Until I wrote this post, I had been saying that AMC low fees and hassles were the main cause of the current appraiser shortage. Many appraisers won’t work for AMCs. Others left the profession because they would not work for AMCs.

I was wrong. The major factor is that trainees cannot sign on their own until certified. There is no other way to manage the huge ups and downs in volume of lender appraising. Prior to HVCC, this had been done for decades.

If this cannot be fixed, lenders will try to get their regulators to require fewer appraisals by using AVMs, BPOs, etc. They have always wanted this.  Their reason now: too few appraisers causing purchases to be delayed. 


The residential lender appraisal system is broken.

The problem is NOT primarily low fees, licensing requirements, college degree, aging appraiser population, reluctance to hire “competitors”, etc.

The Problem: for the first time, there is no way to bring in trainees during boom times to sign on their own.

Since the 1970s, when Freddie and Fannie started and refis accelerated, lender volume had huge ups and downs, depending on interest rates. Lenders hired armies of trainees and laid them off when business slowed down. During the last big boom prior to the mortgage meltdown, fee appraisers hired the trainees and let them go. Now, very few appraisers are hiring trainees, except friends and relatives.

Lots of complaints now about the appraiser shortage. The Appraisal Foundation is considering lowering licensing requirements for certified appraisers. But, this will take years to change.

If lenders accept licensed appraisers, who do not need a college degree but need 150 hours of college classes, this will really help. A minimum of 12 months and 2000 hours of experience is required. The certified appraiser requirements will not have to be reduced. Certified res is 2.5 years of experience.

The AQB experience requirements are the minimum. I am in California, which has the AQB requirement: “Personally inspect the property with the Trainee until the supervisor determines the Trainee is competent to make unsupervised inspections, in accordance with the Competency Rule of USPAP for the type of property being appraised.” Some states have gone way beyond this, requiring the supervisor to inspect the subject with the trainee for the two years of experience. e supervision.

Lenders who want to switch from conventional and FHA will not be able to use licensed or trainees, of course. But, this is much, much better than weeks of delays getting appraisals, especially for purchases.

AQB requirements

Residential (AL) 150 hours, covering specific modules including the 15-hour National USPAP Course (or its equivalent as determined by the AQB); and 30 semester units of college-level education, OR an Associate’s degree or higher (in any field). 2,000 hours and encompassing no less than 12 months of acceptable appraisal experience. Any non-complex 1-4 family property with a transaction value up to $1 million; and non-residential property with a transaction value up to $250,000

Certified Residential (AR) 200 hours, covering specific modules, including the 15-hour National USPAP Course; and a Bachelor’s degree or higher. 2,500 hours and encompassing no less than 2.5 years (30 months) of acceptable appraisal experience. Any 1-4 family property without regard to transaction value or complexity; and non-residential property with a transaction value up to $250,000.

Of course, for existing appraisers, this is a boom time with no new competitors entering the business. Fees are increasing dramatically and have increased this much in the past.

  1. I went through appraisal trainee classes with AI and even found a sponsoring appraisal firm. But after four months of wrangling with TALCB to get my trainee license, I still don’t have it. I have been working for FREE to accumulate my 2000 hours but since I don’t have a license those hours don’t count. TALCB seems to not want any new appraisers. They can go to @%$&!

    It was a total waste of time and money. Good luck to the rest of you; I will find a different second career.

  2. There is no appraiser shortage in the vast majority of the country. Rather, there is a shortage of appraisers willing to work for the low fees most of the appraisal management companies pay. We almost never decline an assignment from our clients who pay fair fees and are reasonable to deal with; however, we do not even bother with work from the typical AMC. There are a lot of misinformed or dishonest people out there to not see something so obvious.

    • Exactly! There are plenty of appraisers here in Oregon. I turn down tons of work because of fee. I do the majority of my work for one lender that pays a good fee. They have no shortage of people wanting to work for them!

