If you’re starting your career as a real estate appraiser, what are you doing to build your reputation in appraisal? How can you make yourself known as someone others wish to do business with? Assuming you’re already a licensed appraiser, you’re ready to build your profile in your community and within the real estate and financial industries.
Once you’ve built your business, you’ll usually find that your career as an appraiser is pretty secure. There will always be a need for appraisers, regardless of market conditions. It’s not an industry that’s currently attracting new talent, so once you’re known, you’ll probably be in demand.
An appraiser often works in obscurity and doesn’t interact much with the public. It’s probably best to buck that tendency and build a general reputation. Many markets don’t have a lot of appraisers—so why lose business to competitors outside your community?
18 ways to build your reputation in appraisal
Here are some tips for raising your profile and growing your practice.
1. Get specialized licenses
A standard appraiser license will qualify you for most smaller jobs, but you’ll need advanced licenses to appraise high-end residential and commercial properties. (A residential appraiser license is required to appraise homes valued at more than $1 million. A general appraiser license is useful in markets where you’ll be working with many different property types.)
2. Keep up with appraisal-related technology
Technological advances are making appraisal information more accessible, and lets you do your job faster and more accurately. A reputation for efficiency is indispensable.
3. Make yourself known to appraisal management companies, lenders, and real estate agents
Many of these companies have a few appraisers they use consistently, but they won’t call on you if they don’t know you. Arrange face-to-face meetings to introduce yourself to the right people, whenever it’s feasible.
4. Learn your community
Your appraisals will be more useful and accurate—and thus will grow your reputation—if you know the property’s proximity to supermarkets, restaurants, bakeries, golf courses, the best schools, and services. Drive and walk around your community and make note of where new development is taking place. Consider the effects that development might have on neighboring properties.
5. Don’t worry about advertising
As an appraiser, you’ll be working mainly with lending institutions—determining how much they should lend on a property—and less frequently, with individual investors. In this business, relationships count more than name recognition.
6. Develop other specialties within the real estate industry
While appraisers will always be in demand, it will take a while to build your business. Look for opportunities in property management, brokerage, and investment. (Your knowledge of appraisals will help you to bid intelligently on investment properties.
Let the public know that you’re out there and that you’re a knowledgeable appraiser. Use your blog to answer questions from people outside the industry. Promote your blog to people in real estate and financial services. But be meticulously accurate in everything you say in your blog posts, especially regarding facts about the appraisal business. Factual errors in blog posts can ruin your reputation, so don’t pretend you know more than you do.
8. Become an advisor to buyers and sellers
Through your blog, advise homeowners on ways they can boost the appraised value of their homes. Point out to them that they should keep that value high even if they aren’t thinking of selling—because they might want to refinance. Explain to buyers how they should determine the right amount to bid on a property. Invite local real estate professionals to provide commentary for your blog.
9. Get to know local contractors: painters, plumbers, remodelers
You can recommend these companies to sellers who are trying to boost their home’s value, or to buyers who are looking at a “fixer-upper.”
10. Become a speaker
Many people hate speaking in public, but it’s an important skill to learn, especially if you’re in a low-profile profession. Join Toastmasters Club to develop your talent. If you’re already a trained speaker, offer to give presentations to local organizations. Real estate teams often look for educational speakers to address their sales meetings.
11. Join service clubs
Clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Jaycees, and others offer great networking opportunities. Membership in them helps boost your reputation as a community-minded person.
12. Start a show on local access TV, radio, or webcast
Speak informally but knowledgeably about appraisals, and bring in guests who can talk about other aspects of real estate. If you promote your show on the social media, you’ll develop a strong listener base.
13. Develop your writing skills
Being able to write clearly and expressively is an important part of an appraiser’s job. Take courses in journalism and expository writing at your local community college or university.
14. Start a column in a local paper
The print media have been in decline for many years, but people still read newspapers. If your local daily isn’t looking for a columnist, consider the weekly “shoppers” or community magazines many towns publish. An alternative would be an advertisement in the local paper in which you publish bits of advice. If you can report trends in the real estate and financial services industries, you’ll have made yourself a resource to the community.
15. Develop a social media profile
Whether you prefer Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other media will depend on your preferences and style of communication, but establish a presence on at least one of these. However, don’t be too blatant about using your Facebook page or Twitter account to sell your services.
16. On your website, use best SEO strategies to attract more visitors
SEO strategies are still evolving, so stay aware of the latest trends in this area.
17. Develop an eye-catching logo for your website, blog, office, and business cards
It should be tasteful and should refer to the service you provide. Appraising is a low-profile business: it’s up to you to create awareness and boost demand.
18. Look for opportunities to join industry councils on a local, state, and national basis
Take a hand in the governance and regulation of the appraisal industry, to ensure that these organizations are looking out for your interests and that the industry maintains a positive reputation.
Article by Joseph Dobrian. Joseph Dobrian has been writing about commercial and residential real estate, and real estate-related finance, for more than 30 years. His by-line has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Real Estate Forum, Journal of Property Management, and many other publications. He is also a noted novelist, essayist, and translator. His website is www.josephdobrian.com, and he can be contacted at [email protected]