Appraiser Salary

What is a Real Estate Appraiser’s Salary?

Updated: May 2019

Frequently, we receive e-mails asking this question, so rather than respond to every e-mail, we decided to post some in-depth answers.

As a real estate appraiser, you can make as much as you want or as little as you want. It really depends on your license level and your level of experience. A factor that looms large into this equation is, are you self-employed? If so, are you a business man first or an appraiser first? The former will make significantly more money although the later will be more respected among your peers.

So, how much do real estate appraisers earn?

If you’re one of the two people in the USA who think the government can provide accurate information, then according to The Bureau of Labor and Statistics that number is $54,010. According to their data, the median, annual wage for appraisers was around $54,000 in 2018. The lowest 10% earned less than $28,000 who were probably trainees, and the highest 10% earned more than $100,000. “A $100,000!” you might say. But if you click the link and start looking around, you’ll see this terrifying note,

“Appraisers and assessors of real estate typically work full time during regular business hours. However, self-employed appraisers, often called independent fee appraisers, usually work more than 40 hours per week, because they often write reports during evenings and on weekends.”

appraiser salary in USA

The second source I found comes from data provided by the Appraisal Institute of annual incomes for all valuation professionals. This survey was completed on December 2017. It shows that most appraisers are making between $50,000 and $150,000 per year with a small percentage of appraisers crushing it at the top making over $200,000 per year. There is no doubt that these top-earners are business owners or appraisers who are working 24 hours per day.

Appraisal Institute Salary Graph

(Graph from the Appraisal Institute)

So you’ve seen what the government says, and you’ve seen what the top real estate appraisal education provider is reporting. However, we at wanted to take it a little further…

On March 19th, 2019, we put together a massive outreach program to see if we could replicate the numbers reported by the Department of Labor as well as the Appraisal Institute. We utilized our e-mail list of over 2,000 appraisers and reached out to various appraisal related Facebook groups for a total of 6,324 appraisers, roughly 10% of all active appraisers in the USA.

annual income of surveyed appraisers

Important Note: Although we have labeled the X-axis, “net pay”, this just means all gross pay after appraisal expenses (MLS fees, insurance, etc.). As appraisers will state, just totaling up the yearly invoices does not paint a clear picture of what an appraiser is accurately making per year.

Let’s break this graph down…

Trainee Appraiser Salary

Every real estate appraiser must go through an apprenticeship. Unless you get a job at one of the national appraisal firms such as Cushman & Wakefield , C.B. Richard Ellis, or one of the other few national appraisal companies, you are going to be in for a bad time during this period in your life. The work load will be great and the pay will be a joke. If you need helping passing any of the exams to be a trainee, our study material can help.

Imagine after graduating college, someone offers you a position making roughly $10.00 per hour. Would you take it? That is effectively what most trainee appraisers are making in 2019.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel…

Certified Residential Appraiser Salary

So you went through three years of hell, passed the test, and now you have your residential appraisal license. Time to start making some real money! Certified appraisers are in demand for appraisals of any size for use in legal proceedings connected to a divorce, estate or tax litigation, or sale of a property.

Since the market is booming right now, certified residential appraisers are in higher demand and may charge more for their services. By law, appraisers cannot base their fees on the property’s value. Fees are dependent on local cost of living, supply and demand and the quality of the client.

Our survey concludes that the average salary for a residential real estate appraiser is $49,544.

Note: In my opinion, this is a GREAT career choice if you live in a coastal city with condominiums. I have personally seen some residential appraisers’ complete two appraisals per day at $600 each due to the number of comps available and proximity of the units.

If you need helping passing any of the exams to be a certified appraiser, we can help!

This is a big step from being an apprentice and actually earns more than the average college graduate. The best part is you don’t need to spend $50,000 – $80,000 to attend college, and you don’t need to spend 4 years to get that education. Additionally, you’ll time and stress on studying for the SAT and applying for colleges, both of which require extra time and money. Instead, you can make more than the college graduate and actually EARN money while they’re losing money studying in college.

General (Commercial) Appraiser Salary

When the public thinks of appraisers, they normally think of residential appraising.  It’s normal because 95% of people do not buy any commercial property, only residential homes. The job of the commercial real estate appraiser is not as well-known as it is for appraising personal homes, but they are built on the same principles. In the broadest terms, General Certified appraisers estimate the value of different types of commercial properties including land, nursing homes, office buildings, industrial buildings, shopping centers, and hotels/motels.

In my opinion, this great career choice with many hidden benefits.

So forget appraising for a moment and picture yourself as a real estate investor. How much money could you make if you were an expert in the commercial real estate market? An amount SIGNIFICANTLY more than appraising, that is for sure! Becoming a “market expert” allowed me to retire from my 10-year appraisal career at the age of 33 years old.

I highly recommend skipping residential appraising and going straight into the commercial market if your goal is to make a lot of money.

Our survey concludes that the average salary for a commercial real estate appraiser is $92,433.

Salary for Appraiser’s with SRA/MAI Designations

After much thought, I am going to bite my tongue. I will keep my opinions of the Appraisal Institute to myself for now; although I do think they have the best education.

In short, MAI/SRA appraisers are valuation professionals who have spent years obtaining additional education and experience beyond state-certified requirements. These designations are not easily earned. In addition to education and experience, an individual must pass several comprehensive exams and demonstrate their knowledge to their peers.

The difference between a normal appraiser and an appraiser who carries one or both designations is like comparing a CPA to an accountant. Bottom line, they are just better.

Our survey concludes that the average salary for a MAI appraiser is $93,323 while the average pay for an SRA appraiser is $61,344.

Closing thoughts

I’m not a writer and I’m not a real estate appraiser anymore (retired). However I am still closely tied to the appraisal profession through my investing career as well as my friends and family who are appraisers. This research and information are intended to provide clarification to individuals who have questions or require additional data regarding real estate appraiser’s salaries.

Let me know in the comments below if this article was helpful to you. Do you disagree with anything? Comments or suggestions?  Let me hear them!

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