How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser

Real estate appraising is the best job in the world. You’ll hear that from not only appraisers but those wanting to become an appraiser. Appraising utilizes your personal skills, math skills as well as your detective skills into a career where most appraisers are their own bosses. It can also give you free time to spend with the family by letting you set your own hours. But how to get started ? Here’s how.


1. First, check with your state’s licensing board to see how you can obtain a ‘trainee’ license (see below for a link to your state’s licensing board.) Find out the list of classes you must take to get to this first step. Then find where local or on-line schools are that give classes for your trainee license. It is possible to begin getting appraisal experience before getting a license in some states; California is one of them.

2. Next, work towards obtain your trainee license. This is usually done by taking classes and passing a test, and/or having some experience in appraisal work. (Each state has their own criteria in obtaining this license – check with them).

3. After getting your trainee license, find an appraiser who can be your mentor. You’ll need a ‘supervising’ appraiser to teach you the tricks of the trade and to help you with your experience hours that you’ll need to complete. You may need two or more ‘supervising’ appraisers to help you on your journey. Work with a supervising appraiser who lives near you, as you’ll have to spend time with this person in actual ‘hands on’ experience. Finding a supervising appraiser to help you will be the toughest part of the job, but it will be worth it. You’ll need a supervisor though to sign all of your work as a trainee. You can also find a supervising appraiser before getting your trainee license, like a friend or relative who is already a working appraiser.

4. Get a trainee job at a real estate appraiser’s office. This is one of the best ways to see if you really like appraising and to find out what appraising is all about.

5. Get a trainee position at a bank. Banks and savings and loans of all sizes hire trainee appraisers who have obtained their trainee licenses right off the street. It’s a great way to get paid and get an education at the same time.

6. Network. Do what you can to work with or for other older and experienced appraisers in your area. Give them an incentive to hire you.

7. Find a loan broker you can work with to obtain work. Since most of our work is for a bank loan, find the people giving the loans and talk to them. A good relationship with a loan broker will go a long way.

8. As a trainee, your pay will be minimal until you obtain your normal license. It may take many months, but hang in there !

9. Get your real estate sales license even if you do not intend to work in sales. Your sales license may be needed to obtain MLS data for your appraisers, and it can’t hurt.

Become A Certified Residential Appraiser

All individuals seeking to become a Certified Residential Appraiser must successfully complete a minimum of 200 AQB approved hours of education, obtain 2,500 experience hours and pass an examination administered by the jurisdiction awarding the credential.

  • Note: some states do not accept distance education for qualifying education credit.

Become A Certified General Appraiser

All individuals seeking to become a Certified General Appraiser must successfully complete a minimum of 300 AQB approved hours of education, obtain 3,000 experience hours and pass an examination administered by the jurisdiction awarding the credential.


  • Prepare to work for little or no money for a while. Having your trainee license only gives you the right to obtain your normal license, which may take a while.
  • Have money to support yourself while you have your trainee license.
  • Having a second job is a good idea. Many trainee appraisers (and sometimes even experienced appraisers) may have to take a second job to make ends meet in the lean times.
  • Don’t quit. Work everyday on getting your regular license. If your supervising appraiser doesn’t give you any work, find another supervising appraiser.

Comp Checks

After you become a Real Estate Appraiser, you should try to not give into providing “comp checks”. This may not make everyone happy, but there are reasons for this.

  • One reason should be the most obvious: Appraisers do not work for free and are not commission-based.
  • The second reason is that comp checks are so heavily abused that loan officers will call a list of appraisers, get the highest comp check, and order the appraisal from that appraiser, even though the loan officer knows that the home is not worth the higher amount. To put it simply, this is considered as mortgage fraud.
  • The third reason is that most loan officers will not order an appraisal unless they know that the appraisal will hit the value they need to close the loan. Ordering a comp check is another way for them to see if it will hit the value needed. According to appraisal standards, appraisers are restricted from performing valuation services with an agreement for a predetermined outcome (needed value). In most cases an appraiser knows that if the comp check comes within the range that is needed for the loan officer to close the loan, then an appraisal will be ordered. This adds pressure to the process from the very beginning, which is bad. Appraisers are supposed to be unbiased. That is, after all, their job. If the comp check is not within a range, typically a loan officer will not order the appraisal. So what were to happen if an appraiser accepted an order if the comp check came within range? Well, most comp checks come with the assumption (on the part of the loan officer) that it will make value, no matter what. This assumption is usually placed on the order form, and by accepting an assignment as such is breaking appraisal standards and appraisers will not do so under any circumstance.
  • The fourth reason is that giving any type of value (even a range of values) is considered an appraisal. This means that the comp check would have to meet all the appraisal standards required. Meeting those standards requires a considerable amount of extra work that is not typically exercised by the typical appraiser who performs comp checks.

Appraisal Schools

  • Distance Learning VS. Classroom
  • There is a debate on whether distance learning or the more traditional classroom setting is more advantageous. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. In the end, it all comes down to the individual’s needs and learning styles.
  • Distance learning is generally cheaper, quicker, and much more flexible. Classes are taken either online or correspondence through standard postal mail. The major problem with distance learning is that there is no teacher to talk with, little real world experience, nor much guidance. Having a mentor can really put everything that has been learned into focus during distance learning and is highly suggested.
  • The more traditional classroom is better for some people. Greater oversight, conversation with real people, and developing relationships with fellow students can make up for additional time and fees associated with classroom learning. Although more costly and rigid, classroom learning, for some, is the preferred learning environment.
  • If you decide that a more hands-on classroom approach is best for you, your state board has a list of approved classes in your area. If online schooling is preferred, use your favorite search engine for ‘appraisal education’.


  • Like working in real estate sales, the entire real estate market in many markets may be ‘feast or famine’. Appraisers make great money in the good times but may not make much in the lean times. However, even in slower sales markets, appraisals are necessary for refinancing.
  • As an inexperienced appraiser, you may be intimidated by mortgage brokers or banks who may want you to appraise a property for more than its worth, but as you develop good clients this scenario is less likely.



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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2012 at 3:36 pm and is filed under Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.