The appraisal profession has definitely had its ups and downs. Most recently, the number of appraisers nationwide has declined from 121,000 in 2007 to 96,600 in 2017 nationwide. The age demographics are even harsher. Look around at any appraisal function and try to spot the Millennials. There are not many and the few present tend to be legacy appraisers, those with a parent or other close family member in the profession. As an organization we struggle with the question of how to attract younger members. Yes, there are high barriers to entry but are there other reasons? How can we get the message out to young people making career decisions to consider real estate appraisal?
Enter Babson College Management Consulting Field Experience (MCFE) program. The MCFE program connects Boston area organizations with talented Babson students who work as pro-bono consultants to address a current business challenge. A team of undergraduates advised by an MBA student spends the semester analyzing a particular problem then collaborate to resolve that specific business problem. At the end of the semester, the team presents its findings and recommendations.
The Massachusetts and Rhode Island Chapter submitted an application to address the following questions:
• Determine what the critical factors are for students choosing career paths.
• Determine what kinds of students to target (majors, skills).
• Formulate messaging to students around the benefits of a career in real estate appraisal including a variety of work assignments, flexible hours and a high potential for entrepreneurship.
• Develop social media campaign to expose students to the profession.
• Connect with any governmental resources available to encourage training in specialized professions.
Babson’s MCPE received 40 applications for the fall semester program, and the chapter’s application was one of 12 selected. Since the initial kick off meeting on September 7, a team of five undergraduates has been analyzing our profession. These bright young people have learned a lot about the appraisal profession in a very short time. They interviewed current Appraisal Institute students to understand their career decisions and attended the October Chapter meeting to meet and interview more of our candidates. They are also grappling with the employer side of the equation and have quickly figured out the challenges of trainee appraisers.
By mid October, at the mid-term check they had concluded the research phase of the assignment and were ready to move on to the Identification and Idea Creation phases of the consulting assignment where they will establish the target profile and needs and generate “blue sky” ideas. This is the part where it gets really exciting. This diverse group of smart, talented, enthusiastic students is going to give us ideas about how to attract smart, talented, and enthusiastic young people who might want to become real estate appraisers. There could not be a better consulting group for this assignment.
The Final Presentation will be held at Babson on December 7. Chapter leadership anxiously awaits their findings, which will be presented in Powerpoint by the students. We are fortunate to live in a city with such rich educational resources and even more fortunate that one of our elite institutions has chosen to collaborate with us.
Karen Friel, MAI, MRA, is the 2017 president of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Chapter of the Appraisal Institute and principal at Friel Valuation Advisors, Carlisle, Mass.