Do Associates Need to Be Licensed to Take Comp Photos?

Do Associates Need to Be Licensed to Take Photos for a Property Inspection

Do Associates Need to Be Licensed to Take Photos for a Property Inspection?

I received a great question in my email the other day:

I am writing on behalf of one of our appraisal managers who is a certified in Illinois. He wants to send one of his associates only to take the photos for a property inspection, but the associate is unlicensed. Is he authorized to do so, or would the associate need a temporary license of some kind?

In some states this is considered clerical work, and some states are considered volunteer states, so a license is not required as long as the certified appraiser clarifies in the report who took the photos.

There’s a tendency to think that any ancillary work associated with appraising is automatically significant contribution and must be disclosed as such. Taking pictures, drawing the floor plan, putting a tape or Disto to a building or spell-checking a report are all things an appraiser does. But if someone does only one or two of these on behalf of an appraiser, do they need an appraiser’s license?

First, let’s examine the impact to the appraiser of someone else doing an aspect of their work. If this is a standard URAR assignment, the signing appraiser is certifying that they’ve personally inspected the sales from at least from the street. This doesn’t mean through someone else’s eyes or camera lens.

(2) inspect the neighborhood, (3) inspect each of the comparable sales from at least the street.

The text above was lifted from the URAR. If an appraiser hires someone to go take pictures of the sales, the appraiser can’t certify to number (3) and probably can’t certify to number (2).

Liability Time Bomb

What if the photographer takes the wrong image? Who is responsible if the appraiser tells the Board that his/her photographer took a picture of the wrong property?

The appraiser who signs the certification is buying the entire report. Warts and all.

We’ve had appraisers blame MLS photographers for the same thing. The fact is, we do not license photographers and they are not responsible for an appraiser’s unintended use of their images.

On the flip side, our photographer will not be able to submit a series of swell photos for appraisal experience, either.

Truly significant contribution is appraisal activity. Only appraisal activity requires a license in Illinois.

By Brian Weaver – Source Illinois Appraiser Newsletters – Volume 7, Issue 5

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Provided as a service to licensed and registered Illinois appraisal professionals as well as Illinois course providers and users of appraisals. Illinois Appraiser Newsletters promote a greater understanding of USPAP, the Act, and the Administrative Rules of the State of Illinois. promote a greater understanding of USPAP, the Act, and the Administrative Rules of the State of Illinois.

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5 Responses

  1. Josh Johnson on Facebook Josh Johnson on Facebook says:

    A clear violation of USPAP.

  2. Avatar Matt Cook, SRA says:

    There are two different ideas in this article. If, as the headline suggests, the associate is only taking the pictures for the inspection, it suggests that the licensed appraiser is doing the inspection and the associate is just taking the pictures. I don’t think that is a problem; I know appraisers who take an assistant with them to measure while they do the inspection, with the implication that the measurement is under the supervision of the appraiser on-site.

    However, when the discussion moves to the certifications (2 and 3), it suggests that the unlicensed assistant is DOING the inspection(s), which clearly conflicts with those URAR certifications and would obviously not be OK.

    Unless the licensed appraiser viewed the neighborhood and comparables, but did not take pictures at the time. Maybe his camera broke so he viewed the neighborhood and comps while he was in the area, then sent his assistant back out to take the photos? Perhaps legitimate, but I bet it would be a hard sell to the client.

  3. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    I suggest praying that the answer is “yes” since this will be the only task required of appraisers in the not so distant future.

  4. Excellent article Brian. I think Matt Cook is right though about it being a hard sell at best. That’s assuming it was not outright fraud by sending someone to do what an appraiser pretended to be doing.

    I am ‘concerned’ whenever I see adds for pictures takers; report writing services, reconciliation services, or appraisal work where an appraiser is ‘expected’ to appraise two or three subject properties per day, plus see all comparable sales.

    We’ve all either known or heard of people that use these shortcuts. Unless the product being offered is an appraiser assisted AVM or similar restricted scope appraisal with boilerplate that clearly and unambiguously says the signing appraiser DID NOT inspect (not, “may not have inspected”), I tend to assume the worst is really happening.

    In my opinion, THIS is why we still see AMCs and lenders thinking they can get USPAP compliant appraisal reports back in 48 hours that only cost them $300. It is also one of the reasons we will not see meaningful fee increases commensurate with the time required to provide professional work in the near future UNLESS we put an end to it.

    I am tired of COMPLEX FNMA work ROUTINELY beyond the basic license levels of appraisers being farmed out for discounted fees. Worse, is when this kind of work is sent to novices barely licensed.

  5. Avatar Doctor Manhattan says:

    Go with the AMCs….. make money with the volume of business they will send.


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Do Associates Need to Be Licensed to Take Comp Photos?

by IDFPR Board time to read: 2 min