I haven’t seen any reports on the number of appraisers in the United States lately, so I downloaded the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) National Registry of appraisers onto an Excel sheet. When I removed the “inactive list,” I was left with 93,474 total active appraiser credentials. As we know, more and more appraisers hold certifications in multiple states. I’m no data scientist, but when I did a count of unique first and last names, that left me with 67,139 appraisers as of August 2020. I’m sure the real number is a bit higher due to the number of folks that happen to share the same name. Consider this, though: in 2018, the Appraisal Institute reported that the number of actual appraisers was 78,015. Somehow, I don’t think that over 10,000 of us share names with another active real estate appraiser. More likely, the number of appraisers continues to decrease annually, as it has for a while now.
The knowledge that there are fewer active real estate appraisers in the United States isn’t new. Per the Appraisal Institute’s U.S. Valuation Profession Fact Sheet from Q1 2019, the number of appraisers dropped from 87,130 in 2014 to 78,015 in 2018. That is a drop of over 4,000 appraisers between 2017 and 2018 alone. This same report also clearly shows that the appraiser profession overwhelmingly lacks diversity in age, gender, and ethnicity. This report, along with others, spurred Fannie Mae to work with the National Urban League, and later, the Appraisal Institute, to create the Appraiser Diversity Pipeline Initiative (ADPI).
I’ve shared before that ADPI has focused on hosting community events at local Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers to provide in-depth information about what appraisers do, what the career path looks like, and how to become an appraiser. This year, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to travel, but my research above indicates that the need for new trainees is more important than ever. The questions are: how do we share information, and how do we accomplish the next step of guiding these potential trainees to become successful, trusted real estate appraisers?
For ADPI, we are going virtual. We are planning events in the coming months with the local Urban League chapters to provide panels of local appraisers that can answer prospective appraisers’ questions with “geographic competency,” so to speak. Other organizations are also working on sharing information about the appraisal profession. Jessica Brown, one of our first ADPI scholarship winners and an appraiser trainee, recently told me, “I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to figure out how I can do my part.” She joined the Appraisal Foundation’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which will work with the Appraiser Qualification Board (AQB) to start “an outreach program to Historically Black Colleges and Universities to invite them to apply for AQB’s Real Estate Degree Review Program.” Jessica hopes this and other outreach programs will attract diverse entrants to the appraisal profession.
Of course, sharing information is just the first step. Future appraisers need coaches and mentors to guide them on their journey. In this light, ADPI has hosted online meetings with our scholarship winners to answer questions and give them the opportunity to chat with their peers. I like to keep in touch with our scholarship winners regularly to monitor their progress and provide encouragement. These conversations go both ways, and I’m extremely encouraged by their progress.
Bri Bridges, for example, attended one of our ADPI workshops in Chicago last year looking for something new. Hers was one of the scholarship-winning essays from those who expressed interest in a career in the appraisal profession. She completes her qualifying education in her spare time and says, “I’m learning that appraisal is not for the faint at heart or those afraid to stand firm in the knowledge they’ve obtained.” She will be looking for a mentor later this year and told me, “I’m looking forward to making my mark in the appraisal industry.”
Marcus Knight, another from Chicago and also beginning his transition into an appraisal career, worked in the non-profit sector in Chicago communities for the past ten years. He had increasing responsibilities in that work but came to the ADPI workshop looking for something new. He says, “As someone transitioning from the non-profit world, I searched for a career that not only fulfilled my needs but also fulfilled a purpose greater than myself. I never would have thought appraisal practice would be the answer, but I’m convinced it is my calling.” Marcus is actively looking for a supervisor to work with to begin logging his field hours.
Lauren Forte, an ADPI scholarship winner in New Orleans, recently finished her qualifying education and is actively looking for a supervisor. Lauren’s background is in claims adjustment, and she has a passion for home design and architecture. She says, “I personally value honesty and doing things by the book. Nothing worth having comes easy, so I am prepared to put in the work.” She’s ready to apply the knowledge she’s gained and become more hands-on.
When talking with new and prospective appraisers like these, we guide them to resources like local appraiser organizations. Appraisers might not always have the same opinions—of value or otherwise—but they help each other by sharing their successes and failures. Several appraiser group websites now have designated mentorship pages where appraisers can sign up to receive messages from aspiring appraisers. I hope this turns into a supervisor/trainee opportunity to bring new appraisers into the ASC National Registry, but even offering advice and guidance along the way is helpful.
I encourage appraisers to join ADPI and others in sharing information about the appraisal profession and guiding new and prospective appraisers. Join a diversity committee like Jessica. Take on trainees that are ready to work, like Bri, Marcus, and Lauren. If you are unable to take that step, share resources, information, and guidance with new entrants to the appraiser profession. Scroll back up to the numbers at the beginning of this article if you need motivation to get started. The appraisal profession will be stronger in the future with the benefits of your guidance and expertise today.
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