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Real Estate: Homeowners Can Help Appraisers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Real Estate Appraisal. Photostock

The Appraisal Institute is a global professional association of real estate appraisers, with over 17,000 professionals in almost 50 countries throughout the world.

CHICAGO, Illinois. June 19, 2020 (Biz Republic) — Despite the coronavirus and safety considerations, homeowners can still work with appraisers to help provide a full picture of their property, the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers said. “The coronavirus pandemic certainly has created a new situation for appraisers, particularly in the residential market,” said Appraisal Institute President Jefferson L. Sherman, MAI, AI-GRS.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, the Appraisal Institute has advised its professionals and other appraisers to protect their health, and that of their families. For now, drive-by and desktop appraisals are the new normal for many residential appraisers.” “Because of the coronavirus, many appraisals are now conducted with limited or even no in-person interaction between the appraiser and homeowner,” Sherman said.

“Homeowners can help appraisers understand the interior condition by providing a complete set of photographs, along with information regarding recent repairs and replacements made by the homeowner – including items, dates and costs,” he added. Sherman further noted, “If the homeowner has access to a property survey (land drawing with building outline and dimensions), provide that to the appraiser as well.

Appraisers may be asking more questions in these limited situations, so understand that they are gaining knowledge that will help their work be as thorough and professional as possible.” Since many appraisers aren’t conducting in-home inspections during state-ordered stay-at-home restrictions, they have taken advantage of the benefits that technology provides.

Sherman noted that appraisers are relying on hardware such as drones or applications such as Zoom to see the exteriors and interiors of properties they’re appraising. “These technologies likely will continue to some degree after the pandemic is over,” he said. Sherman added that appraisers are carefully examining technologies to assess fraud risks and potential liabilities before relying on them.

For example, if the appraiser is considering interior photographs supplied by the borrower or property owner, the appraiser will assess their confidence level that the photographs are a true representation of the property, including the risk that the pictures are not actually of the subject’s interior. “The lack of access to a property’s interior is an example of the challenges many appraisers currently face,” Sherman said.

“However, appraisers welcome information from homeowners that would assist with the development of credible assignment results.” Although appraisal review is best performed by qualified appraisers, homeowners can examine the appraisal for potential deficiencies. According to “Appraising the Appraisal: The Art of Appraisal Review,” 2nd edition, common errors in appraisals include the misuse of adjustments to comparables, disregarding special financing and concessions and miscalculation of gross living area. Sherman encouraged homeowners to ask themselves:

— Do adjacent homes add or detract from the value of the subject property?
— Is the property being appraised equal to or lower in price than surrounding homes?
— Does the floor plan have any functional problems?
— Does the house (particularly the kitchen and bathrooms) require major remodeling to make it comparable with similar homes in the same price range?
— Is the number of bedrooms and baths in the home comparable to similar homes in the same price range?

“The best way to combat potential problems with appraisals is to ensure the appraiser hired by the lender is highly qualified and competent,” Sherman said. “Homeowners should ask the lender for the qualifications of the appraiser and whether they are professionally designated by a professional appraisal organization such as the Appraisal Institute, whose Designated Members may hold the SRA or AI-RRS designations.”

Sherman also recommended that homeowners provide data on sales of similar properties, which the appraiser will examine. In the final analysis, the best sales data available will be professionally analyzed. The final data used may not include what was provided by the homeowner.

The Appraisal Institute is a global professional association of real estate appraisers, with over 17,000 professionals in almost 50 countries throughout the world. Its mission is to advance professionalism and ethics, global standards, methodologies, and practices through the professional development of property economics worldwide.

Organized in 1932, the Appraisal Institute advocates equal opportunity and nondiscrimination in the appraisal profession and conducts its activities in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws. Individuals of the Appraisal Institute benefit from an array of professional education and advocacy programs, and may hold the prestigious MAI, SRPA, SRA, AI-GRS and AI-RRS designations. Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org.