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.