What’s in your wallet ?

Published by Jason Ferris on

I began my appraisal career in 2003 in Dayton, Ohio. (Cue music) The birds were singing and everyone got a mortgage in those days. Our firm completed thousands of appraisals each month; personally, I completed between 3 and 4 residential appraisals a day back then. But, it was a 2-page URAR form, 3 sales comps, that’s it. It was that way for years………then the recesssion hit. But, this isn’t a blog about the recession….it’s about what tools you use……specifically what tools you use in your field inspections.

I never did use a tape measure. I always used a measuring wheel. I started with the small 4″ wheel, then went to a dual-4″ wheel that I used for a few years on houses and commercial properties. It did great and I got ‘good’ at it. But, it started bothering me that I felt that there were inches that got rounded off whenever I did inside corners, or long stretches of wall where the wheel might ‘wander’ a bit, creating a long measurement than it was in actuality.  I also wanted to be more efficient in the field so I could spend more time analyzing my market.

So, I bought a Leica Disto in 2004. I have never gone back….ever. This is simply a game changer. When you measure a house or commercial property with a laser, the property owner, Realtor, broker, buyer, etc…is usually impressed. They generally relate that they have never seen that before and it’s a good conversation starter. The more the property owner talks, the more you can find out about the property. I always explain that I can measure up to 600 feet to the 1,000th of an inch (or cm if you prefer)….it’s my eyes that can’t see the dot that far. As I get older, the max distance I can measure keeps dropping….I started out at 200 ft 10 years ago, now I’m more of a 100 ft guy.  Never once has my square footage of a building, a ceiling height, a retail bay or apartment been questioned. I think it’s because 1. I’m good at it after thousands of buildings…..and 2. the property contact generally remembers that I was the guy with the laser and how they thought it was ‘really really’ accurate.

As far as time savings, it’s just not a question anymore. I can measure a huge warehouse or 100-unit apartment building in minutes instead of hours. Plus, I don’t have to carry around my measuring wheel anymore. Since I use my phone as my camera now, I got to shed the digital camera as well. Now, it’s a clipboard, pencil, business card, Disto and my phone….no matter what property.

Consider purchasing a laser. Leica Disto and Bosch are the only two that I have experience with. I’m sure there are others out there. Mine was $600 in 2004 and prices aren’t much better today. If you find one at Home Depot for $59, that’s not the one you want. From what I have heard, they actually use sound to measure, not the laser indicator. Disto measures the actual laser travel time coming back to it….just like the cops do when you are speeding….

Leica Disto Picture

Leica Disto Example from www.leica.com

Categories: Uncategorized