Is it jUSt PAP?

…standards written in weasel words…

Appraisal is not rocket science, but it’s been around for about 300 years and it worked pretty well when the principles were kept simple and the consequences for ignoring them were disastrous. It would also have been nice if individual lending institutions still had to hold their own loans into perpetuity.

The “Just Pap” is more unpopularly known as the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, which came into being after the last big residential mortgage greeding frenzy (the failure of S&Ls in a 17%-mortgage-rate environment during the late 1980s).

Before your friendly author proceeds violently to eviscerate this not-even-very-well-meaning document, let’s get a minor but nonetheless irritating question off the table. Now you have to pay $75 for a copy of USPAP when, as a matter of public law, it should have been free to read. The solution? The Appraisal Foundation put it out on the web where it’s free to read (, but you can’t download it or search it effectively. So you still have to pony up the bucks.

My central thesis today, children, is still that a bunch of crusty old MAIs and soulless bank appraisers saw an opportunity in 1986 to create a bureaucracy that funds free trips to meetings where crusty old MAIs and soulless bank appraisers can assemble to get pleasantly drunk. This entity became The Appraisal Foundation, an organization designed to foster high appraisal standards that are written in weasel words.

It’s hard to know where to start; there are so many things wrong with USPAP. As an overview, suffice it to say that its structure appears to be designed so that over the long haul, most responsibility for bad loans can be offloaded to appraisers making less than $100K per year.

NOTE: This is a very brief excerpt from Barry’s article in the January 2018 issue of the paid Appraisal Today monthly newsletter.

About Barry Bates: Ann O’Rourke has known him personally for over 30 years. He has a wide variety of appraisal “experiences” over the years, which he writes about. In his 42 years of appraising he has had different jobs, from a staff appraiser to senior management. He is lots of fun to chat with!

Barry would like to hear from you!! Send an email to

Ann O'Rourke
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Ann O'Rourke

Ann O'Rourke

Ann O'Rourke, MAI, SRA, MBA, is the publisher and editor of Appraisal Today newsletter and practicing fee appraiser for 40 years (commercial and residential) in Alameda California. Click here to subscribe to her newsletters.

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6 Responses

  1. Avatar Craig says:

    Yes, very brief…

  2. Avatar ERIC S KENNEDY says:

    Brief but true. We need much less Barney Frank and much more Barney Fife. US POOP

  3. Baggins Baggins says:

    It would be nice if it was simply called the valuation standards ethics book. That’s what I call it if having to reference in reports. Hold on the politics please.

  4. Avatar wontobey says:

    TAF is another agency designed to promote self growth. We can all sleep well because TAF has our back (sarcasm).

  5. Avatar Eric West says:

    Short and sweet. “Is It jUst CRAP?” has a nicer ring to it.

  6. Insightful article. I love reading Ann’s articles (is this hers, or Barry’s?) and urge all that can afford it to subscribe to her news letter.

    The article is referring back to the old American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers (AIREA) that later became the Appraisal Institute after its contentious merger with the Society of Real Estate Appraisers.

    The first USPAP version that TAF later adopted was literally taken directly from AIREA with some lip service to other organizations. As we know it the official national USPAP developed (finalized) by TAF wasn’t until 1990-1991+- .

    I agree with Ann and/or Barry LOTS of weasel wording designed to allow the greatest flexibility for those that don’t intend to comply with anything meaningful anyway.

    The wording ALSO provides decent guidelines buried within  its cumbersome texts for those that care enough to read it carefully. In the end it boils down to complying with  the spirit as well as the exact wording.

    That’s why all USPAP reviews are supposed to be (1) done by peers; and (2) reviewed in context of the clients intended use. Possibly the primary reason all state enforcement of USPAP should be taken back by the feds and administered at the ASC or similar agency.


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Is it jUSt PAP?

by Ann O'Rourke time to read: 2 min