College Degree Requirement Misguided



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College Degree Requirement Misguided
By David Brauner, Publisher

I know about half of you disagree but the college degree requirement for Certification was a wrong turn for the industry. To its credit the Appraisal Foundation (TAF) is on the right track in trying to find a way out of the corner it has painted the profession into but it doesn’t look like it intends to go far enough in fixing the problem. As we all know by now, veteran appraisers as well as newbies can be licensed without a college degree but not Certified. Because so much of the business today depends on being Certified, not holding that license level can be a very limiting condition indeed: it disqualifies appraisers from most AMC and lender panels and excludes them from working for the FHA. A lack of opportunity has driven many good appraisers from the business and for the first time in a long time, there is a shortage of new appraisers entering the profession. This is not good news.

Without new vitality to innovate the profession, it will wither and die. Lenders will create alternative solutions that combine big data and low-fee “property inspections” for all but the most unique properties to replace appraisers. To the current “shortage” of appraisers you may be shouting “Hallelujah!” while you enjoy some long-overdue increases in your fees. But if you’re really honest with yourself you must agree that a college degree is no predictor of good work or good behavior (there are far too many examples from our profession and others that make that statement sadly ridiculous). Training, testing and time can separate the wheat from the chaff when combined with consistent enforcement. Effective oversight will identify repeat violators and patterns to reveal who won’t or can’t adopt accepted techniques or who refuse to play by the ethical rules. We all agree these types should be expunged from the ranks but a college degree does not guarantee competency or ethical behavior: so what is it about?

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The college degree requirement seems more like a forced attempt at elevating the status of the profession by closing the club, and that strikes me as elitist. Not everyone has the opportunity, resources or aptitude to attend and/or flourish in college. Some very smart people just don’t learn via traditional education methods. And holding up the education requirements of other professions like attorneys, doctors and CPAs just does not hold water. An accountant is a more apt comparison and while a college degree is recommended, it is not required to become an accountant, nor is it to become an engineer, software developer, airline pilot or journalist for that matter. A recent letter from a reader points out that a degree is not even required to be President of the United States! The requirement is even more dubious when you consider that a degree in any subject passes muster for becoming a Certified Appraiser, no matter how unrelated (think French Literature for instance), while someone with the skills to flourish in this business would be shut out for all intents and purposes without a degree.

The folks at TAF tell WRE that they are looking into alternative paths to Certification for veteran appraisers with “a track record of professional (appraisal) experience.” That’s very good but not good enough. The college degree requirement for new appraisers ought to be replaced by some combination of education, coursework and testing so that a whole new generation of young, smart and tech-savvy entrepreneurs has a chance to contribute to the profession, whether they are cut out for college or not. Many young candidates will be your sons or daughters or grandchildren. Are they all destined to graduate college? Like you, they should be able to enjoy a profession that allows them to be their own boss while making honest living and a valuable and rewarding contribution to their community. To dig in on this issue and leave the college degree requirement in place for prospective appraisers without any reasonable path to Certification risks the future of the profession and turns away many men and women who could add to its legacy.

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TAF believes there is no opposition to the college degree requirement among appraisers. Whether you agree or not, you can share your opinion and feedback with Working RE’s new Future of Appraisers Survey. We will publish the results for all to see, whatever you decide.

The AQB will hold another public meeting on these issues on Friday, April 8, in Phoenix, Arizona. For more information:

Take Survey Now
Let your voice be heard! Share your opinion on the college degree requirement, trainee experience requirements, and more with Working RE’s Future of Appraisers Survey.


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About the Author
David Brauner is the Senior Insurance Broker for and Publisher of Working RE magazine. He has been involved in providing E&O coverage for appraisers for over 20 years. OREP is a leading provider of appraiser E&O insurance. All OREP Insureds enjoy unrivaled professional support, including free state board complaint consulting, free webinars, guaranteed delivery of Working RE Magazine, Continuing Education coursework at cost, and discounts on background checks, office supplies, cell phone bills, rental cars, and more. Shop OREP Today!


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Comments (49)

  1. The appraiser has about the same status as a hairdresser. No Offense intended to hair dressers . Government has dumbed down the profession and bankers have used appraisers to lower fees in the profession.And even for unrelated work like insurance values. Oh and quality, experience does not count- that would be discriminatory just like in politics. Ops i don’t leave my full name – I might be disqualified for blaming government regulators, bankers. Remember First Union they blacked me for objecting politely to accepting my bid then coming back to withdraw it as they succeeded in getting their preferred vendor. I told them them i felt used. The so called lady hung up with a “fu*k you” comment. Another, a colleague ask me to bid on an assignment, high as he was already determined for the service but my colleague needed it to appear above board by having a straw bid from me. i refused. Appraisers who joined banks earned their place by screwing their own colleagues with fees. The old timers were very ethical and always sought experience,qualifications over fees. Now its the AMC’s who are at the frontline and taking much of the fees to police the profession for their now gain. AMC, specially well connected former government officials is a fast growing business. When the s*it hits the fan they will liquidate voluntarily.

