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 episode 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