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image of a real estate appraiser trainee taking notes with a mentor during an inspection

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Trainees Must Take Responsibility for Their Training

Trainees need to take responsibility for their own future and ensure they understand the requirements for both education and experience. It is important to partner with the supervisor in this process and work together to ensure all requirements are being met.

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Prior to becoming a licensed real estate appraiser there are certain steps that need to be taken. Depending upon the state in which you reside, there are various education requirements that must be satisfied. In addition, as a trainee, you have to locate a licensed appraiser who is willing to act as your supervisor in order to satisfy that very important element of your appraisal training.

Sometimes the task of locating a supervisor is not difficult because this mentor is a family member or friend. Many other would-be trainees are not as lucky and it takes them a while to locate someone who is willing, and able, to take on the time-consuming responsibility of a full-time student. But once the supervisor is located, many trainees simply assume their new instructor knows what has to be done to complete the essential and required one-on-one experience training. We have seen many times that this is not the case.

Before starting the training process, it’s important to determine whether the trainee needs to register with their state as a trainee and whether they need to attend a specific class. In some states, only the supervisor is required to attend a class, while in others, both the supervisor and trainee must attend. Even if it’s not required, it might be beneficial for the trainee to attend the supervisor’s class, especially if the supervisor is taking on this role for the first time. This way, the trainee will be aware of the supervisor requirements in case any questions arise during training.

Trainees may have to complete thousands of “experience” hours depending on their state’s requirements. These hours must be reported to the state licensing authority using an “Experience Log” form. However, this area often gives rise to problems and misunderstandings. It’s unclear which jobs, tasks, or projects completed by the trainee should be included in the Experience Log. For example, if the trainee is just observing the supervisor during a property inspection, do they get any credit for that time? If the trainee is taking photos and performing measurements, would that be considered sufficient “meaningful assistance” requiring the supervisor to comment about their participation somewhere in the body of the appraisal? Is this time to be noted on the Experience Log? Would the trainee have to participate in making adjustments to those comparables before it would be considered that they engaged in some kind of “analysis”?

How much assistance or analysis must the trainee provide to warrant their name being mentioned in the report? Is it ever permissible for a trainee to inspect a property without the supervisor being present? What if the supervisor is present and signs the report as well? What among the above noted tasks can be itemized on the Experience Log? If the trainee’s name is not mentioned in the report, is there verification for the Experience Log entry?

Unfortunately, trainees often rely solely on their supervisors to answer these questions. After the Experience Log is turned in to the state, countless hours are “disallowed,” “rejected,” or “reduced” because someone did not fully understand the rules.

Of course, it could be said that time spent at any property inspection or researching comps is still good experience. However, it can be extremely disappointing when a trainee was hoping they had completed the steps necessary to take the licensing exam only to learn they are essentially back at square one.

You, as the trainee, must accept responsibility for your future. You must find out what is required, both from the education hours standpoint and from the experience standpoint.

Whether you are working with a supervisor who is new to the role, or someone who has done it before, they should understand that your future is in their hands. You don’t want them to bear the entire burden of having to know all the details; rather you want to partner with them in the process.

You understand that your supervisor also has a business to run, so you want to help make sure all the requirements are being met so that this is a smooth and rewarding process. If you approach the relationship in this way, hopefully, the supervisor-trainee partnership will turn out to be a prosperous and successful venture for both of you. ◆