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  2. I’m in my 30th year of appraising. I’ve seen a lot of changes. Licensing, I believe has been a good change. The college degree aspect of this discussion, however, is not. I have only a couple of years of college under my belt with no degree. I’ve been a certified appraiser since 1995. I’ve trained both degreed folks and non degreed folks, and what I’ve discovered is that a degree does not necessarily mean “smart” and the other way around. Beyond the degree issue, which I believe is just another way to slowly destroy our industry, the supervised training is the most stifling part of the equation… I have just finished training my last and final trainee, all the way through to Certification. The amount of time for me, and the lack of money for my trainee, makes becoming a new appraiser insane! For 30 months I have been going out on every assignment my trainee has completed because I can’t sign the appraisal on the right, per lender requirements. Royal pain in the rear. When he became a licensed appraiser I still had to go on every assignment.

    All of that to say, do we have issues with our industry? Yep. But many of the issues are not caused by the appraiser. Many of the issues are caused by government and the lending institutions. UAD, “stupid”. Does it make for a better appraisal? Consistent? Maybe. A more accurate value? NO! Most of what we are asked to do have nothing to do with improving our valuation process…. if it did we’d be granted access to all the Fannie Mae CU info.

    I’m 57 years old and hoping to be around for another 10 to 15 years. Time will tell.

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  3. Basic math, the average college graduate starts out with upwards of $25,000 in loan debt, the average trainee appraiser makes how much per month? Yep.

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  4. It seems to me that the only people who don’t value a college degree are those that don’t have one or those that see it as a barrier to their having their way with the world.

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    • The formally-educate-appraisers-debate hit another blog and true to your observation the majority who are agin it ain’t got any. With one vehement exception. That blogger believes education for appraisers must be vocational only. No liberal arts or other “irrelevant” courses for that guy because he went to college and got a degree and it wasn’t as helpful as his on the job experience.

      I joined this faux profession back when the rule was you had to master x number of hours of qualifying vocational education and supervised experience to become certified. That “education” should have been my warning about the shallowness of what I was getting into, but I liked the idea of self employment and discipline of research, analysis and communication. I bought the sales pitch that the job demanded ethical diligence notwithstanding becoming familiar with the URAR and the secondary mortgage market.

      Folks, we have been appointed watchdogs on the real estate and mortgage lending industries and we are resented there and not respected. You really need a lot of education to do that and vocational classes won’t teach you how. Heck, you won’t even be able to understand the concept of value from any of the vocational classes I am familiar with. Liberal arts classes on the other hand…. Given the ubiquitous real estate broker definition of value, all an appraiser needs to come up with is, “how much it is worth.” The obvious answer that most appraisers, at least those whose top priority is gainful employment, have discovered is, “the contract price.”

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  5. WOW, so many opinions. This is simple, Commercial/Certified General YES. Residential/Certified Residential NO; simply no need for it. Look, their are many many appraisers who do not have a 4 year degree and many who do in residential appraising this is because its a trade craft skill much like electricians, computer programmers, welders, instrument techs, oil/gas field services (which are highly trained people without a degree), communications tech, etc, etc, etc we go on an on with this. Ethics does not come from a 4 year degree; point in case most mortgage brokers all have 4 degrees and a large portion of them were snakes in grass with very little ethics before licensing. When I got in to the business 25 years ago I was told by my mentor (an SRA) “it takes about 5 years of training (class/field work) to become a good appraiser; it takes about six months to know if you can do the job”. He was so right. To the TAF, The formula: Residential License (training under Cert Appraiser, but can inspect homes after classes, general training, field specific training time and maybe some kind of home inspections inspections test, etc and some appraisal hours time logged; cannot sign by oneself); 1st step – 2yrs under $1mill dollar amount can work for all lenders all products, can be reviewed by state or assigned mentor upon request; 2nd/Final Res-Cert – Cert test, all SRA (in classroom) like courses completed and passed, reasonable amount of of appraisal hours of license time (i.e. say 2,500 hrs), 1 year probation by the state where they can request X files from date to date etc to be review by them. I agree with the author, W.F, Bill F, Jo Ann, Mike W, and some others. I really like the trade schools idea, mentor, etc. People need to understand one has to be able to eat; no one with a 4 year degree who is not working for family members will become a residential appraising simply because you can’t eat as a trainee under the current set up. This is why no one is getting in the business along with all of the State/Fed regulations, etc, etc, etc…..but that another comment all in itself.

