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Old 09-19-2012, 11:26 PM
Buster2012 Buster2012 is offline
Join Date: Sep 2012
State: Illinois
Professional Status: General Public
Posts: 3
Default Current state of appraisal industry/profession

Hi Everyone,

I am new to this forum. I am a professional woman who has worked in another field for more than 25 years and am exploring other options these days - primarily, a profession that I can continue doing should I move to a more rural/smaller city and do part time eventually when I am older. I have been reading a lot of threads here stating that the appraisal profession is oversaturated and underappreciated. I hold a Masters degree in another field and have spoken to an appraiser who teaches the various courses here in Chicago and he believes I would have no problem becoming an appraiser and could make a good living. He also told me that it's a low stress job.

But, I have some concerns. First, I know that the trainee program is tough. I am not worried about working a 50 hour week, but I do have bills to pay and would like to know what the average salary would be for a trainee (understanding that it's reduced while I learn and pay my dues) and if it's possible to do this work part time so I have time to supplement my income with my current consulting. Also, I have read that appraisers don't like hiring trainees. I have seen a few job postings, but would like your opinion. Frankly, I have bills to pay and am my own breadwinner. I wouldn't mind supplementing the two years required to apprentice if I thought I could make enough to put it back in a reasonable amount of time. Is it possible to make $100,000 or thereabouts once I am certified and how many years would it take to reach that level? I should also say that I have worked anywhere from 50 to 70 hours a week for my entire professional life, but I am hoping to stay more around the 50 hours a week now and would like to run my own shop as soon as I could. I think I would enjoy this work and that it could transition well once I moved, but I need to eat too so I want to be realistic. Any advice you pros have will be appreciated.

BTW, I have also been reading blogs and articles saying that work is picking up and that there is a shortage of new recruits in the business (and I realize that this is for a variety of reasons). However, that information doesn't seem to jive with what I have read in the threads here, and that is why I am posting. From what I have read here, there are more appraisers with too little work. I am in marketing and business development and I have learned that you go to the pros in the field for the most reliable information.

Thanks in advance. Cheers!
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:21 AM
AnonApprsr's Avatar
AnonApprsr AnonApprsr is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
State: Massachusetts
Professional Status: Certified Residential Appraiser
Posts: 6,285

A trainee probably makes 300 bucks a week, if they make any money. On my 10th year of appraising I wouldn't pay anyone to teach them how to appraise. They get to learn, I get to take advantage of their limited ability to provide labor. Not to mention it would be tough to get any of my clients to accept a trainee as it is for most appraisers. I wouldn't hire a part time trainee, I would at least want them to play secretary if there isn't any active work for them to partake in. To make $100,000 I would have to work around 50 hour weeks to make that money I think. That's a crappy per hour $ amount actually, maybe I'm wrong on that. The work is so varied that $400 can take 4 hours on one job and 8 hours on the next one. Of course that's before taxes which is where my per hour $ amount looks bad.

In the next few years i foresee an appraiser shortage that will end once they kill the profession within 10+- years. So, take that as you will.
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Old 09-20-2012, 02:27 AM
OSU Beavers's Avatar
OSU Beavers OSU Beavers is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Podunk
State: Oregon
Professional Status: Licensed Appraiser
Posts: 6,381

Yes you can MAKE $100,000 a year, but the banks, AMC's and middle men will steal $20,000 to $40,000 of it from you.
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Old 09-20-2012, 05:47 AM
Jim Hill Jim Hill is offline
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: West Coast of Florida
State: Florida
Professional Status: Certified Residential Appraiser
Posts: 616
Default My Opinion Only

After becoming an appraiser in 1998 and then becoming state certified this is year I am not going to renew my license.

The lenders have figured out a legal way to steal part of the money we used to make by using appraisal management companies and for me that has made staying in this business no longer an option.

Unless you are willing to play their games and take the money they are offering it no longer makes any sense when you figure out the amount of hours you work and devote to doing appraisals the rewards for me just are no longer there.

I would not recommend this profession to anyone at this time for the reasons stated above.

Again this in only my opinion and I am sure others will have their own opinion on the state the appraisal business is in at this point in time.

We used to be considered professionals and I never entered this business years ago to have someone else run my business for me and yet that is just what going on today.

If anyone disagrees with me just try standing up to your clients and not let them push you around and see what happens next to your business.

