Appraisal Profession, Appraising, Helpful Info For Agents, Helpful to Home Owners

Think Big By Thinking Small!

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When imagining different situations that might cause the entire globe to come to a grinding halt, perhaps many of us thought of catastrophes related to weather, terrorism, war or something else. However, what has stopped the world in its tracks, at least for the moment, is something so small that it cannot be seen with the human eye. 

It’s ironic that such a large scale catastrophe is being caused by something so small. And yet, this is exactly what is happening. Clearly, dealing with this virus is going to be a problem for some time to come. Though, no one knows how long that will be. Even when things start to open back up, we are going to need to exercise caution about the way we live our lives. 

What can we do as individuals, to help get this beast under control? As countless government agencies, scientists and others have stated repeatedly, we must slow the infection rate. To do so, we must think about how we can become infected, and how we might infect others. We must change the way we look at things, as well as some of our habits. I am seeing those changes in the way that my family and I do things, as well as how I work as an appraiser. I’m sure you’re also changing the way you live.

Several weeks ago, I was at a grocery store. A man took a credit card out of his hand and put it in his mouth to hold it, thereby freeing his hand to take something out of his cart. He did it with such ease. It seems like he had probably used his mouth to hold something, many times before. Before putting his credit card in his mouth, he had been touching the shopping cart handle, the things he had taken off the shelf, and who knows what else. You get the idea. I hope he is healthy today! 

What we touch matters more now, than likely any other time in our life! We must be mindful about what we touch. I heard a good illustration that you might find helpful. Imagine dipping all our fingers in wet paint. It would not be hard to be mindful of what we touched in that scenario. Obviously, we would not touch our face or anything else for that matter. That’s the mentality that we need to have when it comes to what we touch now. We can infect others, and become infected, simply by what we touch. It’s tough though, because we cannot see viruses with the human eye. By the way, how big is the Coronavirus?



We have been encouraged by government officials to use precautions such as masks, to slow the spread of the virus. They have also made it clear that PPE is a precaution, and not a guarantee that we will be safe. That’s why social distancing is vital, even if we are wearing some type of protection. To understand why, we must have an appreciation for the size of the virus.

What is the size of the Coronavirus? Things of this size are measured in microns. A micron is one millionth of a meter. That probably doesn’t mean much to most of us. According to the article, “How Big Is a Micron”, published by, a human hair is “approximately 70 microns” thick.

Picture taken from

Here is an interesting chart that shows the sizes of different particles.  Notice that viruses can be between 0.005-0.3 microns. According to what I have read on the topic, most Coronavirus are a little over 0.1 microns on average. 

Chart taken from

Now that we are armed with this information, we need to understand how personal protective equipment can help us? 


Currently, the most popular mask appears to be the N95 mask. It is vitally important that this mask fits a person’s face properly, to keep from breathing in the virus through openings where the mask may gap. Facial hair can be problematic when using this type of protection.

N95 Mask
Picture of N95 taken from Bing photos

The N95 mask will filter 95% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. If you would like some extra-credit reading, check out the CDC’s Blog on N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks by clicking here.

It should be noted that since Coronavirus, by some estimates, is 0.1 microns on average, the N95 mask will not be able to capture 100% of the virus. That being the case, the Coronavirus often catch a ride on water droplets. And those water droplets are often larger than .30 microns. Therefore, the N95 mask will likely filter out a sizable portion of the virus. That’s precisely why this type of mask is preferred for medical professionals, and anyone else that is in constant contact with those infected by the virus.

There are other masks that offer even more protection. For instance, when performing my appraisal observations right now, I wear a full face respirator, and I use P100 filters. Here is a picture I took of myself during an observation a few weeks ago. I took the photo because I find it odd to see myself in mirrors with my PPE on when, whilst performing interior observations. Though, I am getting used to it now. Years ago, I used to be certified to remediate mold. And, for a short time, I was involved in that type of work. That’s why I happen to have this level of PPE. Most do not though. Part of my training to become IICRC certified for mold remediation, was to learn about microorganisms, how the move through the air, and how to use PPE in a way that is effective. That training has been invaluable today. 

It’s me, wearing my respirator with P100 filters and surgical glove

P100 filters, the same type that are used for mold and asbestos remediation, filter out 100% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. When properly worn, they offer some of the best protection. The additional face shield also provides protection to the eye.

P100 Filders

For my appraisal colleagues using this level of protection, here’s a little something to think about when it comes to performing appraisal observations. With this P100 filter, I cannot smell anything. Therefore, there are some things that I may miss, like the earthy smell of mold, animal urine or natural gas, to name a few. Therefore, in my reports, I disclose this. 

Many states are now requiring that all people wear a covering over their nose and mouth. You might be wondering why, since a homemade mask or something other than ab N95 or respirator, with the appropriate filters, are not going to provide a person with optimal protection?

