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The secret handshake.

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rickyshaw

Thread Starter
Freshman Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2002
Hello,

As a way of an introduction, I am a 41 year old male who has lived in Northeast Georgia all my life. I currently find myself seeking a new career after a life-changing injury, many months of rehab and a few years of trying to find what I am going to be when I grow up. I have no obvious limitations and a person looking at me could not tell that I have any physical problems, other than being overweight, but that is another matter.

After a recent re-financing of my home I became fascinated with the appraisal process and after looking over the report, felt like it was something I would be interested in and good at doing. I have been researching the appraisal field, have contacted the Georgia Real Estate Commission and gotten their information about appraiser requirements. Next I began contacting appraisers in my area and was practically laughed at when inquiring about someone taking me on as a trainee. I received no positive input and most said that if I was not affiliated with a firm already, that this was an almost impossible field to get into. I almost feel as if appraisal is a closed society and I don't know the secret handshake.

Should a person go ahead and take the 90 hours class with hopes of finding a mentor at a later date to get the 2000 hour requirement the state requires? How do I find firms looking for new trainees and do you offer any placement assistance in this field? I hope you can clarify these things for me and let me know what opportunity exists for someone hoping to get into the appraisal business. My desire is not to hang my own shingle and compete with other firms, but instead to become an employee of a company and do a good job for them, a firm that I can work as a part of a team with and be a valuable member of that team.

I expanded my search to several surrounding counties and again only received negativity about entering the appraisal field. That is unfortunate as I am ready to commit to something and make it a lifetime devotion. The people so quick to turn me down as a trainee are missing out on having a dedicated and loyal employee for many years to come.

I had no idea that trying to break into this field would be such a daunting task. I think maybe the law requiring the 2000 hours training under someone else probably keeps many qualified people out of this business and serves the "good ole boy" group well. I am sure it was not intended to be that way when implement in the early 90's.

This is not meant as a gripe session, but a way to express frustration in my attempt to join the appraisal field.

Thank you in advance for your help.
 
F

FrankA

Guest
I would not take the classes without having a job set up. If you cannot find anyone to supervise and teach you, the education is going to be worthless as you cannot get licensed/certified without the experience.

Personally, if I were you, I would look into another field of work. At present, the number of clients who actually want an honest appraiser, one who will accurately report the condition of the subject property and render a realistic opinion of value based on facts, is extremely low. If on the other hand you have little morals and zero ethics, and you can find a supervisor who will teach you how to start at the end of the form, where the value is stated, and work backwords, you'll do just fine and have clients beating down your door.

As to why you are getting such a bad response, I don't know. Maybe you are in an area with all honest appraisers as the other types would be more than happy to take on another low wage trainee to work in their paper mill.

Seriously, until vast changes are made to the system, appraisal is not a very promising field to get into.

Just my 99 cents worth. Good luck.

Frank
 

Jeff Horton

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Alabama
Rick, I understand your frustration. Breaking into the Appraisal ranks is very difficult. I can only speak for the situation in my area. First most of us don't have a huge back load of work. I myself am always looking for new clients. So I and I suspect a lot of other Appraisers don't have enough consistent work to take on a trainee.

The other big factor of most Appraisers is the liability. If you start to work for/with me and I sign your work I assume 100% liability! Regardless what you say or do is as if I did it myself. That means I have to supervise you work very closely. At first that means I have to look over your shoulder every step of the way. Taking time from the work I need to be doing.

At some point you become competent enough for me to trust you to work on your own. I can release you to do more and more of the work but I still have to sign and I am still responsible so I need to review each job you did to Cover My Hips.

That is why most Appraiser (I think) are hesitant to take on a Trainee.

My advice is if you are serious keep looking. If you really want to do it keep knocking on doors. I think you best bet is probably a larger city with an office that has several appraisers. There are Appraisers that take on Trainess but yes they are rare.

Good Luck!
 

Austin

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Virginia
I work by myself and honestly, I wouldn’t advise anybody to get into this business for a number of reasons. Residential appraisal is the normal avenue of entry into the appraisal business as we know it, and the future of residential appraisal is ????? right now due to technology.
To get into commercial appraising is even more difficult requiring at least a BS degree and living in an area with large commercial firms.
The nature of the appraisal business does seem like a closed society, but for a good reason. The way I got into the business was that my dad was a broker-appraiser and he brought me into it. I don’t think given the nature of the business that most people would take in a stranger, spend a year or two training them etc., unless they are a relative because it a losing proposition. All the appraiser gets out of it is the experience of running a school. A number of years ago a person that was majoring in real estate came to me wanting a job. He had just finished his junior year and told me he wanted me to take him in, train him, and pay him $7,000 for the summer. Then he was stupid enough to tell me that as soon as he got in good with some of my clients he would move out on his own and open his own office. After graduation he worked for an MAI in a large city and came back to me wanting to know what kind of deal I would make him. I told him I was not the one looking for a job, what kind of deal would he offer me. Finally he opened his own shop in a nearby town. We were working on a commercial assignment together and he came by my office one day. I gave him a demo of how to appraise houses using regression methods. I didn’t see him for the next six months. One day another appraiser buddy came by and I ask if he had seem the other appraiser. He laughed and said, “Yea, I ran into him on the street. He saw your regression demo, said there is no way I can compete with that, and got a job selling AFLAK Insurance."
Some years ago we had a real slump in appraising. I was at an AI chapter meeting sitting with an old MAI. They were talking about how slow things were and this old MAI looked around the room and said: “Hell, I don’t have anybody to blame but myself, I trained almost every person in this room.”
People these days have to many legal rights, to little loyalty, there is to much legal risk, and in summary, the appraiser has every thing to lose and nothing to gain my taking in a trainee.
But if you want to do it any, get the education classes behind you so if you get an opportunity you can take advantage of it.
 

