We welcomed Audria Wagenknecht onto the For What It’s Worth Appraisals (FWIWA) team in April 2023, and we wanted you all to know more about her interesting background before she started with us and what she does outside the office via this little Q&A with Audria.
Q: What is your exact title at FWIWA?
A: I got my apprentice appraiser license in the summer of 2021, and now I’m in the throes of my apprenticeship. Hopefully I can complete that and pass my certification exam within the next 12 months.
Q: I know you’re originally from Chicago … so what brought you to Myrtle Beach?
A: After high school in Chicago, I moved to Iowa, where I did my first two years of college and played softball out there. After my sophomore year, I realized I didn’t want to be a college athlete anymore. I wanted to just solely focus on academics, so I told myself, if I’m going to make this very big academic change, I wanted to make a leap and get out of the area completely – get a fresh start and see what my possibilities were out there. I majored in exercise science for my undergraduate degree, and I was looking for schools away from the Midwest and out of my comfort zone.
My training coach in college had lived in Myrtle Beach years ago, and he was involved with Coastal Carolina University’s Exercise Science program. so he knew how good of an academic program they have for that degree. He suggested that I look at Coastal to finish my last two years of undergrad, so I applied on a whim the summer before my junior year and got accepted right away. In August 2017, I moved down here and really only had a backpack with me when I moved down for orientation weekend, my first ever weekend in South Carolina. I thought, ‘You know what, if I’m going to take the leap, I may as well just go all in!’
I had a lot of guidance and support from my parents and some close mentors at the time, who really helped push me to make the decision. But I had never been to South Carolina before and didn’t even know what the Myrtle Beach area looked like. I just knew it was at the ocean, and I’m a warm weather kind of girl, so I love the whole boating aspect of life and what the water life brings to this area. I definitely keep myself involved with that in my personal time with different kinds of water sports I’m active with my friends.
Q: What do you like about living and working in Myrtle Beach?
A: It was definitely a big lifestyle change. It took me three, four months to get used to a culture shock, in a sense. It just meant adjusting to a completely different way of life down here at the coast. But it definitely fits my personality and I have not regretted my decision since I moved down here, to say the least.
Q: Do you have any family in the area?
A: I do not … It’s just me! Hopefully, my parents are in the works for now. I’m the oldest of three. My brother’s the youngest, and he’s wrapping up his senior year of college right now, so once he is done and onto his next steps in life, they’re probably moving down here within the next two years. But, really, the friendships and the mentorships that I’ve developed around here are very close, and so I kind of associate those as the family that I have in this area, which definitely helps a lot, with my actual family being so far away.
Q: Another big change for you was going from exercise science to the real estate and appraisal industry … What made you decide to do that?
A: Post undergrad, I was applying for physical therapy schools, and I thought that I wanted that to be my next chapter in life. And that time period, applying for doctorate programs, is a very lengthy process. You have to sit and wait, once you get the application sent out, and then you don’t hear back right away, or you’re on the wait list or you don’t get accepted or they need you to take extra courses just to fulfill this and that. So the whole process, not that I was expecting it to be easy at all, but it was just about putting along a little bit more extensively than what I was liking.
I was starting to have the feeling that this was not this something I really want to pursue. I had a long heart-to-heart with myself, my parents, and some close mentors that I still confided in at the time and it kind of boiled down to where realized that this is not what I wanted do – after all the schooling I just went through. It wasn’t a waste of time because I’m glad I went through that experience, too.
I took a step back for a little bit and asked myself, ‘What’s my next move?’ I have a lot of friends in this area that I’ve developed over the years who are involved with real estate, whether they’re agents, lenders, or a couple of them have their own development construction companies. They’re very good professionals who I reached out to and had many conversations with to figure it out.
Obviously, real estate in the Myrtle Beach area is very predominant, and it’s one of the top career choices in this area to go into. I figured that might be a good avenue for me to at least look into. I did my own personal research into the career and I shadowed a couple people who I got in touch with that are currently certified and working as appraisers in this area to see firsthand what these people do on a day-to-day basis, because I had no idea. That was almost two years ago that I started this whole process of looking into maybe getting involved with appraising and, fast-forward now, and I’ve had a couple mentorships, and I’m finished with all my coursework to get my apprenticeship license.
Q: So how is it going with the FWIWA team?
A: Oh my gosh, it has been a great choice with that team. I truly could not have asked for a better experience. In just these first handful of months being here the knowledge and the experience that is in this office, and the professionalism is obvious. I noticed that within the first week of working in this office. I knew this was probably one of the best spots that I could have landed myself to get involved with real estate in general and, first and foremost, appraising, to become one of the best in the area. So I’m very grateful and looking forward to getting fully certified and developing more skills and experience here with this office.
Q: You do professional bodybuilding on the side, is that right?
A: Yeah, if I’m not at work, you’ll pretty much find me in the gym. Sounds funny. I am embarking on a career in bodybuilding, and I actually have a show coming up on September 30 in Spartanburg. It’s about eight weeks out from now, and I’m in the thick of prep for the show, which entails a very rigid structure of working out and dieting. Hopefully, I will be taking home a couple trophies and medals from the competition and get my Junior Nationals title, which is my goal. I’ll be 27 coming up on September 28, two days before my show, so I’ll be spending my birthday in the gym!
Q: Any final thoughts or something you’d like folks to know?
A: I feel like my life just ties in pretty well hand-in-hand, you know? I’m a very structured person, and I appreciate being around a very high-energy, positive, professional environment, like For What It’s Worth Appraisals. That’s what I thrive off of.