I have never liked math. I was never any good at it. My worst grades were in this subject, and I could just never figure out how it could possibly serve me in real life. Of course, I grew up and can now see how math is quite useful, but I still don’t like it.
I am kind of a ‘cut to the chase’ type of guy. Why put soup in the bowl when you can eat it out of the pan? Consequently, my math homework would often look much like this:
Unfortunately, I would often get the answer right, but the problem wrong. Why? Because all of my math teachers required that I show my work. This is what they wanted to see:
Just seemed like a lot of extra effort to me, but whatever.
Then, I became an appraiser. I guess my days of showing my work are not yet over. I often hear appraisers ask the question, “What am I required to put in my workfile.” Maybe the best one-liner to keep in mind is, “Show Your Work.”
A workfile is simply the ability for you to reconstruct a storyline of what you did to arrive at your conclusions. Often, you will need to do this weeks, months, or years after the fact. Sometimes I cannot remember what I had for breakfast much less what I did days or weeks ago. As you prepare your workfile, ask yourself questions such as:
- Where did that adjustment come from?
- Why did I choose those four comparables and not these other twenty?
- Where did I get that condition rating?
There is a reason you came to each of these conclusions, just make sure your reasoning is in your workfile. That is what it is there for. Does it take extra effort? Sure, but it might just save your hide someday. If you want credit for the assignment, remember to show your work.