Appraisal Today Coronavirus For Appraisers

NOTE: THIS NEWSLETTER WAS SENT 4/3/20 AND WAS ACCURATE AS OF THAT DATE. THERE ARE CHANGES DAILY AND HOURLY ON SOME OF THE INFORMATION!

SEE BELOW FOR CHANGES SINCE 4-3-20 NEWSLETTER

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COVID-19: Data, Comps and Values


Appraisal Today 04-20 12 pages, 3 column format 

Appraisal Today 4-20 no columns 24 pages, word processing style

This newsletter discusses many topics in detail:
Some of the topics:

  • It’s all about the data!! Limited testing data and what it means
  • The comps: current and past epidemics and pandemics
  • Being used for analysis of the future now.
  • Health and safety issues for appraisers
  • Masks, gloves, booties, etc.
  • When will we go back to our normal lives
  • Pandemics – the stages and what they mean
  • Immunity, Vaccines

Please send any comments to Ann O’Rourke, Publisher ann@appraisaltoday.com

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UPDATES FROM FREE WEEKLY EMAIL NEWSLETTERS

Sent 5-15-20

The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them
How safe is going inside a home for an appraisal compare with other places, such as grocery stores?
Excerpts: … But with general breathing, 20 viral particles per minute into the environment, even if every virus ended up in your lungs (which is very unlikely), you would need 1000 viral particles divided by 20 per minute = 50 minutes.
Speaking increases the release of respiratory droplets about 10 fold; ~200 virus particles per minute. Again, assuming every virus is inhaled, it would take ~5 minutes of speaking face-to-face to receive the required dose.
The exposure to virus x time formula is the basis of contact tracing. Anyone you spend greater than 10 minutes with in a face-to-face situation is potentially infected. Anyone who shares a space with you (say an office) for an extended period is potentially infected.
When assessing the risk of infection (via respiration) at the grocery store or mall, you need to consider the volume of the air space (very large), the number of people (restricted), how long people are spending in the store (workers – all day; customers – an hour). Taken together, for a person shopping: the low density, high air volume of the store, along with the restricted time you spend in the store, means that the opportunity to receive an infectious dose is low. But, for the store worker, the extended time they spend in the store provides a greater opportunity to receive the infectious dose and therefore the job becomes more risky.
To read more, click here
My comments: This is the very best understandable explanation I have ever seen for COVID-19, The author is a Comparative Immunologist and Professor of Biology (specializing in Immunology) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. I had read about everything in the article, but having it all in one place, including the illustrations is Most Excellent.
As compared with working in a grocery store for 8 hours, for example, appraisers choose their own PPE, are only in the home for a limited time, etc. If there is a serious problem, such as someone sick and coughing, they can leave. Grocery store employees cannot walk out the door and keep their jobs.
This article focuses on the current “opening up” of restrictions and helps you decide. Do you want to eat inside a local restaurant, shop at a book store, etc.?
What “hit” me was the section on members of a chorus, singing in a small room, who were affected. When you sing you regularly increase the volume and pitch of your voice, causing lots of air coming out of your lungs into the air. You learn to control your breath. I was in two vocal groups. One was large and practiced in a large classroom in a school with high ceilings. The other was small and practiced in a member’s small living home.
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New (May 13) 1 hour video, Decoding COVID-19.The best video I have ever seen on COVID. Easy to understand. Fantastic animations. No politics, of course ;> To watch on your computer Google “PBS Nova, then (maybe) the name of the video. Very good!! Or, check your local PBS station to see when it is on TV. Links to other resources on the video’s page.
“Join the doctors on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 as they strategize to stop the spread, and meet the researchers racing to develop treatments and vaccines. Along the way, discover how this devastating disease emerged, what it does to the human body, and why it exploded into a pandemic.”
