Real estate appraisal career concept. Background of appraiser working to calculate home value with house model in foreground.

What’s in a Real Estate Appraiser’s Job Description?

When most people picture a career in real estate, jobs like real estate agents, brokers, or developers spring to mind first, but these roles rely on the knowledge and experience of over 77,000¹ real estate appraisers in the United States. When you become an appraiser, you’ll play a vital role in the housing industry while running your own business with a flexible schedule, greater control over your income, and ongoing professional growth.

This profession is perfect for people who enjoy variety in their day, working in different environments, and have a great eye for detail, but what exactly would you do in the day-to-day? To give you the foundational knowledge you need to see if this career is right for you, we’re sharing an in-depth look at the real estate appraisal job description.

Want to know more about income information? Download our free 2023 Salary Guide and get insight into average salaries and what to expect based on licensing level, experience, and even geographic location.

Real estate appraiser job description overview

Appraisals are vital to real estate transactions, particularly in the lending process. Lenders almost always require appraisals to confirm the property’s market value and ensure the loan amount is justified and protect their investment. To get the fair market value, real estate appraisers use their knowledge and experience to assess the property and analyze external factors, such as location and comparable properties’ sale prices to provide unbiased, professional valuations the lender can use to determine whether they should lend the requested amount in the sale price.

While conducting an onsite assessment, the appraiser notes features and elements of the property, including square footage, amenities, and building materials used. However, they also provide informed, substantiated opinions on unique aspects that could add or detract from the value, such as the condition of the property or insights into renovations (whether they are needed or how a recent renovation affected the value).

Real estate appraisers must also spend time research and analyzing data outside of the property. By researching comparable properties recently sold in the surrounding area, the appraiser benchmarks the market value that a specific home may hold in its neighborhood or local city housing market. Then, they submit a comprehensive appraisal report with a property valuation that includes property details, informed opinions of the quality and condition of the property, and market data.

Real estate appraiser job description based on credential

Most states have four “tiers” for real estate appraisers based on property focus, required training hours and necessary experience. Navigating these credentialing benchmarks empowers valuation professionals to steer transactions as qualified evaluators trusted by buying, selling, lending, and investing stakeholders.

Trainee appraisers

Trainee appraisers can only appraise property under the direct guidance of a supervisory appraiser. During this time, they are learning how to perform onsite assessments, conduct research, and complete reports. Becoming a trainee requires a minimum of 75 hours of qualifying education, securing a supervisory appraiser, and applying with the state.

Licensed Residential Appraisers

Licensed Residential Appraisers work independently and can appraise 1-4 unit residential properties, including single family homes, manufactured homes, condominiums, duplexes, and triplexes. However, they are limited to appraising properties below a specific value and cap for complex properties.

To become a Licensed Residential Appraiser, you will need a minimum of 150 hours of qualifying education, 1,000 experience hours in no less than six months, and a passing score on the National Uniform Licensing and Certification Exam.

Certified Residential Appraisers

Certified Residential Appraisers can perform appraisals on any residential property with up to four units, regardless of value or complexity. To earn this credential, you will need at least some college credit, 200 hours of qualifying education, and 1,500 experience hours in no less than 12 months, as well as a passing score on the National Uniform Licensing and Certification Exam.

Certified General Appraisers

Certified General Appraisers possess an unlimited license, enabling them to assess all properties, including:

  • Vacant land
  • Multi-family properties
  • Commercial properties (stores, restaurants, office buildings)
  • Industrial properties (factories, warehouses)

Earning this tier requires at least a bachelor’s degree, 300 hours of qualifying education, 3,000 comprehensive field training hours, with at least half focused outside residential work over 18 months, and a passing score on the National Uniform Licensing and Certification Exam for Certified General Appraisers.

While we outlined the recommended minimum requirements for experience and education, it’s important to verify your individual state’s requirements.

Who relies on real estate appraisals?

The real estate property appraiser’s job goes beyond assessing fair market value for purchases and sales. Appraisals are crucial for many other housing industry processes:

  • Property owners refinancing their homes require an appraisal to determine eligibility for lower interest rates based on the property’s current value and allow more people to access affordable mortgage loans.
  • Insurance companies need accurate valuations on insured homes and buildings annually to ensure coverage amounts and premiums align with rebuilding costs.
  • Local governments utilize appraisals to establish property tax rates that fund community services. Fair assessments help cities plan budgets and equitably distribute the tax burden.
  • Divorce and estate appraisals inform legal decisions regarding the division or distribution of real estate assets like rental properties or family homes for sale.

What does a real estate appraiser do?

Most appraisal work is completed on-site at the property, where the inspection includes:

  • Conducting a walk-through of the property’s interior, determining the condition and looking at elements such as room size, materials, and amenities, such as a fireplace or upgraded bathrooms
  • Inspecting the property’s exterior, looking at the materials used, the size of the land, and any amenities, such as waterfront access, privacy fence, or an inground pool.
  • Appraising any other structures on the property, including sheds, barns, or an auxiliary dwelling unit
  • Diagramming or photographing the property and its structures

While much of the job is on-site, an appraiser’s job description also includes:

  • Researching county and municipal public property records
  • Analyzing comparables, or similar nearby properties
  • Preparing written reports of the property value

Many of these steps are the same regardless of whether the appraiser is working on a residential property, commercial property, or vacant land. Their work informs fair pricing for buyers and sellers in both the residential and commercial real estate markets.

