“A New Appraiser Discusses his Journey into the Industry” was originally published in May 2021. In this Buzzcast, we have Marcus Knight, a recently licensed appraiser diving into his firsthand account with the Appraiser Diversity Initiative (ADI) by Fannie Mae and the challenges facing trainee appraisers today. In addition to sitting down with us, Marcus also wrote an article for us below about his journey in this industry.
When I walked into the Chicago Urban League in November 2020, I would have never thought I would be where I am now. When I heard about the Appraisal field, I was instantly intrigued and wanted to know more. Up until this point, I hadn’t involved myself much in Real Estate and my only thought about it surrounded home ownership. I couldn’t have imagined that more than a year from now I’d be an Appraiser Trainee.
Where I am now is due entirely to the Appraisal Diversity Initiative (ADI) sponsored by Fannie Mae and the National Urban League. I went to a meeting earlier in the day at the Chicago Urban League, and as I was leaving, I happened to walk past the ADI event as it started and thought to myself, “why not attend?” During the event, Black Appraisers spoke about their experiences in the field, how it changed their lives, and its importance to community development. I wanted to know more, so I learned about the ADI scholarship, I applied, and in a few weeks, I was notified I was selected as an awardee. This scholarship allowed me to take all the basic courses and proctored tests necessary to be licensed as a trainee. It came at the right time as for some time I had been contemplating a career change. It all felt serendipitous.
I was awarded this scholarship in December 2019, but didn’t really start courses until February 2020 as my job at the moment was very demanding. The courses were quite challenging because I didn’t have any prior Real Estate experience. It was like reading a foreign language for the first time (in truth, it still feels somewhat like that now). I had to take my time to digest the content and try to connect it to the real world, all without expert guidance. Appraisal Principals wasn’t so bad, but the course on Appraisal Procedures was very challenging. Even though I felt alone and inadequate at times, I dedicated myself to understanding the content to the best of my abilities. I took my time completing the introductory courses because I wanted to make sure if I had an opportunity to speak to a potential Supervisor, I would speak confidently. After 90 days, I finished my courses and took my state proctored exams two months later. By August, I had successfully passed all three introductory courses and passed all three exams. By November 2020, I had successfully completed the mandatory Supervisor/Trainee courses and I applied for licensure in December. By January 2021, I was licensed as an Appraiser Trainee in Illinois.
Since August 2020, I’ve had the fortune of interacting with some brilliant appraisers who took the time out to share insights developed through their many years of work. Having the opportunity to review appraisal reports and discuss how appraisers might have approached their analysis provided a real-world context that, up until that point, hadn’t been available. At this point, I began to realize the level of complexity of appraisal work and why mentorship was so important. Examining a completed report either in URAR or narrative format lead to many questions. As I eventually learned, an appraisal report is a finely crafted piece of work that is both an artform and a science. The phrase “it depends” in regards to why an appraiser made a certain decision still rings in my head to this day. For 8 months, I was provided with the space to ask questions about appraisal work and was challenged to research and find different appraisals for both exposure and competence. As I reflect, I realize that any appraiser trainee should seek out mentorship separate from a supervisory relationship. Speaking to someone who is taking time out to drop gems with no strings attached helps to accelerate the learning curve. I’m very appreciative of those who decided to give their time to me who asked nothing of me.
Thanks to ADI, I found a supervisor here in Chicago who was willing to take me under his wing. He is a residential appraiser who has been practicing since around the ‘08 market crash, so he has a wealth of experience I am just clambering to tap into. I have a few inspections under my belt, and I have to say, they are challenging as I am forced to take all of the academic knowledge I’ve learned and apply it within a real world setting with a real time constraint (the duration of the inspection). Remembering key steps like making sure to taking clear pictures, getting accurate measurements, and scanning the environment for any important details, is shaping up to be quite the feat at the moment. My saving grace is I am working with a patient and understanding supervisor who doesn’t mind me asking a million questions throughout the day. It’s a lot to process, but I’ve learned to take it day by day and not to beat myself up when I leave my camera in the car or realize later in the day, I took a bad comp picture and I have to go back out and take it again. This is just the beginning of my journey, so I quickly learned the importance of pacing myself and self-care.
My short-term goal is to become a Certified Residential Appraiser and my long-term goal is to become a General Appraiser. I heard others say you have to pick early which career path to take, but my strategy is too early on in my residential appraisal career to identify a specialty for myself as I pursue General Certification. I say to anyone who is interested in pursuing appraisal as a career to understand that it’s a lifestyle. You must be prepared to immerse yourself in this field to become competent. I’m incredibly excited for what the future has in store for me. I slowly feel more and more like a bona fide appraiser every day.
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