How do we start to improve education for commercial appraisers?

Commercial appraisal education has remained largely the same. That said, I understand it’s very challenging to create meaningful educational content. The current education debate is the ROI of college due to rising costs. Popularity of vocational schools training students for specific work is gaining ground. The allure is hands-on training, lower cost and a ready to use skill sets are attractive to the next gen. 

Back in the day, I started my appraisal career with Pardue, Heid, Church, Smith and Waller. My education consisted of going on one inspection with one of them. I’m grateful for my start, but the reason I mention this former firm, is for comparison only.  

Our challenge is to realize that younger talent doesn’t want the same things that we did when we were their age. They’re not lazy. They’re different. They want to accelerate their learning curve. They want to bring and feel valued. They don’t have a desire “die at their desk baby boomer style.” 

4 Pillars of meaningful education 

  1. Certainty – education to reduce trial and error 
  1. Variety – scheduled content – new events, members coaches and social 
  1. Significance – a curated exclusive group  
  1. Connection – create long-lasting relationships with peers  

The more your appraisal business fulfills the foregoing emotional needs, the better the outcome. 

Necessary vs. unnecessary 

Having to take USPAP in two year cycles doesn’t attract young talent. Having sat through 12+ USPAP courses, the difference between editions can be discussed in about 15 minutes. Repetitiveness does not increase ethics. This example is not consistent with current education trends. Even the instructor feels bad for their students. “Let’s get through this…” There must be a better way. 

Create demand and stickiness 

Be a better appraiser by being a better business person. Many of us are technicians stuck in the tactical. We rarely come outside and play in the strategic arena. This imbalance between tactical and strategic is our Achilles’ heel. Our education mirrors this weakness. The best businesses leverage the fundamental human emotion needs to create demand and stickiness. 

How about a nuance class? Talking about the plethora rules of thumb we use daily as appraisers. Highlight nuances between property types and issues impacting valuation. If you took a years’ worth of training a new appraiser, could you summarize the nuances in a one week class? I didn’t say it was easy. But it would be meaningful. 

Key to appraisal education needs to be personal transformation. Creating a culture that results in highly relevant and innovative education model. Connecting people and resources to inspire new appraisers to create a meaningful lasting profession for their careers. 

An extension of mentorship 

How do we achieve more relevant education? Initiatives. If we can’t define what success looks like then we can’t get there. We need to provide training that results in viable skills to address the pending appraiser shortage, raise awareness of the lucrative appraisal profession and improve the lack of professional branding of our industry.  

Another idea is, success coaches connecting with new students before they start their career. Help the students identify their valuation path with appropriate classes. Encourage students to find their own personal niche in the appraisal world. Create connections between students to provide encouragement and support they need. 

Coaching towards confidence 

Create an environment that emphasizes connection and collaboration. Present an interdisciplinary connection between technology, process and valuation…the magic trilogy of productivity. A transformational growth plan requires: 

  • 3 year commitment by the students 
  • Measured milestones of success along the way  
  • Appraisal owners’ written commitment ensuring a successful educational journey 

New appraisers will start their careers when they hear other people talking positively about the industry. Encouragement is dramatically lacking in our industry. Next time someone comes to your office looking for a job, ask them about their other interviews. Specifically ask about the appraisal firm owners’ outlook on the future. My guess it’s fairly negative. It’s certainly not passionate. We seem to be chronically worried that there’s enough work to go around rather than scaling our appraisal firms with sales and marketing. Karma will reward those that give back. 

Develop the whole student 

The educational content needs to be focused on access to innovation, perhaps with an all-star lineup of mentors. We need to spark personal growth and inspire students with more of an entrepreneurial attitude. Move away from the tactical to the strategic. Reinforce the concept of being “all in.” “Teach” what commitment looks like. New appraisers can find a passion for our industry, but only if we show the way with optimism and innovation. We need to develop the whole student with a forward thinking, experiential learning model. 

It’s not just about passing exams it’s about personal outcomes. The appraisal industry can attract new talent when we realize we need to communicate differently to solve problems, be flexible and widen the lens through which our students see the valuation world. Students rise to the level of their environment. Ask yourself, who in our commercial valuation industry are the faces of engagement? If we teach one thing, it should be adaptability. This opens the door for better communication, leadership opportunities and so much more. Let’s take advantage of our future. Let’s all get educated.