Whether you’re still in high school or are mapping out options for a second career, it’s important to understand the requirements for any job you’re interested in. If you’ve contemplated converting your DIY knowhow into a job as an appraiser, consider what it takes to earn the credentials you’ll need.
What Appraisers Do
Appraisers spend their days comparing real estate. They delve into property values, depreciation, replacement costs, comparisons with similar properties, and improvements.
People involved in the buying and selling of real estate rely on appraisers to evaluate the value of homes or businesses. Appraisers create reports of their findings and provide the information to clients, whether that be a home buyer, a home seller, a real estate agent, or a bank that's considering funding a loan.
An appraiser can hold a general title or move into an area of specialty such as commercial appraiser, residential appraiser, historical appraiser, property tax appraiser, etc. One thing a home appraiser should not be confused with is a home inspector. Where the home appraiser calculates value, a home inspector investigates the condition of the home.
Appraisers spend most of their time in an office and at a computer. However, it’s common for appraisers to visit a property they're considering to ensure it matches the information found in the county records in regards to the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, easements, closets, upgrades, square footage, unique characteristics, and square footage.
The job is commonly done for mortgage companies, so you may be on staff. However, many appraisers run their own businesses.
Education, Licensing, and Certification
General certification requirements to become an appraiser are outlined by the Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB). In addition, each state may have their own requirements, such as completion of a state-offered test.
The first step in becoming an appraiser is to complete 75 hours of education from an accredited institution. At that point you can begin work as a real estate appraiser trainee. However, this work must be supervised by a certified appraiser. Hopefully, this person will act as your mentor as you earn on-the-job hours that count towards advancements in the field.
The first-tier position following your training is called a licensed real estate appraiser. This role allows you to appraise simple and more complex one to four family residences with a limited value. You must obtain a minimum of 1,000 hours in no fewer than six months for this position, with some states requiring many more.
The next level is a certified real estate or residential appraiser. This title allows you to appraise most types of residential property without limitations. You’ll need a minimum of 1,500 hours in no fewer than 12 months, and 200 hours of classroom time.
The highest level of specialization is the certified general appraiser. This position allows you to appraise commercial and residential properties with no value limits. However, earning the title also means earning a bachelor’s degree, in addition to 300 hours of specialized training, and completing at least 3,000 hours in no fewer than 18 months, of which 1,500 hours must be non-residential appraisal work.
Strong Personal Characteristics for Appraisers
Every job has certain personal characteristics that help the job be a more natural match for the person. Becoming an appraiser puts an emphasis on being detail oriented and having strong analytical skills.
If you own your own business you’ll need to be proficient at completing state-required paperwork, be able to handle the payroll and other employee aspects, and keep up the bill-paying and maintenance at the office.
You’ll need to be organized and have well-developed communication skills. The best way to be successful in the appraisal business is to build relationships with lenders. That means showing up on time, doing what you promise, and delivering reports quickly. Basically, it means being a reliable go-to so you’re the one they call when they need the next appraisal.
There are very few safety risks involved in the appraiser field of work. There are ergonomic considerations while at a desk. In the field, watch out for dogs and other animals, as well as unstable footing or crumbling architecture.
When you start out as an assistant, your salary could be as low as $20,000. The average wage for all levels of appraisers in the United States is around $60,000. Certified appraisers can rake in over $100,000. Many appraisers get into the business after another career or use the job as supplemental income.
The job outlook within the appraiser industry is consistent and in alignment with most other occupations. Of course, the appraisal industry ebbs and flows alongside the real estate market, so a correlation can be made between cold and hot periods for both.