I knew the answers to most (I might get in trouble with The Appraisal Foundation for not saying all) of the questions asked. However, when I could keep my mouth shut, it was great to hear it explained in another manner. Other times the answer was exactly what I would give exactly as I would say it. That’s refreshing too.

USPAP should be the first gauge I look at on my instrument panel when I take off on an appraisal assignment. I should check it constantly in the course of the journey. I should also recalibrate it every couple of years. An online course will satisfy the requirement, but I don’t see how it can fulfill the experience of participating in the task. In taking the instrument out, placing it on a workbench, tweaking the parts, and discussing why this needs tightening while that needs replacement and this other one is removed entirely.

Sure, the online class explains all this, but it has no mechanism in place for the wait-a-minute and the what-about moments that occur in live classes.

Wait a minute! Are you tellin’ me I shoulda been doin’ it this way?

What about when you’ve got a situation like this, that, or the other?

That’s when the learning kicks in, and that’s when you get class participation that can’t be experienced online.

It’s a sad fact that the majority of appraisers I investigated took their classes online, and the same can probably be said for the ones I consult today as they prepare a response to a complaint. It becomes my task to tell them that they’re probably going to get gigged for this or that item, and they’re things they shoulda been doin’ all along.

I can’t say a live class will prevent you from making mistakes. In fact, it’s possible to pay less attention in a classroom than online because you’re not asked pesky little questions after each segment in order to move on. I don’t even have documentary evidence that live is better. It’s just my opinion…based on my somewhat unique experience.


*Sapiens is Latin for wise.



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