There are four levels of appraiser licensing in the state of California. In order to qualify for any appraiser level, you must be at least 18 years of age, pass a qualifying exam and pay associated fees.
AT – Trainee License
This is the most basic appraiser licensing level, and one that requires the trainee to work under the supervision of a licensed California real estate appraiser. No experience is necessary, but the trainee must pass the AQB approved residential examination and complete at least 90 hours of appraisal related education. At least 15 hours must be spent on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), with the remainder covering the specific topics required by the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB). The AT level appraiser can assist on any appraisal within the scope of the supervising appraiser.
AL – Residential License
This level appraiser may work on their own, though they must complete all the requirements of an AT licensed appraiser along with 2000 hours of acceptable appraisal experience. An AL licensed appraiser can appraise non-complex 1-to-4 unit residential properties up to a transaction value of $1 million, and complex 1-to-4 unit residential and all non-residential property up to a transaction value of $250,000. Unfortunately, many properties in California exceed the $1 million dollar mark, so an AR or AG licensed appraiser is typically needed.
AR – Certified Residential License
An AR licensed appraiser must complete of total of 120 hours of appraisal related education, 2,500 hours of appraisal experience, and two and a half years of acceptable appraisal experience. The AR licensed appraiser must also pass the AQB approved certified residential examination. They may appraise all 1-to-4 unit residential properties regardless of complexity, and non-residential property up to a transaction value of $250,000.
AG – Certified General License
The granddaddy of all appraisers, the Certified General Licensed appraiser, or AG licensed appraiser can appraise all types of properties, regardless of value or type. A minimum of 180 hours of appraisal related education must be completed, as well as 3,000 hours and two and a half years of appraiser experience, with at least 1,500 hours spent on non-residential property. They must also pass the AQB approved certified general examination.
It is important to pay attention to the level of appraiser you work with, as mistakes often occur when appraisals are assigned by banks and lenders. Double-check to make sure the appraiser is at the right level to appraise your property. There have been instances in the past where a non-qualified appraiser has appraised a property which later had to be reassigned. If your property is appraised below value, causing your mortgage application to fall out, check to see if the appraiser is licensed for your property type and value. You may get a free rebuttal if that’s the case.