FAQs: What Appraisers Do
What is an Appraisal?
An appraisal is a professional appraiser's opinion of value. The preparation of an appraisal involves research into appropriate market areas; the assembly and analysis of information pertinent to a property; and the knowledge, experience, and professional judgment of the appraiser.
Appraisals may be required for any type of property, including single-family homes, apartment buildings and condominiums, office buildings, shopping centers, industrial sites, and farms. The reasons for performing a real property appraisal are just as varied. They are usually required whenever real property is sold, mortgaged, taxed, insured, or developed. For example, appraisals are prepared for:
- Mortgage lending purposes
- Tax assessments and appeals of assessments
- Negotiation between buyers and sellers
- Government acquisition of private property for public use
- Business mergers or dissolutions
- Lease negotiations
What is the Role of the Appraiser?
The role of the appraiser is to provide objective, impartial, and unbiased opinions about the value of real property—providing assistance to those who own, manage, sell, invest in, and/or lend money on the security of real estate. Appraisers assemble a series of facts, statistics, and other information regarding specific properties, analyze this data, and develop opinions of value. Each appraisal assignment challenges the appraiser's ability to put analytical skills into practice, exercise sound judgment, and communicate effectively.
What Qualifications Must Appraisers Have?
All states require appraisers to be state licensed or certified in order to provide appraisals to federally regulated lenders. Some states require appraisers to be licensed or certified to provide appraisals for other parties as well. To become licensed or certified, you must pass an examination that is administered by your state's appraisal board. Because state requirements vary, contact your state's regulatory agency for specific requirements.
Minimum Requirements: The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) of The Appraisal Foundation is authorized by Congress to establish the minimum requirements for Certified General Real Property Appraiser and Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser classifications, and the AQB provides recommended minimum requirements for the Licensed Real Property Appraiser and Trainee classifications. (See next question for Descriptions of the four categories.)
Appraisers who become Designated members of the Appraisal Institute have gone beyond these requirements. They have fulfilled rigorous education and experience requirements and must adhere to strict standards and a code of professional ethics. The Appraisal Institute currently confers the MAI membership designation on those who are experienced in the valuation of commercial, industrial, residential, and other types of properties. The SRA membership designation is held by those who are experienced in the analysis and valuation of residential real property.
What Are the Four Categories of Real Estate (Real Property) Appraisers?
Descriptions for the four categories:
- Appraiser Trainee: Someone who is qualified to appraise those properties, which the supervising certified appraiser is qualified to appraise.*
- Licensed Real Property Appraiser: Someone who is qualified to appraise non-complex one to four units having a transaction value less than $1,000,000 and complex one to four residential units having a transaction value less than $250,000. This classification does not include the appraisal of subdivisions.*
- Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser: Someone who is qualified to appraise one to four residential units without regard to value or complexity. This classification does not include the appraisal of subdivisions. To be a state certified residential appraiser qualified to do appraisals for federally related transactions, a state must have requirements that meet or exceed this minimum standard.
- Certified General Real Property Appraiser: Someone who is qualified to appraise all types of real property. To be a state certified general appraiser qualified to do appraisals for federally related transactions, a state must have requirements that meet or exceed this minimum standard.
More information can be found on
The Appraisal Foundation Web site
* For trainee and licensed classifications, this is an AQB recommendation only. States are not required to utilize this guidance. Some states may have trainee or license programs that have very different requirements.
Interested in learning how to join the profession?
Please visit our informational page on becoming on appraiser.