How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser

Feb 13, 2023
5 min

Becoming a real estate appraiser is an exciting career choice.

Appraisers help determine the value of real estate.

They work closely with agents, investors, banks, buyers, and sellers to identify the value of a specific property or home. This helps entities find a fair value of the real estate to sell it at the right price.

Becoming a real estate appraiser requires time, effort, and studying. However, once you become an appraiser, you will find the work was worthwhile.

How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser

To become a real estate appraiser, there are 9 steps you must meet:

1. 18+ Years Old

You must be at least 18 years of age to be a residential real estate appraiser. An associate's, bachelor's, or doctorate degree from college or university is not required. You can be fresh out of high school and ready to dive into appraisal studies. A real estate appraiser is a great career option if you enjoy houses, report writing, and numerical analysis.

2. Complete 150 Hours of Coursework

As with many real estate jobs, there are prerequisite courses that must be completed before you can take a State Exam. To become a real estate appraiser, the state of California requires you to pass 150 hours of course enrollment. Following these classes is a live proctored exam. You get 3 attempts to pass this exam. If you do not pass within those 3 attempts, you are required to retake the prerequisite courses.

3. Apply For Initial Appraisal License

After you have completed your exam, you can apply for your license. Applications are sent to the Office of Real Estate Appraisers (OREA). You need your application (one of the RE forms available on the Department of Real Estate’s website), certificates of completion from your prerequisite courses, and payment forms or checks. This process is similar to your real estate (salesperson) exam application.

4. Pass a Background Check

After their waiting and verification period, the OREA will issue a date for your initial Appraisal License exam. Along with this, you are requested to send in a Live Scan. A Live Scan is a fingerprint and background check. Once you have completed these requirements and sent in the verification, you are ready for your exam.

5. Pass State Exam

Sharpen your pencils–it's time for a test! After you pass the exam, you have one (1) calendar year to pass the exam, pay any additional fees, and get your real estate appraisal license. However, this does not mean that you can appraise independently–yet. At this point, you have to find an established appraiser who is can train you. Additionally, they cannot have trained three (3) real estate appraiser trainees prior to you.

6. Work 2,000 Hours as a Real Estate Appraiser Trainee

When you find an appraiser, you must accompany them on inspections and assist them in writing reports for at least 2,000 hours. That’s 40 hours a week for 50 weeks, which equates to one year of full-time work. During this time, a Supervising appraiser must review and approve your work. This does not mean it has to be the same appraiser every time. It is possible to get experience at two separate firms.

7. Get Approved

After 2000 hours of experience, you can become a certified residential real estate appraiser. This is where you can work for yourself, control your schedule, and income. Most appraisers are self-employed. Therefore, there are more certified appraiser than there are trainees. Your Certified Appraiser (the one training you) must approve your 2,000 hours of work, which includes the quality of your work and your work ethic.

8. Apply for a Residential Real Estate Appraiser License

You can apply for your residential real estate appraiser license when you have received supervisor approval, practiced report writing, and practiced appraising. You are then eligible to complete your application and send it to the OREA and wait for the department's response.

9. Receive Your Real Estate Appraiser License

After you get your license, you can file with banks, loan reps, and more. This will allow you to receive requests for jobs. If you follow the typical appraiser’s business model, you will be self employed. Therefore, you will have to market your service and prospect for leads. Unlike a real estate agent, your target market is not the consumer. You will have a different marketing strategy than typical agents or title reps.

Final Thoughts on Becoming a Real Estate Appraiser

You will be churning out reports on a weekly basis and, hopefully, getting multiple jobs a week. Once you are “on the list” with a lender or bank, you are will be more likely to receive passive work. It is a facet of the real estate industry that operates heavily on trust capital and experience. This is why it is helpful to do your 2,000 hours with a professional, profitable, and busy appraiser–your name gets in front of the right people even before you are licensed.

This job path requires a big time investments. At first, it can seem daunting. You have to spend more than year studying and training for the chance to become a real estate appraiser. But, when you apply yourself and do the work well,  you will achieve your goal. And, when you do, you will realize what a terrific decision it was.

TL;DR: To become a real estate appraiser in California, you must complete 150 hours of appraisal education, gain experience working under a licensed appraiser, pass the state licensing exam, and meet eligibility requirements such as a background check and surety bond. Ongoing continuing education is also required to maintain your license.

Feb 13, 2023
How To
5 min