Minnesota appraiser numbers fall; what does it mean?

I got interested in a statute that, starting last summer, made it illegal to pressure real estate appraisers into assessing a property for a specific value.

I wasn’t sure what to write on the topic so I thought I’d start by asking the state Commerce Department for data on the number of licensed real estate appraisers in Minnesota. I was blown away by the data.

The number leaped in the first half of this decade, took a roller coaster dive and now is slowly rising.

It seems bizarre but that’s the data Commerce sent me so I’ll assume it’s valid.

What’s interesting is that the drop in the number of appraisers seems to have come before the real estate collapse — almost like a leading economic indicator. Now we’re seeing the numbers slowly rise again during the worst part of the recession.

“The number of appraisers does seem to be a leading economic indicator of the health of the real estate industry,” said Julie Schwartz, an independent appraiser from White Bear Lake and a source in MPR’s Public Insight Network. “The market actually started to decline in 2006, but was not public knowledge until 2007.”

The increase in appraisers since 2006, she adds, relates to the soft labor market and the appeal an appraisal career holds for people trying to retrain for new jobs.

Wendy Walker, vice president of the North Star Chapter of the Appraisal Institute and a member of the Commerce Department’s real estate appraisal advisory board, said she was aware of a decline although it’s unclear what would explain the huge drop.

One of the problems is that many education providers have been promoting the appraisal profession as a quick route to high income. They get people to take classes and become licensed, but trainee appraisers then find that there are few jobs available.

The licensing requirements changed January 1, 2008 in response to new national requirements from the Appraisal Foundation. I know that there were a large number of applications in to Commerce in 2007 because of this.

If you had either the experience or education by Jan 1, 2008, they would give you an additional year to complete the requirements. Because of this, most people are anticipating that the number of appraisers will decline.”

The state, she added, has already instituted the requirement for more appraisal-related education and hours of apprenticeship.

I’m a novice on the appraisal business but I’d like to know more. If appraiser counts are a kind of leading economic indicator, what’s the market telling us now?

If you have a connection to the appraisal business, post below and tell us what you’re seeing in Minnesota. Or contact me directly.