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OF COURSE, WE MUST ALL ASSUME THAT WE, AND EVERYONE ELSE, IS INFECTED. Even if you were tested this morning and was negative, you could be infected in the afternoon. Unfortunately, testing to see if you are have been infected and are immune is not reliable yet. Myself and lots of other people, are convinced we were infected in the past. I was very sick with a high fever, bad diarrhea and stomach pain in mid-March for a week. Maybe someday I will find out with a reliable test…
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What appraisers are doing and my advice for interior inspections
What is difficult about going inside homes, is that you never know what will happen. In contrast, you can go to the local grocery store that you are most comfortable with, such as when there are fewer shoppers, number of people inside the store is limited if necessary, everyone wears masks, you know the layout and can get in and out quickly, etc.
Note: I may be the only one recommending face masks for occupants who don’t (or can’t) leave. But, you risk yourself, and your family’s heath if you don’t do this.
REMEMBER: WEARING A FACE MASK MOSTLY PROTECTS OTHER PEOPLE, NOT YOURSELF. YOU, AND YOUR FAMILY, ARE NOT SAFE IF OCCUPANTS DON’T MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCE. IF THERE ARE OCCUPANTS IN THE HOME WHO WON’T OR CAN’T MOVE OUT, BE SURE TO REQUIRE FACE MASKS. BRING CLOTH FACE MASKS AND LET THEM USE THEM. Washable cloth masks are inexpensive. You can use them again.
What many appraisers are wearing:
– Face mask (MOST IMPORTANT)
– Disposable gloves
– Booties (maybe)
– Face shield (maybe)
You can easily get washable cloth masks. Disposable gloves are more available now. $25 (or less) for 100 on Amazon. Santizers are still tough to get. I use alcohol swabs. You can make up your own sanitizer using diluted bleach and paper towels.
What to tell the homeowner
– All doors Interior and exterior) and windows are open for at least 10 minutes before your arrival. Turn on all lights. Occupant must go outside. Issue: what about rain and snow, elderly people who have difficulty moving, etc. If there are occupants who are unable to move out, require a face mask or bring one for them. Note: Some appraisers are asking for inside social distancing. That can be difficult. Definitely need to have them wear masks.
– You will be arriving with mask, gloves, etc.
– You will bring washable face masks for them to use if they don’t have any, for use while you are there.
– You will measure the outside and they cannot follow or “help” you.
– You will ask or answer any questions outside (6 ft. distance) .
What heath issues to ask the homeowner about before you go
– Some appraisers ask about health issues. Of course, no one knows if they have the virus, but you can ask if anyone is sick, especially sneezing or coughing, which is very, very risky for you.
How much time in the house: 
– As little as possible.
– Interview etc. outside the home with 6 ft. distance
What to do after inspection
– Glove disposal
– Sanitize vehicle and hands
– Some appraisers change clothes in garage and wash them, similar to heathcare workers.
REMEMBER: ALWAYS DISPOSE OF GLOVES. ONLY USE ONCE: Not touching anything can be hard to remember all the time. Do not use gloves at the next house as you could contaminate it. Or, disinfect the gloves if you don’t throw them away. Gloves are much easier to purchase now.
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Social distancing can be difficult inside a home or in geographic areas where many do not do social distancing. 
Where I live (San Francisco Bay Area), (almost) everyone wears masks and does 6 ft. distancing, so people are used to it. If you work in states or areas that are not like this, you will have to persuade them to do it.
– Occupant wants to shake hands, etc. Explain that you don’t do that anymore (or whatever you are comfortable with). During flu season, for a long time, I didn’t shake hands. I said that I am not feeling well. Not a good idea today, so they don’t call 911 ;> Give them a mask.
– Occupant gets very close and won’t step back. Give them a cloth mask. Leave if they refuse to step back or use mask. Don’t risk your, and your family’s, health.
FYI, I have difficulty remembering about social distancing myself sometimes. Recently my landscaper came over to fix my sprinklers. Got way too close when asking him questions. Hard to change the habits of a lifetime!!

