estate appraiser's job, like that of any professional, is to serve the
needs of the client. The first job of the appraiser is to find a
cost-effective means to meet each client's need, from a brief
consultation or use of the output from an automated valuation model to
a 90-page, comprehensive report. The appraiser serves the client's
need, up to a point: the point at which the client seeks to mislead
some third party - a lender, the IRS, or a court. All the ethical rules
that apply to appraisers boil down to just that: that the appraiser not
mislead. Claims on TV that the jewelry you buy is "guaranteed to
appraise for twice this price" don't help the public's understanding of
what an appraisal is.
careers require one or two specialized skills. Appraisal is different.
To do the job well, an appraiser needs a broad range:
good math, at the level of algebra and, for advanced work, calculus
skill in writing reports and in speaking, in court
task organization, so that assignments are completed on time
skill in interviewing people
a healthy skepticism about what is presented as "fact"
a grasp of statistics
an ability to see possibilities for a property and "think outside the
of what an appraiser brings to a job that is of most assistance to the
client is in the hands-on tasks of close observation and measurement.
An appraiser needs boots and a tape measure as much as a suit and a
calculator. Increasingly, the job of market research is performed by
data services. Analysis of simple, generic properties can be performed
for appraisers with the assistance of automated models and smart
systems. The work of the appraiser concentrates more and more in the
analysis of complex and specialized properties that require a high
level of skill. With a broadening of skills and advances in technology,
appraisers become better able to meet clients' needs. In the future,
appraisers can be expected to make more appraisals more quickly and
accurately, using better tools.
as an industry is a network of small businesspeople. Appraisal has its
rewards. The work load is varied. Each job is different. Each new job
is a challenge. The appraiser is called on to poke around in the bowels
of buildings, to climb onto rooftops, and to go deep in the woods.
Appraisers are independent. Many are their own boss. As in any
profession, a focus on the needs of the client is what leads to
success. With better tools and a broad range of skills, appraisers are
increasingly able to meet those needs.