    P.S. – The industry should be the ones who decide this not the Govt. Example: to get your SRA, to become chief appraiser of some firm, bank, etc, etc, etc; but not to become a field residential appraiser; come on, use some common sense here.

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  6. THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF APPRISERS. Things are being measured by the membership in this refusal to work for low fees. If an AMC says it took two weeks to find someone to do a 1004 for $200, then there is a shortage of appraisers. Baloney!
    Is there a shortage of truckers? No, just a shortage of those willing to drive for 43 cents a mile. We are to used “market measured results” . If your perception is a shortage, what is your quantitative basis? Is it because it is hard to place a low fee order? Come on guys…….reality always wins.

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  7. Thanks David for being genuinely concerned about appraisers and appraising, but you must know I’m in the half that does not agree with your conclusion about the usefulness of formal education.

    Even as you decry formal education and the degrees to prove it, I note you believe one of the things appraisers need is education. At least one earlier poster pointed out that training is an issue. You speak of elitism, and appraisal education until recently has been offered primarily by organizations who consider themselves elite, and the education just isn’t that great. Indeed, a good analogy can be drawn to the story of Nero and Rome. Those who taught what was once considered premier education have “fiddled” as our trade “burned.”

    Like it or not, formal education is generally respected, as is equivalent ethical experience. But, if your goal is to find a reliable predictor of ethical performance, the jury is in “training, testing and time” have definitely not “separated the wheat from the chaff.” And you have identified the culprit, EFFECTIVE ENFORCEMENT. But how can you have effective enforcement without money, lots of money?

    I assume the goal of either education or experience is better appraisals and nobody has yet defined what a “good” appraisal is. So, what is the point of effective enforcement? USPAP compliance?

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  8. by Klara Lorinczi

    When I entered the appraisal profession, there was no college requirement. I came from a poor family of refugees from the 1950’s from eastern Europe. My family did not have the money to send any of the kids to college and I could not find the funds, including student loans. Getting into this profession was a life saver for me. Requiring college will bar some very capable & competent people from this industry who don’t have the time or money to go to college but would otherwise make very good appraisers. I also think they should make it easier for licensed appraisers to get certified. If they have the field hours, the classroom requirements should be reduced or waived entirely. The expense of taking more classes has barred some licensed appraisers from upgrading to certified. I have spoken to licensed appraiser who would like to upgrade but don’t have the time or money to take all the classes. I agree that the requirements for commercial appraisers should be kept high, but not for residential. Its just not as complex as commercial work — I have done both so I know firsthand.

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  9. I have been appraising for over 20 years in 2 different states with no judgments against me. I am an AL and have been struggling just to make ends meet because of this new rule. I had to stop appraising for a year to look for other employment and in the interim have filed bankruptcy. For having this many years in this industry and to be told I can no longer work at a profession that I love and am good at because of a piece of paper is extremely sad. A College Degree does not make you a GOOD and ETHICAL appraiser. With that being said, those of us that have maybe 10 more years of working, to start a new profession at my age is ludicrous. Whatever happened to being GRANDFATHERED in, due to experience. They will be losing a lot of good appraisers because at this age I will not go get a BA. I was under the wire to take the test. I took it once and then ran out of time to take it again. There is no better training than experience.

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  10. I think that a two-yea degree in real estate appraisal should be required for certification. This requires the exposure to basic math, reading and writing skills, as well as an exposure to a structured environment. I also believe that the continuing education should be more structured and hours increased, but with relevant and affordable options, including a biannual testing of relevant industry standards. As with real estate sales, the current requirements are set so that anyone/everyone passes. This is a problem as it does not weed out those that are truly not suited/competent to perform the tasks.

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  11. My understanding – if we are not “professional” (college degree required) – then, we are more like journeymen – if this is the case, again my understanding – then there is NO statutory limitation on our Reports – but if we “professionals” with college deal (e.g., like CPA’s) then, here is a 2 year statutory limitation – I understand some States are trying to pass legislation to set 3 years as the statutory limitation – but how long will this take in each State? Does anyone know any difference?

