COVID-19 Pandemic & Exterior Appraisals
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Everyone, not just appraisers is getting bombarded with information on COVID-19. So much of the information differs, it is hard to know what is real, hype or hysteria. So much has been shared within the appraisal groups on social media that there are more conversations about COVID-19 then appraisals.
VaCAP is a volunteer organization of appraiser professionals. We are not medical professionals and are just as confused as most of you. Each and every one of us is different. We have different levels of health and different people living in our homes; some may have compromised immune systems, some maybe healthy. Some appraisers are now only completing exterior appraisals only. In these cases, it is best to use your best judgement based on what is right for you and your family. No one else is capable of making that decision.
Many are fearful exterior only appraisals will be the end of the traditional appraisal as we know it. Right or wrong, exterior only appraisals are a possibility that may be acceptable in certain situations. VaCAP does not believe it will end traditional appraisals with interior inspections. The profession has been down this road before. It will not fly long term, especially if the market turns downward.
Some lenders are establishing COVID-19 protocols to follow and some have remained quiet on the subject. There are rumors that one lender has instructed appraisers not to inquire as the health of the occupants of the home due to privacy laws. Others like Citibank have developed their own protocol on how appraisers should handle COVID-19 concerns. There is great flexibility to the appraiser. See Citibank’s protocol below:
PANDEMIC EMERGENCY REAL PROPERTY INSPECTION PROTOCOL
16 March 2020
In response to the present Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, the following Protocol is established for the safety of our customers, vendors and employees. While Citi’s Appraisal Guidelines require a property inspection by the appraiser, this strict standard will be modified to provide flexibility in order to keep the property inspectors and our customers safe. The following sets forth concepts that may be applied, but in all cases local health authorities rules and recommendations, as well as personal judgment, must be applied.
- If the appraiser believes that the property must be fully inspected in order to produce a credible estimate of Market Value, the assignment should be put On-Hold and your Citi contact should be immediately notified of the delay. While this may cause delays in closings for Citi’s customer, our Transactor will manage their client’s expectations. This decision may be made at any time at the appraiser’s discretion.
Alternatives to Appraiser Inspections
The appraiser may determine that one or more of the following alternatives provide sufficient reliability for a credible Market Value conclusion:
- A recent property inspection report performed by a qualified individual(s) such as an engineer, architect, general contractor, etc.
- Reliance on other publically available documents and digital media, including those used in marketing a property for sale or lease.
- And exterior inspection without making any personal contact
- The “Property Contact” should be notified that the exterior of the property will be photographed by the appraiser.
- The appraiser is not required to go on-site for the exterior inspection or photographs.
- The appraiser should request that the Property Contact arrange for interior digital photographs to be taken by an individual who is currently on-site (such as owner, tenant or property manager). The photographs should be forwarded to the appraiser for inclusion in the appraisal report.
- The appraiser may request that the Property Contact arrange for a “virtual inspection” via a live stream video call with an individual who is currently on-site.
- Cell phone cameras may be used along with an applications such as Skype.
This Protocol will remain in place until further notice and maybe modified from time to time with notice of revisions.
Meanwhile, MBREA sent out the following advice this morning and we thought it was good common sense worthy of sharing.
- Talk with your clients about COVID-19 to see if they have any protocols they would like you to follow
- Let your clients know you will have a conversation with the borrower/owner when scheduling the appointment to identify any risk of infection. This conversation should also provide the borrower/owner with the opportunity to ask you screening questions or to assure them you are not ill.
- The appointment scheduling call is a good time to let the borrower/owner know if you will be wearing gloves, not shaking hands, etc.
- Screening should be limited to questions about the coronavirus and flu such as:
- Is anyone in your household currently sick with a fever and/or a cough?
- Has anyone in your household been exposed to a person who has or is suspected of having the coronavirus?
- If the appointment is set for a few days later, you may wish to ask again when you arrive at the property.
- Communication is key – between you, your client, and the people you will come into contact with — to avoid misunderstandings.