How Much Do Home Appraisers Make?

The average income for home appraisers is $61,116 as of February 2022, according to PayScale, although a certified residential real estate appraiser may earn $100,000 or more, as they become more experienced. A trainee earns considerably less with annual earnings before taxes as low as $37,586. An appraiser's salary is highly dependent on the appraiser's level of experience and licensing. 

Key Takeaways

  • Experienced real estate appraisers can make upwards of $100,000.
  • Real estate markets always need experienced appraisers.
  • Residential appraisers must be certified to perform appraisals on houses.
  • Residential appraisal trainees must complete a licensing training course and obtain a trainee license before they begin work alongside an appraiser.
  • Trainees make very low pay until they are established in the field.

Trainee Appraiser

Trainees may be paid a small fee for each home appraisal or they may be paid hourly depending on the situation. Payments can start as low as $50 and increase to $150 as the trainee develops the competence to do most of the work unassisted.

Expected compensation during the training period may be approximately $1,000 to $3,000 per month. The majority of the few salaried appraiser trainee positions are available at commercial appraisal firms or government tax assessor’s offices.

A trainee needs at least 1,000 hours of training before qualifying to take the real estate appraiser licensing exam. Residential appraisal trainees must complete a licensing training course and obtain a trainee license before being considered for employment.

Potential trainees must seek out a licensed real estate appraiser who is willing to supervise their work. Some licensed appraisers require trainees to pay an upfront fee as compensation for the initial training period. Trainees are covered by their supervisor's errors and omissions insurance (E&O) and are given access to required data services.

Residential Appraiser

Salaries start at about $40,000 and top out at over $100,000 for licensed appraisers. Appraisers can work for an appraisal management company (AMC), lending institution, or government agency. Most salaried jobs are for tax assessors or appraisal reviewers, though there are some positions for field appraisers.

Post-housing crisis financial reforms require the use of unaffiliated appraisers for most mortgage appraisals.

Independent fee appraisers perform the majority of appraisals for conforming mortgages, refinancing, or home equity loans. Independent appraisers are paid per job.

Standard fees for a Fannie Mae-compliant appraisal are around $450. Assignments from AMCs pay in a range of $200 to $350 or more. Doing an appraisal per day for 50 weeks gives a gross income of $50,000 to $100,000.

Certified Residential Appraiser

Certified appraisers can earn gross incomes of $75,000 to $200,000. The higher level of income goes to appraisers who have trainees or standard appraisers working for them, or live in areas with large numbers of expensive homes. A certified residential appraiser must have at least 1,500 hours of experience as an appraiser and pass a special licensing test.

The appraisal of any home with a value of more than $1 million, or considered complex, must be completed by a certified appraiser. The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) sets the standards for complex appraisals. Certified appraisers are in demand for appraisals of any size for use in legal proceedings connected to a divorce, estate, or tax litigation.

Certified residential appraisers are in higher demand and may charge more for their services. By law, appraisers are not allowed to base their fees on the value of a home. They compensate for this restriction by having a square footage surcharge set to the approximate size. Total fees can run in the $500 to $750 range or higher.

What Type of Appraisers Make the Most Money?

Certified residential appraisers make a significant amount of money. It is not unusual for such appraisers to charge over $500, sometimes into the thousands for what amounts to less than a day of work.

What Types of Upgrades Do You Tell Appraisers?

It is important to tell appraisers of all upgrades you have done to your property. Anything from fixing rain gutters to redoing kitchens, switching out water heaters to adding a new air-conditioning system. You should tell them about anything you have done that could add value to your house.

What Hurts a Home Appraisal?

Generally, what can drag down an appraisal comes down to not maintaining a property. Peeling paint, leaking pipes, broken windows, and any other form of damage will lower an appraisal value. Selling a residential home that requires an appraisal means you are selling a product, and it needs to be in the best shape possible to ensure the highest valuation.

The Bottom Line

Although they command a higher-than-average salary, independent fee appraisers are responsible for all of their expenses. The average E&O policy costs around $750 per year. Software licensing, data services, professional association membership fees, and continuing education cost at least $4,000.

On top of these base expenses, the appraiser still needs to pay for supplies, marketing, utilities, workspace, self-employment tax, and automobile expenses. Appraiser training course companies paint rosy pictures of easy money and high incomes for real estate appraisers. The reality is that the work is time-consuming, and the top earnings belong to people who work long hours and are good at running their own businesses. 

Article Sources
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  1. PayScale. "Average Real Estate Appraiser Salary."

  2. PayScale. "Average Real Estate Appraiser Trainee Salary."

  3. Appraisal Institute. "Your Career."

  4. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "§ 1026.42 Valuation Independence."

  5. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. "Rules and Regulations: Section 323.5 Appraiser Independence."

  6. Appraisal Institute. "Experience Credit Candidate Guidebook."

  7. Appraisal Institute. "Guide Notes to the Standards of Professional Practice of the Appraisal Institute,"

  8. The Appraisal Foundation. "What Is USPAP?"