After the savings and loan debacle of the 1980s, Congress required states to regulate real estate appraisers. Pennsylvania installed a process that has worked successfully since the certification of appraisers began in 1992. Under the current unambiguous rules, real estate salespeople are allowed to perform "competitive market analysis" when developed in conjunction with securing a listing. All other instances of valuing real estate require a certified appraiser.

Now, pending state Senate legislation would allow real estate salespeople to perform valuations for additional purposes. With no standards, and inadequate educational and experience requirements, this quickly could create a Wild West situation that's bad for property owners and consumers alike.

Say you're involved in a divorce or a partnership dissolution: Under this bill, you may be faced with a legal nightmare of having a biased and nonobjective valuation that costs you dearly. If you inherit property, the Internal Revenue Service might have a valuation that requires you to pay substantially more than you should. Inaccurate price opinions done early in the lending process could preclude obtaining a loan, and so on.

Although not perfect, the present system works well, is easy to understand, and protects the state residents. It would be a travesty for our elected officials to enact Senate Bill 869.

Richard M. Lam, vice chairman, Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers, Plymouth Meeting

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