If you ever find yourself among a group of real estate appraisers, you will usually hear someone recount a humorous tale. Typical home appraiser stories range from bazar things seen in homes to attack by animals. My experiences include goats and other farm animals living inside homes, nude paintings of the homeowners (reminiscent of the famous George Costanza Timeless Art of Seduction pose), accessing vacant properties by climbing through second-story windows, lots of cats, hoarder homes, shock by electric fences, animal feces in places it should not be, inspecting the interior of the wrong house (not my fault), tiptoeing around a backyard rabbit hospital so as not to disturb the cardiac patients, pursuit by homeowners who saw me take a comparable photo of their house, and run ins with all manner of animals including dogs, cats, bees, snakes, llamas, and horses.
One of my favorite yarns involves a narrow escape from animal attack. I was appraising a property in a rural area near Portland, Oregon about four years ago. A horse pasture was located at the rear of the property. I had been taking photos of the front of the house and decided to get a rear photo. Around the house I went, with an electronic tape measure in one hand, a tablet computer over my shoulder, and a camera in my other hand. To get the best photo of the house, I had to walk by a detached garage, past a vacant chain-link dog kennel, and into the pasture that included horses on the far side of the field.
The best spot for the photo was between the kennel and the pasture. I started to take a picture but turned around to see a large black horse on a deliberate and accelerating trot aimed directly at me. The horse was not galloping, but it was coming faster than I can run and its head was positioned in a most unwelcoming manner. Ears back and nostrils flared, the head looked more like an angry bull than the typical friendly horses I’ve seen on other appraisal assignments.
There was no time to run; I just had to get into the vacant dog kennel. I don’t remember if I cleared the fence in one leap or if I used a foothold. I just know that I made it at the moment the aggressive horse reached the fence. A moment later, I heard the sound of a snarling dog slowly moving out of a doghouse at the other end of the kennel.
After leaping over the only reaming safe side of the enclosures, I finished the exterior appraisal inspection. My computer was unharmed and so was I. While viewing the interior of the home, I pretended nothing had happened, but my heart rate did not go down until I was driving home. Now when I think back, I wonder if the owner had watched me from the kitchen window as I first escaped from their horse and then from their dog. If so, they probably got more laughs out of what they saw than I did.
Above is a side view of the Portland home I was appraising. In the photo, you can see part of the dog kennel behind the detached garage. The thing is — I never did get the rear photo of the house to use in the appraisal or to share in this blog. Consequently, I learned that appraisers should always ask homeowners to control any animals (even though they usually say that the animals are friendly) and appraisers need to make sure that distractions do not make them forget important things for the appraisal, including a rear photo.
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