Category Archives: Appraisal School Reviews

What is the Best Appraisal School in Pennsylvania?

To succeed as a real estate appraiser, it is important to find a good school. This is not just to meet the mandatory education requirements set by the Pennsylvania State Board of Real Estate Appraisers, but because where you take your qualifying education courses will lay the foundation for the rest of your appraisal career.

I have looked through the entire list of appraisal schools that are accredited in Pennsylvania. After evaluating what each school has to offer as well as their shortcomings, these are the top 3 schools on my short-list of appraisal schools that will set you up for success.  

1. Hondros College

Hondros College | Appraiser License

Packages start at $799

Hondros College is arguably the fastest growing online appraisal school in Pennsylvania. They have been in the appraisal education industry for a long time but did not really offer their courses directly to the consumer until recently. You had to go through an intermediary school.

Now, you can go straight to their website and take their courses. Since there is no more middleman, this translates into massive savings for the student. This is especially nice since appraisal courses are very expensive.

Hondros College is a no-frills program. They offer the online courses to meet Pennsylvania’s education requirement in a single 75-hour National Trainee Package, and that’s pretty much it. The courses are text-based, so it is just like reading a book. You will have 6 months to complete the program, and you will have to be logged online to accumulate seat time as that is a state requirement. There are no payment plans or alternative programs available for getting licensed.

The support options are also quite limited. There are no live instructors available by phone if you want to call somebody. You will have to email Hondros College your questions first and wait to hear back by the next business day. If you have any customer support or technical issues, they do have phone support Monday through Saturday during regular business hours.

Hondros College distinguishes itself from its competitors through its online exam prep, CompuCram, for the state exam. This tool integrates vocabulary words, practice test, and comprehensive simulated exams into an all-in-solution to help you pass the test on your first attempt. CompuCram has a pass rate of 86.5% for first-time examinees, which is significantly higher than the national average pass rate of 67%. CompuCram is also mobile-friendly, so you can take a couple of practice test questions the next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

Hondros College has been an education provider in appraisal for the past 40 years. They have made significant progress in revitalizing their courses recently. This has translated into huge savings on the appraisal courses for students while still delivering a solid program. Their online prep, CompuCram, boasts an industry-leading pass rate of 86.5%. However, you do have to be self-motivated and disciplined to succeed with the program at Hondros College.

Learn more at www.hondros.com

2. McKissock Learning

Packages start at $899.95

McKissock Learning, based in Warren, Pennsylvania, is the leader when it comes to appraisal education. They have programs in all 50 states, and offer classes in a classroom as well as online. McKissock Learning has every appraisal course you could ever possibly need.

McKissock Learning’s Pennsylvania appraisal qualifying education courses have earned an average rating of 4.33 out of 5 stars, based off 642 customer surveys. They give you full confidence to take their program by backing it up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not happy with the courses within the first 7 days of enrollment for whatever reason, you can request to get a full refund.

McKissock Learning offers a variety of different options for getting licensed:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is a new program that they began offering. This program is actually a fantastic deal because it includes all of the online qualifying education (up to Certified General). Plus, it provides access to video tutorials, monthly webinars, appraisal community, and partner discounts. This is an annual subscription, so you will automatically get charged every year. However, you should be able to finish the courses within a year, so you can just cancel the subscription before it renews again.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Get Started Package – This package consists of the required 4 online appraisal courses to get licensed in Pennsylvania. The classes are text-based, and you are given one year to complete the program. There is an interest-free payment plan available for up to 4 months with this package.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Advanced Pro Package – This package includes everything in the Get Started package plus instructor support and hardcopy books. You will be able to talk to certified appraisal instructors directly during weekly Q&A sessions if you need any help on the courses. If you want to study with the books, you should be aware that they do not get shipped out until after you have already completed the courses. 

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning has been at the forefront of appraisal education for a long time. The interface looks good and modern. They are always incorporating new features and extra content into the program. McKissock Learning has built its platform to not only meet the mandatory education requirements in Pennsylvania but to also thrive as a professional with supplemental training materials. The pricing is on the higher range of the spectrum. However, you will definitely get your money’s worth.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

3. Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

75-Hour Package Price $1,040

The Appraisal Institute (AI) is an organization that helps real estate appraisers take their career to the next level. They are made up over 20,000 members from approximately 95 chapters located all over the planet. They offer appraisal courses, which are the most rigorous in the industry and certification programs that will set you apart from other appraisal professionals.

You do not have to join the Appraisal Institute to attend any of their courses. However, you will have to pay more than someone who is an AI member.

If you are interested in becoming a member, there are different levels. All levels of AI memberships require an annual membership fee. The different levels really have to do with their MAI, SRPA, and SRA designations. They are like a prestigious badge of excellence within the appraisal community. Some lenders, government offices, and courts prefer to send work only to an appraiser who holds one of these designations.  

