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Attention would-be real estate appraisers: Start hitting the books.

A law passed in the 1990 Legislature requires all appraisers to become registered by the state. Registration and certification requirements being developed by regulators will include classroom instruction and passing an exam."We hope to start registering appraisers by Sept. 1," said Blaine Twitchell, director of the state Division of Real Estate, which will enforce the new regulations.

It wasn't the state's idea to begin regulating real estate appraisers. Congress required it in its 1989 savings and loan bailout bill. It requires anyone doing an appraisal for a federally chartered lending institution be state certified and licensed by July 1, 1991.

The law stems from the savings and loan industry blaming inflated real estate appraisals for precipitating the bad loans that brought down many of the nation's thrifts. Twitchell said he has no evidence that that has been the case in Utah, but he has heard lenders complain of wide discrepancy between appraisals of the same property.

"The thinking is that if everyone takes the same type of training and operates out of the same book then appraisals will be closer without too much variation," he said of the new state law.

Through trade associations, the industry already offers courses and certification of appraisers, but the education isn't required to engage in appraising. Twitchell said a recently appointed state registration and certification board is reviewing the courses offered by the industry to establish state mandated curriculum.

The state's Real Estate Appraiser and Registration Act will require a minimum 90 hours of classroom instruction to qualify for registration. Additional hours will be required to certify for certain types of appraisal work requiring added expertise. To become a state certified residential appraiser, 120 hours is necessary, and a certified state general appraiser must take 165 classroom hours.

Twitchell said state law provides education credit for past training and experience, but that provision is pending approval by a federal appraisal subcommittee in Washington.

The state board is also responsible for interpreting standards of professional conduct that are defined in the new law.

Twitchell said the local appraisers have accepted the change and he anticipates about 1,000 of them will be registered by July 1991.

Members of the newly appointed Real Estate Appraiser and Certification Board are: appraisers Zane Bergeson, Salt Lake City, William R. Lang, Salt Lake City, Rick Lifferth, Layton, and Don Gurney, Provo; public members Ezra J. Nixon, Logan, and Zane B. Froerer, Ogden; and George Sutton, state commissioner of Financial Institutions.


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Penalties for violators:

What can those who don't register or who are caught violating the new standards of conduct expect?

- Appraising without registration is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, and violators will be ineligible to register for one year.

- Violation of standards of conduct could mean disciplinary action, such as suspension or revocation of a registration and penalties of up to $1,000.

- An appraiser cannot sue for payment of his services unless he is registered or, if necessary, certified.

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