One of the most common questions I am asked as The Appraiser Coach is, “I want to become an appraiser. How do I find someone to train me?” It often comes from wanna-be appraisers who feel saddened and defeated by their perception of the current system. They want, more than anything, to become a real-estate appraiser but see the numerous hurdles to their goals as almost insurmountable.
As we are all painfully aware, the appraisal industry has undergone a great many changes in the last few years; increased education and training hours (in addition to other obstacles) have made getting from here to there a daunting task. Indeed, becoming an appraiser is a different animal than it was even a few years ago. However, that does not mean it is impossible to do. Far from it.
Those of you who know me, know that I am a glass-half-full kind of guy. There are a great number of nay-sayers out there in the appraisal world. I am not one of them. In fact, I frequently get hate mail from appraisers who think I am just “too optimistic.” Whatever. I am of the philosophy that man (or woman) can achieve any and all things they put their mind to. Napoleon Hill is one of my favorite dead mentors and, if you have read any of his books, you will find he was the eternal optimist.
Let me offer a few words of advice that I often give these aspiring appraisers. First, do not ever let anyone tell you that you cannot (or should not) do something. If I had listened to everyone who ever said I couldn’t, I would still be working the grill at McDonald’s.
Second, study the industry and decide if this is really something you want. It may not be everything you thought (or hoped) it would be. Caution Here: See notes above on the first point as many appraisers will try to talk you out of this as a career choice. Listen to what they have to say, but make your own conclusions.
Third, map out your plan to achieve your appraisal license. Be as detailed as possible with what, when, and how you will accomplish the smaller goals that lead to the ultimate prize; your appraisal license.
Fourth, consider taking a non-traditional route to your goal. Human beings often look at every box from the inside. If you cannot seem to find a mentor to help you achieve your goal, it is time to step outside the proverbial box. Here are a few ideas. Does your state allow reading appraisal reports to count toward your hours? What about working in a county assessor’s office for some of your experience? Can you hire your services out virtually (i.e. help with data gathering or type-ups for appraisers across the country, so there is no chance of you ‘becoming their competition’)? I am sure you can get creative and think of more on your own.
Finally (and most importantly), stop looking at your own desires in isolation of others.
The large majority of wanna-be appraisers come to me with some version of the same mantra: “I called every appraiser in my area and none of them want to train me.” Well, duh! Why would they? What is in it for them? In fact, there can be much in it for them but most experienced appraisers are not very creative in this sense. “Hey, I want to be an appraiser. Would you consider training me?” does not cut it. If you want someone to spend time, money, and effort on you, shouldn’t you first consider what value you can create for them in return? In the end, we are all self-interested creatures, and training someone out of charity is not typically a viable reason to take you on as an apprentice. You may consider offering to work for them for ‘free’ in return for their mentoring. I have even heard of trainees paying their trainers like you would pay for college tuition. How about an agreement to give back three years of service in their business once you have received your license in payment for their efforts? Most appraisers are concerned about you becoming their competition, so you would be wise to write up and sign a non-compete clause in the very beginning.
What other options can you think of to provide your potential mentor? Remember this as you are looking for a Certified Appraiser to train you; always be asking yourself, “What kind of value can I bring to my mentor? Why would they want to take me on?” In other words, you need to put yourself in their shoes and provide them with an offer they cannot refuse. (Side Note: Any prospective appraisers who want to work for me for free helping to gather data and do data entry can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would certainly consider any and all offers).
The bottom line is this; if you want to be an appraiser, you SHALL be an appraiser! So it isn’t as easy to get into the industry as it used to be. Big deal. Nothing worth achieving is ever easy. Set your goals, see yourself achieving them, take the first step, and you will eventually get to your destination. You may need to take a longer (or different) path than in the past, but you will get there.
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 (www.theappraisercoach.com) where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.