Career Story: Real Estate Appraiser

Real Estate Appraiser

Job Title: Real Estate Appraiser

Type of Company: I am an independent contractor, like most real estate appraisers. I work for a number of appraisal companies, and am retained by some appraisal management companies. I also have a small appraisal company of my own.

Education: BA, Brandeis University; Graduate-level classes at Harvard University, UMass-Boston. Many, many courses and seminars in the practice of real estate appraisal.

Previous Experience: I was in human services for more than 7 years. I got burnt out, and was thinking about my next move. The concept of tax assessing, for a city or town, fascinated me, and I knew the first step was to get my appraisal license. Ten years later I'm still appraising.

Job Tasks: The most common reason for a real estate appraisal - either residential or commercial - is for mortgage refinancing. Other reasons include divorce or legal proceedings, or to settle a disagreement. Regardless of the reason for the appraisal, the process is essentially the same: -determine the reason, the use, and the users of an appraisal; -from there, determine the process - what will go into research and analysis; -inspect the subject of the appraisal, be it a house, condo, multi-family building, commercial, or mixed-use property, and research data and documents concerning the subject; -proceed with whatever process is needed to determine the value - either analyzing income data, or looking at recent sales; -prepare the written report.

Every assignment, and every day, is different, as every property is different. Part of my day is spent on the road, inspecting properties, and doing field work; the rest of the day is spent at home, at the computer, researching and compiling.

To be a good appraiser it is necessary, in my opinion: -to have a good educational foundation in the procedures and standards of appraising; -to know the market area; -to know the current federal, state, and local requirements which apply to the practice of appraising, as well as the requirements of the client and the industry as a whole.

Also necessary are: -an ability to be unfazed by a variety of interesting situations; -an ability to communicate with a wide range of people; -an attention to promptness and preparedness.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts are: -the combination of road time and computer time; -driving; -the fact that each and every day is different.

The worst parts are: -pressure from all sides: clients, homeowners, society, mortgage industry; -smelling like cigarettes; -an income that can be very, very good some weeks and very, very bad others.

Job Tips:
1. The most informative part of learning how to be an appraiser is the hands-on experience: It is required that you take classes which teach you the essentials of appraising. To be able to put this training into practice is the most valuable way to acquire knowledge.

2. Also, keep in mind that one learns the best by experiencing the greatest range of assignments possible: once you obtain a licensed or certified appraiser license, then you can specify your practice more.

Additional Thoughts: No meetings! The world (and your dining room table) is your office! Always be more polite and understanding than is necessary.

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