Realtor magazine published an article about whether or not listing photos should stay online after the home has sold. Some homeowners have privacy and safety concerns over these photos being available.
From the point of view of an appraiser though, it sure is handy to have those photos. Years ago, when I was just starting as an appraiser, we would have to spend hours going through sales books and driving around taking pictures to get an appraisal done. Rarely, would we ever have interior photos. We had to rely on the agent to give us information about the condition.
That’s the way it used to be. Today we often rely on interior photos of the comps (as well as real estate agent interviews), to describe the condition. Of course, those pictures are a small piece of the wh
ole appraisal, but they are worth 1,000 words. Interior photos let you virtually walk through the house. Sure, I’ll still drive by and take a picture, but I’m not going to be on the inside of that property.
In the first paragraph of the article, Realtor magazine indicated that some homeowners expressed concern that photos of their properties continue to live on real estate websites after they’ve closed on the purchase, and they’re asking real estate professionals to help them take them down, citing privacy and security issues. The magazine wasn’t advocating for leaving or removing the photos, they just wanted to get the discussion going.
Real estate companies, including appraisers, like to see the photos and use them as comparables. Afterall, it is so important that appraisers understand what actually was sold, because that’s the data that they use to value new real estate. Does what the sales agent described as “close to shopping” really mean that Walmart is your neighbor? Photos can quickly tell a lot about a property. Can you imagine just having the written data and no pictures, other than maybe the exterior photo?
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 480