Types of real estate appraisals and they differ

The mortgage loan process can involve several different appraisal types. Lenders may request up to four main appraisals to determine the accurate value of your potential home:

Full appraisals

The full appraisal is the most common way to determine the value of a single-family home and is the type of valuation most people imagine when considering “home appraisal.” It includes a comprehensive assessment of the interior and exterior view of the property and also includes details of the surrounding properties. A full appraisal includes information such as:

  • Photos of the property’s interior, exterior, street views, and surrounding areas
  • Measurements of the home, including square footage and floor plan details
  • Written notes of the quality and condition of the property (i.e., construction, heating/cooling, age, and more)
  • Details about the type of neighborhood and nearby facilities and services

The appraiser thoroughly covers these details and uses them to provide a valuation which they submit to their client.

Exterior-only appraisals

An appraiser may complete an exterior appraisal, or a “drive-by appraisal” where they only need to observe the exterior of the property and also examine or analyze any real estate records to write their report.

Buyers may request a follow-up walkthrough before finalizing purchase offers, as this skips interior conditions. But exterior appraisals can serve purposes like:

  • Estimating foreclosure and resale values
  • Calculating remaining mortgage balance or equity
  • Pre-qualifying borrowers for home equity loans and lines of credit

Drive-by appraisals provide baseline pricing guidance at a discounted cost by focusing solely on visible exterior qualities plus comparable area sales data. This allows buyers to determine initial affordability while an internal appraisal can still occur later to solidify the deal.

Rental analysis

While a rental analysis is just as thorough as a full appraisal, it differs in purpose. As it sounds, rental analysis appraisals are for the careful valuation of investment properties instead of homes mortgaged for single-family living.

For this type of valuation, an appraiser needs to use multiple comparable leased rental properties to determine the appropriate market rent of a property. The same factors that would be considered for what makes a property favorable to buyers are instead considered for renters. But the rent amount needs to cover the costs of the home.

Investment properties are increasingly popular for buyers in the real estate market. As an appraiser, you can expect opportunities in rental analysis, especially in up-and-coming cities.

Desktop appraisals

Desktop appraisals allow appraisers to complete a property valuation remotely using public records, MLS information, existing photos, floor plan information, and other sources. While desktop appraisals don’t require a physical inspection of the property, appraisers still have to perform in-depth analysis and research to ensure a well-informed valuation.

What skills are included in a real estate appraiser job description?

In order to be successful in this career, a real estate appraiser job description contains a variety of skills. Many of these, you’ll learn in your training, including how to use specific tools, understanding building codes, and how to analyze properties objectively to provide accurate market values. However, there are several “soft skills” that can help you be more successful and effective in this role.

  • Exceptional communication abilities are vital whether you inspect a property, explain your valuation to clients, or compile the appraisal report findings. These skills enable clear dialogue with stakeholders like property owners, real estate agents, and municipal employees.
  • Critical thinking is equally important when appraising a unique home or unusual rental property. Strong analysis skills empower appraisers to “think outside the box,” overcome obstacles, and derive accurate valuations.
  • Self-motivation is essential for appraisers looking to grow a thriving independent business. In addition to providing outstanding work quality, you’ll also need to seek new clients, maintain and grow skills, and maintain business operations.

How Appraisers Can Find Jobs and Build Their Business

When starting out as a real estate appraiser, you may choose to work independently and source your own clients or pursue jobs through appraisal management companies (AMCs). Regardless of a professional valuation career’s direction, generating consistent business requires strategic efforts.

As an independent business owner, it’s important to:

  • Actively network with your area’s real estate agents, brokers, and lenders to build referral partnerships.
  • Join regional appraiser associations to connect with colleagues and promote services.
  • Optimize online presence – website, profiles – to be discoverable to potential clients searching for local appraisers.
  • Offer first-time client discounts to incentivize hiring your services the first time.
  • Partner with expert valuators to take on complex appraisal assignments together.
  • Focus on providing reliable turnaround times and managing client expectations.

Alternatively, by contracting with appraisal management companies (AMCs), leaders can:

  • Register with reputable AMCs active in your geographic area.
  • Gain access to lending networks and appraisal order volume from AMCs.
  • Trade some per-appraisal profit for consistent business volume.
  • AMC admin infrastructure provides review mechanisms and process support.
  • Contracted agreements can grant regional exclusivity protections.

The choice depends on preferences – running your own show or client flow and having more consistency and support from AMC contracting.

Real estate appraisers can build thriving valuation practices independently with the right visibility, relationships, and reliability. Partnering strategically provides flexibility.

Download our free guide, “Is an Appraisal Career Right for You?”

Our free guide, “Is an Appraisal Career Right for You,” you’ll learn everything you need to know about the job and whether a real estate appraisal career is right for you. Download your guide today to get the information you need to create a career you love!

 

Sources

  1. Property Appraisers and Assessors : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov)