The “Serial” Podcast and Your Appraisal Workfile

Podcasts are a growing medium for both education and entertainment.  Research shows it has grown over 25% per year for the past few years.  As an appraiser, I find myself spending a lot of time at my computer as well as traveling to and from appraisal inspections.  I discovered podcasting about a year ago and have not turned on talk radio since.  Podcasting allows me to specifically pick the topics I want to hear and listen to them when I have the time to listen.  I love ‘em.

Recently, a few friends of mine turned me on to the Serial Podcast which is produced by This American Life.  Unlike the podcast topics I typically choose (which are mostly informative), this one is entertainment.  It is like reading a John Grisham novel or watching a really great episode of CSI; only this is a true story.

Serial is narrated by a reporter who begins with a true story and attempts to follow it through to the end.  Each SerialPodcastAppraiserepisode follows developments in a cold case murder from 1999 in Baltimore, Maryland.  How does it end?  No one knows because each podcast is produced almost as quickly as the creators learn new information.  The conclusion is still yet to be written.    This is a fascinating (and addicting) story.   Trust me, I dare you to listen to two episodes and then quit.  It is like Lays potato chips… you can’t eat just one.

As the case unfolds, I find myself sucked further and further into the drama.  There are times when I am confident I know who did it.  Then, some other piece of evidence comes to light and I am not so sure again.  The podcast is like that.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  Did Adnan do it or not?  Who knows?

What I find fascinating about the investigation is how difficult it is for witnesses and participants to remember the details of what happened the day Hae Min Lee disappeared.  You would think that on the day your girlfriend, friend, or associate was murdered that you would recall the details of that day.  Not so.  In fact, that is what is so hard about cases like this; even testimonies given just a few days after the event are often contradicted at later times.

So what, pray tell, does this stupid addiction of mine have to do with appraising?  Great question.  As I was listening to Serial today, I had a crazy thought about our workfiles and the importance of keeping good records.  If these people could not remember where they were or who they called on such a dramatic day, how in the world will we remember what we saw or why we did what we did on an appraisal days, weeks, months, or even years later?  Are you ready to testify (or defend yourself before a state board) about an appraisal you did last year on a non-distinct property?  How about one you completed four years back?  Listen, I am getting to the point in life where hiding my own Easter eggs is not out of the question, so remembering why I used Comp #2 but threw out 3478 Golden Rod Ave. even three days after the fact is not likely.

Document everything!  Hopefully, you will never need to break into that old workfile, but if you do… you will be thankful you were methodical .  No appraiser on the stand ever said, “Gee, I wish I had not kept such good records.”  Any helpful hints from you on what to do to keep better records?  Please share below.

Do you listen to podcasts while you work or drive?  Would love to hear what your favorite shows are.  I am always looking for a new obsession.

Dustin Harris, Creating ‘Value’ for Real Estate Appraisers

11 thoughts on “The “Serial” Podcast and Your Appraisal Workfile”

  1. Pingback: The “Serial” Podcast and Your Appraisal Workfile - Appraisal Buzz

  2. I was a little disappointed with SERIAL. At the beginning it was a good story but the final podcast was a letdown. I’m no podcast expert but it also appears that there is a formula in the format of each episode designed to manipulate the listener. That’s fine as far as it goes but if the listener can detect that they are being manipulated then it detracts from the quality of the podcast. It seemed to me that the later episodes followed a formula that tended to repeat itself. I found I was forcing myself to grind through the last couple of seemingly drawn out episodes to get to the ‘whodunit’.

    On my podcast list: Stuff You Should Know, This American Life, NPR Planet Money, FreakaEnomics Radio, 60 Second Science (and several of the other 60 second titles), Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Get Fit Guy, NPR Story of the Day. I rarely listen to music while driving anymore, cancelled my XM radio subscription after the 2nd year.

  3. I’ve listened to them for over 5 years. I listened to serial, but most stuff I like is more independent: TWIT, other tech, business, money, video games. Its a great way to learn and be entertained. I heard you were starting one. I’ve thought of it for years. The appraisal industry is to big to not have one. Contact me if you’d like to discuss it.

    1. I try to grind though TWIT as there are some real gold nuggets of information but they tend to drag things out. They really need a way to edit out the pointless drivel from the conversation.

  4. Great idea for a blog post. The brain is a crazy thing and will play tricks on us. It is like when the cops show a witness a lineup, usually the witness will select one and truly believe that they have the person, even if the true suspect is not in the lineup. Sometimes I wonder if when I examine the photos after an appraisal inspection, am I changing my perception of the property? The property usually looks better in the photos.

    1. Gary- Relying on the photos may be a more fair comparison than what your initial perception was. After all, you do not get to inspect the comparables in the same fashion that you do the subject. So you are unable to form this same sort of initial perception. Yes, you do get to inspect from the street, however, by comparing subject photos to comparable photos you may, in fact, be using a more appropriate methodology. Just a thought.

  5. I listen to books-on-tape (CD’s) Mysteries and techno-thrillers mostly. Have been know to stop a block from my subject to listen to the end of a chapter so see who got shot. I rarely listen to the radio except for the on-the-hour news and occasional traffic, though WAZE is pretty good for traffic in the city (Albuquerque). Faves are Patterson (when he writes his own and not ‘co-authored’), Grisham, Clancy, Jance.

  6. Here are the podcasts currently on my rotation:

    Ask Me Another
    Freakonomics Radio
    TED Radio Hour
    Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me
    How To Do Everything
    Radiolab
    Reply All
    Snap Judgment
    The Dave Ramsey Show
    This American Life

    With Serial and Invisibilia on hiatus

  7. Michael Morris

    Dave Ramsay is a broken record. How he manages to keep his “rice and beans, beans and rice” act on the radio amazes me. And some of his “recommendations” are just plain ignorant. Try and sell a “zero” FICO score to ANY lender unless you have piles of cash on deposit like good ol’ boy Dave. He annoys the hell out of me. Clark Howard’s financial advice is much more reasonable and he covers 100s more topics and he’s much more trustworthy. I don’t trust anybody that has become rich and gone broke in real estate scams.

  8. Thanks Dustin, I enjoyed listening to your podcasts once I learned about them last week. My Volt car has the ability to use Stitcher so I added a bunch of programs on my phone and now am enjoying them in my car. I used to download Librivox novels, burn them to MP3, but then I tired of the genre. I now look forward to getting in the car and learning a new thing or perspective every day.

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