Lee SW IL

Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Illinois
After 5 + years, Im thinking of hanging up the appraisal biz, and move on. I am licensed and soon to be certified, yes I will still be a licensed appraiser, but just part time.

I would suggest you contact an appraisal organization in your area to search for a mentor. Try NAIFA, (National Association of Independant Fee Appraisers) www.naifa.com

or the Appraisal Institute.

Lastly, you need to know, for the first year or two, you will make NO MONEY. See the sticky post in this forum.
 

Dee Dee

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
Hi Ricky,
I remember being in the same position that you are in, but I had already taken all of my classes and blindly assumed that someone would see my sparkling qualities and want to hire me. Not. :? :lol:
I wandered around for almost 8 months before I finally found a good mentor, and then had to commute an hour each way to get to the main office. That's not counting the time spent on the road doing inspections. On an average day I spent about 6 hours in my car and 5 hours doing research or typing. So much for thinking this job would allow me to work outside in the fresh air. Ha! My average work day was around 10-12 hours, usually at least 6 days a week, just to make about $25,000 a year after taxes. I lived, sleeped and breathed deadlines. I did it for 2 years before I set up my own business from home.
Most people who think that they'd like to get into the appraisal field only see a small part of what is involved in the job, the actual inspection part. In truth that is about the most fun part of the job (at least for me), and it usually lasts less than an hour.
If there's any way you can arrange it, try to find an appraiser who is willing to let you follow them through a couple of their average work days. When I say that, I mean the WHOLE day, not just the physical inspection. Let them know that you're not fishing for a job, but just want to observe so that you can make a more well-rounded decision if this is the profession you would like to enter.
Who knows....maybe they will like you and end up teaching you the secret handshake. :lol:
 

George Hatch

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
Taking the classes and passing the test has always been the easy part; getting the first job has always been the hard part. This is why, at any given time, there are almost as many people with Trainee Licenses (or their equivalent) as Residential Licensees. The truth is that most of the trainee licensees never accumulate enough experience hours to get a permanent license. If you are great at networking, line up a potential mentor first. I've heard that some people have had success by offering to work the first 1,000 hours for free; and I've even heard of trainees paying a licensee up to $10,000 as tuition in order to gain this experience. Your best bet would be with family and friends.


Look at it this way; in some states it takes 1,600 hours of (unpaid) internship to gain a barber's license, or 1,600 hours to get an Licensed Vocational Nurse License. A licensed appraiser can (if they're any good) make a lot more money than either of those occupations. I guess it just depends on how badly you need to do this.

All appraisal assignments require some research to determine the scope of the problem and the data and types of analyses necessary to develop an opinion of value. It would be a good idea for you to use a similar process in determining if this is the occupation for you. Research your options and develop a plan before you commit your time and energy to starting classes.

One other thing. It takes a lot of self motivation and self-discipline to do the work. Not everyone has that type of internal drive; a lot of people define themselves in terms of being good employees. Being a good employee and doing (only) what you're told is not a personality trait that will be rewarded in our line of work. Most good appraisers are not good employees, don't work that well with others and are not good team players at all. Most of us struggle just to get along with others. We tend to be highly individualistic and opinionated as a group; it's an occupational trait. Even those appraisers who work for others are really working by themselves most of the time. I guess what I'm saying here is that you don't want to take an "I'll be a good employee" hat with you when you go for an interview. Instead, stress your self-motivation, your personal drive to formulate and then execute a successful plan. Another personality trait we have is the ability to tell people what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear, which explains the lack of enthusiasm that you're running into during your job search. You will only be successful at this if you take charge of the situation and do what it takes; waiting for others to show you the way or put you into a program is not a good plan.

However this goes and whatever the decision you end up making, you'll do okay if you take an honest look at your resources, motivations, strengths, and weaknesses; and then decide accordingly. Make a plan and stick with it. Good luck.

George Hatch
 

vargasteve

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
Initially I had the same experience as you, although I had a job at the time. Appraiser came in spent less than 15 minutes in my condo, and I gave him a check for $300. I though wow - easy job.

After passing the test, I began a search for someone to work with. It was very dissapointing. However, I did start working part time for free in 1993 with an appraiser who agreed to train me. After 30 days or so (it was very busy in 93) he agreed to pay me $100 per report. The first month (full time) I did 13 total. I really learned alot, first thing I found out is that it wasn't so easy.

That was 9 years ago now, much has happened.

I encourage you to proceed. However the road is quite difficult at times, and not for the faint of heart. Expect 3+- years with a mentor before you get the hang of it. I often describe appraising as similar to playing a musical instrument. Takes a lot of work to 'play' at a level that others would really care to listen. When you see a performance you don't see the years of work behind it, just the result. Appraising is often 'easy', however (it runs in waves) it can be quite difficult at times.

If your a trouper you'll make it. The rewards can be great and in my case it has been. I love my job!
 

liznindy

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Indiana
Ricky,

If you really think this is what you want. Go for it! Be prepared to make peanuts the first few years.

I, against all of the advice here, took the required classes before trying to get a mentor. After passing the state exam, I called several local appraisers and found an appraiser who was looking for an office manager. He took me on as a trainee with the agreement that I would help in the office (billing, etc.).

It may be the workload in Georgia is not enough to warrant any additional appraisers. I, for one, have been very busy since last fall and am surprised you can not find an appraiser who would welcome some help.

Like I said, workloads differ.
 

rickyshaw

Thread Starter
Freshman Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2002
Thank you everyone for your input. In reading not just my post, but others here on the newbie forum, it seems to be about 80-90% negative regarding entering the appraisal field. Guess I have some more searching to do.

Thanks again,
 
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