How to Become an Appraiser or Assessor of Real Estate
Assessors and appraisers tend to take the same courses for certification.
The requirements to become a fully qualified appraiser or assessor of real estate are complex and vary by state and, sometimes, by the value or type of property. Currently, most appraisers of residential real property must have at least an associate's degree to obtain the entry-level state license category. Appraisers of more complex residential and commercial real property must have at least a bachelor's degree to obtain licensure. In some localities, appraisers may qualify with a high school diploma. Employers generally require these candidates to take basic appraisal courses, complete on-the-job training through an apprenticeship, and work enough hours to meet the requirements for appraisal licenses or certificates. Beginning January 1, 2015, all certified appraisers will be required to have a bachelor's degree prior to obtaining their appraisal license.
In addition, all assessors must be licensed or certified, but requirements vary by state. Check with your state's licensing board for specific requirements for both assessors and appraisers.
Although requirements vary by state, appraisers of residential real property usually must have at least an associate's degree, and appraisers of more complex residential or commercial property usually must have at least a bachelor's degree. In practice, however, most have a bachelor's degree.
Courses in subjects such as economics, finance, mathematics, computer science, English, and business or real estate law can be useful for prospective appraisers and assessors.
For assessors, most states set education and experience requirements that an assessor must meet in order to practice. A few states have no statewide requirements; instead, each locality sets the standards. In some localities, candidates may qualify with a high school diploma.
Employers generally require candidates to take basic appraisal courses, complete on-the-job training through long-term on-the-job training, and work enough hours to meet the requirements for licenses or certificates.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Federal law requires that most appraisers performing appraisals in federally related transactions (federally insured banks and financial institutions) have a state license or certification. There is no such federal requirement for assessors, although some states require certification.
Real property appraisers usually value one property at a time, while assessors value many at once, but both occupations use similar methods and techniques. As a result, assessors and appraisers tend to take the same courses for certification. In addition to passing a statewide examination, candidates must usually complete a set number of on-the-job hours.
The level of certification determines what type of property a person may appraise. The two federally required certifications are:
• Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser
• Certified General Real Property Appraiser
Being a Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser is the minimum requirement to appraise a residential property with a loan amount over $250,000 or any other type of property even if the loan amount is less than $250,000. Obtaining this certification requires:
• Associate’s degree or 21 units of continuing education (as of 2015, a bachelor’s degree)
• 200 hours of appraiser-specific classroom training
• 2,500 hours of work experience over at least 2 years
Being a Certified General Real Property Appraiser permits a person to appraise any property of any type and any value. Obtaining this certification requires:
• Bachelor’s degree or 30 units of specific college-level education
• 300 hours of appraiser-specific classroom training
• 3,000 hours of work experience over at least 2½ years
Most states offer a third certification: the Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser. With this certification, appraisers may appraise noncomplex one-to-four unit residences with a value of less than $1,000,000 and complex one-to-four unit residences with a value of less than $250,000. Obtaining this certification requires:
• 150 qualifying education hours (as of January 2015, 30 semester hours of college-level education)
• 2,000 hours of on-the-job training over at least 1 year
For all of these certifications, candidates must:
• Have 15 hours of classroom instruction on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice
• Pass an exam
In most states, candidates working toward licensure or certification as an appraiser are considered to be trainees. Training programs vary by state, but they usually require candidates to take at least 75 hours of specified appraiser education before applying for a job as a trainee.
Unlike appraisers, assessors have no federal requirement for certification. In states that mandate certification for assessors, the requirements are usually similar to those for appraisers. Some states also have more than one level of certification. For example, the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) offers the Certified Assessment Evaluator (CAE). This designation covers topics that include property valuation for tax purposes, property tax administration, and property tax policy. As of January 1, 2014, applicants are required to have a bachelor's degree prior to obtaining the designation.
For those states that do not require certification for assessors, the hiring office usually requires the candidate to take basic appraisal courses, complete on-the-job training, and work enough hours to meet the requirements for appraisal licenses or certificates. Many assessors also have a state appraisal license.
Assessors tend to start working in an assessor's office that provides on-the-job training; smaller municipalities are often unable to provide this work experience. An alternate source of experience for aspiring assessors is through a revaluation firm.
Both appraisers and assessors must take continuing education courses to keep the license or certification. Requirements vary by state.
Analytical skills. Appraisers and assessors of real estate use many sources of data when valuing a property. As a result, they must carefully research and analyze all data before estimating a value and producing a final written report.
Customer-service skills. Because appraisers must regularly interact with clients, being polite and friendly is important. In addition, these characteristics may help expand future business opportunities.
Math skills. Accurately analyzing real estate data, such as calculating square footage of land and building space, requires workers to have good math skills.
Organizational skills. To successfully accomplish all the tasks related to appraising and assessing a property, appraisers and assessors of real estate need good organizational skills.
Problem-solving skills. Appraisers and assessors of real estate may encounter unexpected problems when appraising or assessing a property's value. The ability to develop and apply an alternative solution is crucial to successfully completing the appraisal and report on time.
Time-management skills. Appraisers and assessors of real estate often work under time constraints, sometimes appraising many properties in a single day. As a result, managing time and meeting deadlines are important.