Real Estate Appraiser | About the Job

A real estate appraiser’s primary function is to remain unbiased and fair when determining the value of any property. They play a critical component during the transfer of property from one party to another party, such as when it is being bought or sold, financed, taxed, insured, or under new construction. 

What do appraiser's do?

Here are some of the responsibilities you’ll encounter as a real estate appraiser:

  • Determine the value of a property by comparing it with similar properties nearby
  • Estimate the value of incoming-producing properties
  • Use the cost approach and other methods to determine that value of special-use properties, such as schools, libraries, or churches
  • Travel to the property to conduct a site inspection in person
  • Take photos inside, outside, and any other notable areas of the property
  • Search through public records and local databases
  • Prepare a detailed report that explains how you arrived at the value
  • Submit your final written report to the client

Within the appraisal profession, there are several different career paths.

Over half of all appraisers are residential appraisers. A majority of their work comes from appraising single-family homes and condominiums. They will usually set a defined, geographical territory to work in for themselves, typically by county. This helps them become better familiar with the area and more efficient at the job.

Many residential appraisers will get their work by joining an Appraisal Management Company (AMC). These business entities work with mortgage lenders to assign work out to independent appraisers. Their primary role is administrative and quality assurance.

Approximately 23% of appraisers work in the commercial sector. They appraise office buildings, hotels, skyscrapers, airports, etc… Appraising commercial property takes significantly longer than residential property and has a lot more data points to factor in. Most commercial appraisers have at least ten years of experience and a bachelor’s degree.

A smaller number of appraisers are review appraisers. These senior-level appraisers review and audit the work of other appraisers. They are in both the government and in the private sector. Their work schedule is typically Monday through Friday, and they primarily work in the office.

What's an appraiser's work schedule like?

Most appraisers will spend a majority of their time in the field. They will be commuting to each property to perform a site inspection. Since most appraisers operate independently, they can just work from a home office to finish preparing their report.

Assessors and review appraisers, which is the minority, typically work in an office setting. They don’t have to travel out to the field to perform any site inspections.

How much do appraiser's make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, half of all appraisers were making $54,000 in 2017. The bottom 10% earned $28,440 or less while the top 10% were making over $101,710 per year.

Appraisers are typically compensated per appraisal report, and are not paid on a salary. Earnings can vary widely because you can work as much or as little as you want. The more appraisal reports you do, the more you’ll make. As an independent fee appraiser, you can work into the nights and evenings if you want.

Your experience and the type of property that is appraised will also significantly factor into how much money you’ll make. There are 4 different levels of licensure. The higher the level you have, the more complex properties you can appraise, and the more money you can make. Getting to higher levels will require having additional education and experience. 

What can I expect in my first year?

The appraisal profession has been designed to be a long-term career.

There’s a significant upfront commitment required just to obtain the license. And when you finally do get licensed, you’ll have to prove that you can deliver your reports on time and with accuracy. You’re not going to be making much money when you first start out.

However, with time and experience, you will naturally get better and your income will rise. 

Also, the future job prospects look great. Over 60% of appraisers are over 50 years old and many will soon be retiring. There is already a growing shortage of qualified appraisers. This shortage forced regulators to cut down on education and experience requirements, making it easier for people to become licensed. 

The bottom line is that if you stick with it, you’ll have a stable and rewarding career. There’s a reason why over 80% of appraisers have been working for 10 years and longer.