Sent 5-1-20

COVID-19 Science Update for my April 3 monthly newsletter – Testing

It is so hard to believe how much has changed in a month!!
Below are good podcasts on a current hot topics
To read the April 3 newsletter plus previous updates in these free email newsletters, click here
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NOTE: I have been listening to podcasts every day for a very long time. COVID-19 topics can get very technical or political. Podcasts are usually the best source of these types of explanations.

News about COVID changes for GSEs etc. for appraisers is done mostly in webinars now, which I regularly review in these newsletters.I have been including some of the many appraiser webinars (2-4 a week now) for awhile.

Today, one of the hottest topics is testing (to get virus data) as many areas are opening up or planning to loosen some shelter in place and other restrictions. Tests are needed to re-open without more deaths resulting. The tradeoff is between the economy and health (especially deaths). We don’t like to think of it this way, but it is the reality of all pandemics.

I wrote a lot about testing in my April 3 newsletter. This is the key to finding out who is infected (and who has been infected in the past).
There are two types of tests: who has the virus now and who had it and developed antibodies to the virus. From the science side, tests are hard to understand for most people and can quickly get too technical. Also, there are too many “political” issues about supply, reliability, etc.
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Make Me Smart Podcast 181. We need millions of test to open this economy. So, where are they?
This is the best, most understandable non-technical explanation I have heard or read (for non-scientists). Listen to the first 15 minutes. After that there is a commercial and chit chat about other topics. This podcast is a spinoff of Marketplace, one of my favorite podcasts.
4-29-20. 15 minutes.

To read a brief intro and listen to the podcast (first 15 minutes) click here

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The Indicator Podcast: Why we didn’t prepare for the pandemic
Not about today’s political issues, such as blaming and finger-pointing. Goes from the big volcano hundreds of years ago in Pompeii to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the early 1990s. “The reasons we don’t seem to learn from our mistakes are behavioral and economic. They’re also highly rational.”

To listen and read more , click here
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Testing in nursing homes – my personal experience

In 2004, my husband had a stroke and was in a nursing home for 6 months before I brought him home. He could not use the right side of his body. I visited 3-4 hours a day and learned a lot. They are not hospitals. There was only one nurse for the many patients in his wing of the nursing home. He was private pay in a semi-private room. Many patients were Medicaid (Medi-cal in California) with 3 patients crammed into a small room. The care at his nursing home was fine, above the typical nursing home in the area. It was owned by a groups of local physicians at that time.

Nursing homes are very risky for any infectious disease. One of the first known number of large COVID-19 infections was a nursing home in Seattle. Nurses aides are low paid. Nursing homes have very small profit margins with not much money for PPE, and each nurses aide has many patients to work with every day.

The workers have no idea who is infected and can easily spread the virus to other patients and their own family members at home. If the patients and workers were tested regularly, this could have been avoided. They are finally just starting to do tests in California and other states, when possible.

What is needed now is regular testing for all patients and workers in all nursing homes to see if they are infected. They are our most at risk people because of age and health problems. Testing in assisted living facilities is also strongly recommended.

Sent 4-17-20

COVID-19 Science Update for my April 3 monthly newsletter – Testing

It is so hard to believe how much has changed in a month!!
Below are good podcasts on a current hot topics
To read the April 3 newsletter plus previous updates in these free email newsletters, click here
———————–

NOTE: I have been listening to podcasts every day for a very long time. COVID-19 topics can get very technical or political. Podcasts are usually the best source of these types of explanations. News about COVID changes for GSEs etc. for appraisers is done mostly in webinars now, which I regularly review in these newsletters.I have been including some of the many appraiser webinars (2-4 a week now) for awhile. 

Today, one of the hottest topics is testing (to get virus data) as many areas are opening up or planning to loosen some shelter in place and other restrictions. Tests are needed to re-open without more deaths resulting. The tradeoff is between the economy and health (especially deaths). We don’t like to think of it this way, but it is the reality of all pandemics.

