When to Break the Rules

I recently broke my scapula taking my 11-year-old dirt biking. I should have brought another adult, but it was his and my bonding time. To set the scene: We were camping overnight in the Idaho hills, and the next day we went down a trail about 14 miles. Because he’s a little less experienced, it was a little boring and slow on the trail.

What I’d been doing was letting him get ahead of me and then going very fast and catching up to him, but he’d stop and wait for me. I finally told him it was okay and that he didn’t need to wait for me anymore. I’d catch up. We had a couple rules: If there’s a fork in the trail, stop and wait, otherwise keep going. If you get lost, stay put.

So we were riding, and seconds after I saw him turn a corner, I crashed down a hill. Unfortunately, I landed on the back of my left shoulder. The pain was incredible. I laid on that trail in incredible pain for 35 minutes until my son came back. Why? He was following my rules.

I think I should have added another rule: If you’re waiting a long time and I don’t come find you, it’s okay to backtrack a bit. 

We have rules, and rules are there for a reason. But when is it okay to break them? I think there’s maybe three times it’s okay to break rules as far as real estate appraisal goes. 

  1. When the guidelines interfere with the valuation process. An example: it’s fine to have client stipulations as long as they don’t get in the way of your ability to be a good appraiser. Years ago I worked for a big company that had some very strict guidelines, one of which was that you had to have sales within three miles. I was working in rural areas at the time. I didn’t work for that company very long. They didn’t like that I valued valuation over following the rules.
  2. When personal safety is at stake. I am not a big opponent of comp pictures, but I know there’s reasons for it. However, I’m not going to put my safety at stake or take a picture while there’s people in the photo. It can be dangerous, and it’s disrespectful.
  3. When integrity is on the line. FHA wants a certification that the well and septic are a certain distance apart. All that stuff is underground, and I have no idea what’s down there. One of the things I do is state “To the best of my knowledge” or something similar but that I’m not for sure that it’s for sure. I will not certify something I don’t know just because someone told me to do it.

When do you think it’s okay to break the rules?

8 thoughts on “When to Break the Rules”

  1. Pingback: When to Break the Rules - Appraisal Buzz

  2. When it makes absolutely no common sense. Case in point: “Appraiser to address recent FEMA Disaster (severe ice storm) and any effect on subject or subject neighborhood”. I’ve told the several companies requesting this I can go back to the property (as long as the water is on) and tell them I saw no water spraying out of the walls or in places it shouldn’t be in, but that is the extent of what they will get. Never heard back from any of them.

  3. It’s okay to break the rules when you’re granted permission to do so from someone with the authority to break the rules. Sometimes I give myself that authority. I haven’t seen a rule that says I can’t.

  4. I like the article and practical comment Dustin makes. The well and septic tank example was great. I have to really watch my commentary when addressing weird things in the client’s scope of work. It’s hard to keep out sarcasm at times…..:)

  5. Many “rules” are simply advice that apply to the majority of assignments but have no authority behind them and are clearly wrong in other cases. Recently saw an appraiser insist on using only improved sale comps because the subject was improvee with a small 80 year old home on a very large, splittable lot in a very desirable location. They insisted it was “a rule”. They forgot the first rule is that if you don’t know the HBU and your approaches don’t reflect this, you are not doing your job correctly.

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