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Advice Needed

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Nancy Zeigler

Freshman Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2003
Hello, everyone! This website is amazing...I've been lurking for 2 months, and now finally need some advice from all the seasoned pros! I've just completed my 45 credits (I'm addicted -- I love it!), and am slated to start an apprenticeship soon with a well-established firm that specializes in commercial appraisals. I initially leaned toward commercial because I like business, the money appeals, and folks I talked to steered me away from residential, saying it was becoming obsolete. However, after much soul searching, I've realized I like residential better -- I LOVE houses, and have my MA in architectural history / historic preservation. I'm thinking of specializing in historic property appraisal.

Soooo...questions are: 1. Should I switch my apprenticeship / mentor to someone who specializes in residential (my current future mentor wants me to focus on commercial, since he has no need for a residential apprentice)? I'm afraid of getting too much commercial training and not enough residential. Or, should I stick it out with him and try to learn a bit of residential through the residential appraisers in the office?

2. Do you think that a specialty in historic properties (obviously not all my jobs will be historic) will help carve a niche for myself and be beneficial, if, in fact, there's a huge slow down in residential biz with the AVMs, etc.? I live in the Lehigh Valley in eastern PA, close enough to thousands of historic houses that are all around, from west Jersey to Bucks Co., etc. Or, is getting into residential appraisal at this point not a good idea with all the negative reports on its future?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, I feel like I need to make a decision pretty quickly so I'm not wasting time in the wrong specialty. I appreciate it!
 

Mike Garrett RAA

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
Welcome to the forum!

You pose a verwwwy interest question. Since I don't know your market it will be hard to make a recommendation. That said, I would lean toward commercial at this point in time IF you have a good mentor, a college degree, and lots of time to learn.

The residential appraisal market may or may not be around IF the lenders, banks, Fannie Mae, and AVM folks have their way. Don't think I have to worry too much because I will only work another 10 years.

Specializing in old historic properties sounds like a great idea. Could even lead to being a "national expert" in those properties. I have a friend who specializes in church properties and he does quite well. Your company sounds like an ideal place for you since you can learn the commercial end of the business as well as having a residential person to lean on.

I wish you well!
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2002
Professional Status
Retired Appraiser
State
Florida
IMO, specializing in historic properties would be best under a General Certification. There will be some historic properties that will be zoned for various commercial uses, ie: museum, tourist, etc. A agree with Mike G. and once you are Certified General, you can do whatever you want!
 

Mountain Man

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Georgia
Good post above. To do historic properties, you need to be a CG. I have done several in the past (with my mentor-Dad :wink: ) and they require lots, and lots, and lots of research. Maybe you could talk your mentor into letting you take on a few of these type assignments. Learn the ropes, become certified, then you can start marketing as a specialist.

I took a class from a preservation/consultant specialist that lives near me........ it was a blast. I love looking at old homes. There is a market for those type services, but you really gotta know your stuff. When agents advertise a property as being on "the national registry" :x the pros know right off that they don't know what they are talking about. :roll:
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Nancy,
You can never get too much commercial training and you need experience hours in commercial appraisal to get a general certification. I also enjoy old houses and I have appraised them from Bucks County to the Jersey Shore. I have never had an assignment that tells me in advance that the subject property is historic, most lenders don't seem to care. I recently got an order to do a 2055 exterior on a 250 year old house on eight acres in Cumberland County, N.J. I turned the assignment down of course but I am sure that the mortgage company got someone to do it.
 

Nancy Zeigler

Freshman Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2003
Thank you all for the great advice and insight! It was very, very helpful. So much, in fact, I'm off to learn the commercial appraisal world next month! Yaaaaayyyyy!
 

Stone

Elite Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Wisconsin
Nancy - I am not sure about historic homes specifically, but I feel finding a niche is the best thing you can do. You will have to do a lot of the standard work in order to get to your different levels of licensing, but take as many jobs and learn as much as you can within your niche. Almost every day I read something here that makes me glad that I am doing just that. Also, once you get licensed/certified, take any job within that area that you can. If you are doing appraisals of specialty properties, you will no doubt be needing assistance to varying degrees for years to come, so network with anyone who does your type of work. And be available to anyone who wants you to do this type of assignment. That can be the hardest part, because standard work is much better at paying the bills in the early years. You have to balance typical work, with your niche assignments.

I hope some of that made some sense. I really think having a skill that not everyone has will help you in the long run. It is much more profitable to do oddball assignments when they are no longer an oddball to you.

BTW - if it sounds like I mean SFR work is somehow easier, it isn't. You will definitely have to work very hard to learn that type of appraisal work. You will find that the knowledge you gain doing that will translate, at least in general ways, to the specific work you are looking to do. The reason it is important to find a niche, is that there will be less competition in a specific field, so it can be more profitable. I think. I hope. At least you will not be up against AVM's and number hitters. :D
 

Paula Haug

Freshman Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2003
Mike Garrett>>>The residential appraisal market may or may not be around IF the lenders, banks, Fannie Mae, and AVM folks have their way. Don't think I have to worry too much because I will only work another 10 years. >>>>

Hello, my name is Paula, I am a newby here as of today, thanks to Pamela :p I haven't even introduced myself yet, but I have to ask. What does Mike mean by these words? Is the appraiser becoming an absolete position due to the realtor?

Paula
 

wyecoyote

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Gvmt Agency, FNMA, HUD, VA etc.
State
Washington
Paula,

Some people have been saying for a long time now that the R.E. Appraiser will go the way of the horse and buggy. The quote I hear is within 5 years. I have been hearing this since I started with the same time frame 5 years (that was six years ago). When I first brought this to my mentor she stated that she heard that same time frame when she started 9 years prior to me so about 15 years ago. Some of it was due to the diminimus (sp) and AVM's. I also talked to an appraiser that started in the late 70's and he stated he had heard the same time frame when he started.

I personally don't know if we will ever go the by way but would expect our job to change over time. Or there will be a (not might) downturn in the housing values and loans will go belly up and lenders will then want full appraisals again.

Ryan
 

Randy Beigh

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Paula

I'm with Ryan. Forget the naysaying.

I first heard the end of appraising stuff back in 1989 in one of the trade magazines. Didn't happen.

It's kind of funny when you think about. Most appraisers have been buried in work for over a year and yet the end of the world stuff continues. It's like somebody can't take a hint.

Because of progress, the only thing that will remain constant in our lives will be change. That means we must adapt to a constantly changing environment, but the end of appraisals is not a problem, except for those that can't or won't change.
 
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