If you love the idea of working in the fast-paced world of real estate but don’t want your living to center around sales commissions, then look at a career as a certified real estate appraiser.
An appraiser uses different methods to decide what a property is worth. Your bank and tax assessor both use this data when deciding how much to loan or tax you. Read on to learn more about about this exciting field and how to jump-start your new career.
Tip: Easily complete online training and continuing education with McKissock.
What Is A Real Estate Appraiser?
Real estate appraisers do a number of property assessments to find how much a property is worth. This includes surveying the property, digging through legal records, and researching the value of nearby properties.
They complete this process on residential properties, such as single-family homes, or commercial and mixed-use buildings. Factors taken into consideration when appraising a property include:
- Assessing the outside of the property
- Doing a room-by-room walk-through of the inside of the home to decide condition
- Evaluating amenities such as swimming pools or finished basements
- Checking for health cold or safety violations
After gathering the details on a property, the information is compared with other homes in the area to appraise value. Real estate appraisers need strong critical thinking, writing, and analytical skills to do the job well.
Even better? The job is flexible, so you can work when you want. Real estate appraiser Van Patton hits the nail on the head by saying, “I recently obtained my residential certification. The independence, freedom, and ability to work as much as little as I want is very liberating.”
How to Get Started
Now that you know what a real estate appraiser does and how much they make, you’re probably wondering how you become one! Here are your 5 easy steps to becoming an appraiser.
1. Understand Base Requirements
The minimum requirements in this field are set by the Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB). Any would-be appraiser in the United States must meet the qualifications set forth by this body. This includes any training needed to become a certified or licensed real estate appraiser – and some states will need you to take other courses in addition to those spelled out by the AQB.
The Appraisal Subcommittee oversees licensing and certifications on an individual state level. Your state’s appraiser regulatory agency will give you the information you need for prerequisites, classes, and exams.
2. Become a Trainee
The next step in your real estate appraisal career is to become a trainee. The AQB requires these courses:
- Basic Appraisal Procedures – 30 hours
- Basic Appraisal Principles – 30 hours
- National Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice – 15 hours
The appraiser regulatory agency in your state can confirm that you’ve met all requirements.
3. Find a Supervisory Appraiser
When the trainee courses are done, then the next thing you need to do is find a mentor that can help steer your appraisals as you get some real-world practice under your belt. You must complete about 1,000 hours of supervised experience in six months or more.
Finding a mentor isn’t as difficult as you may think. All you need to do is check out your local real estate appraiser organizations. Or check out sites such as Indeed or LinkedIn to help find one in your area.
4. Finish Your Courses
You don’t need a college education to become a real estate appraiser, but you do need to finish a few extra courses to go from a trainee to a licensed appraiser. The AQB requires these residential courses:
- Appraiser Site Valuation and Cost Approach – 15 hours
- Report Writing and Case Studies – 15 hours
- Market Analysis and Highest and Best Use – 15 hours
- Sales Comparison and Income Approaches – 30 hours
Tip: Licensing requirements vary by state, so make sure to check with your local appraisal regulatory agency to ensure you’ve met the requirements.
5. Get Approval for the Licensed Residential Exam
With 1,000 hours of practice and required classes finished, you’re now ready to reach out to the local state advisory board for the Licensed Residential Exam. This exam covers things you learned in your classes. For example:
- Property Appraisal math
- Types of real estate value
- Valuation methods
- Real estate market and investment analysis
- Submit Your Application
Now that you’ve passed your exam with flying colors there’s only one thing left to do – submit an application to get your license with your state licensing board!
Where To Work
If you want to become a real estate appraiser, you have a few options. These include both starting your own firm and also working for someone, though to get your experience you need to be an employee.
1. Find A Job
There are very few appraisal franchises, which means most companies are local. For this reason, hit the yellow pages or do a Google search to find a company that fits your style. Appraisers are in high demand and as long as you’re qualified, you’ll probably get a job about anywhere. A quick Indeed search in Texas shows 147 total jobs. After all, the more you make, the more the appraisal firm will make.
2. Start Your Own Firm
If you are ambitious and don’t mind putting in evenings, nights, and weekends, you can start your own firm. While this is riskier, there’s also more reward, as you’ll keep all of your profits from your appraisal fee. Which, after all, is based on a few factors. Because every property is different, this varies, but typically include:
- The location of the property
- The size of the property
- The appraiser’s experience
- Any repairs or damage to the property
- The type of property appraised
The average pay for a real estate appraiser varies. Options are plentiful, as you can own your own business, work for someone else, or work for the government. After all, every property will be appraised, whether it’s for loan or tax purposes.
According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a real estate appraiser is $54,010, or $25.97 per hour on average. The outlook for this field is promising, with a growth rate of 14 percent estimated between now and 2026, which is faster than average.
As we mentioned above, jobs come in all forms, so it’s natural that pay will vary by employer. Here’s the difference:
Finance and Insurance – $66,170
Real Estate – $54,050
Local Government – $50,150
Bottom 10% – $28,440
Top 10% – $101,710
While these numbers are averages, the help set income expectations. Even so, many appraisers are self-employed, meaning the harder you work, the more you’re paid – we’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.
As you can see, the range between the top and bottom performers is quite large. However, keep in mind that the bottom 10% are likely semi-retired professionals simply looking to make some extra money or occupy their time.
Licensed Vs. Certified
To maximize your skills and make you more valuable, you may choose to become a Certified Residential Appraiser. Not only will this make your time more valuable, it’ll also set you apart from the competition. Why? A licensed appraiser can only appraise non-complex buildings whose sale price is less than $1,000,000, and they have 4 or less units. Complex buildings with 4 or less units are limited to values under $250,000.
However, as a Certified Residential Appraiser you’re able to appraise one-to-four residential units, regardless of value. As property values continue to increase, you’re one step ahead of your competition.
Becoming A Certified Residential Appraiser
While this certification has its benefits, it’s exclusive for a reason – there is work involved to get it. The AQB requires certified appraiser candidates to have 2,500 experience hours along with 200 hours of book work. However, taking into account that you’ve already completed 150 hours of education and 2,000 hours of experience getting your initial license, the extra work doesn’t seem as bad relative to the return.
Continuing Education For Real Estate Appraisers
While required continuing education hours vary by state, most require between 20 and 50 hours. For example, we’ve included Texas’s real estate appraiser CE requirements.
Total Hours Required: 28
Mandatory Hours: 7
Elective Hours: 21
Renewal Cycle: 24 months
This includes a 7-hour update required by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. USPAP are a set of performance standards to which both residential and commercial appraisers must adhere. These are updated every 2 years, which is why they are included with the CE hours.
Continuing Education Programs
Programs like McKissock make it easy to complete your continuing education requirements online. Using our Texas example, a 28-hour real property appraiser course (both commercial and residential) cost $519.99. While this seems expensive, remember that you only need to do this biannually. If you work for an appraisal firm, they’ll likely pay for this. If you are self-employed, it’s a tax write-off.
Is Real Estate Appraisal for You?
Being a real estate appraiser has many advantages. It’s a relatively easy career to enter and the flexible nature of an appraiser’s schedule is difficult to beat. The potential for a rewarding career is only limited by your drive and commitment. If this sounds like your ideal lifestyle, then you should start courses immediately.