Curious about what items an appraiser takes pictures of?
As a result of the recession that occurred around 2007, and the impact on the real estate market, appraisal requirements have increased significantly. One of these requirements is an increase in the documentation appraisers are required to include in their appraisal reports.
Photographs are an important part of that documentation and a requirement that the lender has expanded over the years. It use to be that appraisers would only need to include pictures of the front and back of the property as well as street scenes, but now this has expanded to include much more. A comment on a previous post I wrote about why appraisers take pictures of every room in the house prompted me to explain a little further about what items an appraiser takes pictures of.
Today we’re going to discuss what photos the appraiser includes in the report, either as a requirement of the lender’s underwriting guidelines or as supporting documentation and support for the appraiser’s final opinion of value.
So what exactly does the appraiser take pictures of?
Any item that adds to or takes away from the value of your home is fair game to have its picture taken. The items an appraiser takes pictures of can vary from things within the house and outside of the house to things that are located next to your house. Let’s take a look at what I’m talking about.
- Description of improvements
Appraisers take pictures of the various rooms in a house as a way to describe the property being appraised. Pictures can give the readers of the appraisal report, such as loan underwriters, a better understanding of what the various rooms in the house look like including their condition. Pictures, in conjunction with the floor plan sketch, helps to provide a more complete description of the improvements and provide support for the final opinion of value.
- Special Features
If a home has special features such as a built in entertainment center or detailed crown moldings this can add value. Including pictures of these special features is the best way to document them and support conclusions that you arrive at within the report. Pictures can also help add support for quality adjustments between the subject and sales and can add credibility to the appraisal report.
- Deferred Maintenance
Most appraisals are made with the property in “as is” condition and including pictures of items that require repair will paint a better picture of the property. Appraisers reconcile the final value of the home after making adjustments to the sales used in the report. The final value typically lies within this range and including pictures of where the home may need repairs can add support to the part of the value range that was reconciled. The more complete an appraisal is with written documentation and photographs the stronger it is.
- Attic and crawlspace
Appraisers who perform FHA appraisals are required to perform at a minimum a head and shoulders inspection of both the attic and crawlspace. To prove this was done the appraisal must contain pictures of the attic and crawlspace. These pictures can show potential problems like prior fire damage in the attic or settlement cracks in the basement.
- External Factors
External factors include things outside of the boundaries of the subject property. An example of this would be a property located adjacent to a factory that produced noxious odors that would have a negative effect on the marketability of the property. Including pictures of the factory helps to inform and educate readers of the report so they understand why the appraiser came up with the value they did.
- Updates, renovations, or remodeling
Have you spent thousands of dollars on updates, renovations, or remodeling? If you want credit for it then you’ll probably be gung ho for the appraiser to take as many pictures as they want to add support to their final opinion of value in the appraisal report. Maybe the appraiser needs to make a larger than normal adjustment for an awesome renovated kitchen. Adding pictures can help the reader of the report understand why this was done.
When the appraiser takes pictures of your house it is because they are collecting evidence to support the final opinion of value they arrive at for the bank, or to support a value to set a list price as is done with a pre-listing appraisal. Don’t think of it as an intrusion of privacy since no one except for the lender and/or owner see the report. The more value related features your home has, either in a positive or negative way, the more pictures will probably be taken.
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