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  12. by Michael H. Fitzpatrick, SRA, BSBA, GRI

    The whole discussion of requirement for a college degree misses the main point, which is: Being an appraiser is a poor choice for a profession. As we have recently seen, in last 15 years (and before that, too) the need for appraisers is cyclical; i.e. “Boom or Bust”. Unless one is lucky enough to be able to “ride-out” the “Bust” downturn of business, their career is likely to be short and given the time, expense and hard work it appears that another career choice would be better. Solve THAT problem, get the fees up where they reflect the time, effort, expense, stress and credentials required and there will be plenty of eager new appraisers. At this time, Lenders and AMCs only are looking for the cheapest appraisal from an appraiser who has E&O insurance and meets minimum requirements. Mike in FL

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  13. As many have highlighted, this has nothing to do with degrees but pure economics. First of all, why would you pursue this industry after obtaining a college degree? It makes no sense. You take on $100k in college debt to do appraisals for what AMCs pay?? You should not work with economic numbers then. Bi entered the business in 1992 and did an apprenticeship, took all the education, and passed the exam for a license… Started my practice at age 22. I was an entrepreneur…business owner…. Charged $250-$300 per report. Able to grow and mold my business.That all went away in 2009. I had to layoff single moms and young kids looking to get in the business. Until we become independent nothing will matter and everything will become automated with a home inspection.

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  14. Most all appraisers know that a college degree is not holding back new people from getting into the business, It’s the fees being paid. The lenders, legeslators and amc’s just don’t want to see it that way.
    The amc’s wanted to take the place of the Senior Appraiser who would hire people who want to be an appraiser. Now with the low fees a SA can no long train and split a fee with a trainee.
    There is really no shortage of appraisers, just a shortage of appraisers who will work and take orders from amc’s for peanuts. How can a SA hire trainees and do work for amc’s. When you work for an amc, there is no loyaty with that client. You appraisal business is only as good as you last appraisal. Amc’s have and will just call someone else. However, there is no one else to call as they have **** every one over.
    I have gotten calls from past amc’s who had dropped me and down want to do business again. Like they have gone thru everyone else and starting over. Sorry but no thanks.
    Today I do very little business with amc’s especially all the NEW ones.

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  15. by Jeff Jorgensen

    First, the shortage of appraisers argument originated from AMC’s who benefit from an over-supply of appraisers they can draw upon for ridiculous fees and turn times. In most markets there is not a shortage of appraisers, just a shortage of appraisers willing to work for ridiculous fees and turn times.

    Second, demand has improved for appraisal services and fees have started to increase in many areas. That is a good thing. Yes, a severe shortage of appraisers going forward would be bad for the profession, but the college degree requirement is only a small part of why people are not entering the profession. People are not entering the profession because the reward is not equal to the effort. Supply and demand is a principle very familiar to appraisers. Supply increases as something is easier to come by and demand increases as something is harder to come by. Lowering entry requirements will increase supply, but will lower demand and fees. Higher requirements increases demand and fees, which in turn will attract the best and the brightest.

    Third, we should be less concerned by the college degree requirement and more concerned with the trainee process, which is where the real problem lies. Trainees should be able to inspect on their own after a reasonable training period, which would make training more financially feasible.

    Fourth, just because there are very smart people who do not hold college degrees, college degrees do not insure ethics, some people struggle with college, other professions do not require college degrees, etc., are not good arguments for not requiring a college degree for residential appraisers. I could go on about each of these, but for brevity, I will just touch on CPA’s, since they are a related profession. It is true that technically you are not required to have a degree to be an accountant, but it is required to become a CPA. and a CPA is like a certified appraiser. Non CPA, non college degree accountants have limited opportunities like licensed appraisers do. The real question here, is whether a college degree improves appraisals and the appraisal profession. I think it does by improving writing and communication skills, improving public trust, demand and income.

    Fifth, a degree was already required before the most recent changes. It just changed from an associates degree to a bachelors degree. Education has always been a part of this profession. The question is how much education should be required? The other question is do we require a lower degree for residential appraisers than general or commercial appraisers? The residential profession just received a promotion. Do we want to be demoted back to a something below a commercial appraiser. I think the profession would be better served if we viewed residential appraising as different specially to commercial appraising, not something less than. I can say that because I started out as a commercial appraiser and it is my opinion, that residential assignments are often more difficult than commercial assignments.

    In conclusion, it is my opinion we should keep the college degree requirement and instead focus on some of the real problems, one of which is changing the trainee/trainer process.

