Appraisal Profession, Appraising, Just For Fun

8 Similarities Between the Rubik’s Cube & Appraisals

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If you’re like my family and friends, the topic of real estate valuation is a little boring.  Okay, it’s a lot boring! When I start talking about it, I see the look on their faces. It’s like they’ve been cornered and actively thinking for a way to change the subject. Que the conversational rodeo clown. Find a topic that distracts and re-directs the conversation towards anything but real estate valuation. But not today my friend!

One thing that I enjoy about appraising is that lots of comparisons are made. After several decades of performing appraisal work, I’ve become comparison oriented. This often morphs my mind into recognizing crazy comparisons of other things, like the similarities between completely unrelated objects and appraisals. For instance, the Rubik’s Cube and appraisals!


The Rubik’s Cube was invented by Erno Rubik. He was a mathematician who was also an architect. In 1974, he invented the Rubik’s Cube. Truly a toy in which math and fun collide, kind of like appraisals! (At least in my warped mind)

What memories come to mind when you think of the Rubik’s Cube? For me, memories of my teen years in the 80’s. Rolled-up jeans, skateboards, my aqua blue canvas Converse high-tops and jamming to my walk-man. Oh yeah and playing with my Rubik’s Cube! How about you?

Did you know that there are some very funny similarities between the Rubik’s Cube and real estate appraisals? I’m guessing no. At least not yet!  So, what are they?

For starters, with both, there is a problem that must be solved. Both require the correct moves to successfully solve the puzzle or problem.


But wait, there’s more. Common! Let’s play! Here are eight similarities between the Rubik’s Cube and appraisals. Just for fun. (I bet you can think of more!)

1. It looks easy.

Solving a Rubik’s Cube looks easy. That is, until you try it. It is much more difficult to solve than it may look. Did you know that the creator of the Rubik’s Cube took over a month to solve it his very first time?

For many, appraisals look easy. More than once, I have been told by people, who are not appraisers, “appraising is easy.” While it’s not rocket science, I assure you that there is a lot of work appraisers complete to develop a supportable opinion of value. It’s often more difficult than it looks. Especially when appraisers do everything we are supposed to do in the process!

2. Algorithms are used.

Did you know that there are algorithms used to solving a Rubik’s cube? What is an algorithm? Algorithms are a series of specific moves needed to solve the problem. For the Rubik’s Cube, there are specific codes to follow. “U” means up, “R” means right “U2” means up twice. (Not to be confused with the awesome band by the same name)

There are also algorithm’s that are used in appraising properties. Appraisers use them to extract adjustments from the market, and to measure market trends and to perform more detailed analysis of data.

Speaking of algorithms, last week in Detroit, I enjoyed a week-long class presented by George Dell, a well-known and highly respected appraiser and educator. In his class, Stats, Graphs & Data Science, I learned about many new ways of using algorithms to make a more robust analysis of data. Analyzing data is the largest part of an appraiser’s work. If you’re an appraiser, I highly recommend taking his class. The information he teaches is fantastic!

For more information in that, check out George Dell’s articles in the subject of Algorithms. (Click here for a link)

3. The more you solve them, the more proficient you become.

There are people that can solve the Rubik’s cube in seconds. That doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a lot of practice.

The same is true with appraising real estate. The more experience an appraiser has, the better they become and the faster they can work. At least to a point.

4. Some are more complicated than others.

There are numerous kinds of Rubik’s cubes out there. Some are very simple. Others are incredibly complex. Here are a few…

There’s the Rubik’s Revenge

Rubik's Revenge


There’s the Rubik’s Magic

Rubik's Magic

The Rubik’s Snake


Rubik's Snake

Appraisals also range in complexity from fairly simple assignments to very complex, depending on the property being appraised. Some appraisals require a lot more work (moves) than others.

5. Short cuts can be damaging.

You can cheat the Rubik’s cube by removing the plastic pieces (or stickers) and then reassembling the cube with everything in the right place. Not only is that cheating, but it damages the unit.

If appraisers take short-cuts during the appraisal process, by not completing the necessary work, the results may appear like they solved the problem. However, a closer look may reveal that the results are less than desirable. This damages the appraiser’s reputation as well as that of the profession, not to mention hurting those relying on the information and analysis reflected in the report.

6. There is more than one way to solve the puzzle.

There are many strategies that can be used to solve a Rubik’s cube, with similar results. Some people can actually solve the Rubik’s Cube with their feet! And yes, some can even solve it blind folded. You have to see it to believe it!



Different appraisers may use different types of technologies and/or methods, that can result in a similar outcome, which solves the problem the appraisal must solve. For instance, some use electronic devices like a tablet to take pictures, draw sketches and to take pictures. Some appraisers use lasers to measure. Others still use a clip board and pencil, a tape measure and camera. A credible appraisal can be accomplished either way, though technology helps to speed things up.

