Commercial Real Estate Appraiser (The Future of this Career)

Hello All,

I am a state-certified general appraiser licensed in Florida, and have been working in this career for the past ten years. I've been state licensed for over the past six years (roughly). While not one of the main careers or topics on here, I'd be glad to discuss the future of this career and the issues that are currently challenging current commercial real estate appraisers. I'm in Florida, and at a point where I may be looking to either branch out on my own, or leave the industry. Over the past few years, the fees have flat-lined and it appears to me, that the only way you can really make a decent salary in this career is by going out on your own. I'd be interested to hear back from any current independent fee appraisers that have their own business and would be willing to share information concerning how I would go about getting on a banks approved list of appraisers, and any other information that may be helpful.


I am a trainee but here's what I think. In the state that I work--east coast city--the average age of a commercial appraiser is nearing 60 and not too many trainees are entering the profession. Therefore, despite automaton, I think CRE appraisal will survive due to the subjectivity of CRE valuation and the need to verify data . Do you have an MAI? Do you work for a national appraisal firm or a big 4 accounting firm? Also, I have heard that appraisers who specialize in hospitality, senior housing and litigation make $$$.

Best Response

I don't have my MAI, as I've lost faith in the Appraisal Institution. They don't appear to do a good job lobbying for appraisers in Washington. I may get my MAI if I go out on my own, and I won't have any problem, just the time involved. The whole thing about the average age being 60, to me is a bit misleading. One thing is, you can physically do the work required as a commercial real estate appraiser until you retire (74 or 75). So that's another 10-15 years, and most of the senior appraisers that I have spoken with, are quitting the appraisal industry not because of age, but due to increased regulation and stagnant fees. The frustrating part is that it's hard for a client to tell the difference between a good appraisal report and a bad one. And there are too many "bad" appraisers out there that bid low, do questionable work, but how does the client really know if the appraisal is a "good" report or "bad" report? That's where the appraisal institute is letting down all appraisers. While it's good for all appraisers to continue educational training, they need to work to educate the intended users so they can actually understand why one firm bids $6,000 for a proposed hotel and another firm bids $3,500. Also, the way that the industry is set up has not changed in the past 40 years to my knowledge. The idea is that you learn the profession as a "trainee", and eventually go out on your own, because that's really the only way you can make real money in appraising.


Having an MAI doesn't mean anything -- you can thank the eldest in the profession for milking the designation of its usefulness and hanging their dusty laurels with clients who require an MAI sign and endorse the report.

I think where you work really is really the key to whether you will make it in the appraisal business. With increased regulation, most firms want the big name to hedge the liability and of course the larger firms (CBRE, JLL, etc) can bear the brunt of the hit should anything turn litigious.


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