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Real estate appraisers may be endangered

It is becoming more difficult to become a real estate appraiser, and some say that could deter younger generations from entering the field.

Consider, for a moment, the humble real estate appraiser’s role in a typical residential transaction.

Consider, for a moment, the humble real estate appraiser’s role in a typical residential transaction.

After the buyer and seller, counseled by their respective agents, agree on a price, after a title company reviews the deal and the bank agrees to lend the money, the appraiser is asked to weigh in.

He spends up to 10 hours measuring rooms, inspecting property lines, taking pictures and filling out a 40-page form. For all of that work, he is paid about $400, minus a fee charged by the appraisal management company that assigned him to the job.

If the appraiser’s number matches the price agreed to by the buyer and seller, all is good.

Unless, of course, the deal goes bad and the appraiser is sued for providing an inaccurate value. Then he faces all kinds of legal troubles, potential loss of his license or certification and possible civil fines.

On the other hand, if his number comes in low, the appraiser could be pressured to reconsider so the deal gets done. If he declines, he might not be hired the next time.

Is it any wonder veteran appraisers are getting out of the business in droves? And with the threshold for entry getting more difficult, it explains why young people are ignoring it altogether. And what will happen to the industry when there are not enough appraisers to meet the demand?

“They are going to become dinosaurs,” said one real estate broker and appraiser, with more than four decades of experience, who asked that his name not be used.

According to the Real Estate Appraisal Institute, the number of people certified or licensed to do home appraisals has declined by 23,000, or 28 percent, since 2007, and is expected to continue to decline by 3 percent annually for the next decade.

Part of the blame, local appraisers said, can be pinned on appraisal management companies. They arrived on the scene about a decade ago and became middlemen who take a cut of the fee.

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