Real Estate Appraiser
Real Estate Appraiser
Education and Training At least two years of college, on-the-job training, and a state license
Salary Median—$43,390 per year
Employment Outlook Very good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Real estate appraisers investigate all aspects of buildings and land to determine their value. This value is used for purchase, sale, investment, mortgage, or loan purposes.
The value of a building is determined by making an appraisal—an estimate of the most probable price for which a property should sell under current market conditions. To make these estimates real estate appraisers begin by visiting a property and talking with people familiar with it. They then measure the property and inspect it for design, construction, and condition.
Having gathered this information, real estate appraisers take a number of other factors into account. They use a variety of standard formulas to assess possible losses in value and reproduction costs. They also consider location and other trends that could influence the future value of the property.
Real estate appraisers search public records for any additional information that may assist them in making an appraisal, including records of previous sales, leases, assessments, and other transactions. The records are usually found in local government offices or computer databases accessible through the Internet.
After all the information on a property has been collected, real estate appraisers make an estimate of the value of the property and prepare a detailed report that includes a legal and physical description of the property, photographs, plans, and an explanation of the estimate. Appraisers must be able to stand behind their assessments when questioned by property owners and realtors. Sometimes appraisers are brought in to public hearings to testify on the value of property.
Some real estate appraisers evaluate several different types of real estate; others specialize in appraising commercial, residential, rental, or agricultural property. The work performed may depend on where an appraiser works. Some appraisers choose private practice or partnerships, while others work for private corporations or financial institutions.
Education and Training Requirements
To become a real estate appraiser a candidate has to meet state licensing requirements, which are usually established by a state assessor's board. There are three types of widely accepted licenses: the State Licensed Appraiser license, the Certified General Real Property Appraiser license, and the State Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser license. Candidates working for their licenses are classified as trainees and typically work with licensed, independent appraisers, real estate firms, and financial institutions. Obtaining the basic license—the State Licensed Appraiser—usually requires ninety education hours and thousands of hours of on-the-job training. The other two licenses have much more rigorous requirements; holders of these licenses can appraise property of any value.
General education requirements are a high school diploma and at least two years of college. Many employers, including banks, appraisal firms, and federal agencies, require a bachelor's degree. A degree in real estate or valuation sciences is useful but not required. Valuable college courses include business administration, economics, agriculture, mathematics, architecture, engineering, and writing.
Getting the Job
College placement offices may be helpful in finding entry-level positions for individuals interested in real estate appraising. After gaining the necessary experience and obtaining a license, candidates can apply directly to companies that employ real estate appraisers. Public and private employment agencies, newspaper want ads, and Internet job sites often list openings. Prospective appraisers interested in local, state, or federal government positions should apply to their local civil service agency for further information.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Qualified real estate appraisers with experience may become senior appraisers or senior real estate analysts. Some appraisers may advance by becoming specialists in a particular kind of property, such as industrial or agricultural property. Those with at least a bachelor's degree may move into management positions in commercial banks.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of real estate appraisers was expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations between 2004 and 2014. As the population grows, real estate activity and the need for appraisers should continue to increase. Although this field is very sensitive to changes in the economy and fluctuating interest rates, jobs should always be available for well-trained appraisers because of a high turnover rate and replacement needs.
Real estate appraisers often work more than forty hours a week. To contact buyers and sellers, appraisers make many of their appointments outside of office hours. They do a great deal of local traveling to properties to be appraised and to local government offices. Appraisers usually work independently, whether they are in private practice or part of a private corporation. They spend much of their time doing on-site investigations, which may have to be done in bad weather. The rest of their time is usually spent in modern offices, where they complete the paperwork necessary to prepare an appraisal.
Earnings and Benefits
Earnings vary considerably, depending on experience, training, and the nature of the job. Many beginning appraisers work on a freelance basis while they earn their professional qualifications. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2004 the median annual salary for real estate appraisers was $43,390. The top-paid 10 percent made more than $81,240 per year.
Where to Go for More Information
American Society of Appraisers
555 Herdon Pkwy., Ste. 125
Herndon, VA 20170
550 W. Buren St., Ste. 1000
Chicago, IL 60607
National Association of Real Estate Appraisers
1224 N. Nokomis NE
Alexandria, MN 56308
Benefits usually include paid holidays and vacations and health and retirement plans. Appraisers who own their own businesses or who work on a freelance basis must provide their own benefits.