Appraising Where It is Warmer

Appraisal Laws in Third-World Countries. Appraising Where It is Warmer.I found that there are not really any appraisal laws…

There was a point when I was seriously considering the possibility of moving to Belize. I live in a cold climate so the prospect of living in a warmer area for at least part of the year appeals strongly to me. However, after visiting Belize, I quickly realized that – while I love the country – I personally do not want to live there – mainly because their cost of living is higher than I had been told. That being said, while there, I did quite a bit of research and gained a sense of what it would mean to be an appraiser there. I can only speak specifically to Belize since that is the country I directly researched; however, after asking around, the appraisal situation in Belize seems to be fairly standard in most third-world countries.

While in Belize, I found that there are not really any appraisal laws. You do not need to be certified, there is no such thing as USPAP, and there are no specific forms you need to use. I often found that realtors did their own appraisals or banks had their own in-house appraisers. While having an appraiser that is certified from the United States would likely appeal to some individuals there, you would likely have to do quite a bit of work to sell yourself as a qualified professional since it is not the norm there.

Appraisal reports there typically pay around $600 and there is hardly any liability as an appraiser because there are no appraisal laws. However, since the cost of living is so high and there is not a huge market for certified real estate appraisers, I decided to continue my search for a warmer appraising climate elsewhere. Perhaps Panama?

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 116 Appraising in Third World Countries

Dustin Harris
Latest posts by Dustin Harris (see all)
Dustin Harris

Dustin Harris

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. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises and 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 on

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11 Responses

  1. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

    Dustin, Dustin, Dustin. You and I have had discussions about cost of living here in the US (a couple of years back), and you and your merry band of cheerleaders gave NO WEIGHT to what is a concern for most appraisers who are concentrated in high population centers. Instead of seeking the truth (low pay / high cost of living areas), I was discounted and identified as the problem instead of perhaps the light exposing the reality for most appraisers. When my area of San Diego/Carlsbad is 80% MORE EXPENSIVE to live in compared to your area of Idaho Falls, tell me how you would fair if 80% of your income vanished due to higher expenses? This is a HUGE under reported problem. When the powers that be use a single data point (appraisal fees / $500), but offer no context in relationship to the number (cost of living), its a great example of their ignorance to reality. How can they offer a solution, when they don’t seek the truth or avoid it?

    As a counter argument, I would bet MANY more warm climate appraisers (CA, Fl, etc.), are considered moving to colder climates (CO, OR, WA), due to higher appraisal pay and relatively lower cost of living conditions as compared to your argument (colder to warmer).

    You’re late to the cost of living party, but welcome none the less.

    Seek the truth.

  2. Avatar SB says:

    Each location has its pros and cons….

    $211,500 = Median Home Price Idaho Falls
    (Cheap housing but there is absolutely nothing to do there except eat lots of potatoes and get intoxicated)

    $542,000 = Median Home Price San Diego
    (Best weather in the USA but way too many appraisers/sq.mi.)

    $1,365,700 = Median Home Price San Francisco
    You dont have to worry about “Evaluations” but you would have sleep in your car

    • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

      Housing expenses are more like $755,273 (San Diego-Carlsbad CA Metro), $178,682 (Idaho Falls ID Metro), and $978,744 (San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco CA Metro Div.) all per Bankrate cost of living calculator, but I get it (locations pros and cons). Updated, the cost of living variance is actually 42.54% (San Diego versus Idaho Falls), and not my prior fake news indication of 80% (again Bankrate).

      With the push to dumb down this industry (C3, Q4, etc.), and with an attempt by many to establish a one size fits all appraisal fee (TRID), the powers that be want to ignore the local, county, state, and regional issues (cost of living / $$$) and instead attempt to bring uniformity to a complex process (appraising). I’m sure when these bank executives get promoted from the Midwest to the West Coast, none receive a higher wage to offset the higher cost of living.

      Seek the truth.

      • Avatar SB says:

        979k won’t even buy a dog house in San Francisco.

        2526 Licensed Appraisers in Los Angeles County
        1169 Licensed Appraisers in San Diego County.
        527 Licensed Appraisers in Sacramento County

        How can any appraiser make a living in these highly competitive “warm weather” markets?

        • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

          The politically correct term for that dog houses in CA is “Tiny House” SB. I’m not saying one can’t make a living in CA, but its not hard to figure out why turn times here (From Assignment) are often in the 3 to 4 day category. Its because an appraiser in San Diego CA, if paid at the same compared to an Idaho Falls ID appraiser, they would need to complete 100 appraisals to 58 to be even money after cost of living is considered. Unfortunately SB, the rate of pay is not equal as for a variety of reasons the high population center appraisers are often paid significantly less per assignment. When considering lower pay, and a higher cost of living SB, instead of a 100 to 58 ratio to be even money, I would bet the ratio is closer to 3 to 1. Based on this 3 to 1 ratio, the competition to race to the bottom (bid less than typical say 2 to 3 days from assignment), and survive on volume alone is strong. Keep in mind, although I’m referring to only a single county in the states (San Diego), my county has more people compared to the least populated 20 states.

          Seek the truth.

  3. Avatar Anna says:

    In my admittedly small amount of travels, Belize would be among one of the last places I would choose to live. The cost of living is high because there is so much corruption. I talked with the locals there. Most hate it. And censorship is rampant. Those who spoke with me were afraid of getting arrested! Plus it was the dirtiest and smelliest of all the tropical places I went. Don’t know where or when that picture was taken, but I saw no place like that… course I hung with the locals.

  4. Avatar John Pratt says:

    To Bill Johnson, You have been working for yourself in the appraisal industry too long to understand the corporate world. When executives are transferred to an area with a significant higher cost of living they usually get a boost in their salary to offset the increase in the cost of living. If not no one would ever move to San Francisco because they could not afford the housing cost. Unfortunately fees for appraisals in expensive areas like southern California do not always relate to the cost living in that area.

    • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

      John, my comment “I’m sure when these bank executives get promoted from the Midwest to the West Coast, none receive a higher wage to offset the higher cost of living”, was a joke. Of course they see the need for higher pay relating to a higher cost of living for themselves, but for the vendors who in part feed their profits (appraisers), they want a one size fits all approach (standard appraisal pricing).

      When our government quotes a $500 appraisal fee to in part try and justify the use of appraisal waivers, that $500 in Idaho, after a cost of living adjustment, is only $290 is San Diego (minus +/- 42%). Thanks John.

      Seek the truth.

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Do they comp parking and lunch?

  5. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    Death Valley is reasonably warm and I’m fairly certain that you would have little to no competition.


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Appraising Where It is Warmer

by Dustin Harris time to read: 1 min