The main hurdle to becoming a Real Estate Appraiser is finding an apprenticeship with a qualified mentor. The belief is that entry is dependent on who you know. Although this can be true, many trainees gain an apprenticeship without any prior relationship to a mentor. In full disclosure, my mentor is my spouse. Although I easily obtained an apprenticeship, my success was solely dependent on what I knew. Beyond the education and licensing requirements, there are essential traits an appraiser needs in order to be successful. These qualities will benefit both the trainee and supervisor during an apprenticeship.
I enjoy the logic and reasoning of the standards which guide the development of an appraisal. These basic appraisal principles worked for about two weeks until I was assigned my first complex assignment. The more I tried to make sense of the data, the less it made sense. I realized the initial neighborhood boundaries and search filters were not adequate for the assignment. I had to expand my initial search area and parameters and make an additional trip back to the field to observe the new comparable sales. I quickly learned appraising required me to be flexible. Whether it is arriving at the property only to discover the 980sf cottage is now a 1700sf traditional, the client cancelling an order minutes before you leave the office or returning to the field because the analysis required another comparable, an appraiser cannot afford to be rigid. Any appraiser trainee unable or unwilling to make changes will only make the job more difficult.
The appraisal process is an orderly method used in developing an opinion of value. From the first step of identifying the problem to the last step of communicating the assignment results, the appraiser considers all facts and determines their credibility. Sometimes in the course of this process, they may discover something appears to be factual, but is simply not true. This becomes most apparent during development of the sales comparison approach to value. While working on a relatively easy assignment, I discovered a paired sale indicating the market was willing to pay $8000 for an air conditioner. This did not make any sense given my understanding of the cost to install an air conditioner unit. A discussion with the agent resulted in disclosure of a $5000 concession paid by the seller for the buyer’s closing costs. Although verification of the data is a minimum standard required of appraisers, had I not been curious as to why the data was not making sense, I would have risked over appraising the property. Curiosity is one of the most beneficial traits for a successful appraiser trainee and appraiser.
The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) purpose is to promote and maintain a high level of public trust in appraisal practice. (TAF, 2018, p. 1). One aspect of my training was learning to answer questions without violation of confidentiality, deal with hostile homeowners and discreetly gather data, especially when it negatively impacted the analysis. I learned to observe various situations including hoarding, extreme deferred maintenance and cleanliness, drugs and illegal activity without reaction. I learned that what I say, what I do, and what I report matters. As Albert Einstein said, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” An appraiser is only as believable as their ethics.
If you are a trainee looking for a supervisor, don’t just expect to be trained. Instead, be someone that creates value for the appraiser. Present what you know, how you will apply your talents and traits as a benefit and take responsibility for your career. Ultimately, your success is dependent on flexibility in handling the challenges of appraising, curiosity and drive to learn more than the required minimum, and willingness to be ethical even when it is inconvenient.
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