Why Comp Photos?
by Richard Hagar, SRA
Excerpt: First, don’t even think about not doing it! To begin with, it’s required. Inspecting the exterior of every comparable isn’t a USPAP requirement, by the way, it is a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) requirement.
However, FNMA’s requirement goes directly to the heart of USPAP’s “scope of work” rule. USPAP defines scope of work, in part, as: the type and extent of research and analyses. The scope of work section of the 1004 appraisal states “The appraiser must, at a minimum: (3) inspect each of the comparables sales from at least the street.” So, when an appraiser agrees to an assignment and its required scope of work, they have agreed to personally inspect the exterior of each sales comparable used in the appraisal. There is no way around this; an appraiser can’t contradict the certification requirement by inserting a qualification within the appraisal. In other words, it’s your job; you are being paid to personally inspect each sales comparable—so do it!
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My comments: Last week’s newsletter had a very popular negative post on comp photos: Original Comp Photos: Dangerous, Unnecessary. This week is the other side!! I know what it is like to drive many miles to take an original comp photo that I somehow forgot to take. But, I am more comfortable if I take another comp photo again as I forget about the details sometimes. I have used MLS photos when I cannot see the comp from the street.
Hagar discusses the many aspects of original comp photos, including the limiting conditions on the Fannie forms. In my opinion, the statement is somewhat uncertain. “…inspect each of the comparables sales from at least the street”. Does this mean original photos and always driving by? I do not have this statement in my non-lender appraisals, plus many other Fannie statements. However, many lenders and AMCs have this in their requirements.
On the other side, I used to travel to Canada to speak at appraisal conferences. At that time, taking original comp photos was not required for lending purposes. Few appraisers did them. They said they had “seen it in the past”.
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NOTE: Please scroll down to read the other topics in this long blog post on USPAP, comp photos, adjustments, Bias, mortgage origination stats, Covid tips for appraisers, etc.