How to Become a House Appraiser
If you’re the sort of person who enjoys regularly getting out of the office and doing interesting work, then learning how to become a house appraiser could be ideal for you.
Appraisers are professionals who work closely with other stakeholders across the real estate sector, including agents, buyers, banks, sellers, and investors to determine “fair value” for properties. With their help, sellers and banks can find out how much real estate is worth, allowing them to plan accordingly and know what to expect. There are currently more than two million real estate agents in the US, so being qualified to appraise houses is a valuable skill.
What Does a House Appraiser Do?
A house appraiser’s main task is to determine how much a particular property is worth. Because real estate prices change all the time, owners, estate agents, and buyers often need professional valuations.
An appraiser’s estimate doesn’t necessarily mean that the house will sell for that amount, but it does provide all stakeholders with a ballpark figure for what the property is worth. It also helps to prevent overpaying by buyers and underselling by sellers.
When determining the value of a property, appraisers will look at:
- Property size
- Property location
- The type of property
- Damage to the property and required repairs
The appraiser’s individual experience also contributes to their valuation. For some, a particular property may appear to offer tremendous value, while for others it may not.
How Long Does it Take to Become a House Appraiser?
To become a licensed residential appraiser, you’ll need around 150 hours of qualifying education and more than 1,000 hours of experience over a period of at least six months. For other types of appraisers, such as certified residential appraisers and certified general appraisers, you’ll need more education and hours of experience on the job.
How Much Do Appraisers Earn?
The median real estate appraiser pay was $59,510 in 2021, with 95% of incomes ranging from $36,940 to $72,210. A trainee appraiser won’t earn a great salary, but as a qualified general appraiser you’ll find yourself at the higher end.
Becoming an Appraiser: What You Need to Know
In this section, we show you how to become an appraiser, step by step:
Step 1: Learn how to become an appraiser
Unfortunately, real estate appraisal isn't a career that you can just walk into without any qualifications. The Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) is in charge of setting standards for anyone entering the industry.
The steps to becoming an appraiser depend on the state. Some require you to take additional courses and exams beyond those the AQB requires.
If you want to learn more about how individual states treat real estate appraiser licenses, go to the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) website for a full list.
Step 2: Start out as a trainee
To get a property appraiser license, you’ll need to begin as a trainee – an official ABQ classification.
To get to this stage, you’ll need to complete three short courses:
- Basic Appraisal Principles: 30 hours
- Basic Appraisal Procedures: 30 hours
- National Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice: 15 hours
As an addition to these core requirements, you may also have to take extra courses set out in your state’s legislation.
Step 3: Get 1,000 hours of experience (minimum)
Before you can get a residential appraiser license, you’ll need a minimum of 1,000 hours of work experience over at least six months.
The best way to do this is to find a supervisory appraiser – someone you can shadow as you learn your trade. Usually, you can find suitable professionals via a real estate appraiser organization. You can also reach out on job sites such as LinkedIn or Indeed.
Some states have different experience requirements. For instance, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Vermont all require 1,500 hours of experience. Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington require 2,000 hours. And Alaska, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, and Wyoming require 2,500 hours.
Step 4: Complete additional courses to become a licensed appraiser
Formal training requirements to become a trainee appraiser are minimal. However, if you want a full real estate appraisal license, you’ll have to do some additional courses to fulfill AQB’s minimum requirements.
Home appraisal job requirements include:
- Residential report writing and case studies: 15 hours
- Residential sales comparison and income approaches: 30 hours
- Residential appraiser site valuation and cost approaches: 15 hours
- Residential market analysis and highest and best use: 15 hours
These requirements can vary across states, so look into your state board to ensure that you’re fulfilling all the necessary criteria.
Step 5: Pass your state’s licensing exam
Once you complete this part of your real estate appraiser education, you’ll need to pass your state’s licensing exam. Tests comprise 110 questions that you must answer in under four hours.
The questions will probe you on everything you need to know to become a residential real estate appraiser. This includes:
- Appraisal math and property value calculations
- Different valuations methods
- Real estate market analysis
- Investment analysis
- The different types of real estate and how they influence property valuations
State advisory boards commission a range of private exam providers for examinations, such as Applied Measurement Professionals, Pearson VUE, and PSI. To book an exam, check these organizations’ schedules and then book your slot online.
Step 6: Put in your application
Once you pass your exams, the last step is to officially hand your license application to the relevant state licensing board. Again, state application requirements vary, so you’ll need to visit the ACS website to check your state’s requirements first.
Once your license gets approved and you get home appraisal certification, you’re free to begin working. However, even with this license, you’re limited in terms of the properties that you can appraise. For instance, licensed residential appraisers (the most common career path), can only work on:
- Non-complex properties with between one and four units worth under $1 million.
- Complex properties with between one and four units worth less than $250,000.
Step 7: Get working
To start working, you’ll need to search for job opportunities on popular sites, such as LinkedIn and Indeed. At first, you’ll usually work for a private appraisal business or banks. However, later you may be able to work independently or as a contractor, depending on how successful you become.
Your employer should give you access to a multiple listing service (MLS) when you join. This gives you information about current and past house prices in the area, plus a record of all recent sales. Access to these services is usually free, with the subscription paid for by the firm you join.
Step 8: Continue to upgrade your license
To get to the top of the certified real estate appraiser pay scale, you’ll need to upgrade your license. When you do, you’ll be able to appraise more expensive and complex properties.
There are two ways you can upgrade your license:
- Get qualified as a certified residential appraiser
- Become a certified general appraiser
Certified residential property appraiser training allows appraisers to value all types of residential property, from small townhouses to giant apartment blocks.
Certified general appraiser training allows you to appraise any type of real estate, including commercial and industrial buildings.
Education and training hours for both certified residential appraisers and certified general appraisers are considerably higher than they are for licensed residential appraisers. As a certified residential appraiser, you need at least 200 hours of education, a bachelor’s degree focusing on your field of study, and 1,500 of acceptable appraisal experience in the past 12 months. To become a certified general appraiser, you need 300 hours of education, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, and 3,000 hours of experience over at least 18 months, with 1,500 hours in non-residential work.
Learning how to become a house appraiser is surprisingly simple once you understand it. Home appraiser training generally takes the same format: first you need to become a trainee appraiser, then you need to get the experience and education hours required for licensed residential appraiser status. Once you get to this stage, you’re free to start work and get your career up and running. If you’d like to go further, you can do additional training to become a certified residential appraiser or a certified general appraiser.
You can become a trainee or licensed residential appraiser without any formal education at all. All you need to do is complete mandatory AQB training (usually 75 to 150 hours). Appraiser requirements for certified residential appraisers and certified general appraisers are considerably higher. For these, you need a bachelor’s degree.
Real estate appraisal courses are provided by industry bodies, such as AQB, and colleges. Schools offer pre-licensing, renewal courses, and ongoing education to help with career advancement.
Real estate appraisers earn an average of $59,510 per year. The vast majority earn between $36,940 and $72,210 annually, with trainees on the lower end and certified appraisers on the higher end of the payscale.
Julia A. is a writer at SmallBizGenius.net. With experience in both finance and marketing industries, she enjoys staying up to date with the current economic affairs and writing opinion pieces on the state of small businesses in America. As an avid reader, she spends most of her time poring over history books, fantasy novels, and old classics. Tech, finance, and marketing are her passions, and she’s a frequent contributor at various small business blogs.
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