      I really don’t understand the push to bring on trainees, complaints about driving comps, ignoring the cost approach when appraising, etc. All the lenders hear is “Maybe the appraiser isn’t that necessary, if they think most of the process isn’t necessary and that trainees can do their job”.


  3. We have minimum wage protection in this country so that unskilled workers can at least survive. In a real estate transactions the broker can make tens of thousands of dollars, the loan officer thousands of dollars, the bank 100,000s of thousands of dollars on interest, the lawyers thousands of dollars and the appraiser $350+- dollars. What’s wrong with this picture? Pay appraisers a flat $1000 per appraisal and we will be able to train and pay a fair wage to the trainee while making a decent living. If you flood the market with unskilled or under experienced new appraisers supply and demand will keep fees low and nobody will stay in the business. Your back to where you started. Lets stop being greedy idiots people. I just gave you the answer. JUST DO IT!

  4. I’ve been in the lending business for 13 yrs. Recently (July 9), I placed an order via an AMC for a routine appraisal The AMC was unable to find ANY appraisers to perform until the end of July, when an appraiser offered to do the job for nearly twice the asking rate ($550/raised to to $1050), with an inspection 3 weeks away, and a due date at the end of August.

    If there is NOT an appraiser shortage, this would be outrageous. It still hurts a bunch, since this is not some weird rural/waterfront/odd house/acreage thing. Nor is it some wealthy buyers. These are 20 somethings first time buyers! Lucky for them, their fee is capped, and I take the kick in the shins.

    I didn’t mind that LO’s fees got capped, and I can see the necessity of having AMCs and firewalls (although I wish they didn’t have to exist).

    I certainly don’t want to see appraisers working for peanuts, but c’mon folks! Let’s get a few more appraisers out in the field. Lower at least SOME of the hoops to entry, as your barrier to enter the field is about the highest in the RE industry.

    • Loan Dr there is a boom right now. The spring market has extended into mid-summer. Rates will go up, as will inventory, and then the turn times will return to normal.

      FYI – You are mistaken if you believe AMC’s are a necessity. The most successful lenders in my tri-state area NY NJ And PA have appraisal coordinators and depts that meet the guidelines. I have a relationship with these people and none of the loan officers etc. all pay top dollar with no fees taken. You get what you deserve dealing with these blood suckers. The AMC’s have the lenders in this country hypnotized. They have ruined the good name of the appraiser.
      As far as loosening our requirements I am against it. Lenders need to change their attitudes towards having unlicensed appraisers completing inspections and signing reports. I can’t pay someone to ride around with me to learn. The only way to learn is to to do appraisals. At least that way they get the hours and I get the benefit of not having to inspect.

    • Unfortunately appraisal fees have declined over the last 10 years while the work load has doubled. To do most standard appraisals correctly and diligently requires MIN 10 hours of work plus the overhead of subscriptions, insurances, license fees, continuing education costs, and home office expenses. For the amount of qualifications required I honestly believe that the fee should be around $650. I was being paid $375 back in 2005 for half the work required nowadays. Hence, the reason I took a step back for the time being!

  5. I believe that the best system was when the appraisers came out of be sales people and brokers. They knew from the ground how buyers were reacting and what was important. I still do sales just to keep in touch. Data and pure statistics can lie and you can manipulate it but your work with buyers is real

  6. I appraise in Oregon. Lender appraisers are jammed with work, but appraiser trainees have never (nor has it been proposed) been able to sign reports, inspect property’s, or even photo comps without supervision. That seems to shoot down your theory for the cause of this “shortage”. Honestly, after years of low fees, I hope it takes them awhile to fix this problem. Every time they fix anything in this business, they seem to break it!

    Apparently, some in our industry appear to be in a hurry to get back to $200 fees. I have a suggestion. Just give your clients a huge discount and let the current “shortage” work itself out in the market.


