Career in Real Estate Appraisal
The Appraisal Education Network School  ~  631-563-7720


So you've decided you'd like to get into real estate appraisal! Appraising real estate is an excellent career choice for many people. Yet, like any other field, it is not necessarily for everyone. In this brief article we will try to answer some of your questions about appraising real state, what the job is like, what kind of income potential you can expect and how you can become a real estate appraiser.

What an appraiser does
Real estate appraisal, like most aspects of the real estate profession, is a mixed bag of tasks. For one thing, there are many different kinds of property - homes, offices, retail, apartments, industrial, agricultural, development land - just to name the most common. Each type of property presents unique appraisal challenges, so appraisers (the same as salespersons) tend to specialize in just certain kinds of property.

In addition to the various kinds of properties, there are also various tasks which must be performed in completing an appraisal assignment. An appraiser starts with securing the appraisal order and determining the exact interest in the property which the client wants appraised and the definition of market value the client is looking for. For example, if you have an order to appraise the value of a long-term leasehold, your approach will be vastly different than if you are asked to appraise an ownership interest.

Occasionally an appraiser will be required to complete an extensive analysis of the highest and best use of the property. Many properties could be used for various purposes, and the value would be different for each. Selecting which use is the highest and best use is  fundamental  to the actual appraisal of the property. Highest and best use analyses are common when the property is vacant land or when an existing structure must be converted to another use. Sometimes appraisers are asked merely to report the highest and best use, without regard to the actual value of the property.

Finally the appraiser is ready to begin collecting data. This involves physical inspection of the property, measuring the improvements, preparing a site drawing, writing the physical description of the property and other matters which must be stated in the final appraisal report. The appraiser also collects information about comparable sales, income potential, and the cost to reproduce the improvements. Accomplishing these tasks generally requires considerable legwork and travel time. Most clients also insist that the appraiser inspect the property, not just to determine its market value, but also for any defects which must be disclosed to buyers. To complete the appraisal process the appraiser must write the appraisal report. Some clients require and extensive report which may run from ten to twelve pages for a simple residential property to hundreds of pages for complex multi-property appraisal. Other clients (generally lenders) are satisfied with a standard form appraisal report which can usually be completed by filling in the blanks on a five to six page standard form.

Your income - Who will pay you and how much
Today there is a strong demand for appraisal services. However, this has not always been the case. Although buyers, sellers and owners account for a significant number of appraisal orders, the majority of appraisals are ordered by lending institutions. Obviously then, when loan demand slackens, the demand for appraisals falls off as well. Still, even in times of tight money when real estate sales are slow, a professional appraiser with established clientele  continue to earn a living. Even when times are so bad that foreclosures become prevalent, an appraiser is still in demand because most foreclosures require  appraisals.

In short, when real state activity falls off, appraisers lose business, but their business does not fall off nearly as much as real estate sales.

Appraisers today typically charge $275-$450 for a simple appraisal of a single-family home. Fees for more complicated appraisals are clearly much higher, sometimes many thousands of dollars. How much and appraiser charges is determined by how much work the appraisal will be. Obviously, the appraiser's skill, experience and background will command a higher fee and allow the appraiser to complete the task more efficiently. However, by law, fees cannot be set as a percentage of the value. If you work for an appraisal firm, you will earn a negotiated percentage of the fee charged or you may be on salary and required to perform a minimum number of appraisal per week to justify your guaranteed wages.

You should also bear in mind that when business falls off, appraisers are forced to charge more competitive fees. And appraisers have a lot of expenses to pay out of the gross fees earned - auto and travel expenses, errors and omissions insurance, professional dues and license fees, computer access fees - just to name a few. Then too, if you start by working for another appraiser, you can also expect that your employer will be entitled to a percentage of each appraisal fee that you earn. This has a benefit, however, since you will not be required to spend money to start your own firm. Even after appraisers become experienced in New York, many work for firms as compared to working for themselves. This is something that is up to the individual appraiser.

Becoming an appraiser-The Education Needed is...
The Appraiser Certification and Licensure Board has created four categories of appraisers. The requirements for each are different, and therefore each category affords different privileges.

The first category, Licenses appraiser assistant is also the first step in obtaining any license or certification given by the Appraiser Certification and Licensure Board. There is no experience needed nor is there an exam required. An appraiser assistant may assist in the preparation of any and all components of appraisal reports. Typically, while obtaining your experience, one would work under the supervision of a state licensed or state certified appraiser in New York State.