I wrote a lot about testing in my April 3 newsletter. This is the key to finding out who is infected (and who has been infected in the past).

There are two types of tests: who has the virus now and who had it and developed antibodies to the virus. From the science side, tests are hard to understand for most people and can quickly get too technical. Also, there are too many “political” issues about supply, reliability, etc.

Make Me Smart Podcast 181. We need millions of test to open this economy. So, where are they?
This is the best, most understandable non-technical explanation I have heard or read (for non-scientists). Listen to the first 15 minutes. After that there is a commercial and chit chat about other topics. This podcast is a spinoff of Marketplace, one of my favorite podcasts.
4-29-20. 15 minutes.

To read a brief intro and listen to the podcast (first 15 minutes) click here
—————————–
The Indicator Podcast: Why we didn’t prepare for the pandemic 
Not about today’s political issues, such as blaming and finger-pointing. Goes from the big volcano hundreds of years ago in Pompeii to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the early 1990s. “The reasons we don’t seem to learn from our mistakes are behavioral and economic. They’re also highly rational.”

To listen and read more , click here
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Testing in nursing homes – my personal experience
In 2004, my husband had a stroke and was in a nursing home for 6 months before I brought him home. He could not use the right side of his body. I visited 3-4 hours a day and learned a lot. They are not hospitals. There was only one nurse for the many patients in his wing of the nursing home. He was private pay in a semi-private room. Many patients were Medicaid (Medi-cal in California) with 3 patients crammed into a small room. The care at his nursing home was fine, above the typical nursing home in the area. It was owned by a groups of local physicians at that time.

Nursing homes are very risky for any infectious disease. One of the first known number of large COVID-19 infections was a nursing home in Seattle. Nurses aides are low paid. Nursing homes have very small profit margins with not much money for PPE, and each nurses aide has many patients to work with every day.

The workers have no idea who is infected and can easily spread the virus to other patients and their own family members at home. If the patients and workers were tested regularly, this could have been avoided. They are finally just starting to do tests in California and other states, when possible.

What is needed now is regular testing for all patients and workers in all nursing homes to see if they are infected. They are our most at risk people because of age and health problems. Testing in assisted living facilities is also strongly recommended.
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Sent 4-17-20

