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Yet Another Career Change Question

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Freshman Member
Jun 9, 2003
Hi everyone,

I have just found your wonderful forum, and I have read through several threads in the newbie section, as well as much of the FAQs section. Hopefully I won't start off by annoying you all by covering the same ground that you have already been over.

I don't really know where to start, I may be just needing encouragememnt here, or there may be a question or two by the end; I would definately be excited to find someone in Gig Harbor or Tacoma who would like to take me on as an apprentice!

After only a couple of years as a Realtor, I decided to chuck it and follow a supposedly more enjoyable vocation, which was Pastry chef. I spent two years in school, during which time I not only made no money, but ran up student loans and watched my savings dwindle to nothing. Then I started working, and found that it wasn't nearly as much fun as I thought, and also that there really isn't any money in it. That career path morphed into waiting tables, which is more lucrative but hardly a fitting place for me at age (ahem) 41 and beyond. The beyond is coming up quick.

I had greatly enjoyed many aspects of Real Estate. The part that drove me nuts was having my pager go off constantly, and having clients call my home at 11 p.m. expecting me to be available. Also, there is no such thing as a weekend. Saturday and Sunday are for driving around with clients; Monday through Friday are business days.

I had also been a mortgage broker for awhile just prior to Real Estate. There was enough financial reward in that, but I met the most avaricious people there, even worse than any Realtor I ever encountered. I can't take advantage of people like they can. Whoops! I shouldn't knock the mortgage brokers, they are the ones who order the most appraisals! The ones I am talking about are hard money lenders, who get 3 points up front and another 3 'back points' by giving higher interest rates than they need to.

Anyway, I don't want to do that again. I want to eventually work for myself, and be able to work from my beautiful 5 acre alpaca farm.

I know that I can put in two years of hard work with out making much money. I can probably keep working as a waiter while I do the 2+ years of apprentice appraising. After that, I really only need 30,000 a year to pay all my bills. (spouse will contribute, and the farm may eventually be a source of income) I certainly don't want to make 70k by working 6 12 hour days, like someone posted. I do want to enjoy my life.

I have some real estate knowledge, and the ability to work with realtors.
I have computer skills; I made the website for the farm.
I used MLS and Metro Scan programs, and I also made most of the flyers for all the other Realtors in my office.
I am still working on my people skills; waitering affords many opportunities in a day to be nice in the face of rudeness.
I am used to saving money in the good times to get through the lean times. (I also fished commercially for 5 years, taking 6 months off between seasons.)

There is one area in which I feel I am lacking. I don't know anyone in the business who can train me. My plan now is to make a cover letter, and drop it by in person to all the appraisers close enough for me to work with. In the letter I will list all those skills that I mentioned, plus any more that you kind folks might suggest. I will have my resume available for those showing interest.

What else can I do? I'm not going to spend money going to schools before I know that I can work.

Looking forward to some input from all you experienced pros.
Also, please for the sake of us newbies, can you limit your use of acronyms? "USPAP" I was able to look up quite easily, "AVM" I found spelled out after looking through many many posts, but there are a few more that you folks use that I still don't know what they mean.


Mountain Man

Elite Member
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
I think you have set out for the right course. Learn about the job, and find a mentor before blowing money on classes. It is going to take wearing out a bit of shoe leather. However, you do have a real estate and lending back ground that would be much more interesting to a prospective mentor. People that see all those late night adds about making bazzillions in RE, take a couple of classes, and think it's over night $$$$ are really fooling themselves.

Starting off is always hard, you are building a new business, and it will take a few years to realize a profit. Starvation as a newbie is something we all are familiar with. I scrapped by on about $15K+-/year starting off. Took about 3 years (two as a trainee) to break the $30K mark. After licensor, and with a growing business, $40-50K without killing yourself is very possible. I don't work weekends........ unless I want to. ;)

As for the acronyms, every profession has their own acronyms, and they are business specific ......... post which ones you want to know about.

AMC: Appraisal Management Company
AVM: Automated Valuation Model
FIRREA: Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act
USPAP: Uniform Standards of Professional Practice

Others commonly used on the forum:
RE: real estate
HO: home owner
LO: Loan officer
UW: Under Writer (invisible people.... I never met one <_< .... that make demands for silly or redundant changes in the appraisal report :huh: .)

walt kirk

If you were a real estate broker and a mortgage broker you know people who can act as your mentor or you know people who know the right people. Go back to your real estate contacts and ask for direction. If you have friends in the mortgage business perhaps they can direct some appraisal work to your mentor. You will be a much more valuable trainee if you can bring work with you. Good luck.


Senior Member
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Gvmt Agency, FNMA, HUD, VA etc.

Look for a mentor first before spending any money on classess. Here in washington there is currently no trainiee licensing requirmenets. That may change very soon in the future though. I advise do not quit the waiter job until you start really making money at appraising. This is really tough to start in and it does take usually 2 to 3 years before you start making a living.

I will say this lo's and RE agents currently make way more money than us lowly appraisers.


Tom Foster

Senior Member
Apr 18, 2003
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser

If you want to move from the farm to Orange or San Diego county, you can do loans and sell real estate like crazy........

YOu know ...... they do have some farms in inland San Diego and in Riverside they have horses, pigs, cows, and such. A 6-3-2 1300 S.F. on 1 acre .......$120,000 - $200,000

Some come on out to sunny Southern California

OOOOOpppps that might have been a USPAP violation.


Tim The Enchanter

Elite Member
Jan 24, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
Hey Matt, sounds like you have more going for you than the average wannabe appraiser.

RE experience, and hopefully contacts. Most important.
Experience of working your *** off. A regular job to keep your $ going until you get there. :D

Getting into appraisal is THE hardest part. There have been slow times, but I'm glad I'm here.
Good luck, and don't give up. :beer:
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