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One of my friends whom I knew since high school, decided to purchase his first property after years of renting. He has a real estate agent working for him in search for the right house. After months of house viewings, they found one that my friend likes and about to make an offer. He just called me the other day and wondered if his agent could do an appraisal for him. He thought if that can be done, perhaps he could save some appraisal fees.
His argument is the real estate sales associate should be able to provide an accurate evaluation of the property since he already knows so much about the neighborhood and has access to recent selling data.
So can a real estate agent do an appraisal? The short answer is no. An appraisal must be completed by a real estate appraiser who holds the appraisal license in the same state as the subject property.
In this article, you’ll learn the difference between a real estate appraiser and an agent, can someone hold both licenses at the same time, and what is the conflict of interest.
Difference Between Real Estate Agents and Appraisers
Real Estate Agent
When you are working as a real estate agent, your core duty is to assist your clients during a real estate transaction – which could include buying, selling or renting a property. You have a fiduciary responsibility is working in their best interest. For instance, to sell a property at the highest price possible, or purchase one that has the best value according to your client’s budget.
[Complete Guide: What is a real estate agent?]
Most real estate salespeople are compensated in the form of a commission. In other words, you’ll be paid whenever you successfully complete a real estate transaction.
To obtain a real estate license, you’ll need to complete the pre-licensing courses, pass the exam, and register with the Regulatory Commission in your state. There’s no prior work experience or post-secondary education requirement in most states.
There are different approaches you could use in assessing the value of a property such as the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) or Broker-Priced Opinion (BPO). It typically involves comparing similar properties that are listed or sold recently in the same neighborhood. Although your clients could benefit from your great insights and research, these reports are not recognized as an appraisal. Therefore, most lenders would not accept them for underwriting purposes.
Real Estate Appraiser
If you were to become a real estate appraiser, then your primary duty is to provide an opinion about the value of a property. Unlike a real estate sales associate, you are not representing any parties. Therefore, your job is to provide an unbiased assessment of the property. You’ll get paid a flat fee regardless of the transaction goes through or not.
To obtain a real estate appraiser license, you’ll need to take the pre-licensing courses, pass the exam, and registered Appraisal Board in your state. However, you’ll need to work as a trainee under the supervision of a Certified Appraiser. You must accumulate the required number of working hours to upgrade your license.
Most states would have four license levels, which are the trainee appraiser, licensed residential appraiser, certified residential appraiser, and certified general appraiser. The Appraisal Qualification Board clearly states the type and value of properties you could appraise with each license. Most states would require you to hold a college or bachelor’s degree to become a Certified Appraiser.
Your appraisal report would even a lot more in-depth research then the analysis made by a real estate agent. In addition to comparing similar properties, your assessment would take into account the property condition, and make an appropriate adjustment based on the properties features.
You would use more than one approach to driving to your conclusion. For example, you could be using the cost approaches which estimate how much it would cost to rebuild a similar property.
Due to the thoroughness of an appraisal, lenders would use it as one of the determining factors when financing for a mortgage.
Can You be a Real Estate Agent and Appraiser?
Yes, you can be a real estate agent and appraiser at the same time. In fact, I personally met several agents who also run an appraisal practice. It could be a great way to diversify your sources of income. Even during a slow transactional season, you may still receive appraisal orders due to refinancing, divorce or estate settlement.
But of course, every state could have its own rules. You should check with the state regulatory agency to see if that can be done. In many states, the licensing for real estate agents and appraisers are administered by the same office – for instance, in New York State, you just need to contact the NYS Division of Licensing Services for agents or appraiser related questions.
Beware of Conflict of Interest
Even though the state regulation might permit you in holding both licenses, you need to be careful when it comes to handling any potential conflict of interest. I talked to several dual licensed professionals, and they all would avoid working on both capacities on the same subjected property.
Imagine you are representing a client as their seller’s agent. You would obviously want to sell their property at a high price. Then the buyer needs to get an appraisal to obtain the financing. You put back the appraiser’s hat and tell the lenders that the property does worth the selling price.
Although your appraisal work could be complying with the regulatory standard, both the lender and buyer could question the independence of your evaluation. It is very reasonable for them to suspect whether you would inflate the appraised value. After all, you are representing the best interest as the seller’s agent, and you will only get paid when the transaction goes through.
Therefore, I highly doubt whether this dual practice on the same subjected property would be permitted. Especially under the stringent compliance environment, we have nowadays. Even so, I believe most underwriters would not accept this setup due to such an apparent conflict of interest.
Some dual licensed professionals would take extra precaution. They avoid doing appraisal if their real estate brokerage is involved in the transaction.
It’s better to be safe than sorry later. If you are unsure, you should always confirm with your real estate broker or the state regulation. It helps to prevent you from going through unnecessary compliant or even litigation down the road.
As a real estate agent, you can provide great perspectives about a property. But you cannot perform an appraisal unless you are also licensed as a real estate appraiser.
Despite reviewing similar data, an appraiser and a salesperson may arrive at different property valuation. After all, their goals, perspectives and the party that they work for are also different. However, both estimates are worth considering, and both professionals play a significant role in the real estate industry.
Disclaimer: The information in this post is for general information only, and not intend to provide any advice. They are subjected to change anytime without notice, and not guaranteed to be error-free. For full and exact details, please contact your real estate broker or regulatory agency in your state or the actual service providers.