    • Jim; In CA a trainee is allowed to inspect property on their own when the supervising appraiser feels they are capable. Its a lender rule that it can only be done by licensed appraisers. What concerns me about your comments is you are saying when “they” fix the problems. If you are an independent appraiser -have your own business, you don’t let someone else dictate to you how your business should be run. The banks/AMC’s are running their own business and looking to increase their profit whenever and however possible. You should do the same! – business 101. If there are large fluctuations in work you should work towards maximizing your fees when work is high while maintaining a profitable fee and steady work, when work is slower.

  7. The real problem is appraisers need to recognize that supply and demand is the real issue to your success as a “business”. For 20 years I had steady work – never without work. The last ten years, after the mortgage boom, when banks were behind recruiting appraisers by cutting corners, so they wouldn’t leave money on the table, and subsequent bubble burst, has resulted in a huge oversupply, in my region. So when it gets busy, going out and recruiting trainees may “briefly” benefit you in the short term but when it slows down and we’re do for a long slow period, you will be confronted with bottom fees. Its obvious that banks/AMC’s recognize this, because their now taking on trainees with their staff appraisers and corporations are being formed that are solely in the business of hiring staff appraisers so they won’t have to abide by State AMC regulations.

  8. What other industry is there where a professional with 15+ years of experience is still doing the low level dirty work like measuring and data entry etc? These are tasks that easily can and should be performed by employees (or trainees) but this was taken away from us after 2009 in a desperate attempt to deflect blame away from the banks who caused the mess. While low fees and scope creep are a big part of the problem, I agree that the biggest problem is the restriction on trainees.

  9. Low fees are a big part of the issue. Living paycheck to paycheck is not a profession. Also, The Appraisal board need to re-examine the 1 million dollar loan limit for licensed appraisers. Small cookie cutter homes are now selling for over 1 mil in a lot of areas especially the Bay Area and that is putting a big limit on the work a licensed appraiser can accept.

  10. There is no appraiser shortage. This is nothing but propaganda. First the NAC is loaded with appraisers with BIAS. Remove the bias and you get the real story. The shortage they claim is based upon PEAK market last time till now. Well guess what in every gold rush there is a run up in Appraisers and Realtors however this time the regulations held the appraiser run up down. However there is no shortage. What there is a a boat load of experienced appraisers NOT GETTING ANY WORK. Why FEE’s, Turn Times and THEY ARE NOT YES MEN/WOMEN. They stand up for their work and their profession and then don’t bend when the wind blows for addendum requests. Experienced appraisers are sitting idle mostly nationally and or phasing out due to wondering what the hell is going on NO WORK. Then the work comes and guess what the offers are the CRAP, JUNK, NO COMP, SEVERE ODD BALLS their daily volume low fee chump appraisers even pass on…..

    The appraisal profession is all but DEAD and it is riddled with corruption and appraisers inside the AMC models empowering that model all the more. It’s a real shame to see one’s peers act like they are the spokes person for those experienced appraisers.

    Last time I looked Ernie Durbin was now on the NAC panel. Wow lets add more folks from Appraisal Loft that really care about the profession. Others on the Panel either work for an AMC, hold a high position and or own it. That speaks volumes about their motives for more LOW FEE CHUMP APPRAISERS will to become YES, YES, YES.

    The appraisal model is this 3-5 years and your burnout, 1-3 years and your off that panel for speaking up. Way too much Civil liability now with the pushy nature of these AMC’s and their internal demands, requests and legal indemnifications to hold them harmless but grant them immediate audits to your office and firm at any time.

    Oh Desktops the SLA scope creep is now the same as a full and the liability equal.

    Insanity, no economic incentive remains for a profession when the guy cleaning pool and or owning the route makes 50% more than most appraisers vs. those running pizza shop appraisal services till they get caught years later by their state boards.

    • Are you living in a hole? There is more appraisal volume now then since the boom time of 2005-2006! And fees have gone up immensely. The only issue is that trainees can not inspect a property on their own once competent. I turn down 60-80 orders a day in MD. It won’t last but it is great now.

