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Unpaid Trainee, almost have my license .. now what?

Honeygiggle

Thread Starter
Freshman Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Professional Status
Appraiser Trainee
State
California
I left my corporate job a little over two years ago to work as trainee at minimum wage, I was fine with this. I wanted to work for myself and make my own money. I worked for 6 months (in 2017) and things became slow so my hours were cut and eventually told I could work unpaid. I did this for a few months but ended up getting a part time job, in August of 2018. My trainer said that once we were doing 35+ appraisals per month, I would be paid again. I still worked 25-35 hours per week unpaid and my part time job. I took a few month break starting in November and came back in March of this year. I have been working unpaid since March, 3 days per week 8-10 hours per day.

The last two months we have done 35+ appraisals, and so far this month we have done 26 with 9 scheduled for next week and 3 tomorrow. I am working again on the weekends for another company, Friday-Sunday to make some money. It is just my trainer and me in the office. I have met the time requirement for my license, but need 100 more hours, which I plan to get the next couple of weeks and send my log in to take my test etc.

My question is - what do I do after I pass my test? I understand that this will take some time to get my info back and take my test but I need to start planning. When I talked to my trainer about working after getting my license and what the payment would be like, I was told I would be paid if busy enough as there are personal debt to pay (after my trainer went on three vacations, purchased a trailer and hot tub this year). I have read posts that it will take 3 years to get on my own AMC, I have checked out a few and some say a minimum of 5 years after licensing. I have also noticed a few jobs at banks, but same thing, 5 years experience.

Does anyone have any tips, reccomendations, ideas on how I can get out there and make money after getting my license? or should I try to stick it out with my trainer? We have a good relationship, I do not act angry and have been very understanding as I do not want this opportunity to be taken away after all that I've given up. I'm not looking to make hundreds of thousands of dollars, but not living off my boyfriend or paying my student loan would be a nice change.

Thank you for any help!
 

Michigan CG

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 1, 2006
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Michigan
You might not like what I have to say.

Any person hiring someone as a trainee, for minimum wage, in my opinion is not really interested in quality but rather using someone. The person that hired you, IMO is an idiot. I have had three assistants over the last seven years and paid them over double minimum wage. You were used.

An appraiser doing 35 reports per month is making $10,000-$18,000 per month gross based on fees of $300-$500 per report. Your mentor is not someone I would want to work for. You had to save him at least two hours per report, maybe more.

Your mentor is the reason this profession is in trouble. If he was paying minimum wage and then asking you to work for free he is a piece of garbage and most likely what he did was illegal (we will get to that later).

Here is what you are not going to like. You were most likely trained wrong. If he was only willing to pay minimum wage and then wanted you to work for free I am guessing his report quality is about the same as his ethics. People should be paid for work. It is a pretty simple concept.

I could be wrong. Maybe his reports are stellar and top quality. I have doubts this is the case.

So what should you do now? First of all I would recommend getting a typical report reviewed by someone. Of course that costs money, but you need to know the quality of the reports you are submitting. You mention AMCs multiple times in your post. My Labrador could submit reports to many AMCs that would be accepted but that does not mean they are even remotely credible or quality reports.

IF you pass the test (the pass rate is about 50%) you NEED to find a second mentor. You need to expose yourself to another mentor. There are so many appraisers who were trained by ONE mentor who were trained VERY wrong.

You can’t get work from clients with a brand new license. You need experience after you have that license. Some garbage AMCs might hire you for their garbage Bi-furicated stuff; don’t fall for that.

I would recommend you find a second mentor AFTER you pass the test and would recommend a fee shop with an Appraisal Institute owner.

If your current mentor paid you as an independent contractor they violated IRS regulations and you should turn him in. You could be compensated for what you paid in taxes that he was required to pay.
 

Elliott

Elite Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Oregon
HG,
You ask excellent questions. With changes to AQB and PAREA and the "shortage" narrative, I've wondered, so what, 10-years ago with the rise of the AMC there was a plentiful supply of appraisers so the lenders could set a high bar of experience. We now have a different environment with AMCs crushing fees in many markets so appraisers left and there wasn't enough incentive to train the next generation. I hope someone has figured out how to jump from license/certified to making a decent living.
 

Honeygiggle

Thread Starter
Freshman Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Professional Status
Appraiser Trainee
State
California
I would agree, my trainer has 100% used me and what is being done is illegal. I get that, but finding a second appraiser isn’t easy. I did find an old family friend who worked aa an appraiser I n a similar market. I worked for her for two weeks, she consistently turned work in late and paid me 6 weeks after I did the work. I’m happy that she paid me but 6 weeks later was a bit long. She would like me to continue working for her but can’t guarantee a pay timeline and I do not want a repeat of my current situation.

I mention AMCs because that’s all I’ve ever worked with. Both of the appraisers get 99% of their work from them, and the fees are between $475-$750.

it is recommended to find a fee shop, how do I go about doing this? Where do I find one? I’ve searched online but I’m back to the needing multiple years of experience. thank you for your comments - I really am just lost in what to do.
 

George Hatch

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
I positively HATE hearing about people doing this with trainees. If you can't generate enough business to even pay minimum wage then you have no business exploiting trainees.

For the OP my suggestion is that they get involved with the AI, start attending meetings, networking, taking the CE courses. I think they're more likely to find their way into a more professional environment that way.
 

J Grant

Elite Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2003
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Florida
Your trainer is a POS as a person, exploiting you. But you already know that, and you did get trained so you did at least get a return.

I hate to say this but if at all possible, consider moving out of CA , or to a less populated area of CA /rural area where appraisers are needed ( not sure what area or city you are in ). So much of res appraisal fees and demand now are location driven, with CA being the worst for populated areas (I have an appraiser friend in San Deigo we talk every week ).

If you have to stay where you are, apply to every firm and every AMC and every individual appraiser , and consider joining the AI for contacts and further education to set you apart. Best of luck I admire your tenacity.
 

KONA

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2007
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
Attend Appraisal Institute meetings in your area. Contact the Chapter Office nearest you. If you live in the greater Los Angeles Area, the LA Chapter is the one to contact. You will be exposed to some of the most qualified appraisers in the region. Same goes if you in the Northern California Region. Talk to members and ask your questions. Check out the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) as well and attend some of their monthly meetings.
You will meet some professional people in the business. Check out their educational opportunities as well. Good Luck to you.
I am retired now but was active in the business for almost 40 years, Both as a Appraisal Manager for several lenders, and Independent Appraiser as well; so message me if you have any more questions.
 

Joe Flacco

Elite Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Maryland
Who is your supervisor?
 

Overimprovement

Senior Member
Joined
May 31, 2017
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Kentucky
you NEED to find a second mentor. You need to expose yourself to another mentor. There are so many appraisers who were trained by ONE mentor who were trained VERY wrong.

You can’t get work from clients with a brand new license. You need experience after you have that license. Some garbage AMCs might hire you for their garbage Bi-furicated stuff; don’t fall for that.

....

If your current mentor paid you as an independent contractor they violated IRS regulations and you should turn him in. You could be compensated for what you paid in taxes that he was required to pay.
THIS
 

Brian Cooper

Sophomore Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
South Carolina
In my area it took me about 6 months to generate enough AMC work on my own to leave the VERY amicable agreement I had with my Mentor. I talk with my Mentor several times per week still, and I was NOT paid minimum wage. I was paid a flat salary, and we worked 5 cases per week together. Now that I'm on my own, I do at least 5 per week, usually more. Admittedly, I take all the AMC work I can get, but I turn down the low price work.

In other words, get your license and get after it. The harder you hustle, the more you will make.
 
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