Things To Consider When Choosing an Appraiser

Are you a homeowner in need of an appraisal? Are you a lender needing to choose an appraiser to do work for your company? If you are, I hope what I have to say can help you in your decision making.

All appraisers are not alike. Appraiser experience varies based on several factors, including but not limited to the following: years of experience, amount of education, geographic competence, and familiarity with type of property being appraised. Experience can start with a trainee and extend to the seasoned professional. Appraisers generally start at the trainee level where they work for a licensed “mentor”. They must work with someone to learn from experience while they complete a predetermined number of hours of education. The trainee must be supervised. Everybody starts somewhere, however if you have a specialized property you need appraised and you feel more comfortable with someone with more experience this is something you need to know. There is nothing wrong with asking about their experience level. Even if you are getting an appraisal through a bank and the bank assigns the appraiser to you, you may still want to get this information.

The level of education is generally tied to years of experience, with more experienced appraisers usually having more appraisal education. Some appraisers, because they belong to professional association, are required to have more continuing education that someone who just maintains a minimum state level license. Two appraisers, who have been in the profession for similar amounts of time, may have different levels of education as a result of their organizations different educational requirements. Again, you may feel more comfortable with someone with more classes under their belt.

Geographic competence means that the appraiser is familiar with and has experience in appraising properties in different locations. If the appraiser performs a lot of work in certain towns or areas of town they are going to be more familiar with the market trends in the area. In addition, appraisers utilize data sources (usually MLS and courthouse records) that may only cover certain locations. An example is myself; I have experience appraising properties in and around the Birmingham, Alabama metro area and my data sources cover these areas, so I feel comfortable in appraising anything within this general market area. If I were to get an appraisal assignment in Mobile, Alabama, along the gulf coast I would not be familiar with the market nor have the data sources to obtain sales data in that area. While I am licensed to appraise anything in the state of Alabama, I lack the geographic competence and data sources to do it effectively.

The last area you may want to check on is the appraiser’s familiarity with the property type you need appraised. Some appraisers may not have experience appraising duplexes, triplexes, or manufactured homes. If this is the case it may take them longer to complete and assignment.

While this is not a complete list of items to use to choose an appraiser it is a start, and it helps to convey to the potential users of appraisal services that all appraisers are not alike!

Comments

  1. My husband and I are preparing to move and are in need of an appraisal. I like the tip you give of looking for someone who has had a good amount of education and experience. Like they say, knowledge really is power. I imagine that in addition to these things it would be beneficial to find someone who is willing to give you referrals and references from former clients. I’ll be sure to keep these things in mind; thanks for sharing this!

    • Thanks for reading Jen. Asking for referrals (or references) is a good way to check out the quality of service for an appraiser. Keep in mind that work quality means different things to different people. Some people think that if an appraiser does not appraise a home for what the customer wants then their quality of work was not good but that is not the case. I would instead look for an appraiser who communicates well and will keep you informed if there are any delays. They will also promptly respond to any calls you make to them.

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