Working Towards Retirement? For What?

I stood in their yard in the unusual spring warmth and enjoyed visiting with my elderly neighbors.  While my 4-year old tugged on my arm and repeated the mantra, “Dad, when are we going to go home?” I just kept talking.  “How have you guys been feeling lately?”  Their answer was upbeat, but there was something in their body language that told me they were not being completely truthful.  As I prodded a bit, they finally gave me the truth.  I will spare you the details, but the list of physical ailments plaguing them both was disheartening. 

I had driven past boats, an RV, ATVs, snowmobiles, and other toys to get to their front door.  All of these sat idle on this gorgeous spring afternoon because the owners were too frail to enjoy any of them.  As I listened to the various health challenges my friends and neighbors were experiencing, I finally blurted out (in good humor, or course), “So, is this what we work our whole lives for?  We finally retire just in time to experience ill health?”  It was meant in good humor, and we all had a good chuckle, but I have been unable to get the irony out of my head since.

What are your retirement goals?  What is your optimum retirement age?  55?  60? 65?  Later?  Why?  Is it possible that we often choose our retirement age and plans because ‘that is just what everyone else does?’  Maybe it is time to think outside the box. 

Most people do not think they can retire early.  Appraisers often fall into this category.  Blame the economy.  Blame the AMCs.  Blame low fees.  Blame.  Blame.  Blame. 

Finally, if you love what you do (and we all should), why retire at all?  Well, gotta get to ‘work.’

Now, go create some value!


Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach ( where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth.  He is also the Founder and President of Your Appraisal Office ( which implements some of the systems he has developed to help lower costs and free up time for real estate business owners.   He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.


13 thoughts on “Working Towards Retirement? For What?”

  1. Bill MacMurchy

    Maybe they didn’t want to retire, but were forced into it vis-a-vis health issues and/or Lender/AMC age discrimination? Mr. Appraiser, you are going to get old soon and upset about your reality. Save your money and exercise now, for the time will go by quick since you are working your free time to death.

  2. Dustin, as of February I was 72 and as of July this year I will complete my 50th year as an appraisser. Still working just turned down three more assignments because I am too busy to accept more work. I work because I want to…. so go create some value.

  3. Perhaps the goal is obtaining financial security, so we don’t have to keep appraising into our 70’s. I’d like to keep working and I enjoy appraising, but I’d love to have that secure feeling of having the house paid off and some money stashed away to enjoy life a little and perhaps do some traveling. Right now, things are going at a record pace and I’m turning down a lot of orders, just because I can’t get to them fast enough. I’m stashing some of it into my daughter’s college fund and will try and pay off the house early. We should be smart with the extra $ coming in right now, because interest rates will rise eventually and things will slow down. A flood of reverse mortgage orders came in this week and I’ve been told that this is due to an upcoming increase for reverse mortgage rates next month.

  4. Lesa:

    Good points and I think you are heading in the right direction. Though I hear what you are saying, I still think it is best to find a job that we love doing and can do forever. Why quit (retire) if we love what we do? It would be nice, however, to do it because we WANT to and not because we HAVE to. 🙂

  5. I know several appraisers in their 70’s still appraising and hope I can do that as well. It’s a fun job, but would be nice to do it for fun and not because you have to. I do appraisals and reviews for a small bank, so best of both worlds I guess.

  6. I do not plan on retiring. I am 50 years old. Have a 6 year old. I will hold on to my license at least long enough to try and pass it on to my kid..I was asked by a borrower if I would recommend this occupation for his 23year undecided kid. I told him about the fees (past/present). I told him I would answer his question after I finished the inspection. After the inspection I emphatically said yes! I explained to him that most of the appraiser’s are over 50 years old! That his services would be in great demand in the future!!! (shortage of appraisers in the near future). Yes, I have been doing this for over 20 years, and with all of the changes and challenges, I still love this job..

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