Residential appraisers are a fantastic bunch of professionals. Independent, hard-working, intelligent, and highly trained, this elite group of real estate experts provides an invaluable service to buyers and sellers. Each appraiser has a list of resources for real estate appraisers that they use for their business.
Appraisers are known for their independence. That makes their secret sauce a bit difficult to discover (at least for non-appraisers). Where do appraisers turn to for industry updates, furthering their education, socialization, and advice? What top-secret tools do appraisers use to do their jobs efficiently and effectively?
Continue reading for ten timely resources! I’ve scoured the Web, including websites and social media sites. I also interviewed seasoned and newly knighted appraisers and gained some helpful insights to pass on to you!
Without further ado, here it is! Ten timely resources for Real Estate Appraisers!
Where do appraisers get their education? How do they train for their Trainee License (AT) and their Residential License (AL)? What if they decide to earn their Certified Residential License (AR) and then move on to the exalted Certified General License (AG)?
First of all, if you’re thinking about becoming an appraiser but haven’t started on that path yet, see the article, “How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser in 7 Steps.”
Next, here are eight highly-recommended schools for beginners and experienced appraisers, alike:
The first six schools come from research on dozens of appraisal classes conducted by FitSmallBusiness.com.
Dynasty School comes highly recommended by Lifferth-Lawson Appraisal Company’s Caleb Bowen, LA. He completed his schooling through Dynasty and was impressed with the program. According to Caleb, Dynasty is “reasonably priced and [they are] very helpful with any questions or issues that I had.”
2. Real Estate Appraiser Associations
Associations unite the power of groups of purposeful minds. This power can reach to the highest levels of government and is instrumental in effecting change and giving real estate appraisers a voice among the cacophony of big banks and lenders.
Here are two associations in our resources for appraisers that stand above the rest.
Gentry Lawson, SRA, the head appraiser at Lifferth-Lawson Appraisal Company, recommends The Appraisal Institute. In Gentry’s words,
My affiliation with AI has allowed me to become acquainted with other appraisers, learn leadership skills, and stay on top of an ever-changing industry with good quality education.
Appraisal Institute “Is a global professional association of real estate appraisers, with nearly 18,000 professionals in almost 50 countries throughout the world. The association’s mission is to advance professionalism and ethics, global standards, methodologies, and practices through the professional development of property economics worldwide.” The Appraisal Institute maintains respectable Facebook and LinkedIn pages which are worth perusing.
Another resource for real estate appraisers is their association with other appraisers. Association with other appraisers provides information that is tried and true, meaning, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel! Advice from within the trenches is always more helpful than advice from outsiders. Selectively choose who you associate with professionally and develop a reliable network of intelligent appraisers who are willing to provide useful counsel and maybe even take some from you as well!
Social Media Groups for Residential Appraisers
One tool that has grown in popularity during the last 10 to 15 years is social media. Social media groups provide news, advice, a place to vent, funnies, and support. Some fantastic residential appraiser groups on Facebook and LinkedIn are:
- The Appraiser Classifieds
- Appraiser Watercooler
- The National Appraiser Coalition
- Real Estate Appraiser Connection
- The Lighter Side of Appraising
Let’s look into each group in more detail.
The Appraiser Classifieds group is a public group that you can request permission to join. This group describes itself as a group that “exists to bring appraisers together for the purpose of buying, selling, trading goods…bringing trainees and mentors together, matching help wanted ads with services provided, and reviewing products.” This group also provides advice! With 907 members, The Appraiser Classifieds is a growing, powerful force on Facebook.
The Appraiser Watercooler group is a closed group, yet you can request membership. This group has over 1,300 members. The Appraiser Watercooler provides a place where appraisers can “get together to share education, thoughts, questions, ideas, and things in the profession that make us laugh, cry or scream.”
The National Appraiser Coalition is also a closed group, with membership at the discretion of the administrator. This group has over 6,700 members! The National Appraiser Coalition’s self-described purpose is “to unite all appraisers around the country and take control of our industry.”