Pandemic personal tips

Contact other people
Humans are social animals. We must have contacts.
Call or email friends and relatives, including those you have not contacted for quite a while. I have been doing this. Very rewarding!
Do you have relatives or neighbors living alone, especially older people who are not going out much? Maybe a neighbor needs someone to get groceries or drop off a dinner or lunch from you? Just leave on their front porch.
Set up a lunch or dinner in your rear yard or deck. For example, your sister and brother in law on one side of the deck and you and your family on the other side. Put food in the middle using your own utensils. Works great!!
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I love zoooom!!
Very, very easy to use. Skype is still horrible, of course.
So far, I have used zoom to jam with my bandmates, have a group chat with pickleball players, do a virtual lunch for my weekly Friday lunch with a local appraiser friend. It keeps expanding every week.
If you’re worried about safety etc read “Zoom safe to use if properly configured”
To read the article, click here
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Good Basic Q and A’s from Time magazine
Topics include:
  • If I get COVID-19 and recover, am I immune and safe to be around/help out older family and neighbors?
  • I’ve been social distancing for two weeks. When is it safe for me to go see family?
  • Can my dog or cat get COVID-19?
  • How long does the COVID-19 virus survive on surfaces?
  • Is there any risk of the COVID-19 virus living on mail & packages?
To read more, click here
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YOUR GREATEST RISK IS FROM AIRBORNE PARTICLES, ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT CAN TRAVEL MUCH FARTHER THAN 6 FT. IF SOMEONE COUGHS OR SNEEZES!!
People wearing masks are everywhere now, including borrowers in their homes when someone comes inside.
You wear masks to protect other people. The non-medical masks available do not provide much protection for you.
Because of this, I strongly recommend that you require all people in the home to wear masks when you are doing an interior inspection. Take extras with you to give to them, or to the borrower coming into the home “just to let you know about the deck”, for example.
Gloves are good, but you can always sanitize your hands after the inspection.
I feel much safer during my weekly grocery shopping on Sunday mornings. I have been going to the same grocery at the same date and time for quite awhile. Two weeks ago, about 30% of employees and people had face masks. Last Sunday, almost everyone did!
Masks also have social aspects, such as “We are all in this together to defeat the coronavirus.” or “We are all keeping each other safe”. I also noticed that those who wore masks were also much more likely to keep a 6 ft. distance, before (almost) all of us started wearing masks.
For lots more info on masks, well written and understandable, click here
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Grocery stores
Remember, your greatest risk is from airborne particles!!
What to look for:
  • Go to stores where almost everyone wears a mask.
  • Use a pencil with an eraser (or your gloves) to push buttons for credit card payment. Do not use cash.
  • Go to the same store so you can move fast to find what you need quickly.
  • Go during “senior” hours with fewer people
  • Must have “sneeze guards” at checkout stand. Went to my local post office that had very small sneeze guards. The employees set up plastic sheeting, dropping from the ceiling, with holes cut in it to pay for stamps, package shipping, etc.
  • Stores that limit the number of people. My local Trader Joe’s started this the second week of our lockdown. 6 ft. markers on waiting lines.
  • Look for “one way” aisles. This is the biggest distance problem at grocery stores. Or shop at a newer store with wide aisles.
I quit going to my local 7-11 (3 blocks from my house) because it is small, often crowded, and impossible to keep 6 ft. distance. For snacks, I go to my regular gas station which has a small store, very good sneeze guard, few people in the store who keep 6 ft. distance. My usual grocery store does not have a lot of shoppers, but the aisles are about 7 ft wide so I try to move fast and go into an aisle with no one in it. Last Sunday I bought my first toilet paper since our shelter in place order 4 weeks ago – 4 rolls, so I guess that is loosening up.
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3 ft., 6 ft. or 13++ feet??
It just keeps getting wider! 3 ft. is from studies done around World War II, using volunteers, by intentionally infecting people with colds.
Excerpts: CDC bases its recommendation on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet.
No scientists are suggesting a wholesale change in behavior, or proposing that some other length for separation from another human, like seven, or nine feet, is actually the right one.
For more info and to check out the sneeze demo in the article below To read more, click here:
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I wanna get an antibody test to see if I am immune!!
They are needed to relax social distancing and to start opening up our economy. Persons who are immune can go back to work.
Yes, I know they are not reliable yet. I was very sick during the week of March 17, with bad diarrhea and a high temperature. (I very seldom have diarrhea, except doing colonoscopy prep) Maybe I had the virus and am immune.
Fortunately, here in the Bay Area, there are companies testing antibody methods. Anyone can come and get the blood tested. Essential workers exposed to sick people are given top priority. Stanford University is one of the universities.
I am fanatisizing about personal contacts visiting friends, relatives or anyone. Playing pickleball with other “immunes”. All the stuff I did before March 16. It is kinda hard to remember them…
Stanford made COVID-19 tests available for health care workers. Now, it’s considering wider distribution. To read more, click here
I live 20 miles from Stanford!!