Earning one of these prestigious designations take a lot of work. You are required to take additional coursework, testing, and submit continuing education. It also requires that you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

The courses are rigorous. Most schools give you 6 months to a year to complete the courses. Appraisal Institute only gives you 30 days to complete any online course that is 15 hours or less, and 45 days to complete any course that is over 15 hours long.  Additionally, final exams have to be administered at a Pearson Vue testing center. If you change your mind and want to cancel, there is a minimum cancellation fee of $60. If you have completed over 25% of the course, then you are not eligible for any refund.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

The Appraisal Institute sets the bar for excellence in the appraisal industry. Having any of their courses listed on your resume will look very good. However, it will cost more than other schools, not to mention that you will have to most likely study harder since you have a shorter period to complete them. The Appraisal Institute has designed its program around people who are serious about making appraisal their lifelong profession and want to build a foundation so they can have the most opportunities in the future.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org

The 3 Best Appraisal Schools in Florida

If you are like most people interested in becoming a real estate appraiser, you have little to no background in appraisal. That’s okay.

The Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board (FREAB), which regulates the appraisal industry for Florida, requires you to take a minimum amount of education to give you a basic understanding of the appraisal profession. You will learn all the terms and methodologies needed to perform this job.

One of the keys to your success will be to find an approved school with a good program. Fortunately, we have done the research for you. Here are the top 3 appraisal schools that are accredited by the FREAB for getting your appraiser’s license in Florida.

1. OnCourse Learning

OnCourse Learning Real Estate School

75-Hour Package Price: $899

OnCourse Learning is a growing online education provider that offers programs in both real estate appraisal. They have designed their courses to prepare you with a working knowledge of the relevant laws and regulations. They used to offer their appraisal program under the brand of Career WebSchool, but have since reinvigorated the courses with fresh content and material.

They offer a single, convenient 75-hour pre-licensing package to meet Florida’s education requirements. It is a 100% online program that is text-based, so it is like reading a book on the computer. Because it is web-based, you will be able to access it from any internet-connected device such as a tablet or laptop. You have up to 6 months to pass the final exams and complete the courses. You will also have to be online to take this course as Florida requires seat time.

OnCourse Learning provides instructor support via email only. If you have an IT-related problem or issue with your customer account, you can contact their support department by phone during their regular business hours Monday through Friday, from 8:30 AM to 6 PM Central Time.

OnCourse Learning has the best (and lowest) price for getting your appraiser’s license in Florida. They also have frequent promotions, which make their programs even cheaper. This is especially nice since appraisal courses are very expensive. If you are not entirely confident you want to pursue this as a long-term career, this is a good way to hedge your bet.

If you decide to sign up with OnCourse Learning, you will need to know that they do not offer any state-specific courses. For example, FREAB requires you to take a 6-hour Florida Laws and Rules course. Although it is a short course, you will eventually need to get that course from another provider.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

OnCourse Learning is the perfect program for someone that prefers to learn independently and is looking for the best deal. OnCourse Learning has dramatically upgraded its online programs recently and is now one of the top appraisal schools for obtaining a license in Florida. Although they have limited support options and do not come with any extra features, OnCourse Learning delivers a compelling appraisal program at a great price.

Learn more at www.oncourselearning.com

2. McKissock Learning

Packages start at $1,195.95

McKissock Learning is the de facto standard when it comes to obtaining your appraiser’s license. Over 2 million people have taken their courses for both qualifying and continuing education in the past 30 years. They have the widest offering of courses, both in terms of format and topics, compared to any other education provider.

McKissock Learning’s Florida appraisal pre-licensing education courses have earned an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, based on 137 self-reported customer surveys. They are the only appraisal school that I have seen that backs up their program with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you change your mind within the first 7 days of enrollment, you can get a full refund. No questions asked.

McKissock Learning offers 3 packages to get started:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is an annual subscription that gives you access to satisfy not just the initial 75-hour education requirement, but ALL pre-license courses you will ever need in appraisal. This is actually a really good deal because you should be able to easily complete all the appraisal courses within a year, so you can just cancel the subscription after the first year.

104-hour Trainee (TR) Get Started Package – This package consists of the required 4 online appraisal courses to get licensed in Florida as well as the mandatory state-specific courses. The courses are 100% text-based, and you get one year to complete the program. There is a convenient interest-free payment plan available for up to 4 months with this package.

104-hour Trainee (TR) Advanced Pro Package – This package includes everything in the Get Started package plus instructor support and printed textbooks. Due to state requirements, McKissock Learning cannot send the books to you until you finish the courses first. In other words, you will have to read the material online when you take the course. The main benefit for this package is the instructor support, where you can get to interact with certified instructors during the weekly Q&A sessions.

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning offers the complete package. They have all the appraisal courses you will ever need and have flexible payment options. The courses look attractive and modern. They are a little on the high end of the price range. However, they make up for that with their high-quality material and extra content. It is no surprise that McKissock Learning continues to be the leader in appraisal education.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

3. Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

75-Hour Package Price: $1,040

The Appraisal Institute (AI) is a globally recognized organization within the real estate appraisal industry. There have approximately 20,000 members in 95 chapters located around the world. They set the bar for excellence, and it will help you stand out down the road if you have their courses listed on your resume.

