How to Become an Appraiser

The Appraisal Foundation is the place to start learning about becoming an appraiser. The licensing requirements are set and can be found online from the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB). It is relatively standardized on a national basis. The AQB requires 75 Hours of qualifying education. To move from apprentice to fully licensed appraiser, 150 hours of qualifying education are required. All of this information can be found on the Appraisal Foundation website.

Those hours as a trainee or apprentice are often the more difficult part of entering the appraisal business. Appraisal education is available in every state, but working as an apprentice means it’s necessary to find a licensed appraiser to take one on as an apprentice. For those who are interested, it’s well worth the effort.

Roy R. Fisher just happens to currently be looking for someone to come on board as an apprentice. From a skillset point of view, commercial appraisers need to be able to communicate clearly. I really want to find somebody who can write. The ability to communicate is even more important to the job than having an expertise in finance or accounting. Finance and analysis can be learned on the job. That’s not to say the math doesn’t matter, there is a lot of math, yet most of it is done in spreadsheets that calculate the math automatically.

The new employee will be mentored in research, inspection, analysis and the reporting required to develop commercial appraisals. With proficiency in Word and Excel, and good communication skills, a career as an appraiser is an excellent opportunity.

We have a shortage of appraisers. The average age of commercial appraisers in our region has increased, with several recent retirements.  According to Zippia, the average age of appraisers is 49 years old.  That means there’s a lot of opportunity for younger professionals to enter this field. It’s a good time to get into the business.

The joy of the job for me is that I don’t punch a clock. Most appraisers work in small businesses. I answer to myself, and as long as my employees produce good work, they’re free to set their own schedule.

For more information about becoming an appraiser, see the Appraisal Foundation website. To apply to work as a trainee at Roy R. Fisher, contact Mark Nelson at or 563-355-6606.

30 Years and Going Strong

For the past 30 years, I (Mark Nelson) have worked in the appraisal field with Roy R. Fisher, a company that was founded in 1929. That’s a lot of appraisals and a lot of business partnerships. Memory is a funny thing; in many ways, it seems like I just got started yesterday. But of course, whenever I begin work with a new client, all of those years in the field come into play. They have given me the knowledge and experience we use to help our clients. It’s been a wonderful 30 years, and I’m still going strong.

It’s been fascinating watching the changing real estate landscape. For instance, office supply stores have become Salvation Army warehouses and donation centers. Former businesses like K-Mart have become U-Haul Rental businesses. Old multi-story warehouses have become loft apartments. So many businesses have moved or changed ownership.

Survival is certainly no guarantee in any industry, and there have been tough times in the commercial real estate appraisal business as well. The COVID-19 pandemic was a challenging time, but the economic downturn of 2008 also hit the real estate market particularly hard, and many businesses didn’t survive.

Thankfully, I’ve seen quite a bit of success in my 30 years. I have testified in several tax appeals, helping clients achieve fair and equitable assessments. My eminent domain appraisals have helped property owners and cities successfully reach agreements on acquisitions for needed right-of-way improvements. And achieving the MAI Designation was a rewarding experience for me. It means a lot that the Appraisal Institute recognized the quality of my work. In order to achieve MAI designation, I had to:

  • Have good moral character;
  • Be a Certified General Real Property Appraiser (or meet equivalency)
  • Hold bachelor’s degree or higher (or be a Certified General Real Property Appraiser)
  • Meet standards and ethics requirements;
  • Pass rigorous education requirements;
  • Pass a final comprehensive examination;
  • Receive credit for specialized experience that meets strict criteria; and
  • Receive credit for the demonstration of knowledge requirement.

One of the things that keeps Roy R. Fisher going is that we know we provide a valuable service. We serve Fortune 500 companies as well as small local businesses. Our expert appraisals help clients reduce tax burdens, provide litigation support, and avoid costly investment mistakes.

On a personal note, it’s been rewarding getting to know so many wonderful clients, forging friendships and working relationships that make us feel good about the work we do. I’ve seen businesses grow from small “Mom & Pop” shops into large enterprises. I’ve seen young clients become parents and grandparents and young entrepreneurs grow into pillars of the community. I’ve seen historic properties saved and restored, and I hope to see a lot more of that over the decades to come.

It’s been a wonderful 30 years, and I look forward to 30 more years.

Estate Planning for Commercial Real Estate

Estate planning is never much fun, but it’s necessary to plan how to leave behind an inheritance for heirs and to reduce or even eliminate the tax burden on an estate. If you own commercial real estate, hiring an appraiser who specializes in this type of property is a crucial part of estate planning.

In this part of the country, we do a lot of estate planning appraisals for farms, but we can handle most any multi-family, industrial, office, or retail property. We work in both Illinois and Iowa, which have different laws and tax implications for estate planning. When estate planning isn’t handled properly, it often results in excessive legal fees, increased tax liabilities, and potential legal fights among heirs. Planning helps eliminate these sorts of problems before they occur.

Commercial real estate presents unique opportunities and challenges. One of the biggest considerations for estate planning is reducing tax liabilities, which is a huge concern, especially for owners of commercial properties. It’s important to enlist the help of experts like us, as planning can become complicated. A commercial real estate specialist can help plan for dividing property among heirs. We can also help appraise properties with multiple owners.

Roy R. Fisher is experienced in valuing real estate of all types of commercial properties, whether you own an arcade, a welding shop, or a restaurant. Our appraisals can help you make choices about changes needed now to make the estate transition run smoothly in the future.