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Concerns raised about state program to certify more appraisers


The Department of Labor and Regulation is looking to streamline the process for those seeking an appraiser’s license.

The push comes, in part, from Gov. Kristi Noem, who says the state needs to address a shortage of real estate appraisers in the state.

For years, the state worked to develop a first-in-the-nation training program that would let a supervisor lead 20 appraiser trainees, instead of just one.

The state received a federal grant of $120,000 to encourage appraisers to help train entry-level apprentices.

Amber Mulder oversees the appraiser certification program with the Department of Labor. The department wants to revise the program before it’s implemented.

Mulder recently told a legislative committee, the current required training hours exceed federal requirements.

“We wish to lower the hours to the minimum required by the federal agency, the federal appraisal qualifications board,” Mulder says. “That would be 1000 hours for the state-licensed, 1500 hours for certified-residential and 3000 for certified-general.”

Critics say those federal minimums are designed for one-on-one training, not a class of twenty.

Craig Steinley is with the Professional Appraisers Association of South Dakota. He worries lenders will not work with appraisers who have such limited direct experience.

“What we’ve said to the department, what we’ve said to the federal oversight group, is if you think six months is enough then show us the banks and credit unions that are lining up to hire these people,” Steinley says.

Steinley says he’s also concerned about a proposal that removes a work sample review of appraisals for those who want to upgrade their license through the training program.

That's a roadblock Kassidy Peters, the governor’s daughter, ran into when she sought to upgrade her license. Peters’s work samples didn’t meet requirements and her license upgrade was initially denied.

The state’s former executive director of appraiser certification was Sherry Bren. She was called into a meeting with Gov. Noem and others where questions were raised about the certification process. Noem’s daughter was also in attendance.

Gov. Noem says her daughter did not receive special treatment in the licensing process. The incident has now prompted the Government Accountability Board to open a contested case hearing into the matter.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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