Dan Drelich, New Jersey Appraiser, Chapter President of the NJ Chapter of the AGA
AGA Member Spot-light Interview
February 14, 2013
With Dan Drelich, New Jersey Appraiser, Chapter President of the NJ Chapter of the AGA
And Leo Regensburger, AGA National Member Coordinator
Leo: Please tell me about your experience in the appraiser industry. Why did you come into the profession?
Dan: I had a passing interest in real estate ever since college, but ended up owning small retail businesses for about 15 years instead. Sick of high overhead it was time to investigate other career paths. I attended an Appraisal Institute meeting and spoke with appraisers to learn a bit about the profession. Looking around at all the old men in attendance led me to believe I’d have the field to myself in a few years. I can’t figure it out, but as a group, we’re still in our 50’s!
Since my entry into the profession was post FIRREA, apprenticeship was a requirement. I was fortunate to find a good (ethical) residential mentor and even luckier to hook up with a commercial appraiser during this time. It was in the mid 90’s when I started working on my own. General Certification in hand, residential practice appealed to me (still concerned with overhead). I’ve always worked from home as an appraiser, eventually building a separate office on my house.
Leo: Please tell me if your expectations of the industry have been satisfied. Are there areas in the profession that have been gratifying? What would you like to see improved?
Dan: I was satisfied as an appraiser doing typical lender work for 15 years. Then came HVCC. The loss of hard earned clients combined with low fees and inappropriate demands by Appraisal Management Companies caused me to consider leaving the profession. Since HVCC and Dodd-Frank, I’ve limited my lending work and moved toward attorney based assignments. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve been successful enough to not look back. Fees are considerably higher and the work is more rewarding. I’ve become an appraiser again….no stipulations or call backs from AMCs. I’m able to produce appraisals using paired sales analysis that don’t need to conform to FNMA and FHA parameters….real appraisal work!
How can we change the industry? Our last chance is to band together. All current organizations need to work in tandem in order to be successful. In New Jersey, the IFA has been great to work with. We’ve been partners on an AMC bill (in progress) as well as BPO issues. We’ve reached out to The Institute, but with less success. Still, there is potential for a NJ coalition which could include the AGA, IFA, Institute, and ASA…..I’m still hopeful.
Leo: Would you recommend the Professional Appraiser industry to someone looking for a good profession to enter?
Dan: I have a son who graduated college with a business degree a few years ago. We discussed the possibility of his entering the field. The ability (and future ability) to earn a decent living in almost any other field outweighed his move toward appraising. Would I recommend appraising….No.
Leo: You are an appraiser and the Chapter President of the NJ Chapter of the AGA. Please tell me about how the NJ Chapter has helped you personally and influenced the industry in general.
Dan: In 2003 I decided to get politically involved and was able to find some likeminded appraisers who formed a loosely based group of rebels. We hooked up with a mostly dormant AGA and started a NJ chapter. We’ve been instrumental in developing AMC legislation, attacking the BPO issue, and staying in the public eye. Along with another AGA member, we’ve attended about 90% of our monthly Appraisal Board meetings. This commitment has given the AGA some respect from the Board….very important as we move forward with legislation.
Leo: Please tell me about your experience within the AGA. Why do you think it is important to be a member of AGA? What do you feel are our priorities for continuing to improve quality, service and making the Appraisal Profession stronger in the industry?
Dan: The AGA’s relationship with the AFL-CIO in New Jersey will be key to any success appraisers hope to have in fighting for our rights. Strength is measured by membership and lobbying efforts. Dollars spent by the AFL-CIO allow access to decision makers. A meeting with a Commissioner, Executive Director, or Legislator, is just a phone call away. (The IFA, Institute, and ASA are always invited to attend and participate in meetings the AGA initiates….we are inclusive in all our efforts.)
Is it important to be a member of the AGA? You bet! Without members, we’ll lose influence with our state AFL-CIO chapter.
Leo: Thank you Dan. It is a pleasure talking with you and I am sure the American Guild of Appraisers members will enjoy reading the great feedback you have given to us.