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. Some trainees have 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, drivers license numbers, passports, birth dates, 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. It also opens you up to more legal liability. 

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 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. 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. 

"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.  

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. 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. 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. 

If POC want more representation in the appraisal field, they should form appraisal organizations for POC and do that. Offer grants for education 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 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 appraisser 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. 

Requirements for a real estate appraiser trainee to get their hours to become a licensed appraiser from 

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


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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