Appraisal News and Business Tips

What does it cost to take appraisal comp photos?

In general, how much do you think the requirements of taking comp photos increases the cost of completing an appraisal? www.appraisalport.com poll
My comments: Comp photos are very controversial, especially with the availability of google (including historic photos), mls, Zillow, etc. Interesting results. Don’t know if this includes blurring out personal items, people, dogs, etc. Maybe includes driving time (non-rural of course) and downloading and filing photos. At least we don’t have to spend lots of money on photo processing plus time going to and from the store any more!!

I am not sure why, but lots of appraisers don’t like to take comp photos. USPAP certainly does not require it. I always do, even if I have taken a photo before, because I can’t remember what was near the comp, condition, etc. I always remember it when I used hear about it when speaking at Canadian appraisal conferences. At that time, appraisers were not required to put comp photos in their lender appraisals. They told me “I know that area very well.” Or, “I drove by it XX years ago.”

Previous Appraisalport polls on comp photos
6/2/15 – analysis of 3 comp photo polls – Comp Photos and MLS, Fannie, USPAP, etc.
Plus read the comments.
10 Comments
  1. Agreed, waste of time and YES, the the agents should be required to put a FRONT VIEW FROM STREET photo of the subject in their listings, many do not, and also make sure it is the correct one if they hire someone to do it for them!

  2. Collossal waste of time. I don’t do them. I don’t have problems with USPAP compliance as I do not do mortgage work anymore, unless they pay well & compensate me for all the BS. I did 2 last year & none this year. My clients don’t require it & I disclose that I do a virtual inspection via the internet. I’d agree $200-$250 is right for rural & $100-$125 is right for city.

    By the way, how are all you appraisers pulling comps before you see the property profitably? I tried that years ago but County GLA is oftentimes off significantly, plus about 40% of the time the house’s condition & quality is quite different from what I imagined. Meaning that the comparables chosen would not be the comparables I would choose after the inspection. I wonder how many of you are using comparables that are “good enough” but not really the best since you already have the photos. I’m not trying to sound preachy but that’s not good. I didn’t when I had to include photos at the clients behest & soon found that most were not willing to pay the extra to compensate me for my time. I assume they found a sucker to do it for free or found someone willing to cut corners.

    My friends, the tail is wagging the dog. If your clients insist on being stupid & making you do needless work make them pay appropriately for it. I apply the same standard to worthless extra comps. & I typically use 5 sales in case you were wondering. If I feel I need to include 8 sales I will, free of charge, but if I use 3 very good ones & they want another I will be happy to do so at an additional charge. They don’t work for free & neither should you. If you don’t value your time how do you expect anyone else to value it either.

    I typically don’t waste time commiserating about these issues on a message board. The proper venue for that is over lunch or with peers with a margarita, beer or cold drink in hand. I’m going back to work, but this issue about current photos has always annoyed me from the sheer stupidity of the requirement. Please don’t work for free, it de-values us all when you do.

  3. Taking comp photos is a colossal waste of time. I can learn much more about a comp from aerials, Google earth, etc. But I’m charging for it so I do it and try to enjoy the scenery. I charge $25 to $200 more if I’m required to take comp photos. The $200 is for rural where I’m going to have to take at least 6 comp photos, drive from 100 to 150 extra miles down narrow roads with an average speed of about 35 mph adding about 3 hours to the appraisal and most of the photos are going be of gates, woods and driveways. I’ve been chased, threatened, pulled over by police and once stopped by a truck full of what were likely meth makers after I snapped a photo in a trailer park (beware of trailer parks with just one way in and out). I carry a gun most of the time but haven’t had to use it yet but I feel more at ease knowing its there. Much of what I do is rural. I drive 300 to 500 miles a week and most of that is taking comp photos. Thank God for GPS and Smith & Wesson!

  4. Not counting the Dope dealer locations: Most times we are required to inspect the comparable from the street. In the Cities, if you are already there, there is no reason not to take the photos. As far as condition, they are only a few months old. Anything new should be commented on, to not mislead. On some occasions the buyers are outside, and you can get very good information on the property as it was when they bought it. I believe that at least in the Cities, a lot of the younger appraisers are not actually driving by the comps, and always whine about photos. If a bush or tree has been removed, it is further evidence you were there.

  5. My market area includes Lake & Mendocino counties in California, where the crop of choice is a controlled substance, legal or otherwise. There is a predominance of rural location properties, and the insistence upon “fresh” “live” “current” photos for every assignment is not only costly, but perhaps life threatening. A good comparable sale could easily be a target property, or even worse, next door to a target property. The absolute LAST thing that anyone wants to be is the person that shows up dressed half way decent with a clipboard and camera in hand. More than once. Taking a new photo each time. Not talking to anyone.

