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How BIPOC And Women Can Earn Six Figures And Become Diversity Change Agents

National Mortgage Professional
Dec 10, 2021
Photo of a diverse group of professionals. Credit:

The real estate industry has a problem that can be a solution for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) and women whose financial lives have been disproportionately stung by the pandemic.

By Kristy Folino, Senior Vice President, Local Solutions, ServiceLink

The real estate industry has a problem that can be a solution for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) and women whose financial lives have been disproportionately stung by the pandemic. More than half (55%) of real estate appraisers are in their 60s or older and about to retire. Meanwhile, there’s been a steady decline in the number of new appraisers—even as job opportunities in this trade are expected to go up by 3% every year until 2029.

Real estate obviously needs a fresh wave of appraisers, otherwise the buying and selling of properties will become bottlenecked in the not-so-distant future. For those looking to earn six-figure salaries and gain more control over their work schedules, it’s one of the greatest career opportunities of this young decade. And it should particularly catch the eye of Black and Hispanic workers who have faced, per McKinsey & Company, 1.6 to 2 times the unemployment rates of their white counterparts. The appraisal opportunity should also appeal to many women, who as a group have lost 28% more jobs than men during the pandemic. Not to mention Black and Hispanic women, who have been impacted the most by job losses in the last 14 months

While those stats are daunting, there’s a prosperous way forward for BIPOC and all women. Let’s delve into why they can not only overcome unemployment hardships but also achieve pay equity by becoming appraisers in 2022.

Pays Well And Fairly

Salary inequity is undeniably an issue that affects BIPOC and women. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the average 2019 household income was $76,000 for white households, $56,000 for Hispanic households and $46,000 for Black households. And the median salary for women last year was 19% lower than their male colleagues and peers. BIPOC and women who jump on the appraisal opportunity can conquer salary inequity. Per the Appraisal Institute, on the lower end of the pay scale, 85% of appraisers earn greater than $50,000. On the higher end, 35% make between $100,000 and $200,000, while 10% make more than $200,000.

A New York Times article earlier this year helps bring the occupation’s potential to life, highlighting the six-figure salaries earned by two female residential real estate appraisers in Maryland—Traci Warner, who is Black, and Robin Armone, who is white. They each took on the trade to supplement their income before the pandemic and are now pursuing it as a full-time career while enjoying the significant increase in disposable income.

While those examples illustrate the potential for gainful earnings, the fair pay aspect of this career opportunity requires a little more explaining. Today’s appraisers operate as independent contractors and stake claim to jobs via digital platforms that are paid by market-based pricing, which essentially acts as a safeguard for earnings equity. The system is based on a first-come, first-serve basis and on merit.

Bolsters work-life balance

This career also offers BIPOC and women greater flexibility because emerging technology lets appraisers work on their own schedules while getting more done. Video, powered by machine learning (ML), is becoming a common tool for virtually examining properties, inside and outside. Soon, appraisers’ laptops will nearly provide the same abilities as their automobiles by transporting them via video to get an accurate and close look at a home or apartment.

Additionally, appraisers now have control over their work schedules via digital apps that provide a 24/7 feed of their available times while blocking off slots that are already booked. Consumers or lenders can arrange appointments based on the appraiser’s availability, circumventing games of phone tag that can jam up an appraiser’s workflow.

Such digital tools will help appraisers earn more money because they get paid by job completions rather than hourly. By conducting appraisals virtually, they will spend more time taking on and finishing jobs and less time filling up their gas tank and driving to the next site. Further, this tech will not only fulfill the earnings goals for BIPOC and women but also meet their needs for spending time with friends and family as well as enjoying their cultural passions.

Educationally inclusive

The residential appraiser trade not only offers lucrative pay and flexible scheduling but also opportunities for people if they have a high school diploma. Federal policy does not require a bachelor’s degree to become an appraiser who examines homes that have been valued at less than $1 million and entail four or fewer units. To appraise larger properties that have been valued at $1 million or more, a bachelor’s degree is federally mandated. States each have their own educational requirements that comply with or exceed federal requirements. For each type of candidate, they have to attend training classes that take a few months to complete, and getting the desired credentials will involve six to 12 months, depending on state regulations. The courses will altogether cost several hundred dollars, and they can be completed in person or online.

During the certification process, appraiser candidates will learn the ins and outs of the trade, which include evaluating a property’s condition, including a building’s foundation, exterior walls, roof, gutters, and so on, and inspecting interior floors, walls, and trim. Among other duties, a major task is looking at property values in the area to help assess what the house, apartment, or building is worth.

Offers a chance to be a change agent

With property values in mind, a more diverse field of appraisers will also improve how this industry operates. Real estate needs a diverse influx of people to fill the appraiser role, which, in effect, offers a game-changing chance for BIPOC and women who have been hurt financially in the past year. It can help them achieve gainful employment, eradicate their earnings inequity, give them greater control over their work schedules and help change an industry for the better.

Photo of Kristy Folino.

Kristy Folino, senior vice president of local solutions at ServiceLink, has 24 years of mortgage services industry experience, with an extensive background in valuation, title and settlement services, and P&L management. In her current role, Folino is responsible for leading a dynamic, client-facing team focused on delivering and enhancing the customer experience to retail loan officers and mid-tier clients of ServiceLink's origination title and close division.

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