Mary Cummins, Real Estate Appraiser, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California

Mary Cummins, Real Estate Appraiser, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California
Mary Cummins, Real Estate Appraiser, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Difficulties becoming a real estate appraiser trainee in California by Mary Cummins, Real Estate Appraiser, Los Angeles, California


New real estate appraisers trying to get their 1,000 to 1,500 hours of experience are having major problems finding licensed real estate appraisers willing to train them. One ex trainee (who is now an appraiser for BetterMortgage*) said it's probably because of racism, fear of losing business to trainees or appraisers are just assholes. It's none of those things. You could be Jesus Christ himself and still no appraiser would want to train you. I will explain the problem with the trainee program and why appraisers don't want trainees. Then I'll offer some solutions. 

It takes a lot of time, money and headaches to have a trainee when there is no benefit whatsoever to the appraiser. Nothing to gain and everything to lose. The trainee has to sign the report (in addition to the appraiser) and/or be a part of the entire appraisal process. The trainee also has to have access to the work file or actually possess the work  file (photos of interiors of homes, loan documents with SSN's, passport/drivers license numbers and sometimes even copies, birth dates, place of birth, full names, addresses, banking information, list of all clients, all emails, all past appraisals of the appraiser...) This causes your E&O insurance to go up by 50%. Basic coverage $1,000,000 $680/yr, $340/yr more for a trainee). It also opens you up to more legal liability and concerns about cyber security. 

The appraisals will take a lot longer to complete with a trainee. This means the appraiser makes less money while they are training the person. 

The client doesn't want another person in their private home taking photos of their possessions, their security system, safes, valuables, location of master bedroom, location of children's rooms, entrances or being around their family. Google "home inspector" and "Elmo doll." The certified appraiser passes many advanced background checks to have their licenses, be on appraisal panels and work for clients. The trainee doesn't have the same background checks. 

The appraiser has to have the trainee in the car and office training them. Most appraisers work out of their home. There goes the appraiser's privacy and schedule. Can't pick up the kids between comp photos with a trainee in the car.

The appraiser has to pay extra for appraisal software with a trainee because they have to sign the report. That could be at least $1,000 per year for software if they sign the report. The appraiser also has to pay more for MLS access and other online comparable sources. That could be $600 per year. Even car insurance goes up with a trainee in the car. It all adds up. 

The trainee can never do an inspection or sign an appraisal by themselves. No AMC or bank would ever allow that. The client paid top dollar and hired a licensed, certified experienced appraiser and not a trainee. The work assignments clearly state that only the appraiser in the order can do the appraisal. The lender, mortgage broker can't sell the loan if a trainee was involved in the appraisal. No one would buy the loan then the lender can't make more loans and make money. 

Having a trainee costs the appraiser money. "As of January 1, 2015 Trainees and supervisors must now take a four-hour course on the responsibilities and requirements of each role. The course must be completed by trainees before receiving their Trainee (AT) credential and by supervisors prior to beginning supervision." The class costs $100.  

When the trainee submits their log to become a full appraiser they will be audited by BREA. The mentor will also be audited. They audit the trainee's hours log and ask for some of the appraisals completed by the trainee and mentor. 

While I'm sure an appraiser would first train a trainee on a fake appraisal assignment the trainee must do their actual hours on real appraisals for real government backed loans. They can't get hours on practice or fake appraisals. The licensed appraiser must work with them side by side on the entire appraisal process and report. 

Some trainees falsely think they will eventually be doing free work for the appraiser. They think they'll do appraisals totally on their own eventually and the appraiser will make more money so they're an asset. That can never happen per the law or clients' orders. Appraisers don't get anything from trainees. They cost them money.

I have a couple of suggestions. The only trainees I've seen find a mentor are relatives of real estate appraisers or very good friends. Jim Park of the Appraisal SubCommittee stated this is why most appraisers have been white males and continue to be white males. I agree. That said currently you should find a relative or very good friend who would be willing to help you out. If you just call up an appraiser from a Google search whom you don't know, don't expect a call back. If you were the appraiser, would you want a trainee after what you just read? No.

My other suggestion is to petition the government to allow trainees after so many hours to do the property inspection, take the comp pics and write up the reports by themselves. Obviously the licensed appraiser still has to review and sign it as the supervisory appraiser. That would help appraisers save time and maybe eventually make more money or not lose money. Lenders would have to be forced to accept a government mandate if they are government backed loans. Nothing the government can do with other types of loans.