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  16. Appraisers should absolutely have a college degree – and that degree should be in APPRAISING! The issue is the ineffective system of having to secure a mentor and hoping the one who is willing to hire you will actually do a good job teaching. The system itself is flawed and bogus with no real validation of the supervisor’s ability to teach. The whole mentor system needs to be scrapped and a real college degree needs to be established – just like for real professionals. A two year program may be more than sufficient (as it is for nurses, IT folks, etc). Stop the blue collar apprentice model and teach appraising in college. This isn’t a hands on profession of wiring, building and welding. It is a profession of analysis.

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  17. There is no need for a college degree to be a competent appraiser. It is simply a glass ceiling designed to exclude competition. There is no college curriculum for appraising like there is for being a CPA or other profession. People who have been posting that some level of higher education is needed have not demonstrated why it is needed. Reading and writing a clear sentence is typically accomplished prior to entering high school. However, none of this will matter until lenders will accept trainee work again. To point out the obvious once again, while trainee’s do get the majority of lawsuits, they did not cause the recession. That was caused by lender manipulation of borrower qualification guidelines at the Federal level, and the repeal of Glass-Steagall. The only way lenders will accept trainee work is if the Fed forces them to do so. Currently, lenders can refuse to accept trainee work, which is exactly why we have no trainees. Personal note: After many years raising a family I finally did have the opportunity to go back and get 2 degree’s culminating in a medical license. However, I will state there was nothing past my high school diploma from a formal accredited college that has been any help in my appraisal profession. The courses I took from the Appraisal Institute, my professional associations with mentors in the appraisal profession, and work experience are what made me an appraiser. Too bad I can’t offer this opportunity to my kids. They want to be appraisers, but they haven’t finished a 4 year degree and can’t work for free for the 5+ years it takes to become certified.
    Dr. Guy O’Connor (Oriental Medicine)

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  18. You know, I don’t pretend to be a futurist who can somehow conjure the future. That is why you can count on one hand the number of opinion pieces I have written in 20 years. I’ve held my tongue on this issue for a long time just because my gut is not always right and my job is reporting the news, not giving opinions. It’s true as one of you noted, that this college degree requirement is good for working appraisers right now- and Lord knows you need some daylight. However, I believe the evidence is beginning to trickle in that that view may be shortsighted. We’ll see. I hope I’m wrong. What I do know for sure is that the college degree barrier is unfair to our sons and daughters and grandchildren who may not be cut out for college and that a degree does not ensure better appraisers or more to the point, better appraisals. That is the long and short of my argument. Please take a moment or two to fill out our short survey. My guess this issue is a 50/50 tie. And as always, thanks for reading.

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  19. There are thousands of people with college degrees working as bartenders, waiters or in retail, or flat out unemployed. The degree requirement is no issue for many people that could enter the field. Before HVCC, many people came into the field with a degree earned years earlier. Now none. HVCC and the start of increasing the educational requirements happened at about the same time. Fees were cut in half. So, now instead of having a more healthy field where a mix of college grads and those without a degree are working toward their certification, no one is entering the field. People without a degree are barred from entering. And people already with a degree don’t think it is worth the time and the effort. Eliminating the degree requirement will open the doors back up to those without a degree, but will do nothing to bring back people with higher ed under their belt. I don’t think a degree is needed to become a good appraiser, but do we want almost all of the new appraisers going forward to have no college education?

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  20. by Mike in California

    The logic in this article is flawed. What other industry has been impeded by requiring more education, such as a college degree? Why just single out the appraisal industry? Using this logic we should just strike the requirement of a college degree from any profession. It’s all about fees, folks. If fees come up you will attract the college educated, there will be ample competent appraisers, supply and demand will take care of itself. But of course some here really do not want higher fees, they want an over supply of appraisers. Why? Because an over supply of appraisers gives them control over fees and if they can have you working for minimum wage they certainly will.

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  21. by Jason R. Haskell

    The additional factor that makes entry into the profession that was not mentioned in the article is experience requirements. I took on my nephew as an assistant about 3 years ago. He was finishing his degree, then took 2+ years getting his experience hours (2,500 hours IN NOT LESS THAN 2 YEARS), only to find that there are ZERO clients who will accept him on their panel until he has at least 3 to 5 years of further experience. It’s a minimum 9 year process to be able to complete your own appraisal. Who is going to go down that road for the compensation we make? Who is going to sign on to training someone for at least 9 years before they can even go inspect and finish a job on their own?

