This section is from the book "Practical Real Estate Methods For Broker, Operator & Owner", by Thirty Experts. Also available from Amazon: Practical Real Estate Methods for Broker, Operator, Owner.
There is a general tendency, I think, on the part of many expert appraisers to follow certain general rules for appraising property. In some cases, of course, it is advisable to use certain rules, as I shall point out later, but for the most part I have found that the judgment of an expert is very much better than any fixed rule. It has been my experience that no rule will apply to any great number of cases. The City Tax Department has certain rules for appraising lots of a greater depth than the standard lot of 100 feet. There is another rule for appraising a short lot known as the Hoffman Rule. I doubt if it was practicable even at the time when Judge Hoffman established it, which was, I think, in 1866, but of one thing I am certain - it is not practicable at this time. A short lot must be valued according to the conditions that surround it. The Hoffman Rule gives a greater value, in proportion, to a short lot than to a standard lot. As an illustration, it gives a value to the part of the lot 25x50 of $6,700 when a full lot is worth but $10,000. In a tenement house district, it is scarcely necessary for me to say, a part of a lot 25x50 cannot be adequately improved as, under the Tenement House Law, a rear yard with a depth of at least 12 feet is required. There are a number of other instances throughout the city where I could point out the impracticability of these rules.