Anyone can take their courses, and anyone can be a member. You simply pay an annual membership fee along with any applicable chapter fees. One of the benefits of being a member is that you get a discount on all appraisal courses. However, since you have to pay to become a member, I do not think it is worthwhile just to become a member to get the discount.

Why do people become a member? There are different membership levels, and the real motivation to join the Appraisal Institute is to earn one of its prestigious designations, such as MAI, SRPA, or SRA. It is not easy to earn these designations, and that is by design. They require a college degree, additional coursework, and rigorous testing. Only about 15 percent of all appraisers hold one of these designations.

If you can become a designated AI member, there will be a lot more opportunities available to you, especially in the commercial sector. Some companies, lenders, and government agencies only want to work with you if you hold an MAI or SRA designation. It gives them a higher level of confidence that the appraisal report will be accurate and of the highest quality.

If you decide to enroll in their program, you will want to make sure your calendar is clear. Although the courses are online and you can study whenever you want, they only give you 30 days to complete courses that are 15 hours or less, and 45 days to complete any course that is over 15 hours. You will have to schedule an appointment at a Pearson Vue testing center to take the final exams.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

Whether you decide to become a designated member or not, completing courses from the Appraisal Institute automatically earns you the distinction of excellence. They have the most rigorous and expensive program on the market. I would only recommend this for people who are serious about pursuing a long-term career in appraisal. If you are able to put in the extra hard work and considerable financial investment that the Appraisal Institute requires, you will get access to more opportunities.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org

The 3 Best Appraisal Schools in Michigan

If are trying to find a good school to obtain a real estate appraiser’s license for the state of Michigan, then you have come to the right place.

Before we start looking at any education provider, we need to first make sure that the school is approved by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). They are the state agency that sets the education requirements for appraisers. They also handle all licensing affairs and enforce the regulations through disciplinary action if necessary.

Once we have a list of approved schools, we can narrow the list down further to see which ones are the best. Truthfully, there is no “one size fits all” school. Every program comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. After extensively researching different programs, here are my top 3 recommendations for obtaining an appraiser’s license in Michigan that should be able to cover anyone’s learning needs.

Hondros College

Hondros College | Appraiser License

75-Hour Package Price $799

Hondros College is a growing online school that has programs in real estate, appraisal, home inspection, and insurance. They have had a presence in the education industry for over 40 years and offer programs in all 50 US states. They have enrolled over 500,000 students in both the classroom and online courses.

Hondros College used to develop the courses and offer them through a secondary provider. However, they have been taking the initiative to work more directly with students. What this means is they can offer these same courses at a lower cost to the student. In fact, they have one of the cheapest programs in the market.

To satisfy the Michigan state education requirements, you will need to enroll in their 75-hour National Trainee Package. You are given up to 6 months from the time of enrollment to complete the program. This format of the content is text-based, so it is just like reading a book on the website. You can move at your own pace and access your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The LARA requires seat-time on these courses, so you will have to be online for all 75 hours.

If you need any help while you are taking the course, they do have support to help you with any IT issues or account management. However, if you have questions about the course content, their instructor support is limited to email only. They will respond back to you within the next business day.

What really impressed me with Hondros College was their exam prep called CompuCram. It boasts an 86.5% pass rate for first-time test-takers. That is significantly higher than the national average pass rate of 67%. It gives students access to online flashcards, fill-in-the-blanks, and matching tools to test their knowledge and learn. There is an “overall readiness” indicator that tracks your progress and lets you know when you are ready to take the actual exam. CompuCram is also mobile-friendly, so you can take a couple of practice test questions the next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

Hondros College has been investing a lot in improving their programs recently and it shows. It would be nicer if they provided more robust options in terms of instructor support. However, with an industry-best 86.5% pass rate on the state exams and the lowest prices on the market, Hondros College has made their online appraisal program hard to pass up.

Learn more at www.hondros.com

McKissock Learning

Packages start at $899.99

McKissock Learning is the largest appraisal school in the country. Since 1990, they have helped over2 million people in the real estate industry satisfy their pre-license and continuing education courses. They have classrooms, live webinars, and online courses. However, all qualifying education is only available in the online format.  

McKissock Learning’s Michigan appraisal qualifying education courses have earned an average rating of 4.33 out of 5 stars, based off 338 customer surveys. If you are not 100% convinced in their courses, there is a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you do not like what you are seeing, you can get all of your money back within 7 days of signing up.