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  22. TAF nor the states will ever get rid of the college degree requirement. The ponzi scheme on a college education requirement started circa the new millennium. Thus, the ponzi cannot end or the money (massive student debt) will dry up. It sucks, but you know, the government needs to keep everyone in massive debt because that is all this country is built on now….massive debt. Good luck

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  23. While I am in agreement there are many really competent appraisers without degrees including one of two of my mentors, I am currently a proponent of the degree requirement. Here is why: We seem to have no unified voice as the AMA, BAR and other “professionals”. We are left twisting in the wind by the Banks, AMCs and the stacked committees and boards in collusion with politicians who do their bidding. Any disagreement so far from any appraiser’s who have been in this more than six months? To me a degree requirement is simple economics. Put in appraisal terms, the Principle of Substitution. If an appraisal job is a commodity, it is logical that workers with degrees have better alternatives to well paying employment. Poor appraisal pay means the appraiser goes somewhere else. This elevates the profession technically, financially and in terms of prestige. Frankly, I am tired of having spent Four years at what is sometimes #1 ranked B school, and another year plus getting an MBA in real state at a Pac 12 school competing with those appraisers that this is the best job they could ever have and will lower fees to about what they made before entering the “occupation” as it has been. A rock solid Union being the alternative to a degree. While growing up in a Midwest Industrial town in Michigan, with a family loaded with Engineers, Attorneys and a few MDs, I was pretty anti union until I saw that Big Business and Big Government could only be dealt with effectively by a Big Union. Need I name the real effect of reasonable and customary fee requirements? Dodd Frank, HVCC? Did you know that the proposed De minimus was $50,000 in 1990 but raised to $250,000 which excluded 90%+ of all mortgages written at that time. To quote the late Judge Scalia – “Applesauce”. Wake up appraisers, either create a national union based on a guild system or keep the degree requirement, or continue to suffer. Locally, in 1990 most appraisers generated two appraisals a day at $250 per. Go to consumer price index, view percentage price increase, couple it with scope creep – a reduction in productivity, and we should be getting $686 per appraisal just to maintain parity. How’s that working? Appraisers will never live long enough to just see a shortage, the rules will change benefiting the Banks and AMCs, history should already have taught that. Rather, it is time to take control of the future.

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  24. Let me first state I am against the 4 year college degree requirement. However, prior to the college degree requirement there were many appraisals that were difficult to understand and appeared unprofessional due to an inconsistent grasp of the English language in a written format. How does one address that issue to an appraiser who speaks well but cannot communicate in a written format on a “professional” level for English written material?

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  25. we don’t need no more stinking appraisers on this plantation. the business was dumbed down, and flooded, with appraisers after certification. let the machines do it, see who the lenders can blame then.

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  26. by Charles Horner

    I was not able to finish my degree due to several family related circumstances that interrupted my process. Later, I went back to try to finish up, but being a business owner didn’t allow me to take more than one more semester. I wound up with 100 hours but there is just no way I have to time since I stay very busy in the appraisal work, I’m a licensed assistant for my wife who is a real estate broker, and I’m very involved with church as a deacon, choir/ensemble member, 1-4 yearly mission trips in the States and abroad, Habitat activities, and mentoring a 4th grader at a local elementary school. I’ve been in real estate as a licensed sales agent since 1998 and getting into the appraisal field in 1999. I am currently res. Certified and I only lack taking the exam to become General Certified. The college degree rule is a joke as we all know experience trumps a piece of paper. I can’t name one person that set the world ablaze due to a degree fresh out of college. Prior education and experience should be the determining factor. Hey, if you do have a degree, that’s great. I’m not saying it’s worthless, and I don’t discount that education is important, but it’s not the end all to competency. Would you want a fresh college kid making a half-million dollar or more decision if you were a lender? I started getting curious as to what dollar amounts I was appraising, and through the first half of last year, I had valued over $23MM worth of properties. All without a college degree. I don’t think the economy can afford this ridiculous exclusionary rule.

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  27. A four year degree may not necessarily be a requirement for a certified residential appraiser but at a minimum an associates degree should be mandatory.
    The last thing we need is a return to the days when anyone and everyone jumped into the profession for easy money without a focus on the profession itself.
    As fee levels increase the appraisal profession will easily attract good qualified people.
    Going backwards is not the answer. Large lenders and AMCs might like this solution but for those of us who have made appraising a career choice and taken the additional steps of obtaining designations or gone beyond the basic requirements for C.E. to enhance and broaden their skills dumbing down our profession is not the way to go.

