Picture This…Or Not
Maybe you should ask the homeowner if it would be alright to take the picture at all.
When a consumer calls the department in a rage and wants to know “what law says that an appraiser can take pictures inside of my house?”, Houston, we have a problem.
Actually, not Houston…and not the department. You, the appraiser and the client who ordered it have the problem because we will make it your problem.
Law? There is no law for interior photos. There are guidelines and stipulations cloaked as requirements. That’s it. But, we do have privacy laws, don’t we?
Clients, whether lenders or AMCs have wanted something more than the standard front, rear, and street scenes of the subject for many years. Some want kitchens and baths. Some want attics, basements…and bedrooms.
The profession is now standing on the precipice of something dangerous.
While lenders and the GSEs are all jitter over whether Chanukah candles in the family room, or a little Christmas tree in some kid’s bedroom should be Photoshopped out before the report is submitted; think again. Maybe you should ask the homeowner if it would be alright to take the picture at all.
No. Not maybe. Ask. Better yet, inform the homeowner that this particular client requests that interior photos accompany the file…when you make the appointment. If you get push back, tell them to call their lender for clarification. But, respect it if they tell you not to take interior photos.
Appraisers are accustomed to following client guidelines and overlays. But don’t think that homeowners have the same motivations or that they even know what the interior picture policy is from the lender that they’ve chosen.
For AMCs ordering interior photos on behalf of their clients; have a clear and up-to-date policy for interior photos for each assignment.
The best idea is to present the homeowner with a written release. If nothing else, disclose what you’ll be doing up front. If not…and a consumer complains to us about invasion of privacy, we will be bringing this to your doorstep faster than a flashbulb.
Illinois Appraiser Newsletters, November 2011 Issue