Let’s talk about comp photos, and what they really are. If I were to ask you, “Does Fannie Mae require comp photos,” you would probably respond, “Yes.” And you would be dead wrong. If you take a look at the Fannie Mae certification, they require you to drive the comps and the neighborhood, but they do not require you to take photos. Think I am wrong? Pull up a 1004 and reread what you thought you knew so well. It is not there like you think it is. So where did this “requirement” come from? It is a client specific requirement and it comes from a place of trust (or lack thereof).
But trust from whom? Trust from our clients. It’s not enough anymore to just say that we’ve driven through a neighborhood. Our clients now want proof that we were there. Why? Because we as appraisers have lost our clients’ trust in their minds. This is a sad state of affairs. The fact is, USPAP only requires that the appraiser do his/her job and takes responsibility for that job. It is up to us to decide if comp photos are required for the job in front of us – not the client. Now, I am aware that clients often ask us to take “real-time photos” of the comps (or the street if we cannot get a clear shot of the home), and I do when I take on an assignment such as this. But, it is sad the clients cannot trust us to make those decisions.
The good news is, trust is a living, changeable thing. Trust can be regained. If we want our clients to trust us, we must be trustworthy. We must live and work with integrity, follow through on our commitments, and prove that we are worthy of our clients’ trust. Trust can be difficult to regain, but it makes all the difference!
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: