Exposing Occupational Licensing Abuses Nationwide

Jeremy Bagott
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Appraiser Will Help Expose Occupational Licensing Abuses Nationwide. 

She went from viewing occupational licensing as a necessary means to protect the safety and welfare of the public to a cynical tool promoted by established businesses to erect barriers against innovation and competition.

Her experience as a licensed real property appraiser in West Virginia turned out to be the perfect training ground for the study of public corruption, restraint of trade and government overreach. Who would have thought it?

After 27 years of being whipsawed by West Virginia’s notorious appraiser-licensing apparatus, the Appraisal Foundation – and the latter’s continually changing copyrighted standards – and a complicit federal monitor, Lori Noble has become truly inspired – inspired to warn the public of the dangers of uncontrolled growth in occupational licensing.

In July, the Daniels-based appraiser wrapped up her final assignment as a mortgage appraiser and began a new chapter in her life. She will serve as outreach and public relations coordinator at the Knee Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation. Housed at the University of West Virginia’s John Chambers College of Business and Economics, its mission is to provide information to citizens, policymakers and researchers about the extent, scope and effects of occupational regulation.

There she will help to catalogue and report on occupational licensing across the country.

“She has lived the ultimate cautionary tale,” said appraiser-author Jeremy Bagott. “She’s witnessed firsthand a licensing scheme run amok. You can’t get this from a book. Her career as a licensed real property appraiser in West Virginia will serve her well. She’s developed an eagle eye for identifying fiefdoms, restraint of trade, regulatory capture, conflicts of interest, self-dealing, government zealotry and rogue boards and commissions.”

Noble’s thinking over the years has evolved. She went from viewing occupational licensing as a necessary means to protect the safety and welfare of the public to a cynical tool promoted by established businesses to erect barriers against innovation and competition. This isn’t the case in all professions, she says, but it is in far too many.

Recently, working with lead sponsor state Delegate Brandon Steele, along with Delegates Geoff Foster and Josh Booth, she helped bring about West Virginia House Bill 4285, a long-overdue statute that was signed into law in April.

The statute helps counter cronyism. It attempts to keep the board from maintaining a perpetual scarcity of appraisers in the state, which the board has done by slow-walking applications for years. All West Virginians indirectly paid the price for the artificial scarcity. The new law now requires the board to provide applicants a written statement within 15 calendar days of its decision to deny an applicant’s license or renewal request.

“The West Virginia appraiser licensing board has been a petri dish, incubating all manner of petty corruption over the years,” said Bagott.

In an attempt to quash one reported scheme, the new law bans any member of the West Virginia Real Estate Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board from disciplining a licensee and then hiring on as an expert witness in a lawsuit involving the licensee. The statute attempts to remove the board members’ financial incentive to penalize appraisers by eliminating the possibility of future revenue attached to their disciplinary actions.

Noble points out that in the 1950s, only about 5% of all occupations required licensing or certification. Today, that percentage has grown to about one-quarter of all U.S. jobs. Occupational licensing and other onerous regulations now limit access to diverse professions like dance instructor, hair braider, manicurist, tour guide, interior designer and many more.

She also points out the way in which occupational licensing limits mobility of America’s once famously mobile workforce. If one spouse is in a licensed profession, the family may not be able to simply pull up stakes and move to accommodate the job prospects of the other spouse because of licensing concerns in the new state. It keeps workers from going to where the jobs are. It also disproportionately harms military spouses.

Even in professions where most would agree licensing makes sense, the requirements of licensing are often both burdensome and aimed at protecting the market share of licensees, rather than addressing public health and safety.

Early in her career, esoteric concepts like “regulatory capture” were not on her radar by name, but the deadweight loss she experienced due to increasingly gratuitous regulations placed on real property appraisers made her want to understand the phenomenon and take action.

“I’m grateful to the many who’ve traveled the problem-solving journey with me,” she said. “I’ll be working on research papers, helping to build a national database of occupational licensing across the United States and taking intelligence to policy makers to help them make informed decisions.”

We wish her the very best.

Established in 2016, The Knee Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation (CSOR) is an academic research center currently within the John Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University. The Knee Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation offers student fellows the opportunity to conduct, analyze, and present research that goes toward developing a national database of occupational regulation, focusing on healthcare and other occupations.

Image credit flickr - SebastianBartoschek
Jeremy Bagott

Jeremy Bagott

Jeremy Bagott is a real estate appraiser and former newspaperman. His most recent book, “The Ichthyologist’s Guide to the Subprime Meltdown,” is a concise almanac that distills the cataclysmic financial crisis of 2007-2008 to its essence. This pithy guide to the upheaval includes essays, chronologies, roundups and key lists, weaving together the stories of the politics-infused Freddie and Fannie; the doomed Wall Street investment banks Lehman and Bear Stearns; the dereliction of duty by the Big Three credit-rating services; the mayhem caused by the shadowy nonbank lenders; and the massive government bailouts. It provides a rapid-fire succession of “ah-hah” moments as it lays out the meltdown, convulsion by convulsion.

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13 Responses

  1. Avatar Jason says:

    Congrats and best wishes in her new role! I will be watching what she finds.

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  2. Avatar Pat Turner says:

    Trust me, she’ll find it!!

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  3. Avatar Jeff says:

    This is absolutely what this country needs. As corporate America and compliance both seem to be tag teaming to make it ever so difficult for anyone trying to chase the American dream it’s refreshing to know there is a voice monitoring the cause and affects.

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  4. Avatar Rhonda says:

    Go Lori!! Keep us posted please

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  5. Avatar Joseph Fassari says:

    Many hands are sticking their hands in our cookie jar. The problem with the appraisal business is too many changes are made without consequence. Although I like one true measurement standard, detail drawings are not necessary unless ones want to build a database to supplant the appraiser to a desk job. This will not work depreciation comes in many ways without an exact value but what the market will allow. Yes, there is too many groups having a say in what we do. Most lack the training we go have. Therefore, changes made are often poor judgement. Our business is an opinion. It’s no exact. Most of us also lack the resources because of the cookie jar. Desktop appraisals are only. there to lower fees. Unfortunately, there is something called inflation and oversight. Desktop’s will place more pressure on our E&O Insurance. Since the people doing the actual inspection are neither trained nor licensed and do not care but getting these inspections done for a small paycheck. Recently in 2005 my county had a reassessment, they sent out non appraisers to measure the homes. The mistakes are there, too many. I can go on with many other issues but the people running this show do not care except for their bottom line. Our bottom line has been broken. Go Lori, but you will be muffled.

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Every time a company wants me to do hybrids I instead inquire who’s the inspector and if I could do that side of the job instead. Origination is falling apart and although many are hopeful and optimistic it will return, the return will be so gradual over time and it’s probably going to slide much further before even beginning to bounce back. What is this whipsaw thing Jeremy keeps talking about… Licensing is all about the nanny state, supposedly protecting the public. aka poisonous protectionism. ‘Taking intelligence to policy makers’… Does not compute. Dollar signs in their eyes.

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  6. Avatar Eric Kennedy says:

    All the best Lori Noble and thank you for always giving the effort for what is right in our world. You have been a long time and important advocate for Appraisers Nationwide for years. I’m sure you will not disappear from the radar. XOXO

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  7. Avatar mike f says:

    as a real estate broker since 1989 i have watched as your trade has been larded up with liability as your fees were cut. the de minimus rule was the first time i really paid attention so the AMC’s (and their vig) and the extra schedules for the reports were no surprise. when they foisted the AMC’s on y’all i can’t tell you how many of my pals in your trade simply left the resale valuation trade for consulting on trusts, divorces, lawsuits and such and who could blame them…twice the liability for 2/3’s the money. good lord no! no one who pays attention thinks licensing or regulation is too much more that protectionism by those entrenched. for fun go seek out the Institute for Justice and their long history of combatting abuses of power by tyrants who require licenses for everything from haircutting to flower arranging to interior design to eyebrow threading to training programs for horseshoer’s. yes, interior decorating.

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    • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

      Mike F from San Diego, if so I miss our back and forth on various platforms.

      As long as you seek the truth, find the truth, expose the truth, tell others the truth, and identify by name those who ignore the truth, I support you 100%.

      Seek the truth.

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      As the myriad of tech companies whom push hybrids and destroy an entire valuation industry are not individually licensed, for their companies or their workers. There is some rather severe imbalance in terms of whom has to deal with such oversight and whom does not.

      Just dealt with this tech platform company specializing in default asset management. They left all these other vendor sign up and servicing programs in place. Field service management did not change. Broker bpo services did not change (but did expand to take over valuation services inspection duties previously fulfilled by appraisers), the listing selling title, all of that did not change.

      But in their infinite wisdom this tech company has decided that; “All appraisal services are now hybrid”. They removed the option for asset managers to even order full appraisal reo service! It’s gone completely, no full 1004 reo ordering allowed! So as a tech company whom facilitates the linking of these various vendor services and asset managers, they have now affected what is likely to be hundreds of different asset management companies, with one fell swoop of a decision. Cut the legs out from tens of thousands of appraisers nationwide so they can pursue some ridiculous false claim regarding merits of saving time and money on the appraisal service, while then maintaining traditional engagements with everyone else except the appraiser.

      While nobody gives a damn that every single other service provider already earned more and took longer than the appraisal services anyways. So quite literally with this company, one can sign up to complete field services and perform tasks like lawn mowing and changing locks, and earn far far far more than the appraiser, and still be in the field, with almost no liability. While the worthless appraisers are only held for their insurance and signature, stuck at a desk, flipping hybrids all day long. They expect appraisers to complete these hybrid reports in an hour or less, have exact pinpoint value, even without applying a single adjustment. The appraiser of course must sign and must attach their EO insurance.