  11. I thought buy now that active appraisers had figured out that AMC’s, Lenders, AQB’s don’t care about what the appraiser needs or wants to do a credible job, its all about more profit for them! This article talks about how current problems can be resolved to benefit the Pimps, AMC/Lender – You should not care! Like Al posted above it is never suggested in any other profession that professionals reduce their requirements because the client is not happy with the turn time! OH yeah, if your client is the Pimp and your the Prostitute! I got a call this week from someone who said his “friend” who works at an AMC would give him all the business he could handle if he became an appraiser! He told him he could complete appraisals in 3-4 hours and make $275.00. He lives in a high end area. “Says, the Pimp to the new prostitute recruit”!

    • By not buy if we can’t spell we can’t taken seriously

      • I guess you found every other word to be correct and the grammar was OK, Bruce. So you got the point. I’m in a hurry trying to meet an appraisal deadline. Putting down other appraisers is another problem.

        • not really a putdown but I see a lot of mis-spelled words or wrong usage of words by appraisers

          • Are you an appraiser Bruce? Your comments give me reason to think otherwise. Most of the mistakes I see appraisers make are not because they don’t know any better, its because AMC/Lenders are dictating turn times as if every property is the same. Appraisers are rushed – all the time!
            Lenders/AMC’s have rules that give you 5 days to complete a report, but if the homeowner doesn’t give you access right away, then you have forty eight hours to get the appraisal done no matter how complex. People who are not the “boots on the ground” appraisers are dictating how long it should take to complete a credible report.

  12. There is no Appraiser shortage.

    The Clients claiming there is an Appraise shortage are the same Clients who do not want to pay a reasonable fee for the service. The low fees, increased liability and scope of work creep have made the Appraiser’s business environment much worse.

    To put this into perspective, should other professions (such as doctor, lawyer, banker, etc.) follow the same recommendation provided in this article ? If a doctor is not available to work for a low fee, is it reasonable to change the doctor’s qualifying criteria to allow more less qualified people into the profession ?

    Licensed Appraisers had years to upgrade their license. If they did not do so, then they have nobody to blame but themselves.

    This is a continued attempt by certain parties to dumb down the Appraiser profession. The public then complains about the poor job performed by less qualified Appraisers.

    Rather than relaxing the Appraiser standards, they should be more stringent. Appraisers meeting the higher standards must be paid appropriately.

    I responded to the AQB requests earlier and they ignored me.

    • Could not agree more! Just look at the number of appraisers on a state by state and year by year basis since licensing began.

    • Interesting. Today I learned that being a real estate appraiser is equivalent to being a doctor.

  13. Reader doesnt mention if they read the AQB June/July qualifications criteria changes, which by the way, go into effect Jan 2018 ALREADY because no one said anything negative about it.

    • I sent two letters to the AQB during the commentary time. I also posted a link in the Appraisers Forum asking other appraisers to send commentary. Their agenda is predetermined with no real concern for the appraisers well being. More appraisers means more licensing fees for the people that fund their program.

  14. WHAT APPRAISER SHORTAGE? The people complaining about the shortage are the ones who want 24 hour turn times. There is no need for an appraisal in 24 hours – not when there are employment verifications needed, credit report scores,etc.

    Attend the IFA NY,NJ,PA conference in Atlantic City – there are not enough seats or rooms in the hotel. You can’t attract new appraisers with low fees, more regs, and shorter turn times – Fees are finally increasing – let us make some money before every Tom Dick and Harry hangs a shingle up as an appraiser.

    • Curious for some perspective here; doesn’t the mentorship model essentially mean that appraisers themselves are in a position to dictate how much competition they have?

  15. I’m somewhat disconnected. In 2009 I opted to perform no more appraisal work due to the insultingly low returns for the time invested. However, I do attempt to keep up with the current fees. Best I can tell, here in the Orange County, CA area, I would be fairing well to collect $375 for a regular 1004 involving almost twice the scope of a similar report for that exact fee ten years ago. I’m an ‘AR’ level appraiser and would expect to earn a commensurate fee based on that plus some other criteria. What am I missing when you refer to the “boom time” and “fees are increasing dramatically”?

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