What is an MAI Appraiser and Why It Matters to You

This month, Senior Analyst Eric Schneider earned the MAI designation from the Appraisal Institute (check IRR’s blog post for more on his achievement). He is the fourth appraiser in Integra’s San Diego office to achieve this prestigious award.

When choosing a commercial real estate appraiser for your valuation needs, there are a few things you need to know about the MAI designation and why it is important.

What is an MAI?

According to the website of the Appraisal Institute, a professional association with over 20,000 members throughout the world, the MAI membership designation is held by appraisers who are experienced in the valuation and evaluation of commercial, industrial, residential, and other types of properties, and advise clients on real estate investment decisions. These designated members have met rigorous requirements relating to education, testing, experience and demonstration of knowledge, understanding and ability. Additionally, this designation has long been recognized by courts of law, government agencies, financial institutions, and investors as a mark of excellence in the field of real estate valuation and analysis.

What does this mean?

In short, MAI appraisers are valuation professionals who have spent years obtaining additional education and experience beyond state-certified requirements. This designation is not easily earned, as in addition to education and experience, one must pass several comprehensive exams and demonstrate their knowledge by writing a complex analysis of a commercial property (similar to a thesis paper for a PhD). Not all of the Appraisal Institute’s 20,000+ members are MAI’s, and not all commercial appraisers have this designation.

Choosing a Commercial Appraiser

When choosing a commercial appraiser, it is important to ask if they have an MAI designation because it shows that the appraiser has taken the time to improve their valuation and analytic skills. While there may be many appraisers without this designation that have the knowledge and experience to appraise your property, an MAI-designated appraiser adheres to higher standards set forth by the Appraisal Institute compared to a general-state certified appraiser.

That said, your choice may be between two (or more) MAI-designated appraisers. In this case, it is best to ask them questions related to your property. For example, you would want to ask about their experience appraising a particular type of property, or how many estate and trust appraisals they have completed in the last year. These questions will indicate if they are familiar with your property type and if they are active in both your market and the type of valuation needed. Lastly, they should be able to provide testimonials from others who have had similar appraisal needs.


An MAI designation is a prestigious achievement that ensures that the appraisal or valuation service provided observes the highest standards. If you have any additional questions about the designation, or if you would like more information on how Integra San Diego can provide valuation services, please contact us today.

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