Which Vehicle is Best for Appraisers


As many of you know, I often head to appraisal-related Facebook groups and forums to check out the hot topics of the day. It’s a nice little way to keep up with the state of our profession as a whole. Every now and again the topic of driving comes up and specifically what kinds of vehicles appraisers like to drive.

As real estate appraisers, we spend a heck of a lot of time behind the wheel. That’s particularly true for those of us who live in rural areas. We’re on the road a lot and we cover a whole range of different situations. It only makes sense therefore, that a lot of thought should be put into what vehicle we drive.

Regarding what car you should drive; well, this answer probably isn’t going to surprise you, but… it depends! It depends on your specific needs, how long you spend driving and the kind of geography you’re working in. Even if you like your current vehicle, I still highly recommend taking the time to sit down, evaluate these factors and consider whether there might be a better option for you.

Personally, I used to have a Ford F150. It was a nice truck – four doors, plenty of space in the back, room for all the family, good towing capacity and so on. The problem was that I only got around 14 miles per gallon out of that thing. Considering I’ll often drive two or three thousand miles per month… well, it wasn’t the most economical of choices.

I’d been at church one morning and as I came outside and walked into the parking lot towards my F150, I saw something that made me stop dead in my tracks. My eyes went wide. It truly was love at first sight. The object of my desire? A Subaru Baja.

The Baja is what I like to call a “cruck” – it basically looks like the offspring of a car and a truck. It’s super-resilient, economical, spacious and has All-Wheel Drive. I soon swapped my Ford for a brand new Baja and drove that thing into the ground.  Well, not literally, I ended up passing it on to my daughter who is in college.

Last year, I upgraded a bit to a 2017 Subaru Legacy.  Still has the All-Wheel Drive, but it gets even better gas mileage than my Baja and the features are endless.   

Another closely-related topic which often gets brought up is the question of “buy or lease?” Leasing is something I did consider when I was buying my Baja, but you know what I thought? I’m simply going to put too many miles in this thing. Most leased cars will have a threshold for how far you can drive in them (15,000 miles per year, for example), before you start to be hit with exorbitant charges. That was simply a deal-breaker for me and I’m guessing it’ll be the same for most real estate appraisers out there. It’s definitely fun to swap cars every year or two and if you don’t have to drive quite as far as I do then you might be more tempted. For appraisers like myself, however, who drive a very, very long way, I’d say buying is definitely the smarter choice.

The most important thing I can say on the topic of vehicles for real estate appraisers, is to choose what’s right for you. Assess your needs, look closely at what’s out there (there are new vehicles being released all the time, after all) and make a smart choice, whether it be for leasing or buying. We spend a lot of time in our cars, so this is absolutely an investment that needs to be thoroughly evaluated.


For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 092 – Which Vehicle is Best for Appraisers?

27 thoughts on “Which Vehicle is Best for Appraisers”

  1. Pingback: Which Vehicle is Best for Appraisers - Appraisal Buzz

  2. No doubt, in Northern Michigan, a Subaru Forester (or another model variation) is the best appraisal vehicle considering overall utility and value… fun to drive, economical from a business standpoint… allows for navigating those tight urban squeezes while plowing through the rural areas with a set of Nokian tires… can’t be beat!

  3. Leonard Taylor

    I’m in North Carolina and have been doing appraisals for nearly 40 years. I average driving over 30,000 miles a year and I drive a Toyota Avalon. 30 miles to the gallon and it’s got 270,000 miles on it and I have never done anything but change the oil and filter every 4000 miles.

  4. I would have to say living in the Northeast you need 2 vehicles. My primary is Toyota Prius 48 mpg on average I fill once a week and the car pays for itself. During snow times I would agree a Subaru would be nice but I think that there are some alternative vehicles. Toyota highlander, lexus have larger suv’s around 30-33mpg as well as the forester.

  5. Down here in Houston, there is a wide range of properties that I appraise, but the majority of them are cookie cutter suburban homes and I find that my Honda Civic is perfect for my needs. Great gas mileage, reliable, comfortable, and fun to drive.

  6. I have put a few miles no cars in m.y 20 years of appraising. My first appraisal car was a 1998 camry and it was a work horse that I ended up handing down to a family member and they drove it for 5 more years and then we sold it. I upgraded to a new acura rl with all the new features in 2005 and it lasted about 2 years before I traded it in for a new Tundra. The Tundra was a great truck but I could not afford to keep gas in it. After trying several different vehichles I went back to a used 2012 camry in 2014. I have put 130,000 miles on it in the last 4 years. I have never had to go anything except put gas in it, change the oil, tires, and breads and the recommended maintanence. I have not plans of getting a new vehicle for the next 5 years to appraise in. My wife has a really nice SUV if we need to go anywhere. Any appraiser who is in gas guzzler or a unreliable vehicle I would greatly recomment a toyota camry because they simply get the job done.

  7. I have a “chocolate” brown Mini Clubman (2009) that I drive with magnetic business signs on both sides. People have come to recognize me in my 7 county area. It gets about 35 mpg. When I need 4-wheel drive I have a 1999 red Ford Explorer (that I’ve had since new) that is perfect since I have been chased by a long horn steer in it and not worried about driving it in heavy brush private roads. Both have about 180k miles on them. They will be going for a long while yet.

