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Beyond Continued Education

How to keep learning and staying informed without having to invest a lot of time and money.

Being an appraiser means being a life-long learner. Not only are you required to complete continued education (CE) classes every license renewal cycle, you also need to stay informed of constantly changing government regulations, ever evolving technology, local environmental as well as economic conditions, future land uses and zoning changes, etc. It can be overwhelming to many appraisers working alone to juggle their appraisal workload and general operations of their business while also making time to continually stay informed and improving their appraisal skills and knowledge, and somehow also manage to have a family life.

Many appraisers claim they just don’t have time; or that it cost too much with classes and taking time off from work. The truth is; if you want to continue to be a good appraiser who provide quality products to your clients you really don’t have a choice. You HAVE to make learning and staying informed a priority and it may surprise you that it really doesn’t have to take much time or cost a lot of money. The key is to manage your time and make smart choices. Here are some ideas that might help you make those smart choices:

  • Invest in an unlimited learning pass

Some continued education providers have come out with an unlimited learning pass that will allow you to take unlimited appraisal education classes either on-line, in live seminars or both for the length of the renewal cycle. The costs for these unlimited learning passes are similar to the traditional CE package deals, but give you added value. For example McKissock offered 3 unlimited CE packages for Florida last renewal cycle, an on-line pass for $379, a live class pass for $429 and the full access pass (both on-line and live courses) for $449 and all the unlimited education passes included additional resources such as professional webinars and learning tools (podcast, videos, white papers and checklists). Their traditional 30-hr renewal package was priced at $379.95. This is a valuable resource as you are required to complete a number of CE classes every 2-year renewal cycle anyway, so why not invest in an unlimited learning pass and get more for your money. Another perk with an unlimited learning pass is that you can spread out your classes over the 2 years so you don’t end up scrambling to finish your CE just before the end of the renewal cycle. You might even find yourself getting some additional classes finished and being able to squeeze in an hour webinar a couple of times a month as well without even having to take any time off at all.

  • Get a newspaper subscription

One of the easiest ways to stay informed about what is going on in your market area is to read the local newspaper and watch the local news on TV. It will tell you of road expansions, environmental issues or concern, economic conditions like losing or adding major employers in the area, among many other things. You can usually get a local newspaper subscription for as little as $3/week for the whole week or as little as $1.50/week for select days. Many appraisers will dismiss this by saying they don’t have time to sit and read the newspaper every day, but why not sign up for the paper for a couple of days per week. Maybe sit down and scan through the paper for 10 minutes over your first cup of coffee in the morning. You can also turn the local news on your TV in the morning while getting ready as well. It will help you more than you think. I personally found out about a water quality issue in a neighborhood where I was appraising a home from watching the local news on TV the morning of going out to do the inspection. It gave me the chance to do some research about what was going on and to determine what effect it was having on the property values in the area.

  • Join a professional association

There are a number of professional appraiser associations available and I strongly recommend that you join one of them. Some memberships are pricey with yearly dues of over $400 which is probably the reason why 60-70% of all appraisers are not affiliated with any appraiser association, but there are still some that are very affordable with dues as low as $100/year such as National Association of Appraisers. The benefits of belonging to an appraiser association includes getting on mailing lists for industry information and publications that will help you receive up-to-date information on what is going on in your profession. It gives you a voice by being part of a professional group and a chance to influence the profession. Even if you do not want to become a member of any of the associations you can still benefit from a lot of free information and resources that are available on their websites. Some good sources include:

  • Sign up for newsletters from professional organizations and industry blogs.

In the last couple of years I have greatly benefited from reading email newsletters and industry blogs. It has given me more of a connection with what is going on in the industry and what other appraisers are dealing with in their daily lives. Signing up for news letters from Appraisal Foundation etc. provides almost instant information about proposed changes to laws affecting appraisers along with valuation advisories and such. The news letters from your appraisal software provider can give you suggestions and learning opportunities that can make you more effective in your business. My favorite newsletters are from appraiser bloggers. They are usually easy to read and cover topics interesting to appraisers. You can easily fit in reading an email newsletter while checking your email in the morning, or when you are in the field waiting for your appointment to show up, or when you need to take a short break from your report. It doesn’t have to be a bit deal or take much time. You will learn and get great ideas that will help you in your appraisal practice. Some useful links to sign up for free newsletters:

These are just a few suggestions to help you be a life-long learner. It doesn’t have to be expensive or take up a lot of your time but you DO need to make learning and staying informed a priority if you want to be a successful appraiser and provide quality products for your clients. It is all about making smart choices, managing your time wisely and having a willingness to keep learning.

“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” ~ Brian Herbert

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