College Degree for Appraisers?

Why do appraisers need a college degree?

Why Do Appraisers Need a College Degree?

Let me begin by stating that I hold both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree. I do not state that to get the adulations of the reader, but to qualify myself as one who can speak with at least a small degree of authority on this subject. Let me also be fair in stating that I loathed school. Do not misunderstand, I love and cherish education, I just hate school. I am a lifelong learner. I enjoy reading, researching, and experiencing new things. I love furthering my education. However, I am not one that fits very well into perfectly cut holes. My biggest problem with the public educational system (primary, secondary, and post-graduate) was that much of what I ‘learned’ had nothing to do with my desired education, and some of what I DID had little to do with learning. There were just too many hoops to jump through. That is the biggest reason my wife and I homeschool our children. We want to allow our kids to be self-directed in their preparation for life.

The philosophy of getting an education that actually has something to do with my future is one reason I am disgusted with the new rules requiring a two-year degree (or the equivalent) for a Licensed Appraiser and a Bachelor’s Degree (or the equivalent) for a Certified. What do the degrees need to be in, one might ask?  Well… Underwater Basket-weaving, for all they care. Believe it or not, it does not matter AT ALL what the degree topic is (other than a few, required courses) –it just matters that you have a degree. Why? That is the question of the century.

If I sound a little cynical, that is because I AM!!!! Though I have asked many different individuals in many different (sometimes lofty) positions, I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer to this simple question. The purpose for this requirement seems to be nothing more than to impose yet one more stumbling block to keep the number of appraisers to a minimum. It is just one more arbitrary step that one must take before they can be crowned with the reward of being called an appraiser. The best explanation I have heard is that “it gives our profession more credibility.”  Okay. If you think forcing a group of people to squeeze through requirements that have nothing at all to do with the quality of their appraisal work gives more street-cred, then more power to ya. Though let me ask you this: If your doctor had a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts, would you think that increased his credibility as a doctor?

I currently have an employee who has been working for me for the past 3 years. She is an amazing person with incredible analytical skills that, frankly, make her a better appraiser, in many ways, than I am. Though she is not a licensed appraiser yet, she has a desire to be one. In fact, this has been a dream of hers since she was in high school. For various reasons, she does not have a college degree. A few college classes under her belt, yes, but no certificate.  er plans were to get her Trainee’s license at the end of this year and be licensed by mid to late 2015.  Well, those plans are now up in the air. Why? All over a little rule-change that has really thrown a wrench into her career goals and life.

I am all for improving the industry. The quality of appraisers as a whole is an issue. If there are legitimate ways we can assist appraisers to become better, I am all ears. If, however, our goal is simply to limit the progress of would-be appraisal business owners, I find this practice shortsighted,unfair and completely ridiculous. Tell me where I am wrong.

Dustin HarrisGuest blogger: Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner and residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker & consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises & mentors other appraisers. His principles and methodologies are also taught in an online, Mastermind group. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.

Dustin Harris in

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10 Responses

  1. Avatar ma2804 says:

    I agree with your logic Dustin. I too have a BBA and MBA. I don’t consider them to be great advantages to properly valuing a house, but with a couple of caveats. Appraisers must be critical thinkers, logically oriented, and be able to write professionally to communicate with the reader. We need to be able to evaluate a neighborhood (improving or not, zoning, quality levels, values of amenities and how they apply to the subject, and other things that would fall into the “critical thinking” bucket of the addendum. I also would expect an appraiser to be able to write intelligently, not that everyone has to be a Pulitzer prize winning author but I’ve reviewed some appraisals that could have easily been written by a 9th grader. Sounding intelligent, using words that indicate a level of knowledge and professionalism, and some continuity in the addendum that allows it flow understandably, would be good. After all, we’re trying to be clear and create some trust in the user. That’s not to say you need a degree to do all this but I’ve found that mine have helped. Maybe aptitude tests or sample appraisals should be required before Certification or Licensing? …but a degree? A degree may be overkill, but it was an easy solution for those creating the rules

  2. Avatar Marcus says:

    Respectfully, a college degree is not just another hoop to jump through. Certainly, there are unfound expectations from an unrelated degree relative to someone’s ultimate career. The other viewpoint to the thought of a degree pertains to a chosen or “professed” career. Look at other longstanding professions (i.e., doctors, lawyers, architects….) that choose a specific course of study. This is how potential appraisers should be looking to attain a professional status from a course of study. Unfortunately, other professionals have a very long history of professed study. There are relatively few academic institutions that incorporate appraisal theory in coursework. With time, persistence, and discipline individuals will commit early on in their academic pursuit of a real estate degree. Until then, please do not underestimate the proficiency of attaining a degree to fulfill appraisal licensing guidelines.

  3. Avatar Cate says:

    I have a trainee license I will be taking my certification exam in a few weeks and when I found out I needed a degree to obtain my goal of being a Certified Appraiser, I went out and got a degree. I got my degree while working full time and raising two children along with running a household. Oh, I am 49 years old. It was not easy but it is very possible. I agree that the degree should not be in “basket weaving.” Maybe you should assist your employee by encouraging college and direct her in the appropriate classes to assist with her goal of becoming a Certified Appraiser. The college requirement is a step in the right direction for the appraisal industry.

  4. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    I agree that a college degree must be a MANDITORY requirement for becoming a residential appraiser today.

    Because the vast majority of individuals with college degrees will have the intelligence to avoid this industry entirely.

    Kudos to whomever was smart enough to protect new appraiser prospects from their own poor judgement.

  5. Avatar praisin' is fun says:

    Worst idea ever.

