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transitioning from SFR to commercial???

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Sophomore Member
Jul 3, 2002
Professional Status
Appraiser Trainee
I'm still trying to get my feet wet in this profession but I am already trying to figure out how to better secure my future. The run-of-the-mill single family residential appraisal seems to make up the bulk of appraisals, but this same sector is the one that seems most at risk of being automated away into oblivion. After speaking to some local appraisal veterans, I'm hearing that commercial work tends to be more consistantly available and is less vulnerable to being stolen away by a software program. Is there a logical/typical career path to transition from residential to commercial work? Or along the same lines, are there some general niches that have a likely future I.E. estate valuation, divorce, litigation, etc. I'm near Salt Lake City (Salt Lake/Davis county area) but logistically close enough to tap into rural and agricultural areas to the north, if need be, if that help in your guidance.

I was hoping to gradually transition from my current profession to the appraisal field over the next year to maintain some predictable income, but a possible layoff later this year may put all my plans on the fast track. I believe in myself and strongly believe that human appraisals won't ever go away, but I want to be careful not to start down the wrong path and have to re-group a year or two from now.

I'm also wondering if working for a county/state assessor is the way to go. On the plus side: a 40 hour work week, benefits, predictable income, relative job security. On the down side: a 40 hour work week, limited predictable income, training and growth limited by employers needs, geographically limiting w/o changing jobs.

All answers, advice, disclaimers, and pep talks welcome. I realize I'm in an uphill battle and will be for the first year or two. If I can make a go of it for three years, I believe I'll be good then for the long haul. Thanks.

Terrel L. Shields

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
wondering if working for a county/state assessor is the way to go

If you are not currently certified, I would suggest it is a very good way to go. You will get experience hours, training is paid, and much of it will transfer (if you are in a state which doesn't require you license with the state agency). Colorado now requires its assessor appraisers to certify under the same board that other appraisers do. That is a real plus. Also, you will likely get some commercial exposure with the assessor experience.

As a Cert. Gen. I can say that complex residential properties like in larger estates, etc. makes up as much of my "Value Added" appraisal work. Residential work is least profitable in a mortgage lending situation, not necessarily so in estate, market, or litigation appraising. Commercial properties are so varied, I would suggest a specialization. Farm/Ag is ideal for people with rural background. But specialists exist in Food Plazas, Church appraisers, Motel appraisers, casinos, etc. etc. ....Spreading yourself too thin in commercial will lead to a reputation as a joke. I see far too many people bite off more than they can chew. Worse, is once they have bit it, they set too low a fee, and won't spend the time necessary to do it right by rationalizing that they weren't paid enough. Even if it means you make $2 an hour, you are better off doing it right than trying to wrap it up with inadequate data.
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