Former RE Appraisers, how did you leave the role? What did you leave it for?
Hello, I currently work in Commercial Apprasial,but I'm thinking of leaving. I wanted to ask former RE appraisers:
1) For what role (function, type of business) did you leave appraisal for (both directly after and eventually?
2) how were you able to make the transition? What skills were transferable and which skills did you have to learn?
I am extremely thankful for this platform and for those willing to share their experiences with someone like me. Thank you
I am not an appraiser, but I can share that two VPs of Asset Management at my firm both have significant appraisal backgrounds. I say "significant", but I do not believe either was ever a full MAI-licensed appraiser. They worked for appraisers for several years, learned how to analyze properties and ended up moving into AM.
I would think that if you work for a licensed appraiser for 5 years and become one yourself, you'd likely be firmly set on that track, but that if you work in appraisal for 2-3 years at more junior levels, it is a transferable experience that can get you into Analyst roles in AM, Acq, etc.
I was an appraiser my first year out of school. I transferred to a loan servicing role (during the GFC) and am now the Head of AM for a debt fund (~15 years later).
The most transferable skills for me were the ability to do public record research and modeling (ARGUS and excel).
I know a bunch of former appraisers that ended up in acquisitions, originations, and even a couple in development.
I am also working in appraisal my first year out of school. In terms of public record search, I have learned a good amount in my time here a little under leads than a year. However, I am really truly learning no modeling. We have a template that basically does all the work for us for this reason, I am concerned. I don't think I am building useful transferable skills outside of my record searching, and for that reason is why I would like to jump over. Are there any courses, books, YouTube channels, etc you recommend to learn the modeling skills that would be necessary to make a jump to AM or acq? I'm thinking of signing up for an Argus course as well.
ARGUS training was something my bosses made me do before I started. It was huge when I went to servicing because I knew the program better than anyone else and could knock out valuations in a couple of hours.
Even if your next shop only excel models, the skill is still very useful.
I was an appraiser with a large commercial shop out of undergrad. Got my MAI a few months before leaving LOL, they were not happy because they paid for all classes and tests to get it.
I was trying for about 3 years to transition out of appraisal into anything on the buy side or lending side. It was tough because I was making great money in appraisal and every position I was considered for would have been a significant pay cut (e.g. analyst/associate type roles). I was eventually hired by a life company via networking with a former colleague to spearhead problem loan workouts coming out of the GFC, pay was similar with bonus. They then moved me into an asset management role for their jv equity portfolio then to front end deal originations. Been doing debt and equity origination work ever since. my advice is to get out of appraiser sooner than later. I waited too long so most jobs were a pay cuts.
Argus was the main skill that stood out for me. The valuation background transfers over to many different roles in RE so push your underwriting chops in every interview. Also, I was always one to pick up the phone and call people to ask questions / request data so that skill definitely helped me when I moved to an originations role.
The lack of deal experience was a major holdback.
Haha, I've been here a little less than under a year and have yet to take a certification course. I feel guilty about the idea of taking any because I do truly plan to leave this business soon. So I sort of relate but not really. One area where I don't relate is with income being hard to walk away from. At the moment they are paying me a ridiculously low salary, and a ridiculously low cut of the fee split. Even in a good year-which it's not- I'd be better off as an analyst, even a recruiter maybe, given the company's pay structure. That's more of a company thing however, from what I've heard, I do understand it is possible to make good money in appraisal.
3 years sounds intensive. Being that I'm only 21, I would like to market my youth as possibly an attractive asset, but I don't think it's really that special. Employers don't really hire anyone thinking they'll stay very long nowadays. My main predicament is that I haven't developed any modeling or Argus skills, because the firm simply doesn't really use them. And in rare situations where they do, that job is given to an already experienced member. Most of my work is basic appraisal reports- mostly land vals- or just some standard multi family. Our template literally does all the work, so I'm just not really building/engineering those cogent understandings or meaty modeling skills that could show prospective employers I'm very knowledgeable about what I'm doing. Do you recommend any courses, books, YouTube channels, etc. where I can teach these modeling skills to myself? I've been taking an excel course by REFM, it's pretty dull. I also plan to enroll in an Argus course.
I'd like to ask you more about "deal experience" but I have no clue to be honest what that even really means. How did you learn all these things? I feel like appraisal is like growing up in this city and living your whole life in it and so it's everything I've ever known sort of, and now I'm trying to "travel" and I'm becoming shell shocked with understanding whats out there despite my imaginations limits.
