Street Scene Photos of the Subject Property
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Appraisers, the discussion of subject photos occurred recently on a forum I read. How many of you know the street scene “view” policy of FHA and FNMA?
How many of you were trained to just take ONE photo from the very front of the subject, looking down the street in one direction or the other (without having the subject in the photo)? Is that ‘good enough’ for a lender to know the context of where the subject is on the street?
If a ‘street view policy’ between agencies is more strict for one, would it be appropriate to adopt that policy for all reports? In my opinion, yes!
Per the HUD 4000.1 Manual (II (D)(4)(a)) (used for FHA & USDA, and possibly VA assignments), the ‘street view policy’ is this:
“Street scene photograph to include a portion of the subject site”
Per the FNMA Selling Guide Part B (B4-1.2 Exhibits), the ‘street view policy’ is this:
“Clear, descriptive photographs showing the front, back and a street scene of the subject property…” “The subject must be appropriately identified.”
It is obvious that FNMA’s policy is not as well defined as the HUD/FHA policy. But FNMA does say that the subject must be identified.
In my reports, I use BOTH policies for the ‘street view’ photos. I use the HUD/FHA policy by taking the street photo from 1 or 2 houses up or down the street FROM BOTH DIRECTIONS, include a portion of the subject in the photo, and then in the photo description (using FNMA’s policy) I tell the reader the home is on the left or right side in the photo. Yes, my reports include TWO street scene photos. For suburban/rural sites, with the subject not visible on the street, I do the same process, but include a portion of the site in the photos. For these, I also include a photo of the driveway intersecting the street.
While we’re on this topic of discussion, there is NO requirement that subject photo pages be limited to 3 photos per page. Except when transmitting reports using the outdated, archaic .env protocol (Appraisal Port). That system demands 3 per page. But when not using .env, you can use photo pages with 6 photos, which most reviewers prefer due to photo size. Using subject photo pages with 12 or 15 per page make the photos extremely small, and hard to review.
My reports have the 6 photos per page for the subject. First page is the subject exterior – all 4 sides – and two street scenes. Other subject photo pages also have 6 photos, starting with the interior, and then other exterior elements and amenities on extra pages. I’ve been doing it this way for many years with absolutely no issues from any client.
The comp photos are on the typical 3 per page.
Using 6 subject photos per page is also a way to shorten number of pages in a report. Makes the overall report file size smaller, and it’s easier for end users to utilize the report.