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  28. You are NOT an appraiser and do not make your living as an appraiser. You do however, make money by insuring appraisers. It appears to me more appraisers in the industry would equate to more needing to pay for E&O. Good for the insurers bottom line! I have been an appraiser for 25 years and support the college degree requirement. Fees are finally getting to the point where we are adequately paid for the service we provide and can make a decent living. This in turn will be what motivates new people to come to our PROFESSION (not job). Our industry will benefit if those new individuals are the best and brightest, and can demonstrate a commitment to the career. An open door policy does nothing but saturate the market with appraisers and cause fees to decline significantly. Been there….done that….

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  29. Why don’t certain lenders and/or FHA get at least as much blame as TAF? Each consciously made the choice not to hire licensed appraisers. Again… a one sided article that misses the big picture or offers a wholistic multi-sided solution.

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  30. by Arleen Goscinski

    It may be true that a college degree is not required in accounting, engineering or software development, but try getting one of those jobs without it. It would never happen.

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  31. by Barry Schweickert, CR#181, SC

    Targeted education would be more to the point than, as you pointed out, French Literature or some such. And doctor and lawyer are the result of graduate programs, hardly comparable. Courses should be offered through technical colleges with cross training in the trades, inspection, plumbing, carpentry, etc., so that an appraiser would know what professional, quality work looks like. This is not a step down from doctor/lawyer. Many in the trades are equally or more successful. (I am a Certified Residential appraiser of 35 years experience.)

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  32. First and foremost, I would like to applause the author of this article. I have read many articles on this website, this bar far stands out as one of the best. I would like to supply my background which proves how close to the mark this article has struck. I am a certified residential appraiser in Florida for over 12 years. Like most appraisers, I have trained under one or more supervisors, some of which are good and others not so much. I hold an associate’s degree from ITT Technical Institute. Since 9th grade in high school I have completed classes for drafting, AutoCad, Environmental Engineering (i.e. asbestos, lead, mold, etc.), worked for architects, engineers, industrial hygienists, geologists, and the like. My interests growing up always revolved around real estate and architecture. Additionally, I am an investor, a landlord, have bought / sold several homes, and designed / built the home I reside in today. While I do not hold a Bachelor degree, I’ll take the Pepsi challenge versus any higher educated / schooled individual in the appraisal industry. With my skills and background, you will be hard pressed to get that kind of experience out of someone coming out of school. In closing, I hope that the law makers realize that impeding the growth of an industry such as appraising will only give more power to the wrong people. Without a system of checks and balances in place, we will be doomed to relive the past events in the real estate industry which more than likely will be worse than the real estate catastrophe in the mid 2000’s. Thank you for giving a voice to the appraisal industry.

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  33. Yes, the 4 year college degree is an issue, but in my mind, it would be much more simple to eliminate the license level and make all appraisers either Certified Residential or Certified General. The license level is totally obsolete and all current licensees, whether holding a 4 year college degree or not, should be given the opportunity to be Certified without such stringent ridiculously demanding requirements. Previous years experience should be given credit for courses. Do that as soon as possible, perhaps even giving previously licensed appraisers the chance to resurrect their expired licenses that they had given up due to lack of work. There is an entire population of former licensees out there that quit when all of these requirements came along. They are already trained and experienced and have all left the industry. Hello out there! Wake up!

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  34. by Michael Weinert

    I started as a Registered-Trainee in Jan 2003, and have been certified since Jan 2007. I do not have a college degree, after High School I served for 7 years military and worked in an aviation field that required at times complex trouble-shooting; AKA problem solving. I would put my problem solving experience up against any 4 year degree.
    Over a decade ago I served on a town commission overseeing sewer systems, I was the only member without a degree, after being voted on as chair I solved a long term budget issue that started before my tenure, the members included an accountant, lawyer & engineer, they had all missed the budget problem.
    If I was to pursue a college degree in appraisal I WOULD EXPECT TO BE IN COMMERCIAL APPRAISAL NOT RESIDENTIAL!
    If one of my 3 kids told me they wanted to go to college to be a certified “Residential” appraiser I would have to whop them in the head for their own good.
    The B.S. residential appraisers go through, the beat down for fees, etc – IT IS NOT WORTH GOING TO COLLEGE FOR THIS!
    I am on preferred appraiser lists, Flagstar approved, and I have done many reviews, having seen other work I know I am at least a Good appraiser- possibly very good; and despite my experience I likely will never be able to move to another state and appraise residential properties due to 2 year college requirements.

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  35. Challenging the 4 yr degree does not go far enough. To build an appraisal business a person starts with a 4 yr degree, appraisal education, licensing, accreditation…then works for 5 yrs before taking on trainees…and only 2. The time required to build an appraisal business may be 13 to 15 yrs. That is an unrealistic expectation!

