5 Ways to Survive a Slow Real Estate Market as an Appraiser

5 Ways to Survive a Slow Real Estate Market as an Appraiser


How can you bolster your appraisal business during a slow real estate market? This month we asked our appraisal community, “What’s the BEST way to survive a slow market as an appraiser?” The most popular answer was, “Offer your appraisal services to a variety of clients (attorneys, real estate agents, homeowners, property investors, etc.).” However, many respondents said that all five of the following strategies should be employed to help your appraisal business survive—and thrive—throughout ups and downs in the market. Read the full survey results below.

What’s the BEST way to survive a slow real estate market?

What's the BEST way to survive a slow market as an appraiser?

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Offer your appraisal services to a variety of clients (47%)

Nearly half of survey respondents agreed that the best way to get through a slow real estate market is to diversify your client base by offering your services to attorneys, real estate agents, homeowners, property investors, etc.

“Reaching out to attorneys covers the market for divorce appraisals and estate sales, which still continue in a market where sales and refinancing may be down, and allows for a diverse data base.”

“Although I have several options when the market is slow, I notice divorces and estates have come into play. Some appraisers may find it intimidating or risky, but if you know your business and have integrity, there should be no issues finding more work.”

“Being the best at what you do results in business finding you, not the need for you to go find business!”

“It is just the thought process of not having all your eggs in one basket. Different revenue streams.”

“Variety is the spice of life!”

“While the market has slowed down, I feel like there is still plenty to do to improve your practice and work on your business. I’ve taken this opportunity to network and market to new clients, take additional courses, and work with mentors/coaches. Fortunately, there is still so much opportunity in this industry! You just have to ‘dig your well’ as some well known appraisers in the industry would say.”

Offer more valuation products (11%)

Another recommended strategy is to offer more valuation products in addition to traditional appraisals, such as desktops, hybrid appraisals, evaluations, etc.

“Offering more products is a great way to get the most out of your business, and gaining the knowledge when the market is slow helps with time management.”

“The more products and service area you become efficient in, the better your chances are of getting work.”

“Having additional products that are useful to clients that do not need a full appraisal report is something that should be in leveraged in a slow market.”

“Upgrading license to commercial is good for people like my son, who is doing that. He works for a national firm that is paying him while training him. For us ‘lone wolves’ it takes money, which is needed to pay the bills while work is slow. I have been increasing my desktop and hybrid work during this time and upgrading my software to provide better appraisals when the work picks up again.”

Learn more in our CE course, Best Practices for Completing Bifurcated and Hybrid Appraisals.

Market yourself as an expert in a specific niche (9%)

Marketing yourself as a niche expert in luxury home appraisal, expert witness testimony, appraisal review, etc. is another way to bolster your business during a slow real estate market.

“I made it through the last recession by offering my expertise for insurance appraisals in mobile home parks. I wrote an article in the senior publication and offered good pricing for bulk orders in the park. It worked well at the time.”

“Our company likes to say, ‘we specialize in weird,’ and we often get referrals from other appraisers who do not feel comfortable taking on a particular assignment. It has been to our benefit (and our amusement!) that we get to work on very unique, interesting cases simply because we’re not afraid to take on the challenge. As a result, our options are opened up to all types of property, all over the state, for all purposes.”

Explore different appraisal markets and establish yourself in a new niche with a McKissock Appraisal Certification program.

Upgrade your license so that you can appraise more property types (8%)

When you upgrade your appraisal license to certified general, for example, you can expand your business to include commercial buildings, complex properties, etc.

“In a slow market it is a great time to upgrade your existing license, whether that be to certified or certified general. This upgrade can open many doors. Another great option if you’re happy where you are in your licensure is to become an expert in a field. Luxury home appraisal is a great avenue to explore. It’s good to note that slow markets don’t last forever, so make sure you’re using the slow down to your advantage so that when the market turns back on you’re ready!”

Offer ancillary services related to appraising (5%)

An additional strategy is to augment your appraisal volume by seeking opportunities that are related to appraisal, including property measurement, real estate photography, real estate sales, etc. Keep in mind that you may need additional training, licenses, or certifications, depending on the job or assignment.

Other (20%)

Twenty percent of survey participants selected “Other” and wrote in their own answers regarding the best way to survive a slow real estate market. Many of them wrote in “all of the above” or recommended using a combination of the five strategies:

  • “All of the above. Finding additional work in any capacity will get you through the slow times.”
  • “These are all excellent ways to expand your business and survive in a slow market. Some take funds and some take time. And I would not focus on just one. I would try any and all.”
  • “I think that you could do more than one of the choices listed above. It depends on what license you hold and what you can bring to the table so to speak. Everyone has a place in this field and can do many things if they are willing to.”

Additional write-in responses included:

  • “Take time for education, then you are better prepared for every economic cycle.”
  • “Diversify your skill set to include more specialized services that tend to be market resilient, such as attorney work or real property assessment advisory positions / mass appraisal work for assessment purposes.”
  • “Expand [your] market.”
  • “Save money in the busy times so panic does not set in when things slow down, as they always do.”
  • “Sock money away during the good times, diversify, and enjoy the rest of your life before you get busy again.”
  • “Pay off mortgage and all bills, grow a money market account, relax.”
  • “Retire and make room for the newer appraisal generation!”

What do you think is the best way to survive a slow real estate market as an appraiser? Join the conversation! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Or, sign up for our newsletter to get a new survey question in your inbox each month.