New Year, New You: Transforming Your Appraisal Career in 2023

Portrait of a confident, smiling businesswoman, career opportunity, alternative appraisal career concept

At the end of the holiday season, we start hearing the phrase repeatedly used in weight loss industry advertisements, “New Year, New You!” January is the Black Friday of the weight loss industry, with gyms, exercise equipment manufacturers, and of course the diet and diet supplement companies, all promising a “New You!”

All that noise got me thinking. Why not make a different “New Year, New You” resolution? How about one for you and your appraisal business? Most of us are fee appraisers who work independently. Our business is often affected by a seasonal slowdown, and with the current housing trends, it is possible that this slowdown will last longer than usual. Despite adversity, there is opportunity. Our opportunity is time—it’s time to take stock of where we are and perhaps consider diversification or an alternative appraisal career.

Here are a few ideas for transforming your appraisal career in 2023.

Consider salary-paying opportunities

It’s always worthwhile to consider alternative salary-paying appraisal jobs, since many of these jobs come with benefits. Who staffs these types of jobs? There are always the lender-related appraisal jobs that you may want to consider, as they generally provide paid benefits. There are appraisal jobs available in the lending sector, such as staff appraisers, review appraisers, fee panel managers, and with experience and time on the job, chief appraiser and valuation compliance officer jobs can be found. Most of these positions are offered by banks and credit unions, but AMCs also have similar roles.

The VA, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mae, HUD/FHA, USDA, and U.S. Department of the Interior also offer similar employment opportunities related to real estate collateral, appraisal policy, and appraisals. It is not unusual for these entities to have a variety of positions available at any given time.

You should also consider non-QM lenders (non-qualified mortgage lenders). The top five non-QM lending companies (according to Scotsman Guide) are Fairway Independent, Angle Oak lending, Guaranteed Rate, CoreVest Finance, and Acra Lending. Aside from that, there are also private mortgage insurance (PMI) providers, like Radian, MGIC, or Genworth that may have open appraisal-related jobs.

These are just a few salary-paying opportunities for you to consider. Additionally, other salary-paying jobs are available with larger appraisal firms, the IRS, and county, city, and state property assessors.

Is now a good time to upgrade your appraisal license? Learn more with our free guide.

Diversify your assignments beyond non-lender work

If you prefer continuing to work as an independent fee appraiser, you can diversify your current appraisal assignments. Providing you have some supervisory appraiser or training experience and good management skills, you may be able to find appraisal training opportunities. Train future appraisers, collateral underwriters, AMC staff, real estate agents, and others in real estate appraisal. The training work may include consulting, teaching, blogging, writing appraisal courses, webinar presentation, mentoring, or anything else that interests you in this capacity.

A variety of attorney work is available, including estate appraisals, divorce appraisals, consulting, expert testimony, and appraisal reviews.

Other non-lender jobs include city and state tax assessors, although some assignments may require mass appraisal training. An assessor may contract with an independent fee appraiser to help identify property characteristics, measure properties, confirm the building’s condition and quality of construction, or review assessment disputes from taxpayers.

Additionally, there are the state and local departments of transportation, the buildings and land management departments, as well as federal government agencies, such as the Department of Defense, the Bureau of Land Management, and General Services Administration (GSA). They all handle land and building acquisitions and dispositions, as well as condemnation valuations. These may be full-time jobs or contracted services.

In many cases, professional appraisers are hired to handle property assessment appeal work. A variety of clients could engage you, such as taxpayers, agents representing taxpayers, legal and financial advisors, and hearing boards.

Another option is to work with real estate brokers who use appraisers to determine market trends and/or listing prices of real estate properties, or for measuring dwellings or commercial buildings.

Non-lending appraisal courses

McKissock Learning offers several non-lending appraisal courses to help you gain knowledge and sharpen your skills in various types of non-lending work:

Augment your appraisal services

In addition, there are opportunities that do not necessarily fall within the appraisal realm, but are nonetheless related, and can help augment appraisal volume, including:

  • Real Estate Agent/Broker – This job requires education and a license. It is not uncommon to find appraisers with agent and broker licenses working in both fields.
  • Property Investor – As an appraiser, you have a good understanding of when and where to buy land and/or developed property to sell for a profit or for income-producing potential. It is possible for individuals to perform this work for themselves or as consultants for public and private companies.
  • Real Estate Property Management – In some states, you may need a license to manage real estate properties. In this position, you will need to have a sound understanding of finances, marketing, and facilities operations, as well as lease terms and leasing practices.
  • Residential Insurance Appraiser – You will be responsible for conducting site-based or virtual high-value home property surveys that will be used for homeowners’ insurance purposes. This role typically requires you to identify and document the construction materials/characteristics and unique features of the home, obtain measurements of the home and other structures on the property, and generate an estimated replacement value. These types of assignments typically require specialized training and certification.
  • Drone Operator / Listing Photographer – As part of their inspection or as a paid service for listing agents, some appraisers are obtaining drone operator’s licenses (and drones) to take aerial photos of residential, commercial, or agricultural properties.
  • Home Inspector – In most jurisdictions, a license is required for this job, in addition to specialized training. This type of inspection is different from the type of inspection that an appraiser performs on a residential property.

Real estate appraisal and similar fields offer many different opportunities. Depending on the job or assignment, you may need additional training, licenses, and/or certifications. Like weight loss, a worthwhile endeavor to improve your career opportunities requires effort, commitment, and time.

Written by Jo A. Traut. Jo Traut holds the position of Curriculum Program Director, Appraisal at McKissock Learning. Jo has more than 25 years of experience in appraisal operations, appraisal valuation risk, and appraisal compliance and holds a CDEI (Certified Distance Education Instructor) designation from the International Distance Education Certification Center (IDECC) and is an AQB-Certified USPAP Instructor.

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