MAI Designation

MAI Designation

Nearly 17 years ago, I unexpectedly found myself jobless wih three years of experience and a state appraisal license.  I lacked the Certified General credential required to do commercial work, which was not good seeing nearly all my experience to that point in my career was commercial appraising.  I walked into a large commercial brokerage firm looking for a job as a commercial appraiser.  The chief appraiser thumbed through my reports and looked me in the eye and said “Come back when you have your MAI.”.

This was the first time I had ever heard of the elusive MAI, and sadly not the last time I would be denied work because of not having it.  I earned my Certified General a couple years later and with license in hand, I went to all of the banks in the area and asked for commercial work. One after another said the exact same thing “We only do business with people who have the MAI.”.  I cannot explain in words the level of frustration I had every time I heard that.  

For those that do not know what it takes, an MAI designation requires a Bachelors Degree, five years of experience (reports are reviewed by an MAI screener for compliance) after a Certified General license has been earned.  An additional 200 hours of specialized commercial appraisal education (these five classes are out of the area requiring travel and a week off of work), a two-day intense exam, and finally a demonstration report (the most in-depth appraisal report that someone will ever write, detailing each and every adjustment and conclusion frommarket evidence).

While wading through the process, I still needed to work. I slowly accumulated clients that did not require the MAI.  In my heart I knew that to be successful I had to be the expert, not just the expert for clients, but the expert in my industry.   I began a series of seminars on topics of historic preservation easements and property tax appeal.  Despite not having my MAI, worked started to come in and before long I was competing with the MAIs on projects and beating them.  I told myself that once I got my MAI I would wait to really grow my business-I would get my USPAP Instructor Certificate. I would wait to get on the the Michigan State Licensing Board.  Some of it seemed like real reasons to wait, others just an excuse of not being let down when I didn’t get it.

The process of MAI was long, on top of that life got in the way/ I got married, we had three kids, my business’s ups and down. Oh and most importantly, the things I told myself that would wait till after I got designated started to happen.  Before long I wondered why I was even doing it, I had achieved everything I set out for and more.  But the lack of fulfillment of this goal ate at me everyday.  In January of 2014 I told myself THIS WAS IT, this was the year I would finally achieve it.  Everyday I worked on my demonstration report (the last piece of the puzzle) and finally in May I submitted the report for grading.  I did it not because I needed the three letters, I wanted it to fulfill my goal.

In July of 2014, I received word that I passed and  I had finally earned the designation and in September of 2014, I received my plaque (I also earned the SRA designation, that’s a post for another time) from my peers at the of the Appraisal Institute.

A few things I learned from this process:

  1. Don’t hedge your success/happiness on future outcomes, you can be successful today (right this second).
  2. A designation does not make a career, a person makes it.  If you want success you don’t need a piece of paper to go after it.
  3. The journey of getting this designation was far more enlightening and beneficial than the actual achievement of it.

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