A real estate appraiser is a person who estimates the market value of land and buildings. He or she works in familiar locations and is usually aware of any climatic problems or other issues that might affect a property’s value. Appraisers often value one building at a time and specialize in either the commercial or residential sectors. They handle a variety of tasks including verifying legal descriptions of properties in public records, and inspecting new and existing homes. Additionally, they photograph the condition of homes, compare properties to determine value and prepare written reports on the building’s value.
Is real estate appraiser a good career? Yes, being an appraiser is a good career, because it’s in strong demand and offers a flexible working schedule. The profile is also non-sales oriented and comes with an excellent earning potential. Plus, field appraisers get to spend part of their workday out in the field inspecting properties.
The largest employers of appraisers are local governments (excluding education and healthcare), realtors, self-employed persons, finance and insurance. Appraisers must possess problem-solving, math, analytical, organizational, customer-service, and time-management skills to excel in their work. The demand for appraisal services is on the rise because of economic expansion and increase in population. Also, the increasing use of mobile technology is maximizing the productivity of appraisers. Here, I discuss more about what appraisers do and their salary potential. I also take a look at the pros and cons of the profession, and how to become an appraiser.
Is Real Estate Appraiser a Good Career?
Residential and commercial appraisers are tasked with figuring out how much a piece of property is worth at a specific time. They inspect and compare a particular property to similar nearby properties that are currently on the market or have sold recently. After that, they organize the details and determine a fair value for the building or land.
Commercial appraisers inspect and establish the value of properties such as:
- Office buildings
- Apartments (with at least 5 units)
- Vacant commercial land
On the other hand, residential appraisers determine the value of:
- Single-family homes
- Vacation properties for single families
- Apartments (with a maximum of 4 units)
- Vacant residential land
Not only do appraisers specialize in certain property types, but they also specialize in certain areas too. They ensure to stay up-to-date with any property trends in an area, and plans for future development. Learning more about an area allows them to do better job at determining property values.
Appraisers can work for various employers including:
- Private appraisal firms
- Mortgage lenders
- Work as independent fee appraisers
Appraisal services are required for a variety of reasons including, mortgage, insurance, taxation, ownership and development matters.
Unlike an assessor, who values many properties at once, an appraiser looks at one property at a time.
The appraisers carefully inspect a land or building in order to determine its fair and current value. The inspection begins with ensuring the property’s legal description is precise by looking it up in public records. Whenever they find something is amiss, they must find out where the error took place and work to correct it. All in all, appraisers must always remain unbiased and objective while establishing the worth of properties.
Additionally, appraisers usually need to travel to the property and perform a physical inspection. During that time, they gather information about the place, including:
- Square footage
- Total number of rooms
- Total number of bathrooms
- Garage or parking options
- Land size
- Overall condition of the interior and exterior parts
- Any special components, e.g., pool, flood plain, view, closeness to traffic, and area crime rates
Although appraisers conduct property appraisals, their work isn’t as detailed as that of property inspectors. The objective of appraisers is to figure out the overall value of a building. On the other hand, inspectors look at finer details during their work processes.
While at the property, an appraiser writes down his or her observations and takes photos of the inside and outside areas. The pictures show the condition of the land or building during the appraisal time.
After completing the physical inspection, appraisers check out similar properties (comparables) in the area. Such places are currently up for sale or have been sold recently. After that, the appraisers adjust the value of the entity they are appraising, according to how it matches comparable properties. That helps them to decide the current worth of a property.
Furthermore, appraisers need to consider whether a property can make money through leasing. They check any past leasing agreements to see the amount of money the property can gain monthly. Additionally, they look at any former appraisals to see the value a certain property has been given in the past.
After finishing the research, the appraiser decides on a property’s value and organizes all the findings into a formal report.
Average Appraiser Salary in USA and UK
Working in the US as an expat appraiser is worth considering, because the average appraiser salary is $60,481 (as of 2019). An entry-level position comes with a compensation of $48,148 while late career professionals earn $75,225 on average.