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  36. “The college degree requirement for new appraisers ought to be replaced by some combination of education, coursework and testing…” Ya know…we already had that. What the degree requirement does is block smart young (heck, or middle age, or old) people from entering the profession. I have a 30 year old Son-in-Law who would make an excellent Appraiser. I have a 50 year old neighbor who would make an excellent Appraiser. I would make an excellent Appraiser…oh wait…I am one…but the common denominator is the lack of a 4 year college degree. I think the “higher Education” lobbyist pushed this one through. Roll it back guys. It doesn’t take big kahonahs to say it was a nice idea but it isn’t working. Unless that was your plan all along…

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  37. Not ALL veteran appraisers have degrees now, so allowing veteran appraisers to get Certified without a degree does not guarantee they are quality appraisers. There is not one fix to the impending appraiser shortage. The fixes need to come from all ends of the appraisal profession – both appraisers and users of our services. Changes need to be from training, practicum courses and education requirements to AMCs, lenders, fees, respect, and other things TAF can’t fix.

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  38. by

    State Boards need to raise the surety bond requirements for AMCs. That’s the biggest problem of the industry. A measly $10,000 bonding requirement is only 25 to 30 1004’s. Another AMC went down, sticking appraisers again. $10,000 covers only 3 to 4 unpaid invoices. Everyone caved when it came to separating the fee on the HUD 1. Its time for the state boards to enforcing rules on AMCs instead of forcing appraisers to change careers.

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  39. I believe we need a system of license progression similar to other trades, such as Apprentice, Journeyman, and then Master.
    We already have it. It is called Trainee, Residential Appraiser, Certified Appraiser, and Certified General. That makes sense. Progression.
    What we really need to promote new Appraisers is a Trade School System where the basics can be learned and (even field) tested, then the same for each level. This way the instructors we are now loosing can still find useful work in this field, and we do not personally have to take out time and abilities to teach our competition.
    Also, we need new forms that are more suited for the current requirements. Since the Dodd Frank bill became effective, we are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Most prominent to me are the two lines at top of page 2 of the 1004 form, and the MC sheet. They need to be merged.
    Also on page 2, adjustments for views and location are ok for explanation, but NOT for adjustments. Those are simply a part of the reason for the site value.
    Speaking of site value, many do not even know what that entails, as most values I have seen do not include utilities such as electric, water, and sewer, which are a part of the site, and not a part of the improvements.
    Proper teaching of the basics of appraising, then adding additional instruction and training for things such as multiple unit properties, amenities, and then commercial and industrial uses later is very important.
    We all know that teaching ethics begins at home, and we need to let the market take out the unethical (culls) and those who will not learn. All a lender needs to do is stop using the person, and he will either get the message or find a new career.
    “Black Lists”, in my opinion, are not good to pass around between lenders, as individual differences and difficulties that ruin one relationship may not affect another.

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  40. I’m afraid that the author seems to be missing the mark on this issue. Until appraisers can earn a living commensurate with other similar professionals (say accountants, software developers, engineers, etc.) people are not going to enter the profession. Appraisers are not abandoning the profession, the profession is abandoning them.

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    • You need to college education to be considered a professional in this world.
      I would like a real estate license to be part of the education. I have one
      and find it valuable in my work and discussions with realtors.
      I also agree with Denny. The “profession” does not work on our behalf.
      No one can live on this income. Banks decide our fees. They state we are to be paid the norm for the area, then ask us to “bid” for the job and state that WE set our fees. DId they really think I would buy that logic?

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  41. by Jacob Thurston

    Please, go to college. College is not difficult and to ask professional appraisers to obtain a college degree is a small request. College teaches many things necessary to be a good appraiser such as thinking on your feet, networking and research techniques. I find your article to be ridiculous in all but one facet. You are correct that a college degree in any major is not sufficient. The college degree requirements should be refined to include only degrees in business, engineering or math, but not french literature as you cite. Also, the degree requirement should be to complete the degree not just obtain specific coursework. Please educate yourself and the appraisal profession by encouraging college attendance because the public trust depends on it.

    Jacob Thurston
    Certified General Appraiser
    Certified Assessing Officer

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  42. Big fan of your mag, Dave. Long story short, the degree requirement is good for currently practicing field appraisers. Supply & demand may someday result in fair wages for them. It is bad for people making a living servicing actual field appraisers, i.e. appraisal software makers, appraisal convention sponsors, appraisal magazine editors, appraisal CE schools and of course AMCs. These groups need appraisers (ANY kind of appraisers) to keep their businesses afloat.

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