McKissock Learning offers 3 flexible ways of getting started:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is a new program that they began offering. This program is actually a fantastic deal because it includes all of the online qualifying education (up to Certified General). Plus, it provides access to video tutorials, monthly webinars, appraisal community, and partner discounts. This is an annual subscription, so you will automatically get charged every year. However, you should be able to finish the courses within a year, so you can just cancel the subscription before it renews again.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Get Started Package – This package consists of the required 4 online appraisal courses to get licensed in Michigan. The classes are text-based, and you are given one year to complete the program. There is an interest-free payment plan available for up to 4 months with this package.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Advanced Pro Package – This package includes everything in the Get Started package plus instructor support and hardcopy books. You will be able to talk to certified appraisal instructors directly during weekly Q&A sessions if you need any help on the courses. If you want to study with the books, you should be aware that they do not get shipped out until after you have already completed the courses. The LARA requires that you log time in the sessions so the books can only be used outside of the program.

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning is the leader in appraisal education. They are continually innovating to make their courses more engaging. They offer the most variety in terms of payment and package options for obtaining a Michigan appraiser license. You will have to spend more money on their programs. However, all of the bonus content and features that come with their new QE Unlimited Subscription program will quickly pay dividends.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

75-Hour Package Price $1,040

The Appraisal Institute (AI) is a global association of real estate appraisers with about 20,000 members from over 95 chapters around the world. As a member, you get access to advocacy programs and a very close network of like-minded appraiser professionals. With additional coursework and examinations, you can set yourself apart as an appraiser by becoming certified as an MAI, SRPA, or SRA.

Some lenders, courts, and government agencies seek, and may even require, an appraiser to hold one of those designations. The reason is they want to be assured that they will be getting high-quality work. MAI, SRPA, and SRA’s have to go through a rigorous process to achieve that designation, including being required to have a bachelor’s degree in college. Less than 20 percent of all appraisers are designated AI members.

You do not have to be a member to attend any of their courses. However, members do receive a discount on all courses. If you are considering becoming a member, you have to pay an annual fee plus satisfy their own continuing education requirements.

The Appraisal Institute offers live classes for appraisal pre-licensing, but they do not have all of the required courses, and there are limited availability and locations. So, regardless, you will need to take some online courses to satisfy all 154 total hours of appraisal education. 

The format of the courses is strict. You are given 30 days to complete any online course that is 15 hours or less, and 45 days to complete any course that is over 15 hours long.  All final exams have to be administered at a Pearson Vue testing center. If you change your mind and want to cancel, you are hit with a minimum cancellation fee of $60. If you have completed over 25% of the course, then you are not eligible for any refund.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

The commitment to professionalism is why the Appraisal Institute is still widely-respected within the appraisal community throughout its 70-year history. However, they are the most expensive option with the strictest standards. Most appraisers will not really gain any benefit by becoming a member. Nonetheless, if you are planning to build a long-term career in appraisal, especially in the commercial sector, taking courses from the Appraisal Institute will definitely open up more opportunities.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org

The 3 Best Appraisal Schools in Washington State

If you are considering becoming a licensed real estate appraiser in the state of Washington, the first thing you will need to do is find a school approved by the Department of Licensing (DOL). The DOL is Washington state’s appraisal board. They establish all of the licensing requirements and regulations for appraisers within the state boundaries.

There will be a lot of hard work involved to becoming a licensed appraiser. It is crucial to start off on the right foot by finding a reputable program that will educate you on the appraisal industry, especially if you have no prior experience in appraisal. After researching through the list of DOL-approved schools, here are my top 3 schools for obtaining your Washington appraiser’s license.

1. Hondros College

Hondros College | Appraiser License

75-hour package $799

Hondros College is a growing online school that has programs in real estate, appraisal, home inspection, and insurance. They have had a presence in the education industry for over 40 years and offer programs in all 50 US states. They have enrolled over 500,000 students in both the classroom and online courses.

Hondros College used to develop the courses and offer them through a secondary provider. However, they have been taking the initiative to work more directly with students. What this means is they can offer these same courses at a lower cost to the student. In fact, they have one of the cheapest programs in the market.

To satisfy the Washington state education requirements, you will need to enroll in their 75-hour National Trainee Package. You are given up to 6 months from the time of enrollment to complete the program. This format of the content is text-based, so it is just like reading a book on the website. You can move at your own pace and access your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The DOL requires seat-time on these courses, so you will have to be online for all 75 hours.

If you need any help while you are taking the course, Hondros College does have support to help you with any IT issues or account management. However, if you have questions about the course content, their instructor support is limited to email only. They will respond back to you within the next business day.

What really impressed me with Hondros College was their exam prep called CompuCram. It boasts an 86.5% pass rate for first-time test-takers. That is significantly higher than the national average pass rate of 67%. It gives students access to online flashcards, fill-in-the-blanks, and matching tools to test their knowledge and learn. There is an “overall readiness” indicator that tracks your progress and lets you know when you are ready to take the actual exam. CompuCram is also mobile-friendly, so you can take a couple of practice test questions the next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

Hondros College has been investing a lot in improving their programs recently and it shows. It would be nicer if they provided more robust options in terms of instructor support. However, with an industry-best 86.5% pass rate on the state exams and the lowest prices on the market, Hondros College has made their online appraisal program hard to pass up.