Find an organization or person willing to give money to an appraiser to train trainees. Some appraisers might be willing to train people if they were paid. Otherwise you're basically asking an appraiser to give you free education on their dime. Trade schools charge money as do universities with hands on work experience. Pay an appraiser to be the mentor for a class of say ten appraisers. Income from the appraiser's actual assignments would be secondary to income from mentoring. 

If POC want more representation in the appraisal field, they should form appraisal organizations for POC and do that. Offer grants for education, licensing fees for new appraisers. Recruit members who will agree to train and mentor trainees. I actually wanted to do this for Latino and Black people. When I did my research and figured out the time, cost and headaches involved (At least $3,000 not including lost income from the time involved) I changed my mind. If I were wealthy or semi-retired, I would start such an organization. I just don't have the time or money today. 

If you want to verify any of this information, take a look at some online real estate appraiser forums and Facebook groups. You'll see no one wants trainees and why. The only ones I see are relatives of appraisers. FWIW I am not looking for a trainee. 

*Jillian White is the "Chief Appraiser" for BetterMortgage. She is the appraiser behind the article about real estate appraisers not wanting to be mentors because they are racist, jealous, lazy, hate women... Jillian admitted she lied and pretended to be a man to get an interview to be a trainee. "As a Black woman, White is a rarity in the appraisal industry. She shared her experience of having to change her name to "Jay" on her resume just to land a job interview to be an appraiser trainee-a requirement to be licensed in the field. "When I showed up for a job interview, things changed. All of his enthusiasm was gone and instead of conducting an interview, he just kept telling me 'You're overqualified,' and 'I don't know why you want to become an appraiser.' The interview was very short because he never even invited me to sit," she said." The person was probably not happy that she lied about who she was. If someone lies about something as obvious as that, you know they lie about everything. No one wants a liar working for, with them. You could never trust the person ever.

It should be noted that now that Jillian White is an appraiser herself she is not mentoring anyone. Hypocrite? She is also promoting the unproven idea that white appraisers intentionally low-ball all black homeowners' appraisals because they are all racist. The company she works for BetterMortgage promotes the same unproven idea in order to attract minority clients to make money. They specifically state this in marketing material. BetterMortgage's CEO Vishal Garg (Forbes article about his fraud, failure and bankruptcy) has a history of stating they will do the best job for the lowest rate then they go bankrupt and rip off investors. There are a few other mortgage companies who are using the same racism scare to get business including New American Dream funding.

UPDATE: Jillian White stated September 2021 that BetterMortgage does not allow trainees to work on their appraisals. Jillian agreed to work for a company that doesn't allow trainees and doesn't help trainees. Who is she to complain about appraisers not trainees? She has no trainees. She also stated while she still has her license in New York she no longer works as an appraiser. It appears she does diversity PR and media for BetterMortgage. She promotes the idea that all appraisers and all people who buy real estate are racists. The only sane thing she said at the recent meeting is that appraisers should not get away from the sales comparison method of appraising because then values become more opinion than based on facts. That is true. 

From a May 2021 forum transcript run by a non government non profit group in which Jillian White spoke. She claims this incident "informed" all real estate decisions in her career. As a real estate appraiser, agent she knows better.

"I like to start with a story. This is a story about Gwen and Dennis Skinner who live in Long Island. This is a picture of the exterior of their home over on the left, and a picture of the interior of their home during the holidays on the right hand side. And the thing to know about their house is they purchased it in 1998, and in 2003, they decided that they wanted to move. And so at that point in time, the average marketing time for that particular area was roughly 30 days. And what was unique to that area was that all the houses are exactly the same. Same floor plan, for I think, you know hundreds of them.
And so it would stand to reason that their house when they put it on the market would sell
within the normal marketing time. However, the home sat on the market for 30 days, then
60 days, and then 90 days, 120 days, and it finally sold at around the 140-day mark.
So there are a few things to know about the property. The main one being that it was right
next to a six-lane highway, so when you're in the backyard, you can actually hear noise
from the highway and so that certainly could have contributed to the extended days on
market. Also there are a couple of price decreases as well, which suggests that perhaps it was
overpriced but there was an tidbit the information that leads me to question that was around
the highway or overpriced. And that's because the real estate agent for Gwen and Dennis said hey, I think I know why the property isn't selling. If you make these changes, I think you'll have success in getting a buyer. And so they took that agent's advice and shortly thereafter, they were able to accept an
offer on the property, and close the sale. So you're probably wondering what is it that the real estate agent said to it? What was his tidbit of advice, and it was to remove this picture from the wall. So this is a picture of me during my college graduation, and the reason why my photograph was hanging on the wall of Gwen and Dennis Skinner is because they are my aunt and uncle. They have quite a few nieces and nephews. They are very proud of all of us and our pictures are prominently displayed all throughout their home. However, their agent told them that they believed the reason why the property wasn't
moving and wasn't selling is because prospective homeowners didn't feel comfortable
buying a home after a Black family and they were advised to start packing early.
And once they showed the house that was empty, miraculously, they got an accepted offer.
So we don't know for certain exactly what happened in this case, the extended days on the
market of my aunt and uncle's property. However, it certainly informed all future real estate
decisions that I made throughout my career."