21?!?! Oh Baby! Your youth at that age is a liability, not an asset. 1. because they know they have to train you, and 2. they know you're more than likely to leave. A company's only upside is they know they can pay you shit wages, but most companies with a true need for talent would rather hire someone with a few years experience who can hit the ground running. My advice is lateral to a better appraisal shop after a year or 2, CBRE / cushman /colliers/ JLL, where you will work on appraisals of institutional assets and learn the ins and outs of financial analysis. from there you will grow you UW chops and hopefully move on to something you're more interested in. In the mean time, take some online RE classes to help get the ball rolling.
Deal Experience - a deal can be any transaction in RE, whether it be an acquisition/disposition, commercial lease, JV agreement, commercial loan or the coveted Development project. your deal experience is when you individually, or as part of a team, work on the transaction. it's something you can add to your resume and clearly explain in an interview.
Similarly to those above I worked in appraisal as my first position in RE. I knew going into the role that it would be a stepping stone into another area of the industry and I was primarily focused on eventually transitioning into the buy side. Throughout my networking I found that transferring directly to an acquisitions role would be difficult given my lack of deal experience but the modeling and Argus experience was definitely helpful. The senior appraiser that I was working under covered all asset classes and his client base was typically institutional grade investors so having that experience early on in my career help me build up my resume.
I eventually transitioned into an investment sales role as a senior analyst and now work in acquisitions for a developer.
Did appraisals for 2 years right out of undergrad at a small middle-market shop in a major metro. Looked at every conceivable product type, but generally was deals under $50M. The money was shit and it wasn't glamorous, but personally I think it is great asset-level experience. Writing a self-contained appraisal report is essentially an acquisition IC package on steroids, just without return metrics or debt.
I pivoted to AM at a large owner/operator and stayed there for a few years. Wanted to switch cities and timing made sense with some personal stuff going on, so I left a few years ago and headed back out west. Ended up doing REPE portfolio management for a couple years, and subsequently shifted to acquisitions at the same firm.
Would I go back to appraisal at this point? Not a chance in hell. But I truly believe it was where I needed to be at the time, and a ton of the skills are transferrable to a number of other RE verticals. Focus on AM opportunities as your foot in the door, then work your professional network from there. Play up your underwriting, research and writing skills. To SBPref's point above, being able to pick up the phone and be a honey badger for data is invaluable and you should have a story around that. Generally speaking, I've seen those with an appraisal background excel in that aspect vs fresh young analysts that may be too nervous to pick up a phone.
Best of luck
Did appraisal for almost 10 years, now in business school getting my mba and planning to pivot to multifamily development. Appraisal research skills are useful when analyzing a market, and juggling multiple reports in progress with varied information timelines and priorities is something that I use to tell my story.
Have had a few interviews so far, but real estate offers are slow in business school. I would still recommend it, it is definitely a good return on life investment to get your MBA with the two years of not-work, especially if you have a warchest from your time working.
Moved from the fee side to running an appraisal department for a lender. These roles do exist and offer a competitive salary as they are management level positions within banks. It's not crazy money but it is solid. I think the work is much more interesting because you see where the appraisal fits in to the overall deal. You also see the times when the appraisal is quite literally nothing more than a box that needs to be checked but that's another story.
Point is, even if you end up staying in appraisal for a bit, there are other roles within the field that do not involve the same grunt work of delivering report after report.
Also, even if your current template calculates things for you, focus on trying to learn the why behind the template and the risk that goes into assumptions. It's very easy to forget the why when you are churning out multiple reports a week.
I was in appraisal for my first ~4 years after school. For reference, I was at a small appraisal shop not one of the big hitters like BBG/Colliers/etc. I mostly did valuation on new construction deals, and also ended up doing a decent amount of work on market/feasibility studies (like for HUD 221d4 developments). Anyways, I was actively trying to get out during my last two years of working there, just didn't like it anymore and saw the writing on the wall with it being a small firm that probably wasn't going to last much longer (owner was getting old/burnt out). To answer your questions:
1) my first job I got directly after was as a Production Analyst w/ a debt originator. I had interviewed w/ them a year or so before, they hired someone else, it didn't work out, and they circled back to me. I started in Jan. 2020, then covid hit and I got laid of Apr. 2020... so not a great experience. Rode out unemployment for a while then got a job as a credit analyst for a surprisingly active/large regional bank. They said it was the AM team, but it was pretty much just me doing loan payoffs, reserve disbursements, and quarterly reporting to Agencies. Job paid like shit so I was only there for a year, when I jumped to my current gig as an UW Analyst at one of the Big 4 RE firms. Been doing that for 1.5 years now, should get bumped up to Underwriter in the next 10 months or so hopefully.
