Last month, I wrote an article about taking drive-by and comp pictures. The comment boards lit up. Most appraisers agreed with me (for a change), but many did not. I read every comment and have spent some time thinking about the insights and opinions of so many appraisers. The question that keeps haunting me is, “why?” Why are pictures required in the first place? I think there are two, equal answers. One has to do with clarity, and the other has to do with trust.
USPAP requires that we are not misleading in our appraisal reporting. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Pictures can do much to assist us as appraisers in being more clear about what we are trying to say. To say that the subject is similar in quality to comparable 3 is one thing. To show a picture of comparable 3 juxtaposed to the photo of the subject is quite another.Unfortunately for most of our clients, the photo requirements are not so much about clarity, however. Rather, they are becoming more and more about trust. It is no longer enough to say the water and electricity were working at the time of the inspection. AMCs are often requiring photos of the light burning and the water running. It is not enough to report that you inspected the correct home. You are increasingly being told to take a photo of the address numbers. You cannot just state in the report that you drove past all of the comparables. You must take a photo of each one to prove you were really there.
In many ways, I am afraid our clients (and society as a whole) has forgotten the importance of integrity. To not be trusted is a degrading feeling. Can you imagine a friend sharing stories of their recent trip to France and you interrupting them to request that they show you pictures of the Eifel tower to prove that they were actually in Paris? Disrespectful and degrading.
I will concede that some appraisers are not worthy of the respect the rest of us demand. They have cut corners and been less than honest about certain things. Those appraisers should be cut off. Their dishonesty should not spoil things for the rest of us. If an appraiser says the electricity is on, it is on. If an appraiser certifies that they have driven to each comparable, they have. We are professionals and should be treated with the same respect and trust that other professionals are afforded.