Learn more at www.hondros.com

2. McKissock Learning

Packages start at $899.99

McKissock Learning is the largest appraisal school in the country. Since 1990, they have helped over2 million people in the real estate industry satisfy their pre-license and continuing education courses. They have classrooms, live webinars, and online courses. However, all qualifying education is only available in the online format.  

McKissock Learning’s Washington appraisal qualifying education courses have earned an average rating of 4.22 out of 5 stars, based off 607 customer surveys. If you are not 100% convinced on their courses, there is a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you do not like what you are seeing, you can get all of your money back within 7 days of signing up.

McKissock Learning offers 3 flexible ways of getting started:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is a new program that they began offering. This program is actually an amazing deal because it includes all of the online qualifying education (up to Certified General). Plus, it includes access to video tutorials, monthly webinars, appraisal community, and partner discounts. This is an annual subscription, so you will automatically get charged every year. However, you should be able to finish the courses within a year, so you can just cancel the subscription before it renews again.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Get Started Package – This package consists of the required 4 online appraisal courses to get licensed in Washington. The courses are text-based, and you are given one year to complete the program. There is an interest-free payment plan available for up to 4 months with this package.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Advanced Pro Package – This package includes everything in the Get Started package plus instructor support and hardcopy books. You will be able to talk to certified appraisal instructors directly during weekly Q&A sessions if you need any help on the courses. If you want to study with the books, you should be aware that they do not get shipped out until after you have already completed the courses. The DOL requires that you log time in the courses so the books can only be used outside of the program.

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning is the leader in appraisal education. They are constantly innovating to make their courses more engaging. They offer the most variety in terms of payment and package options for obtaining a Washington appraiser license. You will have to spend more money on the McKissock Learning programs. However, all of the bonus content and features that come with their new QE Unlimited Subscription program will easily pay dividends.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

3. Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

75-hour package $1,040

The Appraisal Institute (AI) has been around for over 70 years. It is a trade association made up of over 18,000 real estate appraisers and close to 100 chapters from around the world. If you want to join the Appraisal Institute, there are different membership levels, such as the MAI, SRPA, and SRA designations. All members have to pay an annual membership fee as well as meet certain continuing education requirements.

There are a lot of benefits to becoming an AI member. You get access to a prestigious network of appraisers, discounts on appraisal courses, and more opportunity in the commercial sector. In fact, some financial institutions, courts, and corporations will only send work to MAIs or SRAs.

Appraisers have to undergo a rigorous process to become a designated AI member. They will have to take an additional set of courses and exams, not to mention that a bachelor’s degree is required. It is not surprising that only about 15% of real estate appraisers achieve this designation.   

If you are not a member, you can still take any of their courses. You just have to pay extra.

The Appraisal Institute does offer a few pre-license courses in a classroom. However, there is limited availability and only offered in a few select locations. You will still need to take some courses online to satisfy all of Washington state’s education requirements.

The online courses follow a pretty strict regimen. You are given 30 days to complete any online course that is 15 hours or less, and 45 days to complete any course that is over 15 hours long. All final exams have to be administered at a Pearson Vue testing center, which costs an additional fee per exam. If you want to cancel the courses, there is a minimum cancellation fee of $60. If you have already completed more than 25% of any course, then you will not be eligible for a refund.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

The Appraisal Institute sets a high bar in every category. Their courses demand more from you, cost more expensive, and give you less time to complete the courses than at other schools. However, if you want to be a commercial appraiser and are thinking long-term, having courses from the Appraisal Institute on your resume will look very good. This will make you stand out from every other candidate and open more doors for you in your appraisal career.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org

Review of the Top 3 Appraisal Schools in Texas

If you are thinking about becoming a real estate appraiser in Texas, the first step is to find a school that has been accredited by the Texas Appraiser Licensing & Certification Board (TALCB). TALCB is the state’s appraisal board that regulates all things appraisal in Texas. They set the education requirements and establish all the rules that a licensed appraiser must follow.

Becoming an appraiser is a serious, life-changing decision. It is important to find the right school that fits your learning style. After researching the different appraisal programs in Texas, I have come up with the top three schools for obtaining your Texas appraiser’s license.

Hondros College

Hondros College | Appraiser License

75-Hour package starts at $799

Hondros College is a national online real estate school. They have been at it for over 40 years and have courses in every US state. They have made considerable upgrades to their online programs recently. They used to offer their appraisal program through other schools only, even though they were the ones developing the courses. However, Hondros College has made a substantial investment in cutting out the middleman and become a direct education provider. I feel they are one of the rising stars in the appraisal industry now.

Hondros College offers a single 75-hour National Trainee package to satisfy the state education requirements. You have up to 6 months to finish the courses. This is a self-paced, online program, so this should be plenty of time. The text-based courses are just like reading an online book. Since TALCB requires seat-time on all appraisal pre-licensing courses, you will have to spend those 75 hours in the course online.

