On March 16th, 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-20-7 which includes guidance for appraisers regarding COVID-19.
Many government entities have advised that all non-essential businesses should close at this time, in order to avoid spreading the virus. Large numbers of appraisers have been asking, “Are we essential or non-essential?” For purposes of VA, appraisers are essential and should continue to work.
Circular 26-20-7 states, “Appraisers should continue to conduct business as outlined in Chapter 10 of the M26-7, Lender’s Handbook…”
This applies only to VA appraisals, but as of this writing it is the most definitive guidance that has been issued by any mortgage guarantor, insurer, or purchaser.
The circular advises that appraisers who have appointments scheduled and answer “yes” to any of the following questions should contact the Regional Loan Center (RLC) or the point of contact to determine whether the appointment should be rescheduled or the appraisal reassigned.
- Are you having flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
- In the last 14 days, have you traveled to a high-risk area for transmission of COVID-19?
- Have you been in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 or who is being evaluated for COVID-19?
While onsite, appraisers are advised to take the following precautions:
- Before and after exiting the home, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid close contact with individuals who may be present in the home; no handshakes or fist bumps.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and immediately clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Of course, appraisers are the guardians of their own health and welfare. If an appraiser does not feel it is safe to continue inspecting properties, that is the appraiser’s personal prerogative. Each appraiser must decide for himself or herself the level of risk they are willing to assume.
Circular 26-20-7 can be accessed from this page on the VA’s website: https://www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/resources_circulars.asp
Written by Dan Bradley. Daniel A. Bradley, SRA, CDEI is the Director of Online Appraisal Curriculum for McKissock Learning. He has been a practicing real property appraiser since 1987, and has been instructing and authoring appraisal courses since 1992. He is a state certified general appraiser in Pennsylvania and is currently on the FHA appraiser roster. From 2004 to 2013, Dan was a member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers, serving for five years as vice-chairman and three years as chairman. He has also has served as a contracted expert witness appraisal reviewer for the Pennsylvania Department of State.
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