I wanted to put online the specific questions that I believe I should have asked in my interview for my commercial real estate appraisal job and why they are important.
- Will I be able to specialize in a property type?
Specializing in a property type makes everything easier, especially when you are just learning how to do appraisals. For instance, if you do only office buildings, you will build up a big database of relevant sales and rentals that can be reused for multiple appraisals. This can cut down significantly on the research needed for each appraisal. You also can develop relationships with the people involved in the market, like the brokers and sellers. This makes it easier to get them to answer any questions that you may have because you have a relationship with them.
Specializing also lets you learn how to appraise much easier because you do not have to learn about a new property type for each new appraisal. This also helps the review appraiser because they know more of the sales that you are using and the review is typically easier.
- Who are your typical clients?
The best clients for appraisers are insurance companies, lawyers and private citizens. Banks are not good clients because they typically do not charge very much and they sometimes have strict requirements. The non-bank clients also typically have the more interesting appraisals. As an appraisal trainee, I find that I learn much more when doing appraisals for the non-bank clients as well.
- Will you pay for any of my education?
The cost of education to become a certified appraiser is significant. Any new appraiser is required to complete about seven or eight classes to become a certified real estate appraiser. These classes are typically four or five days and will typically require an extended hotel stay. In addition, appraisal companies almost never have any vacation or sick days so you are not making any money at the time.
In addition, all appraisers are required to do continuing education once every two years. This means that even certified appraisers should ask if the company will pay for education.
These are the most relevant questions that I wish I had asked during my interview. I will add other questions as I come up with other questions. Check out my related post on the differences between commercial and residential appraisal here.