The Trouble in Hiring Young Appraisers for Eminent Domain

Eminent domain has changed in the past fifteen years. There is far more emphasis on “business side” valuation in the process of property interest appraisal.

At the same time, real estate appraising remains the crux of the valuation process in most eminent domain cases. In the attached article in the Lehigh Valley Business, writer Joe Ferry arrived at a clear understanding of the issue at hand.

The process of appraising now requires a clear and concise writing. As such, an educational minimum must be fulfilled in order to prepare a reasonable appraisal premised upon an appropriate analysis. These educational requirements are substantial enough that the writing prerequisite makes it difficult for many to seek out appraisal positions even if otherwise qualified in preparing a quantitative analysis. At the same time, the quantitative analysis is also required to properly provide an appraisal.

Exacerbating the situation is that there is a 2500 hour apprenticeship required in order to obtain the most minimum of licenses and years of classes to move up to the senior appraisal categories.

Given this, there is now a lack of qualified young candidates seeking matriculation and growth in the appraisal area. If this reader were to ask almost any eminent domain attorney in any state what is the biggest problem in the eminent domain process, the person is likely to be told that the most difficult part is finding new appraisers. There simply are very few new appraiser candidates entering the litigation field.

Many of the young appraisers now apprentice at the larger wholesale appraisal houses. The real question is whether these young workers will break off as they obtain their licenses or simply walk away from the profession entirely.

“While veterans are abandoning the industry, an even bigger problem is the lack of newcomers. Not only are educational requirements now more rigorous, new appraisers also must serve at least 2,500 hours as an apprentice. That means it can take years before someone can do an appraisal on his own, if he can find an appraiser willing to let him be an understudy.

And starting next year, appraisers will be required to undergo mandatory background checks.

Geiger said the decline in new residential-real estate appraisers will have other effects. In the past, mortgage appraisal work was the training ground for bigger and better things such as legal work in tax assessment and eminent domain, he said.

“We’re not creating that training ground for people anymore,” he said.”