MAI designation and becoming a Developer's Associate

andrewfmiranda_1's picture
Rank: Chimp | 14

My undergraduate degrees are in Finance and Real Estate. I then pursued a Masters in Real Estate. Upon graduation I landed a job in a reputable Valuation Management company that essentially does third-party appraisal reviews for investment banks. I am being encouraged to pursue an MAI designation but my dream is to work at some kind of commercial development firm as a DA sometime in the next 5-10 years and not be pigeon holed into Appraisal for the rest of my career ( I am 24 years old). I was wondering if that designation is attractive to developers looking to hire a DA and if there's any other designations I should pursue such as a CCIM.

Comments (22)

Feb 6, 2020

Do you have your Certified General yet?

Feb 6, 2020

Currently working on it. Will be taking MAI classes immediately after since Certified General is a prerequisite.

Array
Feb 6, 2020

No. I got my MAI after 8 years in appraisal and left shortly after. I knew I didn't want to be an appraiser my whole life so I started interviewing at development/investment shops about 5/6 years in. I continued to pursue the MAI since the company was paying for it. No one I interviewed with really cared about the MAI because no one really knows how hard it is to get. The problem with appraisal is that it pays well and when you try to leave you'll be interviewing for analyst/associate level jobs and taking a pay cut. It sucked for a year or two after I left but the income eventually evened out. I landed at an LP investment shop and love it, though I miss the work/life flexibility of appraising. the underwriting experience gained in appraisal was beneficial, But it sounds like you'll be an appraisal reviewer which sucks. However, it might get you access to a network of REPE firms.

Feb 12, 2020

Interesting, I feel like that's the path I'm on but I was worried about the eventual pay cut or if I was just getting estimates from the wrong companies. I've only been in appraisal for a few years but it's starting to pay very well for my experience. I doubt I'll see my MAI through, but when do you know the cut the cord and take a step back?

Feb 12, 2020

It's a pros/cons game when you find an opportunity that excites you. Most jobs i looked at were pay cuts, but a slightly lower salary/bonus can be better than the fluctuation of the fee split pay structure. I turned down one offer that didn't blow my hair back and finally jumped on one that I couldn't pass up. I probably took a 10%-15% pay cut when I made the move. If you really want out I would do so sooner than later. One thing i wish i would have done was get my MBA while working in appraisal. The flexibility would have made it easier and having the MBA might have opened more doors to higher paying gigs.

Feb 6, 2020

Just my $0.02, but IMO CCIM is not worth much. It does not bolster a resume as a credential in the same way that an MBA/MRED or even a financial analysis certification (Argus/GETREFM) would. I would spend your time on the latter. In reviewing resumes for development jobs I would say a CCIM designation is 100% irrelevant.

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Feb 6, 2020

It will take you 5 years or so to become an MAI. MAI's are THE appraisers, they've spent considerable time and money to get their letters so if you don't want to be "pigeon holded" as an appraiser, don't get the most important and lengthy certification there is for one.

Sound like you really don't know what goes into an MAI yet.

I know a well paid appraiser, running an appraisal office in NYC for a large brokerage, who doesn't have his MAI and hires other MAI's to sign the appraisals because its too much work to get.

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Feb 7, 2020

It will take less than 5 years because I have 9 of the 13 courses for MAI designation covered through my Masters. And the company pays for the classes.

Array
Feb 7, 2020

Thats just what an appraiser told me, perhaps he didn't have a masters degree?

Most Helpful
Feb 10, 2020

just a heads up, you cannot get your Certified General faster than 30 months. The experience hours will be the true hurdle. You need 3,000 hours which cannot happen in a time period of less than 30 months. For the MAI, you need an additional 1,500 hours of specialized experience. The absolute fastest I've ever heard of was an appraiser getting her MAI designation in 4.5 years. Took three to get the CG and her necessary experience, then she tested out of all the MAI classes and took the comp exam and her demonstration in 1.5 years. But, that should be viewed as the exception rather than the standard.

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Feb 6, 2020

I spent 4 years in commercial appraisal (Big 4 Valuation Services) prior to transitioning to REPE. I was taking the classes towards the certified general license (and ultimately MAI designation), all the while knowing I wanted to transition out of appraisal ASAP to the principal side. I tried convincing myself that the license would make that easier or make me a more viable candidate.

If your goal is to go into development, don't waste your time and money on appraisal institute classes. Spend your time networking with developers and shops that interest you through coffee meet ups or quick calls. A good developer would be able to pick up on whether or not you have the technical skills to do the job by asking a few simple questions or having you do a quick modeling test - he'd put more weight on that than the fact you took a Highest and Best Use class where you mathematically proved that if given a one acre parcel in a thriving CBD, it's more profitable to develop a 20 story office building than a single story Baskin Robbins.

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Feb 6, 2020

Would probably make more sense to network into a development analyst position in the short run then get promoted to associate. Would be quicker than 5-10 years too most likely.

Feb 7, 2020

My first job out of school was at an appraisal firm and I don't think I ever thought about pivoting to development after that. If you want to do development, I wouldn't waste time getting the MAI and I don't know how developers would feel/care about it.

Maybe I'm wrong. What is your train of thought using the MAI as leverage for development?

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Feb 7, 2020
andrewfmiranda_1:

I was wondering if that designation is attractive to developers looking to hire a DA and if there's any other designations I should pursue such as a CCIM.

Neither are particularly relevant, especially since you already have a graduate degree.

Why are you waiting 5-10 years to move to development? If you want it, do it now.

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Feb 7, 2020

the longer you wait, the harder it is to transition

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Feb 8, 2020

This may be contrarian to the view of those on here, but I would try and go for the MAI if you are close. I know several developers (including one who is the most respected independent developer in a major secondary market) who started in appraisal. The skills of valuation, research, analysis are very valuable for a development team. If you get the MAI, that background basically pushes you forward even after you stop appraising.

Further, and perhaps most importantly, it may help you land a more senior role, like the director/VP level vs. associate/manager. I think it is easier to transition up than lateral in all reality. This may take more time, and is most likely to come via networking, but really makes more sense when you think about the skill transference. The MAI may make a firm (especially a smaller one) want you to have a more senior role in part because your bio will help in raising equity and securing debt (i.e. "wow they must really know values, rents, market conditions, etc. if they have an MAI on staff").

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Feb 9, 2020

meh...i don't know about that. deal experience means way more imo than 3 letters next to your name.

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Feb 9, 2020
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