For an expat planning to move to the United Kingdom, appraisers in London have an average salary of £44,054 per year. The salary range is from £31,954 to £54,094.
What are the Pros and Cons of Being a Property Appraiser?
Here are the major upsides to becoming an appraiser:
· The career is in great demand: Appraisals are needed in many real-life scenarios including buying/selling a home, refinancing, and estate settlements. The employment growth for appraisers from 2016 to 2026 is projected to be 14%
· Control over working hours: Well, salaried employees basically work according to the schedule provided by their employer. However, self-employed appraisers have more control over their working hours. Such individuals have a greater chance of meeting potential clients after typical office hours
· Excellent earning potential: Appraisers earn significant wages. People who obtain the license to operate as certified general appraisers and specialize in commercial properties have more lucrative salaries
· Dynamic work life: Some people loathe working inside an office every work day and would prefer being on the field. Appraisers do not get stuck in an office setting always because they have to perform physical property inspections. Not only do they get a chance to see different property types, but they also get to visit and learn about multiple neighborhoods
· A multitude of appraisal niches: Many people often think that appraisers only handle cookie-cutter assignments like ordinary residential homes. However, the career of appraisal has more to offer. Professionals in this field have the option to appraise for hotels, office buildings, farms, and other complex properties. They can also specialize in litigation, relocation, or review appraisals.
The following are some downsides of becoming an appraiser:
· It might be difficult to find a supervisory appraiser: Several certified appraisers don’t like to accommodate trainees because of fear of competition. Therefore, it takes time and effort for newcomers to find good mentors.
· Low wages at the starting stages: Similar to other industries, appraisers would expect to have a lower salary at the beginning. That’s because one’s contribution to an assignment might be limited in the start. But as a person continues to sharpen their skills and get the relevant license, they should notice an improvement in their income.
· Lots of study and working experience is necessary: In comparison to the realtor licensing requirements, the amount of course work needed to become an appraiser is much more. It may take years to become an appraiser.
· Extensive driving: Since appraisers need to go onsite to inspect properties, they need to drive around many times. Extensive driving from one place to another can be tiring and time-consuming. It can also depreciate the value of a vehicle and add expenses to a business.
· Outdoor tasks during unfavorable weather: In order to create a proper appraisal report, an appraiser needs to inspect the interior and exterior of a property. However, sometimes the weather may be a problem. For example, trying to take photos outdoors when the rain or snow is pouring.
How to Become an Appraiser
Becoming an appraiser can be the start of a fulfilling career path, but acquiring proper education is necessary. Generally, a person needs to work as an apprentice under the guidance of an experienced appraiser. Before completing the apprenticeship, the person will also have to undergo about 75 hours of appraisal education. The coursework focuses on the principles and procedures of appraisal, and introduces trainees to universal standards of appraisal practice.
In certain areas, a 75-hour study will be adequate to get one into apprenticeship. However, to earn a license, it might be mandatory to earn a four-year degree in Business, or Land and Property Management. Such courses provide instruction on writing reports, comparing sales, approaching incomes, modeling statistics, financial matters and case studies. Some college programs provide extra training on how to evaluate properties in urban or rural settings.
Licensing regulations change at times, so it is best to consult a local licensing authority for up-to-date details. But, some of the most common requirements are citizenship status, clean criminal background and being at least 18 years old.
After acquiring a degree and the necessary training hours, an entry-level appraiser can upgrade their license. One can choose to become a licensed appraiser, certified residential appraiser or certified general appraiser. As a licensed or certified appraiser, one can paint a clear picture of a property’s value for the buyer, seller or credit giver.
In order to have a successful career, appraisers need to possess strong analytical skills, critical thinking abilities and writing skills. Also, soft skills such as listening and verbal communication are essential. With such qualities, an appraiser is able to understand the client’s needs, complete appraisals, and communicate valuations effectively. Appraisals ensure buyers, those giving credit, and sellers receive an accurate estimate of a property’s worth.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.