If you have questions on your enrollment, they do provide IT and customer support. They are available by phone or email during their regular business hours from 9:00 AM to 7 PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. They are also available on Saturdays from 10 AM to 3 PM Eastern Time. If you have a question for the instructor, you can email them your question, and they will typically try to respond to you within 24 hours.

What I really liked about Hondros College, besides the low price, is that you can get all of the courses as well as study materials for the state exam. Their exam prep is called CompuCram, which boasts an 86.5% pass rate for first-time test-takers. That is significantly higher than the national average pass rate of 67%.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

Hondros College packs a powerful punch with their online appraisal courses. They have the lowest prices in the industry without compromising on quality.  They do not add any bells or whistles to the program and keep it simple. The instructor support is quite limited, so you will have to be self-motivated and be able to learn independently to succeed with this program.

Learn more at www.hondros.com

McKissock Learning

Packages start at $899.95

McKissock Learning is the leading appraisal school in the country, offering the widest selection of topics and formats available. They started off as a small appraisal school and have grown into a large education provider with courses across multiple industries. Their programs span all 50 states, including Washington, DC and the US Virgin Islands.

McKissock Learning’s Texas appraisal qualifying education courses have earned an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. This is based on 1,317 customer reviews that they surveyed themselves, so you have to take this with a grain of salt. However, they are the only school in the appraisal industry that backs up their courses with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not happy with the program for any reason within the first 7 days of enrolling, you can get a full refund back without any hassle.

McKissock Learning offers 3 flexible ways of getting started:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is a new program that they began offering. This program is actually an amazing deal because it includes all of the online qualifying education (up to Certified General). Plus, McKissock Learning gives you access to video tutorials, monthly webinars, appraisal community, and partner discounts. This is an annual subscription, so you will automatically get charged every year. However, you should be able to finish the courses within a year, so you can just cancel the subscription before it renews again.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Get Started Package – This package consists of the required 4 online appraisal courses to get licensed in Texas. This includes the Basic Appraisal Principles, Basic Appraisal Procedures, Supervisor-Trainee course, and the 15-hour National USPAP Update course. You are given one year to complete the program. There is an interest-free payment plan available for up to 4 months with the package.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Advanced Pro Package – This package includes everything in the Get Started package plus instructor support and hardcopy books. You will be able to talk to certified appraisal instructors directly during weekly Q&A sessions if you need any help on the courses. If you want to study with the books, you should be aware that McKissock Learning does not ship them out until after you have already completed the courses. TALCB requires that you log time in the courses so the books can only be used for future reference.

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning is the consummate school founded by appraisers, for appraisers. They have a robust offering of packages and payment options. They are a little on the high end for pricing. However, if you are serious about a long-term career as an appraiser, you will not be able to find a better deal than with the new QE Unlimited Subscription.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

75-Hour package starts at $1,040

The Appraisal Institute (AI) is a global association of real estate appraisers with about 20,000 members from over 95 chapters around the world. As a member, you get access to advocacy programs and a very close network of like-minded appraiser professionals. With additional coursework and examinations, you can set yourself apart as an appraiser by becoming certified as an MAI, SRPA, or SRA.

Some lenders, courts, and government agencies seek, and may even require, an appraiser to hold one of those designations. The reason is they want to be assured that they will be getting high-quality work. MAI, SRPA, and SRA’s have to go through a rigorous process to achieve that designation, including being required to have a bachelor’s degree in college. Less than 20 percent of all appraisers are designated Appraisal Institute members.

You do not have to be a member to attend any of their courses. However, members do receive a discount on all courses. If you are considering becoming a member, you have to pay an annual fee plus satisfy their own continuing education requirements.

The Appraisal Institute offers live classes for appraisal pre-licensing, but they do not have all of the required courses, and there are limited availability and locations. So, regardless, you will need to take some online courses to satisfy all 154 total hours of appraisal education.  

The format of the courses is strict. You are given 30 days to complete any online course that is 15 hours or less, and 45 days to complete any course that is over 15 hours long.  All final exams have to be administered at a Pearson Vue testing center. If you change your mind and want to cancel, you are hit with a minimum cancellation fee of $60. If you have completed over 25% of the course, then you are not eligible for any refund.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

The commitment to professionalism is why the Appraisal Institute is still widely-respected within the appraisal community throughout its 70-year history. However, they are the most expensive option with the strictest standards. Most appraisers will not really gain any benefit by becoming a member. Nonetheless, if you are planning to build a long-term career in appraisal, especially in the commercial sector, taking courses from the Appraisal Institute will definitely open up more opportunities.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org

McKissock Review – Appraisal Renewal Membership

In this review, we will take a look at McKissock’s Unlimited Learning Membership Premium (ULMP) program, and evaluate its pros and cons to see if you should use it to meet your continuing education requirements.

What is it?

The ULMP program is a 2 year program that gives you unlimited access to all of their continuing education courses during your membership term.