Surgical Mask

The reason we are being asked to wear any kind of covering is because it will help to protect others from being infected by us, if we are contagious. That’s the reason why medical professionals wear surgical masks. Protecting others is just as important as protecting ourselves. Protecting others, is about the big picture, and reducing the spread of disease. Right now, it’s very difficult to get ahold of surgical masks. And that’s understandable.

What can you do if you cannot obtain a surgical mask? Many people are making their own. Here is a little video to show you how to make a small mask without sewing anything. Since I can’t sew, I thought that this was pretty good.

Think about how small the virus is. Being so light weight, it can travel a fair distance from us when simply breathing naturally. And, if we sneeze… Here is a little video I found that demonstrates why it is important to wear a face covering of any kind right now, when we are in public. Interestingly, this video was made long before the Coronavirus outbreak.  

When we wear a covering over our mouth and nose, it slows down the velocity of the particles coming out of our mouth and nose, even when we don’t sneeze or cough. That keeps the virus from traveling as far, which helps to control contamination. Furthermore, while it will not filter as much as other masks, it will certainly offer more protection than nothing at all, both for us and for others. That’s why it is good for us all to heed the warnings of the authorities when it comes to wearing a face covering when in public.

Another thing to consider is eye protection. The water droplets that the virus rides on can also enter our eyes. So, if a person is going to be around others, wearing eye protection is yet another layer of protection. Some of us wear glasses, which will do the trick, for the most part. Or some simple safety glasses will do.  An appraiser friend of mine out of Chicago, shared this video on social media. I thought it was slick!  Check it out.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!  

Gloves are another important item to wear. Everything we touch, and remembering everything we touch is important, because if we touch something with the virus on it, then our fingers become contaminated, and anything that we touch with will also become contaminated. That being the case, we must also be mindful of how we remove our masks or other PPE. We have to be mindful of the part of the mask that we touch, when we remove it, and where we place contaminated items.

We must be thoughtful about how we remove our gloves. There is a correct way. Here is a good video that demonstrates the correct way to remove contaminated (used) gloves.


When I must make an interior observation of an occupied home, I use a respirator with P100 filters, as I mentioned earlier. When using a respirator, it should be checked to make sure that it is properly sealed to our face. To do so, a person can use the palm of their hands to block the holes where the filters attach, and breath in. When inhaling, the mask should suck on to our face. If it doesn’t, the mask needs to be adjusted so that it does.

To be safe, we must make our movements deliberate and thoughtful. If you’re a professional, who is in a situation in which PPE is being used, creating a safety protocol can help ensure that safe practices are a habit.  Here is the protocol that I generally use.


1. Before leaving my car, I put on new surgical gloves.

2. Test my respirator for proper fitting, and then add the filters.

3. Put on vinyl shoe covers.


1. Take off vinyl shoe covers and dispose of them.

2. Take off my respirator and filters, making sure to not touch the interior of my respirator.

3. Place the filters into a separate bag.

4. Place my respirator into another separate bag.

5. Remove my surgical gloves and place in a disposable bag. (as shown in the video above)

6. Sanitize my hands.

7. Wipe down my phone and areas of my car that I have touched, including my car key, car handles, steering wheel, laser measuring devise and cell phone, with disinfectant wipes. I then dispose of the wipes in a disposable bag.

8. Then I sanitize my hands again.

Through the entire process, I must think about what I have touched when entering my vehicle to make sure that I wipe it down properly. Therefore, it is important to remember everything you have touched, before your hands our sanitized.

I spoke with an investor today. He is in his mid-thirty’s. He told me that he had not taken this pandemic seriously until three of his good friends came down with Coronavirus and two of them ended up in the hospital for two weeks. And they were in their thirty’s and healthy. Now, he is taking this situation seriously. So am I. I know that most people are, which is evident by the flattening of curves across the country. Keep up the great work everyone!

The key point to remember from this post is that, to beat this big problem, we must think small, like microscopic small. I hope that you found this information to be helpful. I hope that you all stay safe out there! 

To end this post, I thought I would share a couple of funny videos that others have shared with me. I hope you enjoy them! 

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

Fear And Zooming In The Housing Market – Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller

Data-Point Zero – Voice of Appraisal with Phil Crawford (PODCAST)

Now Is Not the Time To Rely On an AVM- Home Value Stories (PODCAST)

Seven Things to watch in real estate during a pandemic – Sacramento Appraisal Blog

Appraisal Options During The Coronavirus Pandemic – Birmingham Appraisal Blog

Things to Watch in your Market – More Fannie Updates – Funny Videos – APPRAISAL TODAY

1004MC to 1004MP to SAVE the ECONOMY? – George Dell’s Analogue Blog 

Another One On a Misleading Appraisal Report – The Appraiser’s Advocate

FHA Appraisals and Deferred Maintenance – Appraisal Cast (PODCAST)

What Are You Going to Do? – Real Value (PODCAST)

2 thoughts on “Think Big By Thinking Small!”

    1. We are doing good! I hope you are all doing good as well! I’m glad ya liked the video. I thought it was pretty good. By the way, I really enjoyed your interview on The Appraiser Coach! Nicely done, as always!

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