With the most extensive member base out of these groups, LinkedIn’s Real Estate Appraiser Connection is a standard LinkedIn group that you can request to join. This group has over 11,100 members. Real Estate Appraiser Connection’s purpose is to “promote networking in the appraisal industry.” For some solid networking, try out this group!
Sometimes it’s nice to de-stress for a few minutes during the day. The Lighter Side of Appraising Facebook group is for funnies only. No whining, taunting, or negativity is allowed! With 650 members and growing, this group is a breath of fresh air if you’re having a rough day. Membership is granted after request to this closed Facebook group. Want more tips for de-stressing? Try out our moment-cations post on LinkedIn!
During the interviews with my appraiser friends, a few surprising suggestions came to light. A couple of the appraisers mentioned the need to be able to delegate portions of their work to others through three different instruments: human resources, tech-savvy friends or associates, and customer helplines. Let’s dig deeper into this resource for real estate appraisers.
Human resources can be defined simply as “employees.” Gentry Lawson, SRA, explained,
Human resources (employees) are invaluable to me as an appraiser. Having an assistant and trainee has allowed me to take on an additional workload that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to accommodate if I were the sole employee of the company.
Caleb Bowen, LA, suggests using tech-savvy helpers, especially when you’re just starting out. Mastering technology to do your job faster, more efficiently, and as effectively as possible, gives you an edge over appraisers who don’t put in the extra effort to learn new technology. Reluctance to adopt new tech can affect the quality of your reports. Find someone who understands the clicks, clips, and checks of appraisal software, and you’ll find your capacity to do more work in less time greatly increases!
The third tip, know the number or chat address for your appraisal software customer helpline. You can save significant time using software support instead of trying to figure out a problem on your own.
5. Data Entry for Appraisers
Some helpful appraisal tips for improving your usage of data entry comes from Jared Preisler, SRA, Chief Appraiser at DataMaster.
First, Jared uses a Surface Pro laptop with a hub for connecting to monitors and a server. This laptop is compact, fast, powerful, and ideal for a busy appraiser’s toolbox.
Second, Jared uses multiple computer monitors to aid in tracking various screens in tandem. Two or three screens may seem overwhelming at first, but they can save you a lot of time if used correctly!
The third data entry resource for real estate appraisers is using time-saving technology to automate your processes. DataMaster is the best option for process automation (I might be a little biased!). This advanced software populates forms at a speed of 28,000 words per minute, accesses the MLS through the backdoor live (the only company authorized to do so), and accesses public records for you. You choose what information to use, and how it should be formatted, and DataMaster sends your appraisal information to your form vendor. Saving an hour or more per appraisal isn’t anything to sniff at. If you’re looking to save time, back up your reports with substantial evidence, and give your typing fingers some rest, try DataMaster!
6. USPAP Compliance
Sixth in our list of resources for real estate appraisers is tools that help you comply with USPAP guidelines.
First is Pulse, a nifty app that stores your text messages. As communication changes, storing text messages is an important part of retaining your communication as part of the USPAP record keeping rule.
Second is DataMaster, once again! DataMaster saves more data to your workfile than other programs. We even include MLS photos for the properties you select. And better yet, you control the entire process! Possessing defensible reports gives you peace of mind and might save you hours of headache and wads of cash in the future should your work be challenged by an unsatisfied customer or lender.
7. Inspection Tools for Real Estate Appraisers
Real estate appraising moved into the new millennium with a bevy of evolving technology which changed how appraisers did their jobs. As the first couple of decades of the new millennium have progressed, so have the tools appraisers use. During my research, five technological resources for real estate appraisers came up more than others. The first four are:
- Mobile devices
- Disto laser measure
- iPad with a top-rate camera
- Compact flashlight with a long-life battery
These tools are self-explanatory, so let’s move on to the fifth inspection tool: a resource that has been around for millennia, blueprints! Caleb suggests that all appraisers should know how to read blueprints! An excellent place to start is proconstructionguide.com.