The fact that the property was located next to a busy six lane highway, was overpriced chasing the market down and needed to be decluttered/staged is what actually affected the ability to sell the property. If you don't price a home within 5% of market value, it will sit and be worth less every day as people wonder what's wrong with it. All real estate agents tell ALL people to remove personal photos and most personal items from the home when you offer it for sale. Buyers want to imagine themselves in your home so give them a clean slate. Properties within 500' of a major highway have dangerous levels of air and noise pollution besides being a loud, messy nuisance. Soot from cars end up on the inside of your home daily if you open the windows. Jillian was also an agent besides an appraiser and knows all of this yet still states these things. I have also been a broker, appraiser. 

Requirements for a real estate appraiser trainee in California to get their hours to become a licensed appraiser from brea.ca.gov. 

A trainee needs 1000 to 1500 hours over six to 12 months of actual appraisal experience. They must be real appraisals on real government backed loan transactions. They can't be practice appraisals. Each appraisal takes me about three hours with inspection though large, complex properties take more time. If traffic is bad, it could take a while to drive and photograph the comparable properties. 1500/3 is 500 appraisals if the trainee does all the work with the appraiser. That would be 37 40 hour weeks theoretically. It would most likely happen over a year or so.

"Earning Acceptable Experience as a Trainee Appraiser

General

To earn acceptable hours of experience, a Trainee Appraiser must work under the direct technical supervision of a Certified Residential or Certified General licensed appraiser in good standing who meets the Supervisory Appraiser criteria outlined previously in this handbook. The Supervisory Appraiser must be licensed at the appropriate level for the type of property being appraised. In addition, a Trainee Appraiser may work for more than one Supervisory Appraiser. For hours to be included on the Log of Appraisal Experience (REA 3004 sample log here), the Trainee Appraiser must either:

Sign the appraisal report as the appraiser; or
Be identified by name and Bureau license number with the extent of the real property appraisal assistance clearly and conspicuously described in the report.
In addition, work experience and the appraisal report must fully conform to both the requirements of USPAP and Title 10, Chapter 6.5, California Code of Regulations (commencing with Section 3500).

Trainee Appraiser's Duties

Trainees must:

Maintain custody of the work file, or make appropriate work file retention, access and retrieval arrangements with the party having custody of the work file in accordance with the Record Keeping Rule of USPAP. Since the Bureau will examine work samples when a Trainee wishes to upgrade his or her license, all appraisals included on the log must be available for review by the Bureau regardless of USPAP minimum retention requirements; and
Maintain an appraisal log. A separate Log of Appraisal Experience (REA 3004) must be maintained for each Supervisory Appraiser.

Supervisory Appraiser's Duties

The Supervisory Appraiser must do all of the following:

Personally inspect the property with the Trainee Appraiser until the Supervisory Appraiser determines the Trainee Appraiser is competent to make unsupervised inspections, in accordance with the Competency Rule of USPAP for the type of property being appraised.
Review the Trainee Appraiser's appraisal report.
Accept responsibility for the appraisal report by signing and certifying that the report is in compliance with USPAP.
Review and initial each page of the Trainee Appraiser's Log of Appraisal Experience (REA 3004) to verify that the work was completed under his/her supervision.
Sign the certification of the Log of Appraisal Experience (REA 3004) current as of the date the certification was signed.
Maintain records of the appraisals in accordance with USPAP.
Include the Trainee Appraiser's name and Bureau license number (if licensed) and identification of assistance in appraisal report."


Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.


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