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Sent 4-10-20

Appraiser/Educator Bryan Reynolds is recovering from COVID-19
I had a bit of a difficult time with this podcast. We like to think we’re invincible, immune, unaffected, but that’s silly. We are, at the end of the day, all vulnerable. This chat with my long time friend and partner, Bryan Reynolds, brought that realization home, in stark reality and made it tangible and personal.
People, we damn near lost Bryan. Please give this podcast a listen. I’ve posted it here, largely unedited. This podcast is the epitome of authentic.
Hal Humphreys
Partner Appraiser eLearning
My comment: Listen to this podcast!! I saw the last podcast live on March 26. Hal Humphreys was the moderator, speaking from his front yard. He said that Dave had coronavirus. I am so glad that he is recovered! To watch his webinars, go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClb6iDQvzQqj4GOiKSCp8EA
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VERY FUNNY VIDEO
The Family Lock Down Boogie
TAKE A SHORT ESCAPE FROM DOING YOUR APPRAISALS
YOU WILL SMILE! I DID… A LOT!!!
VERY CREATIVE!!
1.4 million downloads.
730 comments.
Just four regular people. Young and old.
Don’t forget to watch the fun ending!!
A few comments from viewers:
  • You really gotta appreciate the dad going along with this, as he is clearly contemplating his life decisions that led to this.
  • This is best tribute to Corona that I’ve seen! You sure brightened a lot of people’s days!
  • Whenever the news gets to be too much now, I watch this, get up, dance along, and laugh and laugh. It’s just great. Thanks!
  • My absolute favorite! I’ve watched a ton of Covid music videos but this is a standout! Great groove and choreography, makeup and wardrobe too. Great pet cameo across the bed! Well done!
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Personal health and Safety – Appraiser survey results
Are you concerned for your safety and the safety of your family when you are required to perform interior inspections. 
– No 14%
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Are you asking the borrower any questions about their potential exposure to COVID-19 before scheduling an inspection?
Yes 79% No 21%
My comment: Of course, there is no way to know unless the person has been tested and has the virus. I regularly read and get emails from appraisers who asked and the homeowner said no, but had virus symptoms. During the inspection, the owner said she had been feeling sick for a week or so. The appraiser left. The homeowner got tested. Or, the owner stayed outside but came in to tell the appraiser about the deck and stood very close to the appraiser. Just two of the many examples.
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What type of protective wear are you using during property inspections (check all that apply)
Disposable gloves 84%
Protective face masks 46%
Disposable booties 21%
Medical scrubs 0
Other 17% (specific data not supplied in survey results)
“other” may include hand sanitzers and disinfectants, for example.
My comment: None is not good. You can always use a cloth mask, bandanna, etc. and re-use disposable gloves. Or use gloves that are waterproof and wash with soap and water for 20 seconds. I use one disposable glove from my first aid kits. I use alcohol wipes, available at many stores. You can easily make your own disinfectants. It is very important to wash your hands with soap and water when you get home, which is more effective than hand sanitizers. Use hand santizers or disinfectants if you are using the gloves more than once or going to more than one property.
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Why I am opposed to doing interior inspections
I assume that myself and everyone else is infected. No one knows unless they have been tested. Even if someone says they are okay, the incubation time is 5-8 days and even then some don’t ever show symptoms. I never want to be responsible for giving a person the virus.
For appraisers, going into someone’s home is a significant health and safety risk for the appraiser, the homeowner, their family members, and anyone else they contact. It is not worth the money. Lenders hopefully will shifting to drivebys and desktops. There is considerable concern from lenders about appraisers’ health and safety.
I am not letting anyone into my home, including my long time cleaning person. (I am continuing to pay her.) A few times a week my assistant and I go to my office to get paperwork. We are not in the office at the same time as it is small and difficult to maintain 6 ft. distance. My assistant’s husband had heart surgery a few years ago. Their children and grandchildren do not go inside their house.
When my assistant comes by to drop off checks to be signed and bills to pay we speak through my glass front door. She puts the paperwork on the front steps, backs up, and I pick it up.
If still doing lender work, I would do drivebys and desktops and wait until more lenders offer them. I prefer drivebys as I did many of them back in the 80s and 90s. I don’t like desktops. I tried doing “comp checks” but was always way to far off when I did the inspection. I much prefer interior inspections as I have been doing them for 45 years. I became an appraiser because I could work in the field and didn’t like doing drivebys or desktops. I have savings I can use.
However, I am not exempt from stay at home orders as I don’t do lender work, so I don’t have the option of interior inspections or drive-bys. I can only do desktops.