There are other “goodies” such as Pro-Series webinars, short video tutorials on specialized topics, additional state certificates, content library, appraisal community forum, and partner discounts.

How much does it cost?

There is an annual payment option of $399 per year, but keep in mind, that you will have to pay another $399 the following year, since there is a 2 year commitment.

There is also an option that allows you to pre-pay for both years upfront for $774.99. This will save you about $25 compared to the annual payment option.

Something worth noting is that both options will auto-renew your membership. If you plan on continuing the membership, then this is not an issue. However, if you only plan on using it for a single term, you may want to mark down your calendar.

What's the cancellation policy?

They do allow you to cancel at any time. However, you will have to pay the regular retail price for any course that you have completed, so they will deduct this from any refund that you get. Also, it probably goes without saying that your account will be closed and you will lose your progress on any unfinished courses.  

What I like about it

Price: If you time it right, this program will save you hundreds of dollars on continuing education by spreading the 2-year ULMP term over multiple license cycles.

If you’re in California, you can get up to 98 hours of CE with this program to fulfill your CE requirements if you sign up in the 4th year of your license cycle. For other states that require 28 hours of CE on a 2-year cycle, you can fit up to 56 hours of CE if you sign up during the 2nd year of your license cycle.

The Courses: I don’t know of any other education provider that has a bigger selection of appraisal courses. You are bound to find one that actually covers an interesting topic. You also get access to all 3 formats: online, live webinar, and live classroom.

I personally prefer to take the live webinars because you don’t have to take any quizzes. You just sit there and watch them from your home or office. They email you your certificate when the webinar ends. Also, they have new webinars and topics every week, making it convenient to find a time that works with your schedule.

The live classroom courses are nice if you want to mingle with other appraisers. There are no quizzes in those courses either. However, there is limited availability and course offerings, so it really depends on your location and if you can make the commute. 

The CE Tracker: This feature will count up and track the hours of continuing education that you’ve completed for you, so you don’t have to do the math. It also tracks any mandatory courses like the National USPAP Update course and state-specific requirements. They also give you some additional license renewal information if you need a refresher on your state’s requirements. 

If you’re licensed in multiple states, you will LOVE this feature, because you can easily check your CE progress for each state by simply clicking on the state under the  “License Type” drop-down list.

What I don't like about it

The interface: Navigating around in there is not terribly bad, but there’s definitely room for improvement. If you want to take another course, you have to get re-directed back out to the main website, and then you have to add that course to the shopping cart to complete the “check out” process. It would be much easier if you could just add courses from right inside of your account. Also, I’d want the CE Tracker to be clearly visible at all times on the portal (since that’s the #1 reason why appraisers are using this). That way, I know how many hours I have left remaining, instead of having to click through another tab to see it.

Other features don’t add much value. The Community is a section that was intended to be a discussion forum for appraisers to ask questions and interact with each other. The activity in there is pretty much non-existent. You have better luck joining a Facebook group. The selection of partner discounts is also very limited. I don’t think most appraisers would benefit from using any of the services listed in there.

Can’t turn off auto-renew: There is no way to disable or turn-off the auto- payment renewal for your account online. This means that if you want to cancel after your second year is up, you have to call their customer service to make the request. Also, if you are on the annual payment option, you have to wait until the second payment is made in the 2nd year before they will do it.  

The Verdict

Is it worth it to sign up for the ULMP program? Absolutely. In fact, in my honest opinion, this is a no-brainer for any real estate appraiser to become a member.

Since it’s on a 2-year term, it covers multiple renewal cycles, which saves you the most money compared to any other appraisal school in the long run. You get access to any format that suits your personal taste: live webinars, live classroom, and online courses. You get access to the largest selection of appraisal topics offered by any single education provider. You get certificates for any states that you are licensed in. The main drawbacks of the membership are pretty minor and aren’t really important for most appraisers anyway. However, this program won’t be for you if you only want to take live courses and they aren’t offering any in your area. Or, you need to take certain courses that will give you credit for your Appraisal Institute designations. At the end of the day, this provides a lot of value for real estate appraisers on multiple levels.

I haven’t seen anything out there that comes close to what this program has to offer. If you disagree or found an even better program, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Review of the Top 3 Appraisal Schools in California

Becoming an appraiser in California is a serious commitment. It requires a lot of time and money to meet all of the state requirements, so when you take the first step to satisfy the pre-licensing education requirements, it is important to find a reputable school.

After conducting extensive research, it became clear that there wasn’t one perfect school for everyone because everyone has different needs. So, here are the top 3 schools that I have compiled for obtaining an appraiser’s license in California.  

McKissock Learning

Packages start at $1,299

McKissock Learning started off as a small school back in 1991. Since then, it has grown into the leading appraisal school in the country, having served hundreds of thousands of appraisers over the years. They have pre-licensing and continuing education programs in all 50 states as well as Washington, DC, and the US Virgin Islands.

