It was a beautiful, early, fall afternoon. I had just completed my fifth inspection of the day and had just one more to do in the rural community of Island Park, Idaho, just outside of Yellowstone National Park. The cabin was setback in the trees and was surrounded on three sides by state lands. In other words, this 1004 UAD would have the ‘rural’ box checked on this one.
I had just begun measuring the outside when I heard a loud and extremely close bellow/snort. It is hard to explain, but it sounded like a cross between a cow moo and a moose call. I am used to hearing strange things in these woods, so I did not really give it even a second thought. A few minutes later, the homeowner emerged frantically calling for me. I rounded the corner where she was and immediately knew something was not right. She was visually shaking and her face was ashen in color. “Get up here now,” she demanded. Her demeanor was not to be trifled with, and I immediately obeyed by jumping onto the covered porch. “Look,” she said as soon as my feet were both firmly planted, and pointed into the trees. Not 50 feet from our position stood a large, menacing grizzly bear. No sooner had I turned to look, she turned and scurried into the woods. I am pretty sure she was more scared of us than we were of her, but I am not sure how. I do not think the bear had to change her britches after the encounter.
Twenty years of appraising homes in rural Idaho, Utah and Wyoming; I have seen some pretty strange and scary things, but never a grizzly bear. I was once cornered by two vicious dogs for over 20 minutes before the homeowner came home to rescue me. By the way, that was early in my career and before I learned the common courtesy of waiting till the homeowner is there before starting to measure the outside.
A close acquaintance of mine was taking comp photos in a gang and drug neighborhood in Salt Lake City when he was chased down by thugs, nearly run off the road, and had his camera taken at the end of a large crow bar. Though I have never had an experience quite like that, I did have an estranged (and rather large and hairy, I might add) husband come home once while I was doing an appraisal for a divorce he had not been told about yet. That was a bit tense. Luckily, he somehow got the impression I was from the county assessor’s office. I did not have the heart to tell him otherwise.
I could go on. I was nearly locked in a cellar once by a homeowner who was a few liters shy of a full tank. I am sure you have a few experiences as well that I would encourage you to share below. The fact is, most of the time our job is relatively safe. Of course, most of the time does not equal all of the time. When you work at and in other people’s habitat, you do tend to encounter some strange (and sometimes dangerous) situations.
My recent run-in with the cute and cuddly mama grizzly got me thinkin’; should appraisers be more prepared to protect themselves in dangerous situations? How many of you carry some sort of self-defense tool? Are any of you trained in the martial arts? Do women appraisers feel differently about going into a stranger’s home than men do? I would be interested to know your thoughts.
Now, go create some value.
Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach (www.theappraisercoach.com) where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth. He is also the Founder and President of Your Appraisal Office (www.yourappraisaloffice.com) which implements some of the systems he has developed to help lower costs and free up time for real estate business owners. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.