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 taking real estate appraisal courses in California.
Best suited for: the Value Shopper
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.
McKissock Learning offers both online and livestream formats for their appraisal courses. The online courses is simply online reading with quizzes at the end of each section. This is a great self-paced option, where you can study at any time and still get support through chat, phone or email if you need help. The livestream option is the best for interactive learning as you watch a live instructor teach the class over a Zoom webinar. There is limited availability in terms of scheduling with livestream courses, so you do need to make sure to check your own schedule first.
If you are just getting started with appraisal, the best deal you can get to get licensed is their Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription. This includes every online course you need to get the initial license plus higher license levels if you decided you want to knock those out early. There are a ton of extra goodies included with this, such as weekly Q&A sessions and career development resources.
The QE Unlimited Learning Subscription is a subscription, so you have to pay this annually. However, you should be able to complete all your courses within a year and just cancel the subscription before the renewal. Once you complete a course, the certificate is valid for up to 5 years.
Best suited for: Continuing Education
The CE Shop has been in the real estate industry for over ten years and is actually one of the biggest real estate schools in the country. They have recently started branching out into the appraisal industry and are now offering some appraisal courses through their award-winning online platform.
The CE Shop is still building out their appraisal program, so they do not have courses to get licensed at the moment. They do offer continuing education courses if you are an existing appraiser looking to renew your license.
The CE Shop currently offers the 7 hour USPAP course via live webinar format. This is broken into two separate 3.5 hour sessions (Part A and Part B). Although you do have to take them in sequential order, they have a variety of different time slots for each session, so this will give you the most flexibility to complete the course if you are unable to sit through the class for 7 straight hours.
For elective CE topics, the CE courses are presented in the standard online format, where you read through the course material online and answer test questions along the way. You can move at your own pace and study at any time.
Best suited for: Commercial Appraisers
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 150-hour requirement.
Appraisal Institute courses are generally viewed as more prestigious. However, they are the most expensive and have the most stringent requirements. For example, their 150-hour Licensed Residential online course package is $2,397! Most appraisers, especially those who only appraise residential property, will not gain meaningful benefit from this program. This program is great for people who want to become a commercial appraiser and plan on earning an MAI or SRA designation in the future.