2) honestly, pretty much just through interviewing my ass off. I did so many interviews over the course of a few years - mostly for Analyst position with IS/DE teams, but pretty much anywhere that looked interesting. I sucked during a lot of them, but got better over time too. I didn't have like, super amazing modeling skills since in appraisal I was pretty much just building proformas for new construction deals & calc'ing simple return metrics. i.e. I wasn't building waterfalls w/ multiple LPs and hurdles or anything crazy. But I got better, and was better able to anticipate the kind of stuff they'd ask/want to see during interviews.
In my current role I haven't had to learn too much on the financial side - UW'ing a deal isn't that complicated honestly, and our templates take care of the more tedious shit like amort. schedules, dcr stress tests, etc. - but I have had a pretty large learning curve on the programmatic requirements (I work on agency lending team). I should also add I pretty much always wanted to work on the UW side, so I'm super stoked with where I'm currently at.
What's the pay for your current gig right now? I'm in appraisal at a relatively big shop Analyst position paying $70-80k. What's should I expect in terms of salary progression in the next 1/2/3 years?
I make $73k base + OT + bonus. Haven't gotten raise or bonus yet. Last year raise was 5% + 22% bonus, honestly expecting about the same.
1) I was in appraisal for three years prior to my current position as an AM Analyst for an investment manager. I worked two years doing fee appraisals at one of the big shops where the model did everything for us. Then did 1 year at an appraisal management firm, managing the valuations process for one of the large investment managers.
2) I interviewed for a few different positions including a few multi-family development analyst positions, to capital markets/lending, and other AM positions. Argus was the main skill that was transferrable, as it has helped me jump right into that aspect of the job. We model all of our own leases and use our internal models for various things. The next main one would probably be knowing how to read and understand leases and their expense structures. In appraisal, I had to read a lot of leases from being for large institutional company leases, to a small local body shop on a lot shorter lease form. Being able to pick out the pertinent deal information and how expenses were re-imbursed from those helped a lot. Some other skills were knowing markets and submarkets and gathering data for those markets. Understanding different property attributes and jargon was helpful as well.
Hope that helps!
Did appraisal for two years straight out of school at one of the big firms. Got an Acquisitions job and despite the significant pay cut, I've never once thought about going back. Learning to underwrite was the biggest transferable skill and the one I sold myself on. Learning to research and find info was also valuable and Argus would have been valuable if I didn't go into multifamily. Biggest things I had to learn were debt and the overall deal process.
Dawg, I have read a couple of your posts in the various forums now. Hopefully as evidenced by this thread, you realize you are not at all in a bad position to start a long and fruitful career in CRE brokerage or investing. Many people I know in the industry came up through valuation. Hell, some began in valuation with the intention of going into brokerage but ended up staying in valuation because the money was decent and the work was stable. Your career is not facing a death sentence, quite the opposite I would argue.
If you're in one of the bigger shops, there is tons of internal networking potential with the investment sales and debt teams. Leverage it. While you're at it, get to know your clients. This is insanely valuable and underappreciated by folks starting out in brokerage/valuation/etc. The client contacts I made early on in my career as an entry level analyst continue to serve me today almost a decade out.
What will kill you, however, is thinking your career is over because of where you are today. Try to see the potential and be excited because contrary to what you believe, you are on the right path.
Seconding this, join NAIOP and ULI in your market, get out there and talk to people. Being involved with these groups gives you an ear to the ground and can help you find your next role. Plus real estate people can always have a good time.
Underrated. OP while you spend these first few years figuring out your path, don't forget to socialize i.e. party with the network. You will meet genuinely fun people along the way
Was in appraisals for 2.5 years at a local boutique in TX. Took a 9 month break and getting back into it. Money was good. Working a shit ton and brought it ~ $300k in my final year.
You bought in $300k in your final year? What year?
It's the best in TX. In cali not necessarily bad, but la is hard with firms stealing all the work and giving shitty fees
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