Photographs in Appraisal Reports

Photographs in Appraisal Reports, National Real Estate Appraiser’s Day, & 2 Refers

Photographs, 2 refers & Nat’l RE Appraiser’s Day…

I’ve been asked to formally review a recent report.

When looking over the report pages, the subject photo pages contain a mix of horizontal and vertical photographs, about half ‘n half. And there are lots of subject photos.

Bear in mind, most report photo pages are formatted for horizontal photographs.

It appears to me the appraiser used a smart phone for photos, as there would be no normal tendency to hold a regular camera vertically except in rare occasions to emphasize height of some feature. But people do that with phones.

The human eyes are not ‘programmed’ to see “up” as well as side-to-side. We see nearly 180 degrees from left to right, but not nearly that same area below to above our head, when eyes are stationary like in a camera lens.

Appraisal report photos just look better when they are taken horizontally, except as mentioned for certain situations.

So, if you use a smart phone as your appraisal camera, please hold it horizontally!

Your reports will look much more professional if all photographs have the same orientation.

Two Refers (not the smokin’ kind):

Here’s an interesting kitchen design, in a 2017 MANUFACTURED home, no less!
two refrigerators

Maybe I’ve been in a cave somewhere in Ethiopia for the past 16 years, but I’ve never seen TWO exact model refers (with opposite door swings) side by side in any home! The listing even mentions this feature.

But also notice something else: there is no counter space next to either refer to make loading and unloading the refers easier. The only counter is opposite the doors, with a wide aisle. I see this quite often in modern kitchen designs – designers forget that getting food in and out of a refer is challenging when there’s no convenient place to put the food on the outside.

Maybe we should start making Functional Obsolescence adjustments for that? We’ll let the automatic regression programs tell us how much. (Ahem!)

Oh, by the way, the list price of this MANUFACTURED home on the small lot, after the site value was deducted, equates to about $132 per s/f. Wowsers!

National Real Estate Appraiser’s Day on Jan. 7th!

Texas appraiser Mark Paulson has submitted an application to the National Day Calendar™ web site to get Jan 7th on their calendar as an official day to recognize appraisers. I found his posting about this on The National Appraisal Coalition Facebook page.

Let’s get behind this effort! Re-send and re-post this message to your appraiser buddies and other bloggers, web sites, trade journals, etc.

While this might seem somewhat tongue in cheek, this calendar is used by media folks across the US to help publicize a variety of ‘days’ each year. Being on the calendar is a good way for the average Joe & Jane Public to get a better understanding of what we appraisers do in their communities, because some media outlets may want to talk to appraisers in advance for inclusion in stories about our work.

Here’s a link to the calendar.

If Mark sees this, please keep us informed about the process to get accepted. I don’t see a way to support the effort until the Calendar web site posts a message there to ‘vote’ on inclusion.

Dave Towne
Latest posts by Dave Towne (see all)
Dave Towne

Dave Towne

AGA, MNAA, Accredited Green Appraiser - Licensed in WA State since 2003. Dave Towne on

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12 Responses

  1. Cindy Logan on Facebook Cindy Logan on Facebook says:

    I would think that it is more important to show a feature or condition of the subject, even if that means a vertical picture, than keeping all pictures horizontal. There are times when a vertical picture is appropriate, for example a shower, or the rear photo of a two story townhome. I think you are being ridiculously picky.

  2. Baggins Baggins says:

    Iphones continue to deliver more laughs than anything else.  You can’t call it a smart phone, when it kills brain cells.  My reliable kodakdc10 keeps on kicking.  Drop it in the rain, off a ladder, slide the lens against bricks, it never fails.  And I pop in rechargeable aa’s on a dime and never am without power or functionality.  Most new devices simply deliver the same old thing but with unnecessary bells and whistles accompanying, and a hefty side of product and app branding for dummies who don’t understand the underlying technology itself.  My camera has no lease or use fee, and is still kicking strong 23 years after it’s initial manufacturers date.  Stop throwing your money away on ‘mobile tech’.

  3. Avatar John says:

    Looking at a report I am working on. Half the photos are vertical, half are horizontal. All were taken with a camera. It looks just fine to me. This is just silly.