The endless stupid phone calls and requests for things not to mention the problems with liability and law suits.

Jim Hill
Old 09-20-2012, 06:57 AM
Restrain Restrain is offline
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Port Charlotte, FL
State: Florida
Professional Status: Certified General Appraiser
Posts: 10,549

You will spend 2 years making $20k a year in a dying profession. Statistical analyses, stated values, AVMs all will replace 80% of appraisals within 10 years as the lending industry consolidates. Go into real estate sales combined with mortgage brokerage if you want to use your background. The real estate market is recovering in most areas and someone that is willing to be outgoing, professional, and work hard can make a good living. The $100k is a long-term goal, but I would not consider that in appraising any more. And I've been in the business since 1970.
Old 09-20-2012, 07:45 AM
Marion Rhodes's Avatar
Marion Rhodes Marion Rhodes is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Poconos
State: Pennsylvania
Professional Status: Certified General Appraiser
Posts: 11,270

If I were to recommend appraising as a "new" profession right now, I would suggest that a person first get a sales license, and go work with a commercial orientated sales company. Take their classes, learn their lingo, deal with buyers and sellers and get a good understanding of the commercial aspect of real estate from that end. Plus commissions are far more than appraisers make, but Salespeople too are finding their commissions being cut by the lenders, who in residential, hold most of the inventory. Commissions that were 6% for homes a couple of years ago are now 2.5% from the GSEs and lenders for REOs, couple that with low selling prices and there is no wonder NAR is trying to push it's way back into the appraisal industry to capture more work for their sales people.

Anyway, once you can establish yourself in sales you should be able to generate an income flow to survive appraisal training. Find a good all around appraiser doing both commercial and residential until you find what you like best. Take the best classes you can afford, and ask lots of questions. The best mentor can make all the difference but you are as responsible to learn the trade as the mentor is in teaching you, so never be afraid to ask questions and seek a greater understanding. Bad mentors are just that, trainees bear the responsibility to learn, and be good appraisers on their own.

Hopefully you can fill in between jobs with some sales and classes to make the whole thing survivable. I did it as a single parent, without assistance, would never do it again, or recommend it, but the best advice I can give you is too not look for monetary rewards for years, it is a struggle, and don't expect a rabbit race to the finish.

Old 09-20-2012, 08:25 AM
stangtime's Avatar
stangtime stangtime is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Lusby
State: Maryland
Professional Status: Certified Residential Appraiser
Posts: 2,089

A "low stress job"? Yikes!!

I've been doing this for about 20 years and the stress level can be very high. Income goes up and down. Can you make 100k? a year, maybe, after 10+ years of good experience and being certified. More likely if you can get your CG and work for a commercial office. While training, if you can find a mentor, you will make very very little if anything at all.

A generation ago I would recommend this job to my kids. My dad was an appraiser, so I followed suit. I would not recommend this job to my kids now.

As usual, Marion offers very good advice.

Always remember, everything is temporary. The bad, and the good.

Last edited by stangtime : 09-20-2012 at 08:26 AM. Reason: grammar
Old 09-20-2012, 09:35 AM
Roy Courtney Roy Courtney is offline
Join Date: Dec 2006
State: Texas
Professional Status: Certified General Appraiser
Posts: 4,581

At the end of 2008 the ASC listed 121,322 total appraisers. Today only 103,152 are listed. During that period of time 18,170 have dropped their license/certification. It does not take an advanced degree to figure out that for many this is no longer a good career. Welcome to the forum!
Old 09-20-2012, 09:48 AM
TxArmadillo's Avatar
TxArmadillo TxArmadillo is offline
Join Date: Jun 2012
State: Texas
Professional Status: Appraiser Trainee
Posts: 2,056

Good information is provided by the experienced appraisers in the above posts. Perhaps my perspective as an "Appraiser Trainee" currently going through this process might also be insightful as you and I have similar backgrounds.

I too am coming into this industry from other professional fields and have business degrees -- Bachelors and Masters. My background is in Organizational Change (business process improvement, HR, training and development, etc.).

I've been around the appraisal industry for over a decade -- I have family and friends that have been in residential appraising for many, many years -- and I've seen how this has all changed from the mid-90s through today.

OK, enought set-up -- now to the current situations as I see them. (Note: requirements vary from state to state so bounce what I say below off of your own state's requirements. I'm licensing through Texas.)

