Appraisers, also known as real estate appraisers and assessors of real properties, estimate the values of real properties prior to a final sale. They specialize in commercial or residential property appraisals. Appraisers must be licensed and pass rigorous certification requirements. They are expected to exercise good judgment to provide an expert analysis to all parties involved in a property sale. Analytical, interpersonal, mathematical, project management and report writing skills are integral attributes of successful appraisers.
The main responsibility of an appraiser is to provide an unbiased, comprehensive and expert opinion about a specific market value of a real property. They appraise apartment dwellings, commercial office buildings, condominiums, farms, industrial properties, multifamily living residences, homes and shopping centers. Appraisers perform measurement calculations of square footage, analyze comparable property sales values and provide demographic information for each property. They communicate their findings orally and in written form to buyers, sellers, investors, creditors, leasing and real estate agents.
Education and Training
Future appraisers must meet minimum requirements in formal education, paid experience and state licensing requirements. They must have bachelor's degrees and pass a state licensing exam. Appraiser trainees need 75 hours of specialized coursework, and licensed residential real property appraisers require 150 hours of classroom training. Certified residential real property appraisers must have at least 200 hours of coursework, and certified general real property appraisers must have 300 hours of formal instruction. Trainee appraisers must be supervised by a senior level colleague. Licensed residential appraisers must have 2,000 hours of work experience gained in at least 12 months. Certified residential appraisers must have 2,500 hours of paid employment earned in at least two years. Certified general appraisers have the most stringent work experience requirements: 3,000 hours earned in at least 30 months.
Appraisers must earn two federally mandated certification credentials: the Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser and the Certified General Real Property Appraiser. The first credential is required to appraise any residential real property over $250,000 in value. Candidates must have an associate degree or 21 units of continuing education credits, 200 hours of formal appraisal training and 2,500 hours of paid work experience. The Certified General Real Property Appraiser certification enables appraisals of any type of property without limits on its market value. Aspiring appraisers must have a bachelor's degree or 30 continuing education units, 300 hours of classroom training and the same number of hours in paid appraisal employment.
Many U.S. states offer an additional certification credential: the Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser. This appraisal credential covers two types of residences, non-complex and complex, that contain between one and four units. The difference is that the non-complex component covers market values less than $1 million and the complex option pertains to real properties with a value less than $250,000. Aspiring candidates must have 150 hours of formal appraisal education classes and 2,000, or one year, of on-the-job training.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups appraisers and assessors of real estate in its salary compilations. Appraisers and assessors of real estate earned a mean hourly wage of $26.18 and an annual mean salary of $54,460 as of May 2011. The lowest 10 percent of appraisers earned $25,220 or less annually. The highest 10 percent of wage earners saw annual wages of $91,540 or more, according to the BLS. The activities related to the real estate industry had the highest mean salaries for appraisers and assessors of real estate in sectors with more than 1,410 workers: $27.14 per hour and $56,440 annually, according to the BLS.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the estimated number of new jobs for appraisers is projected to increase by 83,500, or 7 percent, from 2010 to 2020. This estimate is slower than average compared to the average 14 percent growth rate for all U.S. occupations. Future demand for appraisers will be reduced because of the use of mobile technologies that will enable them to evaluate more properties. The BLS reports that job opportunities will increase in real estate markets with more economic activity.