Desktop Valuations: Don’t Judge A Pump House By Its Cover

Understanding the ‘Desktop’ and ‘Drive-by’ Approaches to Property Valuations

We’ve heard story after story of entities getting stuck with the bill after a catastrophe due to property values gone awry. These unfortunate instances expose how differences between an assumed property value and one attained on foot, by a trained professional aren’t always noticed until it’s far too late.

What is a ‘desktop’ or ‘drive-by’ valuation?

A valuation in which an appraiser uses speculation from a desk, perhaps using a service such as Google Earth, or by driving by each property to get a general idea of the building.

Why would someone choose this type of valuation?

At first, this technique may seem fiscally responsible. It can be less expensive to establish values based on existing information and research done from your desk.

While a ‘desktop’ or ‘drive-by’ valuation may seem like a good option at first, a deeper understanding reveals that there really is no substitute for a comprehensive, onsite appraisal.

Case Study: Don’t Judge a Pump House by its Cover

While the two buildings pictured below look very similar on the outside, they are actually very different. These two pump houses have different well depths (50 feet v. 300 feet) and contain variations in the pumps themselves. The one with the deeper well depth has almost twice the replacement cost as the other.

The desktop or drive-by approach would have never identified these differences. Incorrect assumptions could have set the client up for a worst case scenario in the event of a loss.


As property valuation experts we see the value in a comprehensive onsite appraisal. For accurate insurance coverage, there really is no substitute for a physical inspection.



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2020-03-16T14:55:58-04:00Tags: |

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