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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dangers in Appraising

Appraising personal property is not fraught with danger like coal mining or sky diving, but it does present some unusual circumstances that are often ripe with potential hazards like sickness, physical injury, and unwanted stress.

For example, many appraisers are called into houses after damaged by fire or flood to estimate replacement or salvage costs for insurance.  The exposure to black mold, toxic fumes, and/or unsafe footing is very real.  The use of protective clothing, face masks, and breathing apparatus often isn’t available or doesn’t work.  Some appraisers report long term allergies or auto immune disorders.  Others deal with minor scrapes, cuts, and wet or dirty clothing.  (I’ve had more than my fair share of ruined clothes and shoes.)

Even everyday “normal” appointments in the best of neighborhoods can bear unwanted fruit—everything from bed bugs to hairy cats or dogs.  (Always check your attaché cases when you arrive back at the office.  You may be carrying guests!)  Speaking of cats and dogs—they’re not all lovable creatures that sit quietly on the floor and look up at you with big, loveable eyes as you inventory the domiciles of their owners.

Not all smells are pleasant either.  Smoke filled rooms to those unaccustomed can be real eye burners.  In fact I’ve been forced to strip (in my own house) after returning home from an assignment where the chain smoker loved to blow smoke in my direction.  (Their home is their castle.)  I think it’s done out of spite!  Other smells can be far worse, particularly where death has been incurred.  (I won’t even tell you how horrendous it can be, even though it has been seared in my sense memory forever.)

Often we are not the welcomed party seeking to assist the needy client in solving a minor problem.  We may be seen as the undesired but necessary “evil” inspector and valuator, part of a larger and more devious plot, like in a divorce settlement that has obvious opposing spheres.  Or we may be a reminder of an unpleasant experience like the passing of a loved one, the horrendous event of a calamity, or the need to raise money in a bankruptcy or for unforeseen expenses.

The personal property appraiser’s lot is not always congenial.  Hazards may be present and overwhelming.  They may be physical, mental, or logistic.  Many things are avoidable, but others are not. When all is said and done, however, I would much rather have done this for a living than almost anything else.

For the rest of the story…go to the November ISA Education Newsletter

Leon Castner, ISA CAPP
Director of Education

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