    This problem compounds itself when there is nothing to see but a gate and the client insists on a gate photo AND an MLS photo. Personally, I think it is a direct compliance violation even to use such a property, because the ability to “view the comparable property from the front” (as is required) is a really gray area if the appraiser can only see a gate, picture or not. Secondly, if a reviewer can climb into review mode and attempt to discredit an appraiser by using MLS photos to dispute appraiser observation claims, then it seems only reasonable that the appraiser rely on the same data, which typically allows the appraiser to view the comparable from all angles, interior, extra features, and so on as if the date of the listing and, we assume, the sale.

    Which brings up another interesting point. The ONLY source of information for ANY comparable property “condition” is the appraisers interpretation of MLS photos and promotional material if one appreciates that the parties to the transaction cannot possibly be relied upon as a disinterested third party in such cases. Technically, which is a great word these days since appraiser are pretty much required to communicate and transmit digitally, live photos of a property weeks or months after the sale are perhaps the worst rendition of ANY property as to what is looked like on the day it sold for the price, terms, and concessions reflected in the much more reliable MLS information……live, current, fresh photos are the most misleading section of todays appraisal report.

    How costly are live photo requirements? Very costly to the appraiser and to anyone relying on the appraiser to provide accurate renditions of the property being appraised. In fact, with todays requirements I often wonder how close we are commingling with Dodd-Frank and employer-employee relationships. Guess if I get shot or assaulted while performing the required multiple pictures of the same grow area twice a week we’ll find out. Of course, that’s why we charge more in the first place, AND more for fresh live photo requirements.

  6. While USPAP does not specifically address the taking of photos of comparable properties, that is not to say that USPAP considerations are not applicable.

    The Scope of Work Rule under Problem Identification states that “An appraiser must gather and analyze information about those assignment elements that are necessary to properly identify the appraisal or appraisal review problem to be solved.”

    In the Comment to this portion of the rule it further states, “In an appraisal assignment, for example, identification of the problem to be solved requires the appraiser to identify the following assignment elements:” The last of which is “assignment conditions”.

    Consequently, as a result of a client requiring that original photos of comparable sales be provided it becomes an “assignment condition” which therefore becomes an element of the appraiser’s Scope of Work consideration thereby resulting in USPAP being applicable. Provided that “assignment conditions do not limit the appraiser’s scope of work to an extent that would result in an appraisal that would not produce credible assignment results, the expectations of the client remain a legitimate element of the appraiser’s scope of work decision.

    The applicability of USPAP with respect to “assignment conditions” is also discussed in Advisory Opinion 28.

  7. What does it cost? TIME….GREAT AMOUNTS OF TIME….Most of live in “RURAL” areas…most of America is RURAL. The driving time between comps is ridiculous. AMC’s sell to the lenders “we make our appraisers take current photos” when the lenders don’t require it. Yes I know the area I appraise in. It is rural as is most of the country. We know the areas, we live in them, we do not need to drive past them every week. Since Fannie & Freddie and most lenders do not require recent comp photos and the fact that the lender should see what the homes looked like when they sold not what they look like now should speak volumes to all involved. I am sick an tired of reshooting the same pics over and over to get “recent”…current season photos. What difference does it make if there is snow in the picture for an assignment I am doing in July?

  8. We are evaluating the comp as of the date it sold not as of the date of your appraisal therefore doesn’t make sense to provide a photo of the comps which represents what it looked like on the date of sale which is probably the MLS photo. The new owner may have improved the looks of the home(comp) after they purchased it. This could mislead the reader of the report to think that the comp was in better shape at the time of sale than it really was.

    • TOTALLY AGREE….MANY THINGS CAN HAPPEN TO THAT HOUSE AFTER THE COE….THE MLS PHOTO IS MOST REPRESENTATIVE OF THE COMP YOU USE IN THE REPORT. JUST TODAY i HAD SOMEONE PARK BEHIND ME (TO WRITE DOWN MY LICENSE #) AND THEN THEY FOLLOWED ME UNTIL I GOT OUTSIDE THE NEIGHBORHOOD. I TOO HAVE BEEN HARRASSED, ETC…AFTERNOON APPOINTMENTS FORGET ABOUT IT – TOO MANY PEOPLE OUT AND ABOUT.

  9. in this society in our town, I get hassled, my car has been damaged have had the cops called, and one guy, who was drunk would not move so I could turn around. if the ho / kids or whoever is in the way – I don’t have time to go back. agent should be required to put a current picture on the MLS ; many hear don’t……that is condition when the home sold, and if you don’t know the market area ; you should not be accepting work in that market

Leave a Reply