    • Baggins - They sold you ice, & you live in the arctic. Baggins - They sold you ice, & you live in the arctic. says:

      What do you think would posses a professional photographer to go sideways then right side up in a single photo set, if they were holding a real camera and observing an object which is not in motion?  The core of the argument is that an iphone is not a real camera.  FYI, that camera and microphone are always on whether you’re using the device or not.  Being an American citizen backed by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, I value my privacy and I don’t voluntarily allow my phone provider to sell my photos, my location, my shopping habits, my private conversations and images of what I do at home.  The primary difference for me is the nice camera card and aa batteries a real camera presents with.  My camera cost me about 25 bucks used, another 20 for rechargeable aa’s, another 10 for high meg card, and it never again asked for another dollar.  If something goes wrong, I swap the card to another camera.  No usage fees, no contracts, no apps, no widgets, no data sharing, no syncing, no service fees, no penalty fees, no foreign tech support.  Someone said we’ve come a long way in 15 years, surely we have.  Instances of leasing instead of owning are up exponentially as the last ounce of our wealth is lifted up by the biggest crowd of carpetbaggers this world has ever seen.  Iphones are purely a waste of money, across the board.

  4. Avatar Ralph says:

    I take horizontal and vertical photos with my iPhone and they come out great, no difference on the report, depends how the room is laid out and what captures the most.   Before that, used a Blackberry for photos, have not used an actual camera since 2007 and it’s one less thing to carry. when I 1st started back in 2001 as a trainee, our office used the Sony Mavica with the floppy disks you had to insert and sometimes you would lose your all your photos and have to head back out and re-take them, we’ve come a long way from those days!

    • Baggins - Now I'm sideways, Now I'm right side up. Baggins - Now I'm sideways, Now I'm right side up. says:

      Have you calculated your personal ewaste footprint?  Do you buy a new iphone yearly?  Mixed horizontal vertical photography in a report which is supposed to be uniform and congruent shouts to me; dialing it in, asleep on the job.  At least pretend you’ve got an ounce of professional photography skills, and try to keep the picture format congruent through each entire report.

  5. Avatar ValueGal says:

    We are not photographers

    We are appraisers

    I use a mix of vertical and horizontal photos. Whatever best represents the room I’m taking a photo of. Vertical often works best

    This is an irrelevant article. It’s just some appraiser venting his personal preferences

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      And that’s why this industry is being quickly taken over by cubicle people who don’t know anything about real property, driving volume expectations up and fee expectations down.  Appraisers need to recognize their position is one of the most dynamic functions in real estate, then operate and price accordingly.  We are supposed to be;  appraisers (aka valuators), builders, mechanics, home inspectors, material experts, area experts, documentation and research experts.  Nobody has as much responsibility as the appraiser.  The peer standard is applicable to this argument.  I personally agree with Dave, and am disappointment the peer standard has sunk so low that appraisers think their only function lies within a math program or simple visual inspection, anything goes with technical widgets, and other appraisers more critical opinions are negligible compared to their own liberal take.  A proper wide angle lense like I mentioned above rarely requires a horizontal shot, and properly captures space and volume without notable visual distortion.  How’s your government sanctioned cellular spy device treating you lately?  I hope it’s keeping track of all of your locations and activities, many here obviously need the supervision.  Your iphone’s corporate sponsors are calling, you’d better do what they say.

      • Avatar BigAl says:

        Amen brother!

        I don’t get what the big fuss is and why so many negative comments. I agree with Dave & Baggins. Take vertical photos if you like, just rotate them in your appraisal software so they are not sideways!

        With one click you can rotate your images. ONE CLICK!

        Would any of you insert your pictures upside down in a report? If not, why then sideways?

  6. Avatar Harold says:

    I use my phone for taking photos.

    Vertical photos often offer the best representation of the room/feature.

    Regarding the refrigerators, I clearly see counter space next to the fridge on the left. And that wide aisle between the island and fridges is just an illusion from the wide angle camera lens. Besides, its easier to load items into a fridge from a counter in front of it vs. on the side.

    The truth is, we shouldnt call something functionally obsolete if the market doesnt indeed think it is. In some markets, this double fridge setup may be more marketable.

  7. Avatar Tom D says:

    never did a little row house? horizontal if you want a great picture of the window only. the doors on the frig open from the center, to left or right. seems like counter space right in front of those doors seems more functional. just too funny. can you comment on some other aspects of how you review? i would be nervous if you were doing one of mine.

  8. This is the a joke. If this is what you are complaining about your priorities are not in order.


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Photographs in Appraisal Reports

by Dave Towne time to read: 2 min