SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — One survey of current South Dakota appraisers showed a majority aren’t in favor of changes to the state’s Appraiser Certification Program (ACP). 

On Thursday, the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee will discuss changes to the ACP, which is under the Department of Labor and Regulation. Requested to speak with the 12-person committee are DLR Secretary Marcia Hultman, former ACP director Sherry Bren and Sandra Gresh, the current president of the Professional Appraisers Association of South Dakota (PAASD).

In a letter posted with the agenda late Wednesday, Bren notified the committee she won’t be attending the meeting.

In advance of Thursday’s meeting, Gresh and members of PAASD submitted more than 40 pages on concerns about “proposed administrative rule revisions affecting the appraisal profession.”   

Thursday’s meetings with lawmakers come after a story was published by The Associated Press revealing a meeting between Gov. Kristi Noem, her daughter, Kassidy Peters, and Bren, who had denied Peters’ application for an appraiser license. Peters later obtained her appraiser certification.   

Gresh told KELOLAND News two days after the AP report, she was “saddened” and “surprised” by Noem’s apparent meeting. Noem, in a video response to the AP story said she never “asked for special treatment for Kassidy” and added she’s “heard for years about how difficult it is to become an appraiser in South Dakota.”

Noem said her administration “started fixing” the process to become an appraiser. 

“This system had been broken for decades,” Noem said. “Appraisers weren’t getting certified and South Dakotans were having to wait much longer to buy a home than in other states.”

Noem added she’s looking at more ways to “streamline” the appraiser process in South Dakota.

In a letter sent to the DLR, Gresh stressed members of the PAASD have “never” written in opposition to the notification process of rule revisions or the content of proposed rule revisions. 

She said the ACP “was deficient in its notification of the current proposed administrative rule revisions to the public, the profession, and other interested persons.” 

The PAASD conducted an appraiser survey from Oct. 14 through Oct. 20 to 252 “credentialed appraisers that reside in South Dakota.” The survey was completed by 195 of the 252 appraisers, which is 77.4% and Gresh described it as an extremely high participation rate. The survey included appraisers who have been credentialed for less than a year to some who have more than 25 years of a credentialed SD. 

Page 5 of PAASD survey results letter
Contributed to DocumentCloud by Eric Mayer (KELO-TV) • View document or read text

More than 70% of the 195 South Dakota appraisers surveyed said they opposed rule changes to “required inspections by a supervisory appraiser with the appraiser-trainee” and the “national appraiser-trainee exam” required to become a state-registered appraiser. 

There were 97 comments from appraisers related to the national trainee exam. South Dakota is one of only five states requiring a person to pass the national appraiser-trainee exam before obtaining the appraiser-trainee credential. But the PAASD also notes South Dakota is one of only four states allowing appraiser-trainees to complete an appraisal and appraisal report without a supervisor in certain instances. 

Amy Frink, the Vice President of PAASD, told KELOLAND News earlier this month the national appraiser-trainee exam is “more of an aptitude and basic concepts test” and trainees could take it “as many times as it takes.” 

One of the 97 comments from South Dakota appraisers supported the national exam saying “the exam shows basic competence it should be part of the process. Allowing trainees to do appraisals without this exam seems hazardous to the profession.” 

An opposing comment says “If the trainee has a passing grade on each of the required courses. They should not need to pass a national exam.” 

On the direct question of eliminating the current national appraiser-trainee examination, 148 respondents voted “No” while 31 voted “Yes” and 12 voted “not sure.” 

Page 20 of PAASD survey results letter
Contributed to DocumentCloud by Eric Mayer (KELO-TV) • View document or read text

The Executive Director of the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC), which monitors each state’s appraiser licensing and certification regulatory programs, told KELOLAND News “there’s nothing like” the appraiser industry. There’s a set of federal minimum standards and requirements as well as varying state standards and regulations. 

The ASC is currently undergoing a “comprehensive legal and policy review of appraiser qualification criteria.”

The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation ended up paying a $200,000 settlement payment to Bren. Bren had met with Hultman on Nov. 24 to discuss some of Hultman’s concerns about the appraiser certification program, Bren’s complaint said. On Dec. 1, Hultman asked Bren to leave her state role in six months, the complaint said.