7. Math is involved. But you don’t have to be a math genius.

As mentioned earlier, some serious Rubik’s cube solvers rely on algorithms to solve the puzzle in as few moves as possible. However, most don’t use complex math to solve the Rubik’s Cube. There are some that delve into Group Theory in analyzing ways of solving the Rubik’s Cube most efficiently. But there’s no need to!

Appraisers need to have some math skills and some understanding of statistics. But they don’t have to be statisticians. Today, most appraisers rely on computer programs that are designed to do much of the math involved in the appraisal process.

8. Speed is important, but actually solving the puzzle is more important.

There have been many Rubik’s cube competitions over the years. Of course to win, a person has to correctly solve the puzzle. (I know…That goes without saying) The world record is 3.47 seconds, which is mind blowing to me. See it for yourself. Watch carefully. You might miss it!

What kind of cube lubricant is that guy using! Wow!

Speed is important in the appraisal profession. People expect fast results. Technology has certainly helped appraisers complete appraisals much more quickly.

However, it is more important to take the time necessary to perform the proper analysis in the appraisal process. The appraisal must be credible! If the results are not credible, then it doesn’t matter how fast they completed the report. Acceptably solving the appraisal problem requires adequately supporting our opinions and conclusions. It’s not about just coming up with a number as a value. It’s the journey leading to that number that is most important.

There you have it. Eight similarities between the Rubik’s Cube and appraisals. I hope you enjoyed this fun little exercise!

If you are searching for a career, and you enjoy solving problems, using a little math and algorithms and having fun in the process, you might consider becoming a real estate appraiser! It’s pretty awesome!

Appraisers have sometimes been accused of being squares. That’s probably accurate. But that’s not a bad thing! If you don’t believe me, just take Huey Lewis & The News’ word for it! (It’s also hip to be a cube!)

Let’s rock!

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If you enjoy the content of my articles and enjoy podcasts, check out my new podcast. You can listen directly from my blog here. Or you can hear my podcast on Spotify, Anchor, Google Podcasts, Breaker, PocketCasts and RadioPublic.  Or, just click here. I’m working on being on more platforms in the near future!


Here are some links to other articles and videos I enjoyed recently! I hope you will also…

The Hunt For Red October Housing – Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller

5 Reasons Buyers Overpay For Homes – Birmingham Appraisal Blog

Not everything is getting multiple offers (did you hear that sellers?) – Sacramento Appraisal Blog

When 1,000 square feet doesn’t count – Sacramento Appraisal Blog

Are You Data Disruptor or Disrupted? – George Dell’s Analogue Blog

Newz; Bifurcated Appraisals and Inspections; Abandoned Resorts – New CA Independent Contractor Law – APPRAISAL TODAY

The 6 Most Important Words In Business! – Real Value Podcast

How Do You Count Tandem Garage Bays As An Appraiser? – The Appraiser Coach Podcast

As Useless as Steaks at a Vegan’s… – Tim Andersen, The Appraiser’s Advocate Podcast

September Newsletter – Fall, Lamenting & Markets – DW Slater Company



8 thoughts on “8 Similarities Between the Rubik’s Cube & Appraisals”

  1. I’ve never been able to solve the Rubik’s cube. Granted, I suppose I haven’t tried too much. These days I think kids can go to YouTube and get an edge in learning how to solve it. I’ll admit as a kid I did take the stickers off…. 🙂

    1. Haha! Thanks for your honesty my friend! I have solved in the past. I have also removed the stickers a time or two.😂 I wish we had YouTube when we were younger. (I think) I asked my son if he wanted to watch me make a repair on our house so that he would know how to do it. He said “no thanks, I can find out how to do it on YouTube”, and he’s right. Times have changed. At least I still roll up my jeans. Just kidding!

  2. Great analogies here! I can so relate to the glossy eyed look when I want to start discussing real estate markets. Oh how I remember the Rubik’s cube craze back in the teen years. I worked and worked and worked on it and FINALLY was able to do it! But it took me such a long time. Once I completed it, I never did it again. My son can complete one so very As you said, he has done it so much he is very proficient at it. I will stick to being proficient in appraising and let him beat me at the Rubik’s cube.

    1. Thanks so much Shannon! I’m glad I’m not the only one that bores people talking about valuation! 😂 Once you solve the cube, it’s all down hill from there. Our 17 year old is like your son. He can solve it in a fee minutes. I think these kinds are pretty smart cookies! I’m with ya. Being proficient in appraising is better for us. 😃

  3. Great analogies here! I can so relate to the glossy-eyed look when I want to start discussing real estate markets. Oh, how I remember the Rubik’s cube craze back in the teen years. I worked and worked and worked on it and FINALLY was able to do it! But it took me such a long time. Once I completed it, I never did it again. My son can complete one so very fast! Like you said, he has done it so much, he is very proficient. I guess I will stick to being proficient at appraising and let him beat me at the Rubik’s cube! Thanks for the interesting read!

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