1. The required education is adequate. There are multiple sources of education and the course work can be obtained both through classroom and online sources. Most folks like the Appraisal Institute (AI) or McKissock but there are others. Pick the sources that matches best to your learning style, budget, and time availability.

2. Find one or more GOOD mentors/sponsors. This will be the person who you'll be working with for the next couple of years. This is an apprenticeship program. Whomever your mentor is will shape the appaiser you hope to become. Choose a good professional!

a. Finding a mentor may be the most difficult part of becoming an appraiser. In today's appraiser world, a trainee is not a benefit to the mentor; they are a costly impediment. In most states, you, as a trainee, can do almost no work without the mentor being with you 100 percent of the time and directly supervising every part of the appraisal process. This reduces the efficiency of your mentor, hence the drain on his/her time and money.

b. Find more than one mentor if possible. Again, as this is an apprenticeship program, having only one mentor provides only a single perspective of this multi-faceted business. You'll learn "their" way which isn't necessarily the ONLY way nor may it be the BEST way to appraise. More insight to alternative methods may provide more long-term benefits to your appraiser training.

3. The appraising environment is tumultuous at best and venomous at worst.

a. Large numbers of appraisers are forecasted to leave the industry in the next few years, either through retirement or just to change professions. The number of appraiser trainees expected to enter the industry is expected to decrease sharply as the entry requirements become more demanding/restrictive in both January 2013 and January 2015.

b. Major industry changes are in the works. For example, alternative valuation processes, many of them automated, are being introduced which, as their reliability grows, may have a direct impact on fee appraising in the very near future. This information is drawn from a variety of sources which are available for your review from AI, several leading real estate sources, Working RE, GAO studies, and other sources. (I believe my information in this paragraph is correct but, folks, feel free to tweak this.)

c. Appraisers seem to have an ever-increasing risk of liability in today's environment. It may be because we have E&O insurance. It may be because the GSEs and others are forcing lenders to buy back bad loans from years ago. Maybe it's because more and more reports are being reviewed. Maybe it's because more borrowers/sellers are looking for any reason to "blame" someone if their loan doesn't go through or their house doesn't sell. Whatever the reason(s) (or for no reason at all!), appraisers have a greater exposure to risk in the performance of their responsibilities than ever before. Has it reached the point of "you're guilty until proven innocent"? I don't know. But there seems to be ample evidence to support the theory that if you have a complaint against your license, AMC/lenders will add you to their "do not use" list as a precaution to reduce THEIR exposure to liability/risk. And unless something has changed recently, appraisers have little or no redress options when added to these "do not use" lists. You simple will not receive work.

4. Income potential is limited as a trainee. I joke with people who ask about coming into this industry by saying that they'll likely qualify for food stamps during their trainee period. If I didn't have reliable income sources outside of this industry, it would be almost impossible to maintain anything close to my normal standard of living.

5. Future income potential can also be problematic. Even after all of your training and education is complete, unless you're able to quickly develop and maintain a client base NOT associated with the GSEs, you'll find very, very little work as a Licensed Appraiser. You'll need to be a Certified Appraiser (again, Texas' titles and rules -- yours may be different) to actually capitalize on most appraisal opportunities. While private clients are the best, AMCs may be your life's blood in the first couple of years of appraising. They are NOT all evil. Try to find those that treat you professionally, have reasonable fees for the SOW and complexity of the assignment, have reasonable turnaround times, and who send you a reasonable amount of repeat work.

These are just a couple of thoughts and I hope you find something useful in the comments above.

Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions or concerns and I'll be glad to pass on what I've learned.
We don't make the news. We just report it!

Last edited by TxArmadillo : 09-20-2012 at 12:49 PM. Reason: Added a few more thoughts/corrected some typos
Old 09-20-2012, 12:29 PM
Buster2012 Buster2012 is offline
Join Date: Sep 2012
State: Illinois
Professional Status: General Public
Posts: 3

All of the information has been very useful. TXArmadillo, I will digest all you have told me and take you up on your PM offer with more questions if and when I have them. Thanks everyone for your input. I am really sorry to hear that this is happening to your profession. I have bought and sold property in the past and the appraisal is an important part of that process. I hate to see it turned into a commodity and no longer a profession. The minute things start to become automated is the minute you can look for problems and then lawsuits will follow. More money for the lawyers, right?
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