  8. Looks like Justin was inspired to write this article after viewing recent 100% Real Estate Appraisers FB posts on cars. Made for a nice article and I’m always interested to read appraiser’s comments on what they love to drive as we spend so much time in our cars!

  9. I drive a 2016 Jeep Renegade it gets around 24 mpg and has 4 wheel drive for those winter months or the rural properties in the mountains. In the summer its a 2002 Harley Davidson Road King 36 mpg for those non rural properties.

  10. I have been driving Subaru Outbacks since 1987 for my appraising work .The first one I drove for 14 years and sold it in 2001 for my current outback- still going strong. If I retire, I am 73, I like the new 2019 outback – getting too pricey for what we earn these days. Love the car-dependable and safe. I highly recommend the brand.

  11. The real question I have is…. Do they make a veridesk for the passenger seat of the car. and which car would that fit best in. I have thought about taking out the passenger seat and installing a desk.

  12. I have been appraising real estate since 1974. For the last 12 years, I drive a Harley Davidson Electra Glide Classic in spring, summer, fall. Am on my second bike and about to trade it in for a newer one. Plenty of room in the trunk and saddle bags for tools, +-40 mpg, and it is a lot of fun both on and off the job. I put about 10,000 miles on the bike each year. During winter, or bad weather, I drive a 2017 Subaru outback – not nearly as much fun, but I add another 6,000 or so miles in the Outback. My coverage area is stretched along a railbelt and encompases about 5,500 square miles – just a fraction of the borough(county), which is 24,000+ square miles, but I only cover the area connected to a road. The Harley goes pretty much everywhere I tell it to, mud, gravel, but it likes pavement best. Only one drawback, if you’re meeting a guy at the house, schedule an extra 15 minutes for oohs and aahs, the gals (most of them) don’t seem to take the same interest in a shiny red Harley.

  13. Not sure about where you all go, but for me, my recent past have been BMW 635 and 530, Benz E sedan, and Porsche 911. If I need to go deep in the woods, rent a truck for a day. Drive something nice!!!

  14. Without a doubt, Camry Hybrid. Very good on gas, also fits well in tight city spaces, it’s not a ridiculously huge car yet spacious enough for family use on weekends, trunk is large enough to carry my folding ladder for FHA attic inspections, stylish, GPS, legendary Toyota quality. But when it snows, our other family car is a crewcab F150. Whole family still fits in but a little cramped

  15. I have 330k on a 2004 Acura RSX. Very fun to drive, 30 mpg, hatchback so I can bring a ladder with me for FHA. Instead of making payments, I put in ongoing maintenance with a car I trust and love.

  16. I have been driving a 2011 Mini Clubman since it was new. I really enjoy driving on winding two lane roads and I’ve always had standard transmissions-for the enjoyment. My previouse cars were used BMWs which were also fun to drive and overall reliable. I am seriously considering a used BMW M3 which will really be enjoyable. Working inn the Pocono Mts. I’ve always had the best quality snow tires and if they aren’t enough, I stay home.

  17. I have been driving a Toyota Camry Hybrid since November of 2012. I average 40 mpg and have had no issues with the car. I just change oil every 5,000 miles, change the filter every 10,000 miles and rotate the tires regularly. It is perfect for city and suburban appraising. I try to avoid unpaved, rough roads but it is not always possible.
    I love the Camry for the way it drives, rides and handles. A heckuva good car and a lot of value for the money spent.

  18. It’s 2028 and appraisals are still needed, thank god for the interior inspection. Inspection time, we open the door to our autonomous car (This will change where we live and work – values will also follow – how exciting!). There is no front seat, no steering wheel. Converted the back passenger compartment to a small office, verbal commands to the car, and were off. Inspection is over, time to drive comps, tell the car the addresses of each comparable, pour a glass of wine, and off we go! I live in a rural market area, so two hours later, the car pulls into my drive-way, I just finished the appraisal report and just sent if off. Wait, Dustin already has a driver, one step ahead!!! Currently have a 2006 Camry Solara V-6. Need that extra horsepower to get away from those pot farmers that think your trespassing. Great car, Toyota. The engine is the same used in the Toyota Camry.

  19. I’m in rural Texas where I do various types of appraisals from small acreage to very large homes. I’ve had pickups, a Toyota Sequoia, a Toyota Highlander and now a 4-wheel drive Tahoe. While the mileage isn’t terrific on the Tahoe (~16 miles mpg), it is perfect for my job. At the moment, it is also our family vehicle. When I go do any type of acreage, I need the clearance the Tahoe offers and there is plenty of room for ladders and other equipment necessary for FHA/.VA inspections. I will keep this Tahoe until it refuses to move any more. I do appreciate the article, I was curious as to what my peers drive!

  20. Anyone think about cutting back on the volume of work and charging a whole lot more for what you do? It’s purely insane doing all that driving.
    Work less make more….That’s my motto. Even my CPA was impressed when I finally came around to their thinking several years ago.
    There is a point of no return, vehicles are just too expensive. They depreciate so fast especially with high miles.
    Been there done that. The road eats time from your typing. and your longevity! Work Smart.

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