Inside Out or Outside In Appraisal Inspections

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 064 – Inside Out or Outside In Appraisal Inspections.

Is it better to inspect the inside of a property first before moving on to the outside, or to start on the outside and move in? Like many parts of our job as appraisers, it’s largely down to personal preference. In short, what works best for you? I do believe, however, that there are pros and cons to each approach, and I definitely have my own personal preference.

This is a topic I like to bring up pretty often in my Appraiser Stories Lightning Rounds (The Appraiser Coach Podcast), simply because I’m interested in the approach that other appraisers take. Based on these interviews, and other chats with my fellow appraisers, I’d comfortably say that the majority of people like to go outside-in, meaning they like to measure the outside of a property first, then head on inside.

As it happens, that’s the way I like to do it too. As many of you know, I like to use mobile technology on my appraisals. If I start with the outside, then I’m able to pop the rooms right onto the sketch itself, then double-click on the rooms, attach the photos and information for those rooms, and so on. I find all that stuff a whole lot easier with an outside-in approach.

Another advantage of going outside-in is that it gives you a wide “footprint” of the property, which can be enormously helpful. You can check out what amenities there are on the outside, or whether there’s anything unusual about the exterior, then ask questions about your findings when you go inside. That saves time in saying goodbye to the owner when you’ve finished the inside… then having to go back again, knock on the door, and ask them about those things you’ve found while tripping around the exterior.

What are the cons to going outside-in? Well, for starters you’re going to the front door twice  (it’s usually a good idea to announce yourself, and not have the homeowner discover some random guy or gal snooping around their back yard). Of the two, it’s also probably the more time-consuming approach. You need to make that greeting after all, and go through the obligatory, “How are you?”, “Is everything open?”, “Is there anything I should be aware of?” and so on.

The inside-out approach does have its advantages too. Most people will invite you inside when you knock on that door anyway; if you just accept, you don’t have to go through that whole, “Well, I normally like to look around the outside first…” conversation. Those appraisers who work in places with wilder weather also tend to favor the inside-out approach, because they don’t want to walk around a mucky yard and then get the inside all dirty (personally I’m a guy who always takes off his shoes for an inspection anyway, but that’s a debate for another day). I do get that, particularly given the area in which I work; if it’s raining when I get to a property, I’ll usually hit the inside first and hope it’s eased off by the time I get out.    

There are definitely arguments to be made on both sides, and if you’re an inside-out appraiser, then I don’t judge you for it! As I mentioned, I’ve found most people tend to go outside-in, and that’s the way I operate too, but if you disagree with me for some reason then let me hear it!


For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 064 – Inside Out or Outside In Appraisal Inspections.

8 thoughts on “Inside Out or Outside In Appraisal Inspections”

  1. Great article Dustin, thanks. Little tip … I just bought disposable shoe covers and have found them to be enormously helpful. Yes, they look a little goofy but I’ve found homeowners are very grateful. The best part for me is I don’t have to spend time taking boots on and off. Also I’ve always found walking around a stranger’s house in socks to be a little gross anyway. I don’t want to bring their dust bunnies and dog hair back into my house, and I’m sure they don’t want my socked feet in their house.

  2. We think going inside first is an advantage. Aside from setting rapport with owner before being all over their property, you can see what spaces are not living and other little “strange or hidden” spaces. Additionally, you go back in to place the rooms on your sketch and can finalize your goodbye comments and remind them to close their gates, garage doors and lock any other doors that had to be opened for you. Of course, as you say both have their pros and cons and either gets the job done.

  3. when i set up inspection i tell them i will be doing the outside 1st, that way no face to face until im ready to go inside (unless they want to walk out & greet me). Never had any problems.

  4. Outside-in, I cannot imagine doing it another way because if you do inside out and then discover something on the outside then you have to go back to the homeowner who is typically inside. I also sketch the rooms, without having the perimeter, I would not always know where I was inside.

  5. I can see both sides – especially when weather related. To me, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. I start with the edges and corners, then work on the inside of the puzzle. I even explain that to the occupant. Using the puzzle analogy helps them understand why I’m outside first. It also helps identifying room location. Once found an empty space in my sketch that turned out to be a hidden safe room/closet. The door to this area was actually book shelves. You had to grab the frame of the shelves to pull open. I would have never known if I hadn’t drawn outside first. Of course, this is an isolated event…but, that’s why I’m always outside-in.

  6. When I started as a trainee I preferred to go outside in and found it to be much easier. However, my supervisor gave me a lot of grief and told me it was unprofessional to go outside in ( I still believe that to be untrue) I then retrained myself to go inside out and now find it easier to go inside out. I am lucky in that the local tax assessor has property sketches of the outside perimeter online which gives me what I call a quick cheat sheet I use while inside and then of course take my own measurements as many time the assessors sketch is not exact. One of the reasons I do now stick with inside first is many homeowners leave work to meet me, they can leave to return to work faster if I complete the interior first, any questions I just call.

  7. The majority of times when someone wants me to do the inside first it’s a large excellent quality home with many angles. I hate that. Also the county typically has the drawing completely off or on ProVal and is unreadable.

  8. Pingback: Inside Out or Outside In Appraisal Inspections - Appraisal Buzz

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