Their courses have a 4.4 out of 5 star rating based on over a million self-reported reviews. They are committed to providing the ultimate learning experience by backing every purchase with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not satisfied for any reason, you can request a full refund within 7 days for any course that has not been completed yet.

McKissock Learning gives you three convenient ways to satisfy the California requirement for appraisal education:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is a fairly new program that they began offering. This program is actually an amazing deal because it includes all of the online qualifying education (up to Certified General). Plus, it includes access to video tutorials, monthly webinars, appraisal community, and partner discounts. This is an annual subscription, so you will automatically get charged every year. However, you should be able to finish the courses within a year, so you can just cancel the subscription before it renews again.

158-hour Trainee (TR) & Licensed (L) Get Started Package – This package consists of the 8 online courses required to become licensed. The courses are only available in a text-based format, so it will be just like reading a book on the website. There is no mobile app currently available. There is an interest-free payment plan option available with this package for up to 4 months.

158-hour Trainee (TR) & Licensed (L) Advanced Pro Package – This package gives you everything in the Get Started package plus you get the hardcopy books and instructor support. However, due to state restrictions, they will only send the books out to you after you have completed all of the hours online. In other words, you cannot use the books to help you study as you are taking the course. 

Once you enroll in the online program, you have 1 year to complete the courses.

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning offers people the best overall program at a decent price. Their courses are modern-looking and flexible enough to work with anyone’s schedule. There are various package and payment options available. The new QE Unlimited Subscription program gives you an unbeatable deal that will be the best choice for most people.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

OnCourse Learning

OnCourse Learning Real Estate School

150 Hour Package Price: $1,199

OnCourse Learning is a fast-growing online appraisal school. With over 40 years of experience, they offer real estate and appraisal programs in all 50 states. They were previously known as Career WebSchool, and their courses used to be pretty dull and boring. However, their online programs recently had a major makeover and re-branding. The courses are fresh and engaging now. Some parts of the courses even incorporate video clips.

Once you enroll in an OnCourse Learning package, you are given 6 months to complete the program. The format of the courses is text-based, which is the industry standard. The California Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers (BREA) requires seat-time, so you will have to spend time logged into the website.

The support options are limited at OnCourse Learning. If you have an IT or customer support issue, you can call or email them during regular business hours from 8:30 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday. However, if you have a question pertaining to the content of the course, there is no direct phone support. You have to email the instructor your question and wait until you hear back.

Something worth keeping in mind is that their California 150-hour Trainee & Licensing Package includes all of the courses you will need to obtain a Trainee License in California. However, there are two additional courses you need to take before acquiring your Trainee hours. You will eventually need the 4-hour California Laws and Regulations course and the 4-hour Trainee/Supervisor course. OnCourse Learning does not provide these two mandatory courses at the moment, so you will have to get them from somewhere else.

The main appeal of OnCourse Learning is its price. Appraisal courses are expensive, and they offer the lowest prices in the industry, saving you hundreds of dollars while still delivering a quality product. Even with the two additional courses you will need to get later, this will still be a cheaper route.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

OnCourse Learning delivers a solid appraisal program for someone who is on a budget and prefers to learn independently. They keep the program simple and easy to use. The courses do not come with a lot of extra features or content, and the instructor support is limited to email. However, if you are looking to become a California appraiser without breaking the bank, this will be a great option for you.

Learn more at www.oncourselearning.com

Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

150 Hr Package Price: $2,260

The Appraisal Institute (AI) is a global association of real estate appraisers with about 20,000 members from over 95 chapters around the world. AI members benefit from an array of professional education and advocacy programs and allow you to obtain the prestigious MAI, SRPA, and SRA designations.

Anyone can attend their courses, although members do receive a discounted rate. However, to become a member, you have to pay an annual fee plus meet their continuing education requirements, which, in effect, negates any real discounts on the courses. Not to mention that they already have the most expensive courses on the market.

The Appraisal Institute offers both live classroom and online courses for appraisal pre-licensing. However, the live classes are only in limited locations, and they do not have all of the required courses in a classroom, so you will have to take some online courses to fulfill the 158-hour requirement.

The curriculum is rigorous. You are given 30 days to complete any online course that is 15 hours or less, and 45 days to complete any course that is over 15 hours long.  All final exams have to be administered at a Pearson Vue testing center. If you change your mind and want to cancel, you are hit with a minimum cancellation fee of $60. If you have completed over 25% of the course, then you are not eligible for any refund.

There are a few quirky things about the program at the Appraisal Institute. When you sign up online, you may have to wait up to an hour for the course to load into your account. Shouldn’t this be instantaneous? Also, if you need an extension, you have to pay a $30 fee, and you only get 16 more days to finish the course.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

Appraisal Institute courses are generally viewed as more prestigious. However, they are the most expensive and have the most stringent requirements. Most appraisers, especially those who only appraise residential property, will not gain additional benefit from this program. I would only recommend this for people who want to become a commercial appraiser and plan on earning an MAI or SRA designation in the future.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org