When I saw the ad for an office assistant at an appraisal management company, I assumed (incorrectly) that the work would be boring and technical. Having now worked with this type of company for three years, I'd like to describe an alternate scenario that better describes the exciting environment of the job.
Our company may appraise land with buildings, or without them; in either case, each site is unique and interesting. To work for an appraisal management company, you delve a little bit into the current owner, the previous owners, and the entire history of a particular location. I was surprised at the amount of public data that is available, even for parcels smaller than one acre. I was even more surprised at how the "detective work" can be highly motivating, when the information for a particular site takes a bit of digging in less accessible areas.
Although our ultimate goal is to assess the market value of a property, the journey toward arriving at this goal can be very eventful. The appraisal management company will usually provide an analytical report to the client that includes comparable sales, historical subdivision information, environmental data, tax district status, and a variety of other research information. A large part of my job was compiling the data for the analytical report through a variety of sources, such as local zoning departments, county property appraisers' web sites, in-person interviews, and site visits. There is a great sense of satisfaction in our office when our final report to the client flows smoothly through several chapters of differing topics.
When the client likes our work, recommendations and referrals are generated and more clients come knocking on the door. Our appraisal management company keeps portions of the client reports as strictly confidential. However, some sections of our previous reports are entered into the in-house database, which allows us to search our completed reports by parcel, address, or key word. Appraisal management companies that build a solid client base are able to cross-reference market data from other reports generated, and update or change the conclusions as the built environment evolves with time.
Some vacant properties require research on how buildable the site may be, which gets into engineering data like slope, drainage, vegetation, and so on. For these sites, additional experts will typically be contracted to add pertinent scientific studies that would expand the basic analytical report. An appraisal management company may be asked by its client to do a short analysis covering only a 1-2 year sales history of a neighborhood. Conversely, some of our studies were for 100-acre or larger parcels that needed a much broader focus, such as in-depth demographic data for the surrounding zip codes, and significant mapping of planned future roadway networks that could potentially impact the client's property.
In summary, the appraisal management company career opportunity for me has been a life-enriching experience. If I were to seek additional education in the appraisal field, such as national and state certifications, the move-up potential would offer leadership potential. The experience so far has encouraged me to consider moving up within the appraisal management field, as the work has been intellectually rewarding and satisfying.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in this exciting, rewarding career, you can easily learn how to begin working in this field by going to The Appraisal Foundation's website. This foundation is a great source for appraiser standards and qualifications. On their website, you will find step-by-step guidelines which cover everything from training and education to certification and job placement.