    So we (as a profession) want the ‘bottom of the top shelf’ college grads. Not the top of the class students but the ones that barely passed and not good enough for an entry level position in what they studied. We are becoming the ‘Bad News Bears’ profession, the last table at the local job fair. Cross your fingers too, 50% won’t pass the background check.

    Broken toys need love too I guess…..

  6. Hammad Khan on Facebook Hammad Khan on Facebook says:

    Good job keep it up , let’s make it more interesting by sharing our complex valuation experiences as a case study.

  7. Avatar Debby says:

    What if you have over 20,000 hours as a licensed appraiser, 10 years under the belt, approximately 40+ hours of college credit, produce quality reports and yet the AQB says I have to take 3 other classes because you have to have 21 hours in the 7 subjects they require …. but if I had an Associates Degree in “How to Dig a Hole” I could get my Certification! I still say that “EXPERIENCE” speaks volumes in this profession … now I have until September to take these 3 classes (of course I have to take them from somewhere like Phoenix) at a cost of approximately $5,000, don’t qualify for any loans because I would have to pursue my degree to fall into that category. I would love to finish my degree, but that would entail me taking the courses they want me to take in their order … this would then cause me to forfeit my file at the State and have to pay another $450 to them after I get about 6 classes completed. This is completely “STUPID” at this point. I have worked hard, sometimes 20 hour days making a living, so my time to study is also limited. I don’t know how appraisers who work to pay the bills can have much spare time. All I wanted was to get this done before I had to forfeit my money that I already paid to the State. I called the AQB but they will not even return a phone call. I have written to them, they do not respond. I appreciate that a Degree might be helpful, but I have hours in Accounting, Statistics, English, etc …. they say they can’t accept those 40 hours, I still need Economics, Real Estate or Business Law and Financing. Of course, Accounting is a Finance class but they won’t accept because it is coded as ACCT! Again, they told me if I had an Associates Degree in “Interior Design” then I could get the Certification. Well, Interior Design does not have “Real Estate Law, Economics or Finance classes, so how is this right? At this time I have been trying to gather $5,000 to pay for classes, I don’t use credit cards, so I have been trying to borrow the money. Again, I don’t have $5,000 hanging around right now, property taxes were paid and IRA taxes were paid. Of course, I am sure there are all you out there that say … boohoo … but this is important to me and I believe that “EXPERIENCE” does matter in this profession. I want to pursue my degree before I die, but right now I need to get this done before the end of the year so I can finally get more work from lenders who require Certified Appraisers and also command more money from the AMC’s to get the work. VENTING…. and yes, I have applied for every time of scholarship there is available!

  8. bubba jay bubba jay says:

    anyone shouldnt have to get a four-year degree to do this job. maybe a two, but not a four. the problem is, the rule makers who are more than likely all college graduates themselves, think everyone else needs one too.

    but here are the big problems that they havent figured out yet.

    first, a four-year college graduate of anything worth a decent paycheck, will either find a job, or get offered a job, soon after graduation. the graduate will quickly take that job, because they are swimming in debt and they will feel the pressure to get that paid off, and they will also desperately want to get out of mom and dads house and be out on their own.

    the graduate will start making good money, get settled, find a girl, get married, and start popping out a few puppies. the graduate will work all day, haul the kids around, come home to eat and rest for a few hours before bed, and then will do it all over again, and again, and again.

    somewhere within all that, we are expecting the busy college graduate, who was trained to get a job and was never trained to be self-employed, to for whatever reason, want to be a RE appraiser.

    lets assume the graduate hasnt heard about how much of a mess this profession really is, and still wants to do it anyway. the first big hurdle – they will have to find someone willing to train them. you know, someone willing to train their future competition. someone who will have to be with them EVERY step of the appraisal process. someone willing to do double the work it would normally take to do an appraisal on their own and someone willing to take half the fee for doing it. someone willing to assume more risk than they already have.

    IF all that happens, the graduate will then be told about things like fee splits, and how they will make about half of the full measly fee the supervisor gets, or somewhere around $10-$15/hour after travel time, report writing time, all the revision requests, etc.. on top of that, they will be told about a training schedule, and, (depending on how much work they get), how they will have to do this for a very, very long time before they can do it on their own and get paid a decent wage.

    the graduate will then be told about the cost of insurance, MLS fees, CE, licensing, etc, and they will soon figure out that the $10-15/hour they were taking home is suddenly much less than that.

    do i really have to go on?

    this IS how we make this profession attractive to new people? this is how we attract new people to this profession? this is how we stop the bleeding? this is a step forward? this is a step in the right direction? come on, SERIOUSLY?

  9. Avatar Chris Yaecker says:

    Before the real estate world collapsed in 2008, the mortgage industry including the appraisal “profession” was woefully unregulated.  As a reviewer I was appalled at kind of people who called themselves appraisers and the trash they submitted as professional appraisals. Anyone could call themselves an appraiser and many did with disastrous results.  However, not enough people in the industry or the government cared too much – times were good and values only went up – and billions in bad loans were written many with horrible appraisal reports.  There were some very good lending institutions out there like Charter One Bank in Cleveland where I worked.  They only hired college graduates with a variety of backgrounds and we were known as a top notch professional organization, and Charter One never had any significant default issues.  Thank you John and Bud Koch.  Until something better is devised like a degree or certificate program in which every new appraiser is required to attain then I think a four year degree is a must to maintain and expand professionalism in this industry.  Changes are needed but going backwards is unacceptable.


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College Degree for Appraisers?

by AppraisersBlogs time to read: 3 min