Are you considering a career in Real Estate Appraising?

Real estate is a major – and pivotal – facet of our economy. Whenever real estate is sold, mortgaged, taxed, insured, or developed, an appraisal is an essential component of any transaction. Without a knowledgeable and trustworthy appraisal, a real estate transaction will fall apart at the seams. Real estate appraisers are problem solvers. Just like putting together a puzzle, they arrange hundreds of facts, statistics, market data and property characteristics to show their clients – and other related parties such as banks and mortgage companies – what the picture looks like. In essence, the real estate appraiser puts a dollar value to every piece in the puzzle and can sum up what it’s all worth when the picture is complete.

Real estate appraisal is a unique career choice that can fit into anyone’s lifestyle, pace, and expectations. One can let his or her location and market dictate the types of real estate property to appraise, such as single-family homes, commercial properties, shopping malls and farms, or one can explore the country and accept specialized appraisal assignments in different states, or even countries

What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is an opinion of the quality, value, or utility of a specific property. 

Appraisals may be required for just about any type of property, including single-family homes, apartment buildings and condominiums, office buildings, shopping centers, industrial sites, and farms. The reasons for performing a real estate appraisal are just as varied. An appraisal may be required:

  • for mortgage lending purposes
  • for tax assessments and appeals of assessments
  • during negotiations between buyers and sellers
  • when the government acquires private property for public use
  • for pending business mergers or dissolutions

In short, appraisals are usually required whenever real estate is sold, mortgaged, taxed, insured, or developed.

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Where are real estate appraisers employed?

Appraisers may be employed by financial institutions, government agencies, or real estate services corporations or organizations. 

Many real estate appraisers are in business for themselves and work independently. Appraisers employed by government agencies or financial institutions usually work standard hours while independent appraisers set their own schedules. Appraisers spend part of their time preparing and writing appraisal reports, but much of their work is accomplished away from the office, inspecting property, researching official records and deeds, and interviewing informed sources. Appraisers accepting assignments in a number of states or abroad, enjoy extensive travel.

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What are key competencies for real estate appraisers?

Real estate appraisers must be adept at:

  • gathering and evaluating facts
  • knowing how to access a variety of data sources
  • reading survey drawings and blueprints and identifying construction features and materials
  • keeping up with changing economic trends, governmental regulation, and societal patterns

Real estate appraisers must also be competent writers.

Education, training, and experience are essential in becoming a skilled real estate appraiser. In the past many appraisers entered the field by way of other real estate services such as sales, management, or finance. Today appraisers often enter the field directly.

A liberal arts education is a good basis for anyone considering a career in real estate appraisal. Backgrounds in economics, finance, business administration, architecture, law, engineering, computer technology, sociology, and English composition may be particularly helpful.

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How do I get started?

In order to practice real estate appraisal and analysis, you will be required to become licensed.

You will be required to meet minimum standards for education and experience and pass an examination. You will also have the option of becoming “certified” which is a more advanced recognition and may help you to become more competitive in your market.

Appraisal firms may employ appraisal assistants and trainees or offer part-time work to college students. Financial institutions and county assessors’ offices may also offer opportunities for on-the-job training.

As a result of federal legislation passed in 1991, real estate appraisers in the United States must be licensed or certified by their state to appraise certain types of “federally related real estate transactions.” All 50 states have education, experience and exam requirements to obtain a real estate appraiser license or certification. Since laws vary from state to state, individuals should contact a state’s regulatory agency for specific requirements.

Appraisers master the intricacies of their profession through specialized education. As the recognized leader in real estate appraisal education, the Appraisal Institute offers educational programs that address the needs of appraisers at every stage of their career development.

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