How to Become a Luxury Real Estate Appraiser

How to Become a Luxury Appraiser

Are you interested in luxury home appraisal? There are many reasons for real estate appraisers to consider specializing in this profitable niche. Not only can you charge higher fees while completing fewer assignments per month, but you’ll also have the opportunity to evaluate custom, high-end properties that are interesting and challenging to appraise. Let’s explore how to become a luxury appraiser, including expert tips for success.

What is a luxury appraiser?

A luxury appraiser is a licensed professional who estimates the value of homes categorized as luxury or high-end. Like other residential real estate appraisers, they use their professional expertise to develop and report an opinion of value on a residential property. However, unlike regular home appraisers, luxury appraisers specialize in houses with high transaction values and custom, high-end features. They must have the credentials and experience required to appraise this specific property type.

Luxury appraisers must be certified residential or certified general appraisers

As a real estate appraiser, the types of properties you can appraise vary based on your license level. High-end homes are considered complex residential appraisal assignments, and they often involve subject properties with a transactional value of $1 million or higher. Therefore, they are more difficult to appraise and require a higher license level.

To appraise a custom luxury home, at minimum, you must be a certified residential appraiser or certified general appraiser. If you haven’t already achieved one of those license levels, then you’ll need to upgrade your appraisal license as the first step toward becoming a luxury appraiser.

Here’s a quick look at what properties you can appraise at different levels:

Licensed residential appraiser
  • Non-complex 1-4 residential units with a transaction value of less than $1 million (subject to individual state laws)
  • Complex 1-4 residential units with a transaction value of less than $250,000 (subject to individual state laws)
Certified residential appraiser
  • 1-4 residential units without regard to complexity or transaction value (subject to individual state laws)
Certified general appraiser
  • All types of real estate, from strip malls to airports

Each time you level up, you gain the opportunity to take on more challenging assignments and earn more income.

Skills needed for luxury real estate appraisal

Once you’ve become a certified residential or certified general appraiser, you are technically qualified to appraise luxury properties. But before you dive in, make sure you have the skills, traits, and knowledge needed to be successful in this niche specialty.

“Appraisers interested in this type of valuation work must be effective communicators, detail-oriented, and skilled problem solvers,” says Jo A. Traut, appraisal curriculum and content specialist at McKissock Learning. Appraisers who excel in this specialized field are generally those who “are willing to spend the time necessary to complete extensive research, are willing to write detailed appraisal reports, and are willing to communicate and interact with real estate agents and builders in the luxury real estate market,” says Traut.

Additionally, you should have an appreciation of quality—craftsmanship, artistry, and design—if you want to excel as a luxury real estate appraiser.

Familiarize yourself with the luxury home market

Next, make sure you understand the global and local luxury real estate markets, as well as the psychology of luxury buyers. You need “to have an ability to understand how the features of a luxury home and the home itself will be accepted by the most likely luxury homebuyers in that market,” says Traut.

“One way to gain a better understanding of market reaction,” she advises, “is through completing relocation appraisals in which an appraiser closely monitors days on market, current active competition, withdrawn and expired listings, and overall real estate trends and heavily focuses on a home’s marketability.”

“Appraisers with a real estate marketing or custom home building background also easily adapt to valuing these custom and exceptional quality homes,” Traut continues.

Additionally, you can gain technical knowledge by researching and reading architectural, marketing, and building articles, as well as technical papers about high-end and custom homes. Recommended resources include the National Association of Home Builders, Architectural Digest, and the Institute of Luxury Home Marketing.

Earn a professional certification

This step is optional, but highly recommended. Certifications from a professional organization are a great way to demonstrate your appraisal knowledge and expertise. If you’re looking to enhance your knowledge and skills in the area of luxury home appraisal, consider enrolling in McKissock’s Certified Luxury Home Appraiser™ (CLHA) program.

“McKissock’s Certified Luxury Home Appraiser™ (CLHA) program teaches various appraisal methodology and valuation considerations, technical skills, and professional skills specific to appraising luxury homes,” explains Traut. “By having this certification, an appraiser can market and demonstrate to potential clients that he or she has acquired advanced knowledge to appraise customized and luxury homes.”

Get started as a luxury real estate appraiser

Now that you’ve learned how to become a luxury real estate appraiser, the next step is to start bringing in clients. According to Traut, you’ll want to get to know the right people, such as real estate professionals (agents or brokers) who specialize in luxury properties, as well as tax and estate attorneys who specialize in advising wealthy homeowners. You should also familiarize yourself with the local custom high-end builders. “These are good people for an appraiser to know,” says Traut.

Alternatively, she says, you could “introduce your appraisal services to local lenders that offer new construction and mortgage loans on custom high-end homes and/or offer wealth management services.”

Elevate your expertise with McKissock’s luxury appraiser certification

Ready to become a luxury appraiser? Looking to sharpen your skills and elevate your expertise in this profitable niche? Explore our Certified Luxury Home Appraiser™ (CLHA) program. This professional certification will help you differentiate yourself and thrive in the world of luxury home appraisal. And the best part? It’s included with McKissock Unlimited Learning Membership at no extra cost.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on November 15, 2019 and updated in March 2024.