Appraising, Happy Living, Home Repairs

The Most Important Assumption in My Appraisal Career

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In the appraisal process, we make a lot of assumptions. We assume that there are no major repairs needed to a home, if there is no readily observable evidence that might suggest otherwise. Our scope of work has much to do with the assumptions that we may make. 

Assumption are made on every appraisal because we do not open up walls to see what’s happening behind the dry wall, or crawl into the attic, unless we are performing an FHA appraisal. Appraiser’s don’t have X-ray vision to look below the dirt to see if there is a broken drain tile. You get the idea.


There is another kind of assumption that we sometimes make, called an extraordinary assumption. What’s the difference between a normal assumption and an extraordinary assumption?

An extraordinary assumption is made when something is assumed to be true for the sake of the valuation but may or may not in fact be true as of the effective date of the appraisal. If the assumption is proved later not to be true, it will likely change the appraiser’s opinion of the market value of the home.  For instance, an appraiser may see some water stains on a ceiling. The owner has stated that the staining was due to a prior roof leak, and that the roof was recently repaired. However, the roof was not replaced. It was just repaired. The roof is still older, and possibly nearing the end of its economic life. An appraiser may make an extraordinary assumption that the roof has been acceptably repaired, making the report ‘subject to’ the roof being inspected by a qualified professional to ensure that the issue has been acceptably resolved, since the appraiser may not be qualified to make this determination. If the problem were not acceptably corrected, this would most likely have a negative impact on the market value of the home.    

An older roof.

These kinds of assumptions should be made clear in the appraisal report, including the fact that if the assumption proves to be false, that it is likely to impact the assignment results, namely, the appraiser’s opinion of value.  Furthermore, there needs to be a reasonable basis for the extraordinary assumption. In the example above, if the roof had just been completely replaced, an extraordinary assumption would probably not be needed since the roof is completely new. However, in the example I provided, the roof was older and simply repaired in one small area. That situation may lead to some uncertainty on the part of the appraiser.  Extraordinary assumptions must only be made if they are used to develop a credible opinion or conclusion. So, in the case above, while there may be some uncertainty regarding the repair, the staining on the ceiling is dry and it does not appear that the roof is still leaking.  Chances are, the roof repair is acceptable, even though the appraiser may not be qualified to make this determination.   

Let’s talk about a completely different kind of assumption that I have been making since March of this year, and why.


Since March of this year, I have been making a completely different kind of assumption. It has nothing to do with the homes I appraise. However, it has changed the way I complete my inspections.  In my opinion, it is an assumption that is far more important than those made regarding the home itself. Why? Because it has life changing ramifications if I were to make the wrong assumption. What is the assumption?

It has to do with the COVID-19 virus.  I am assuming that I am infected. One of the most problematic aspects of this pandemic, in my opinion, is that a person can be infected with the virus, and yet have no symptoms. That is, they are not sick.  Despite having no symptoms, an infected person can infect others, who may become extremely sick, or even die from the same virus that the a-symptomatic person has been infected with. It’s a recipe for a disaster that we are all watching unfold before our very eyes.  If everyone who became infected with COVID-19 became sick, I think many would have a different view of wearing a mask. 

For this reason, I have had to assume that I am infected. I’ve not had any COVID-19 symptoms since the pandemic started, and I have not been tested for COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not infected with it or was earlier in the year. I have no idea. Therefore, to protect myself and others, I always wear a mask when completing my appraisal inspections, that is, unless the home is vacant. I also wear new nitrile gloves and shoe covers on every inspection.

Wearing a mask is important to me!

This post is not to tell others what to do, nor is it to shame others for not wearing a mask. What people decide to do is none of my business. I’m simply explaining why I wear a mask. How could I live with myself if I were to infect someone else, who might get extremely sick and possibly even die, because I didn’t do something as simple as wear a mask? For me, it is unthinkable. We live in a society in which many don’t believe what they can’t see. There are many reasons for this. Since an infected person may show no symptoms, others may feel that they can trust that the other person is not infected. However, this situation is not always about trust. Of course, we trust that if others are sick, or knowingly infected, they will make us aware of that and act accordingly. However, many including myself, have no idea whether we are infected. 

Part of the reason I am writing about this is because many well-intentioned homeowners have told me that I do not need to wear a mask when walking through their home. I always insist on wearing one. They all understand.  I am not offended when people say I don’t need to wear one.  However, my view is that I am not just protecting myself, I am protecting the homeowners or tenants and their families from potentially becoming sick. 

I respect that everyone has a different view. And, as mentioned earlier in this article, I am not trying to shame or pressure others into wearing a mask when their home is being inspected. I just thought I would explain why I insist on wearing a mask. Thanks for allowing me to opine on the subject a bit. I look forward to this pandemic being over. Sadly, we have some tough times ahead. The good news is that there are several promising vaccines that will be available soon.

However, until the time comes when I no longer pose a potential threat to others due to this pandemic, you can be sure that I will continue to take the necessary precautions to keep you and I safe!

Hang in there! And, as always, thank you so much for being here! I truly appreciate you and hope that you and your family stay healthy!  




  • photo credit to Upsplash & Giphy

Have a great weekend everyone! Be safe out there! 


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

The “Friday the 13th” and “2020” Housing Edition –  Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller

What would happen to the housing market if we went on lockdown again? – Sacramento Appraisal Blog 

Why appraisers should use graphs – APPRAISAL TODAY

What Is The Home Appraisal Timeline? – Birmingham Appraisal Blog

What Is Abductive Reasoning? – George Dell’s Analogue Blog


6 thoughts on “The Most Important Assumption in My Appraisal Career”

  1. Jamie, that was a well written article. I’ll just add a minor point that you wouldn’t have to wear gloves if, like me, you advise the occupants ahead of time that you plan to touch nothing. That plan just as safe for all and also makes it a lot easier to operate a camera!
    A more important point is this: the largest percentage of the risk goes to the appraiser, not the occupants! Think about it: you are walking into their airspace, new to it. Not to mention that it is not always easy to keep distance from occupants as they buzz around you. Appraisers who have been walking through homes this year have been shouldering most of the risk. Ken

    1. Thanks so much Kenneth! I totally agree with you! Great point point about having the occupant set things up so you don’t have to touch anything. That’s the best approach if possible to do. I also agree with you that appraisers are shouldering most of the risk. Thanks so much for mentioning this, and for your kind words! Hang in there!

  2. That was a nice twist in the article. I liked your commentary on extraordinary assumptions of course, but I appreciated your thoughts on the virus and how you are taking precautions. I find probably at least 50-70% of people at homes don’t seem to care about masks, but I always wear one. I’m watching numbers closely and personally I made switch to virtual inspections, exterior-only, or just take time off work if the numbers go too high. I am not afraid, but I have my reasons for this. Keep up the great work.

    1. Thanks Ryan! The percentages of people not caring about wearing masks is about the same here, in my experience. I’m glad you always wear a mask! Virtual inspections are sounding more appealing. Especially as things continue to get worse. As things continue to escalate here, I may be pushing for virtual inspections myself. Hang in there my man!

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