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?