Take the time to learn how to read these layouts of the homes that you appraise, and you’ll be well on your way to an accurate appraisal!
8. Customer Relations
All appraisers must master the art of customer relations. Come off as a prickly porcupine, and your reputation will suffer. Never fear, though, even if customer service doesn’t come naturally to you, it is possible to master this crucial skill. Two resources stand out in this area.
LinkedIn Learning is the learning center for professionals! This behemoth online learning site houses over 9,000 classes! You can get started with a free trial month of classes. While there is a subscription fee after the month, the fee covers unlimited access and is well worth the price.
LinkedIn’s class line-up includes a plethora of classes that detail how to provide quality customer service. Along with improving your customer relations skills, you’ll also be able to post notice of completion of the course on your LinkedIn profile! How’s that for lighting two candles with one match?
Another resource is YouTube. Check out TED talks and other free resources. Listen as you drive to and from appraisal appointments and implement the skill into your already formidable arsenal! For starters, here’s a good one by Celeste Headlee, “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation.“
Our third real estate appraiser resource is a tip for customer service that you may not have thought about: learn to speak two (or three, or more) languages! If there’s a specific language common in your area, learn it! Besides various YouTube channels and websites which teach languages, there are apps that you can slip in for a few minutes here and there throughout the day. Duolingo is the app of choice for over 300 million users! This free app (there’s a paid version as well) has 62 languages to choose from! I personally love this app and am currently brushing up on French. Give it a try!
9. Newsletters for Real Estate Appraisers
Three real estate appraisal newsletters stood out as I compared the options: Appraisal Buzz, Appraisal Today, and McKissock.
Appraisal Buzz includes headings such as “The Latest Buzz,” “Career Buzz & Press Release,” and “Around the Web.” This newsletter shows up in your inbox a couple of times a week and always provides engaging, relevant information.
McKissock sends a monthly newsletter to your inbox. This newsletter is cleanly formatted, easy to read, and provides helpful, relevant information as well.
10. Blogs for Real Estate Appraisers
Five blogs/podcasts made the list of blogs worth subscribing to. Let’s wrap up our ten tips for real estate appraisers by summing up these blogs!
Voice of Appraisal is a podcast produced by Phil Crawford. Phil describes his podcast as “a show designed to deliver the most up to date news and information for the working real estate valuation professional. The show provides top analysis of real estate trends and issues that affect appraisers nationwide.”
The Voice of Appraisal homepage includes helpful appraiser tools such as spreadsheets and appraiser documents as well as public service announcements, tidbits, links to other “power bloggers,” and such.
The Appraiser Coach is a podcast worth mentioning here. Produced by Dustin Harris, the weekly podcasts are informative and great for listening to during car rides (along with Duolingo, of course!). The Appraiser Coach podcasts contain:
- The latest appraisal news
- Interviews with industry leaders
- Tips and tricks for better appraisal business
Ryan Lundquist maintains the Sacramento Appraisal Blog is maintained by Ryan Lundquist. With an impressive library of blog posts, this blog is a must-have for appraisers! The blog covers several areas, including:
- Appraisal Stuff (400)
- Bankruptcy (3)
- Divorce (4)
- Estate Settlement (6)
- FHA Appraisal Articles (56)
- Internet (53)
- Market Trends (434)
- Photos from the Field (126)
- Property Taxes (70)
- Random Stuff (224)
- Resources (560)
- Videos (161)
That’s an impressive line-up!
Next, McKissock shows up again in “Ten Tips for Appraisers” because the company produces such great content!
The McKissock Appraisal Blog has a refreshingly simple layout, is full of information that any appraiser will value, and has a library stocked with sixteen different categories of appraisal goodies! While the blog overlaps with the newsletter somewhat, the blog contains even more information than the newsletter does and is worth following!
This list of resources for real estate appraisers is an excellent place to start if you’re looking for tools to add to your palette. Are there any resources in this post that you haven’t tried before? If so, give them a try! And if you try out some of these resources, let us know what you think!
Do you have any tips that have changed your appraisal business for the better? Let us know!