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 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
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
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