Lending

Are appraisers in danger of extinction?

Here's a temporary and long-term fix

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At the start of last year, the Appraisal Institute boasted 22,000 professionals in almost 60 countries. Fast forward one year and the number now sits at 20,000 professionals, providing more evidence of a growing problem that is plaguing the industry.

The endangered field is top-heavy with people a lot closer to retirement than what is ideal.

While its membership levels are dropping, the Institute has maintained stable market share over time, keeping the same percentage of the appraisal pool.

The issue is that the appraiser pool is shrinking, explained Scott Robinson, president of the Appraisal Institute.

Last year,Scott Pickell, vice president and chief appraiser at LRES, said that the average age of an appraiser is about 58 years old.

More people in the industry are working longer, which is prolonging the issue, but it’s only a Band-Aid on a wound that needs a doctor.

“With technology and the ability for the appraisers to work remotely, we are seeing folks work longer and later into their life,” said Robinson.

Robinson’s dad still works with him and he is 80 years old, working 40 hours a week as a residential appraiser.

But after this temporary fix, the biggest concern is attracting young people to the profession, Robinson said.

However, the fix isn’t as simple as a surge in marketing to attract more young people, although that might help.

“We are seeing an enormous amount of regulatory burden on the profession. Some of the regulation excludes the ability of folks to take on a trainee. It makes it difficult even if you have a young person interested,” Robinson said.

“The industry as a whole has really struggled to have answers,” said Matthew Simmons, managing partner at Maxwell, Hendry & Simmons, a commercial and residential appraisal and consulting firm, on the issue. Simmons joined the industry back in 2003 and is a Millennial.

Simmons said that while the industry emphasizes the importance of each appraiser finding someone to train for the good of the industry, that is detached from the economic reality.

The problem lies in the fact that a lot of work precludes trainees from being able to do inspections on their own. “They can’t even sign a certification for the first year. Of course, this is intended for their protection,” said Simmons. “There was a time when it was out of control. There were dozens and dozens of trainees, but the pendulum has swung too far the other way.”

“I have one under me, but we are able to navigate them, so it is economically viable to have them on board,” he said.

But ultimately, training someone is no longer a profit sector, he said.   

Robinson, president of AI, said that since regulation changes take time, one solution to help attract younger talent is getting into more colleges.

Simmons’ company is based in Fort Myers, Florida, and works closely with Florida Gulf Coast University, where Simmons graduated with a degree in business management.  

Simmons said they attract younger talent by connecting with FGCU for interns, which then turns into potential for future hires.

Overall, Robinson said the profession is undersold and they want to get people talking about how rewarding it can be. 

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