The most comprehensive category is the State Certified General Appraiser. With this certification you can perform appraisals for all types of real property. To become a State Certified General Appraiser you need to pass the General Certification examination, have at least 2.5 years of acceptable appraisal experience, appraisal education and college coursework. NYS has details on this.

A State Certified Residential Appraiser may appraise all types of one-to-four family residential real property, without regard to complexity or transaction value. You must pass the Residential Certification Exam and show proof of 2 years acceptable appraisal experience. There is appraisal education and college required for this level.

Still another category is the Fully Licensed Appraiser. With this license, you may appraise non-complex, one-to-four family residential units having a transaction value of less the $1,000,000, complex one-to-four family residential units having transaction value of less than $250,000 and all other types of real property having a transaction value of less than $250,000. You must have meet the education, pass the License examination and have at least 2 years  of acceptable experience in New York State.

Getting a job-How to get employment in New York
As you have gathered from the preceding discussion of appraisal licensing, newcomers in appraisal need appraisal experience to get their license. The usual way to do this is to work for an appraisal firm. This may be somewhat of a challenge. Some appraisers are leery due to the liability that comes with supervising an assistant. They may also feel that if you have to be supervised every moment, then they might as well have taken the time to perform the work themselves. For Example, lenders in particular, have special forms they want filled out and there are specific rules for what must be place in which blanks. Not all of this information is covered in licensing classes, and post-license classes for beginning appraisers are virtually non-existent. We have an additional web site that discusses how to secure employment once you have completed your education. We recommend once you have completed the state mandated education, you pursue the "Mock " Appraisal. An appraisal which our school will review for you to make sure it means not only appraisal standards and guidelines, but also USPAP guidelines. After you have finished with this site, check the  Appraisal Education Network and Merrell Institute Open House web site.

Nevertheless, we do not want you to become discouraged. If you really want to appraise real state, you can find someone who will help you get started. First, perhaps they will let you type up the reports, then they will start you on locating comparable sales, until bit by bit you learn the practice. Finding someone who will help you get started may require a little persistence, but finding a real career/job always requires legwork. Eventually you can gain enough experience and additional education that you can become independently licensed. Ultimately you will be able to develop your own clientele and run your own practice. Many fully licensed and certified appraisers don't open their own firms. They are satisfied working work a larger appraisal firm.

In any event, your first step is to form a commitment to yourself to make real state appraisal your career. Obstacles such as passing the exam or finding an appraiser to hire you become minor once you have made the commitment. Having made the commitment, then your next step is to enroll in the appropriate courses and get started. Your success in real estate appraisal is founded entirely on your own determination to succeed. No one can stand in your way if you really want success!

License exemptions
Review Appraisers, such as Underwriters are not required to be Licensed or Certified, although they are required to adhere to USPAP guidelines, which is taught as part of the National USPAP course which has been developed by the Appraisal Foundation. We have a License agreement to offer this course. License # 1022.

You should be aware that most lenders today sell  their loans in the secondary mortgage market. Standards for appraisal work are generally dictated by the secondary market, not the local lender and as such, lenders are increasingly requiring all those involved in Appraisal to have the required education and in many cases a License or certification as well.

Underwriters and processors for Lenders are also involved with the appraisal process and may even review and overview the appraisal, yet they are not required to be licensed or certified in New York State. Many decide to become Licensed to add the their credentials.

Another way to be involved in the field of appraisal without a license is to do so for agency of state or local government. One of the largest sources of government employment for appraisers is property taxation. Since property taxes are levied according to value, maintenance of accurate assessment rolls is a vital part of the property tax process. Assessors have their own rules and regulations in this field, however they do use the same type courses which the Appraisal Education Network School offers in New York State. In Nassau County alone, hundred of people were involved in the reassessment and there are hundreds more involved with correction and challenging of the final roles.

For Additional Information
For specific information about the exams and for application forms, contact us at:

 631-563-7720 (Appraisal Education Network School)  You may also contact the State for an appraisal application at 518-474-4429 or visit the state of New York on-line- (see our yellow pages for internet address)

A Schedule of the Appraisal Courses in New York State, Click here!

The Appraisal Education Network School/Merrell Institute

Click On Our Open House Site

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