Five Golden Rules for All New Appraisers

Data + Numbers + Synthesis = Adventures in the Life of a Chicago Commercial Appraiser

If you grew up with visions of data and numbers dancing in your head instead of sugar-plums, becoming a commercial real estate appraiser might be for you. If the thought of sitting at a desk day-in and day-out makes you break out in hives, becoming an appraiser might be for you. If the idea of every single assignment being a new adventure makes your heart beat fast, being an appraiser might be for you. Seeing a trend here? We know that deciding on a career is one of the most important decisions in your life. If you’re thinking about becoming an appraiser, then you’ve come to the right place.  We’ve put together five golden rules to be considered before making the leap into our world.

Appraisal Golden rule #1: It’s a long and winding road – full of reward

You’ve just graduated in finance and are working on passing your CPA or CFA exams – congrats! You can now go work for a bank or investment firm and make upwards of $70,000 to $80,000 a year. That sounds great, right? Of course, it does! But what if you could trade in that air-conditioned office for an adventure like traipsing up the floors of the ABC News Headquarters in New York City, exploring Oak Brook Mall Super Regional Shopping Center, or strapping on your Paul Bunion boots to explore an lumber mill? If that just made your heart flutter, keep reading. Passion and long-term thinking come into play early for an appraiser. The road to a life-long career isn’t as short as graduating and then going to work. Like all good things in life, patience and hard work is key.

Becoming an appraiser requires extra steps between receiving a four-year degree and becoming a State Licensed Certified General Appraiser. In addition to your degree, future appraisers must soak up knowledge in apprenticeship positions after graduating before sitting for their full licensure examinations and professional designation (Member of the Appraisal Institute). While the process of becoming an appraiser is sometimes lengthy, the reward at the finish line makes it worth it. You will find yourself in a job that allows you to make your own decisions, travel and explore different places, and maybe someday become your own boss. During the process you will learn from mentors that have spent years perfecting their craft. By learning from the best, you will be adequately prepared to start your own appraisal firm, if that’s what you long to do. Like we said, the appraiser path isn’t a short one, but it is sweet. Did we mention that you’ll also likely appraise plenty of commercial production bakeries to get your sweet tooth fix?

appraisal golden rule #2: find your Mr. miyagi

Just like Daniel needed Mr. Miyagi to guide him through important lessons, you’ll need a mentor to do the same for you.  Finding a mentor is one of the most important steps in the path to core competency and problem-solving. Great mentors can be hard to come by, but we promise, it’s possible. Charles Argianas, President of Argianas & Associates, has mentored over 100 (it’s true, we crunched numbers) from inception to embracement of valuation sciences as a career and lifestyle over the past 30 years – sharing, giving advice, answering questions, and sponsoring appraiser trainees. Just ask his son, Alexander Argianas, Vice President of Argianas & Associates.

appraisal golden rule #3: it’s definitely personal

No matter if you’re an appraiser trainee or a designated MAI appraiser with twenty + years of experience, this role means taking personal responsibility. Great appraisers take pride in and proudly stand behind their work. We once heard the definition of integrity is doing what’s right when no one is looking. Commercial appraisers need to do what is right every single time, for every client. We believe valuation professionals make a difference every day – for those in the process of buying their first home, or for family or corporate business decision big and small. Appraisers make a difference in assuring credible and fair values needed for property tax assessments in real estate tax determination for local government funding. Being an appraiser means what you do matters. If this is one of your career check-list requirements, this path is for you.

appraisal golden rule #4: stay hungry

If after college you’re ready to close the books and never look back, you might want to consider other career choices. The path to becoming an appraiser is full of learning! Appraiser trainees are constantly learning to apply reasoning and logic to new and complex problems and property types. Through mentorship, continuing education, and working towards MAI professional appraiser designation (Member Appraisal Institute), the best in our field become experts in all things real estate. And don’t think the fun stops once you become a licensed certified general appraiser! In addition to staying in the know about new rules and regulations churned out every year, appraisers must also complete continuing education to maintain their license. If your brain is constantly craving knowledge about real-estate, finance, economics, marketing and business, being a commercial appraiser is one role where you can learn and apply all that knowledge. And the best part? Your brain will never be full!

appraisal golden rule #5: the secret sauce to being a successful commercial appraiser

If you’ve already started doing your homework on becoming a commercial appraiser, we’ve got good news for you! Research and data are HUGE parts of this career, so you have the right approach. Being data-driven is a large part of what this role requires. But the secret for a successful career as an appraiser is being able to interpret that data in a unique way. While you must be well-versed in understanding what creates real estate value, you must also be a big picture thinker. Technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are continually evolving (read our blog about AI in commercial appraisals HERE.) Regardless of how advanced technology is now and will become in the future, a computer doesn’t think like you. It doesn’t have the life experiences you do. It doesn’t synthesize information the way you do. And it doesn’t probe nuances that make every valuation different from any other you’ve done before. If you can understand this and continue to sharpen your ability to interpret data, you can expect to have a long career as a commercial appraiser.

If these golden rules sound like your dream job – commercial appraisal may be for you! We do it every day with integrity, honesty, and attention to detail. Interested in joining the Argianas & Associates team? Send us your resume to [email protected] or check out our career page here. Stay in the know and join our mailing list to receive our e-newsletter featuring case studies, industry events and news.