      Now that’s a tech company that deserves licensing! So far nobody bothers to license the field service providers, probably because it’s already nearly impossible to find people willing to mow 200 lawns a month and do winterization and lock outs and such after eviction, work with the sheriffs. And one really can’t change the nature of that labor service, stupid gimmicks are hard to apply. I’m thinking about pursuing this line of work and in my state of Colorado, they can’t find anyone to even do this work hardly. The catch is one signs up for complete zones, and then would expect to cover multiple county spreads and manage hundreds of houses in batch order delivery at a time.

      What a turn of events, lawn mowing might just be back on the menu! Now carefully consider the balance of compensation between a professionally licensed appraiser and a field service manager laborer vendor, all accepting work from the same asset management companies, all work being assigned through the same technical services platform working with the exact same said asset management companies. Mow a lawn, liability free for the most part, roughly $30-$40 per quarter acre lawn. (more for acre up to 60-70 per full acre). And you get mowing batch orders by the dozens, could knock out dozens in a day or two with time to spare. Could hire anyone to help you basically, no licensing required. Work hard, good pay, no boss, liability free, and end up with meaningful tools and equipment which one can write off with resale value later. Liability insurance is roughly the same as an appraisers EO, yet the actual liability shouldered is exponentially less, like maybe pay for a broken window if your lawn mower kicks a rock, mostly worry free liability.

      Now compare that to the appraiser whom will be struggling to complete hybrid reports at $50 per order, as they happen to come in, so a lot of standing by down time and challenging scheduling. The appraiser signs every hybrid report with his professional license, putting his entire career on the line every single time. Each one tied to the appraisers insurance which if anything comes back could result in substantial civil penalties in the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more and notable errors and omissions insurance jumps. And you’re dealing with high gravity work where your actions in that single hour of completing hybrid reports could result in people at the end of the line taking substantial lender default penalties of their own, just financial ruin and all of that. Also you’re laying your insurance and license on the line with blind trust as you rely on third party photographers inspectors and measuring services, which of course all of that is now completed by whatever realty agent they lined up for quick low fee tech based inspection services and those guys flip even more volume than you do. The realty agent is not worried about a similar low fee schedule, as they pass all the risk to the appraiser.

      All these tech companies, grown up around the concept of exploiting the valuation industry. As our TAF and ASB does nothing to stop the wholesale exploitation, even now exploring the ridiculous concept of ‘certifying an avm’. So that’s it people, lawn mowing officially pays more than appraisal work. That’s where these tech company idiots and advocates have driven this industry. Do the hybrids if you want and good luck, you’ll need it one day when years later the affected parties sort it out in court with retrospective reviews. “The appraiser just picked comps from a national database and did not even bother applying any adjustments, and still applied a pin point value based on a half dozen third party inspection photos.”

      So now same old routine in soliciting asset management companies; I’ll be happy to work with you, if you’ll simply move away from the tech companies forcing hybrid work products. It’s the same thing as; I’ll be happy to work with you if you’ll simply assign direct and not force me to work with amc’s. (which will also be an uphill marketing battle as amc’s have a lot of those companies too.) But as amc service was so awful a lot of them swapped to these tech companies for volume fulfillment.

      Oh yeah, this is a far far better system than simply letting loan production be in direct contact with appraisers. You know, direct marketing like quite literally everyone else enjoys. But not for the appraiser, oh no, we need even more regulation and need even less compensation. This is the end effect of all the selfish irresponsible appraisers whom think it’s no big deal to work with amc’s despite the ethical shortcomings in the amc’s exploitative business modeling. That and predatory unregulated tech companies on every corner too now. The solution is to release a hefty portion of all this regulation or alternatively to apply the regulation more fairly. But that’s not how it works because; regulation for sale. The tech industry and trade groups gives enough to those whom impose regulation, to avoid such restrictions themselves. (hint; that’s the multi million dollar lobbyist budget part of their 501c tax return statements.)

      2
  8. Michael Stalnaker on Facebook Michael Stalnaker on Facebook says:

    Took me some ECON classes in the B and E building back in the day. Go Eers!

    1
  9. Avatar Mary says:

    Congrats Lori. Go get ‘em! Many of these license requirements are for the sole purpose of collecting fees for the state every year. As for Appraisers I only have one request. Let’s not dumb down the profession and make it as easy as pie for anyone to be an Appraiser. All that does is harm the homeowners/buyers. Sure some things can be changed as to entry and mentorship obstacles, but they still need That kind of real world boots on the ground training so they don’t fall on their face when it comes to basics like marketing, technology, day to day tasks and of course how to select the best comparable sales and support their adjustments. You can’t just expect a newbie to make it on their own without someone giving them guidance on the nuts and bolts day to day tasks in order to succeed in this business. This profession is not for everyone!

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Exposing Occupational Licensing Abuses Nationwide

by Jeremy Bagott time to read: 3 min
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