Covid 19 Coronavirus and Real Estate Appraisers

By nature, I am an optimist.  I can’t help it. Try as I might, I cannot seem to be a “glass-half-empty” kind of guy.  Even in times of challenge and unknowns, I tend to look at the bright side. Some might believe that is akin to putting your head in the sand, but being an optimist does not mean you can’t be a realist as well.  I am both. With the current environment regarding Covid 19 (aka Coronavirus), many of my appraiser-friends have reached out to me for my opinions, advice, and predictions.  

Let me begin with the obvious; no one knows the eventual impact Coronavirus will have on health, the economy, or our profession.  No one knows how significant this will be or how long this will last. That is the only truth we have. Many are looking to past events to predict the current impact (as appraisers, we are good at that), but the truth is; there is nothing to compare this with.  

As of this writing, much is changing (even by the hour).  What was an annoyance and funny memes on social media just a few days ago has turned more serious.  What used to be suggestions for social distancing, has been made more a requirement. Thus, like an effective date of an appraisal, this blog is an attempt to capture a snapshot of the current environment and POSSIBLE (I emphasize that word because I am not a prophet), future impact of the current health crises.  

You can say all you want about the disease itself and whether or not this has been overblown, but the truth is, this is a thing and this thing is affecting lives; among those – appraisers.  

The advice you are getting on the news (and other places) is prudent.  Do not shake hands. Wash your hands often with warm water and an antibacterial soap.  Avoid touching your face. Though masks might not keep you from getting the virus, wearing one (if available without impacting medical services) in the houses we inspect (as well as gloves and shoe booties) can help slow the spread.  Use hand-sanitizer and wiped down your equipment with wipes when you are done with each observation. These measures were taught to you by your mommas and are simply good advice. Heed them.  

You may consider a few items of information in your scheduling call or text.  Ask them to open doors and turn on lights for you. If you need to see the attic or crawlspace, request those areas be open and ladders already set up.  The less you can touch surfaces that can harbor germs, the better. Most importantly, trust your gut. If you do not believe it is safe to enter a property – DON’T.  No appraisal fee is worth putting you, your family, or the occupants at risk.  

I call upon Fannie, Freddie, and the big banks (some have already done so) to consider relaxing some of their inspection requirements for a time.  Drive by’s, home-owner interviews, video tours provided by the point of contact (along with some extraordinary assumptions in our reports) can be very effective in data collection.  For those of you who are worried about what impact that might have on our industry long-term, I would encourage you to have more of a positive outlook. These are easy, and prudent and TEMPORARY measures that can go a long way in producing credible appraisal reports while also protecting appraisers and those they come in contact with. 

If you have a brick and mortar office, consider working from home and allowing your employees/contractors to do the same thing.  Remote desktop, VoIP, and other technology is amazing and can help all of us with social distancing.  

How will this affect the mortgage economy?  Again, impossible to say, but I believe a recession is likely the least that will happen.  The real estate market in most areas has been climbing for years now (some say at unsustainable rates) and historically, like anything else, markets tend to be cyclical in nature.  Many appraisers are busy right now (due to historic low rates), but that will likely not last. Begin now (if you have not already) to prepare for a slowdown in regular mortgage appraisal business.  That might mean an increase in other areas such as foreclosure work (like we saw after the 2008 crash) and it might mean something completely different for you. What you do not want to do is wait to prepare.  Begin now to grow your other business opportunities.

Some have inquired on the impact this might have on values and whether or not our reports should begin reflecting that.  As with anything, the answer to that question can only be answered by you in your specific market. I would not personally make predictions as to how the market might be affected until it is affected, but I would be vigilant in watching the local markets and if the statistics begin to start to show an impact, I would not hesitate to report on those.  The market is not coy, and numbers don’t lie. People rely on us and trust us to know and report accurately on the market. We should not let them down.  

Most of all, keep your spirits up.  It is easy to get involved in the media (social and otherwise) fear and trepidation.  It is more prudent to remember the phrase, ‘fear is a great motivator, but a poor decision maker.’  Be aware. Plan ahead. Be prudent. Be positive, and let’s take this one day at a time. Let’s come together as appraisers to assist one another. This too shall pass, and the wise will continue to prosper. 

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Wed, March 25th at 8:30am Mountain Time Zone
The Future of Appraising & COVID-19
Practical Ways to Survive During This Crisis


For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 523 Covid19 and It’s Affect On Appraisers

12 Comments on “Covid 19 Coronavirus and Real Estate Appraisers”

  1. Pingback: Covid 19 Coronavirus and Real Estate Appraisers - Appraisal Buzz

  2. Also, we have implemented a policy where we are asking property contacts to have all lights on, doors open, and to leave the house during our inspection. Having no contact with people at inspections should really limit risk.

  3. Appraisers and notaries are one of the only parties to a mortgage finance transaction that have contact with the borrower. The MBA should create new guidelines to limit exposure. Borrowers should be just as wary as appraisers about spreading the virus. IMO, the risk far outweighs the reward. I would hope that lenders are concerned about the health of appraisers and their borrowers and relax the rules on interior inspections. I am one appraiser that is going to sit this one out for a while.

  4. While the rest of the country is practicing social distancing we just go about our inspections, no word from lenders except Citibank I understand it’s a business decision, but come on really go into a strangers home, allow a stranger into your home oh so open the doors and turn on the lights don’t touch me I will not touch you no surfaces too. Come on.

    No loyalty no direction just bang out those reports, sad sad sad

  5. You guys right. Please VA appraisers in San Diego County put yourself on vacation for the next 3 months, or 12 months if your really scared, hell why don’t you just retire so I can bump my weekly acceptance from 8 to 14 assignment. Bill Johnson, always thinking of others first.

    Seek the truth and go make up a value.

  6. Having trouble finding hand sanitizer? Pick up some Everclear 190-proof at your liquor store and some Aloe Vera at the drug store. Mix 3 parts of Everclear with 1 of Aloe Vera, add a splash of hydrogen peroxide (1 T per cup of Everclear), and you have a 70% alcohol hand sanitizer which will not irritate your hands. If you have some essential oil (sandlewood, rose oil, or the like,) you may wish to add about 10 drops per cup of Everclear to mask any residual alcohol smell.

  7. Appreciate your “call on Fannie, Freddie, and the big banks (some have already done so) to consider relaxing some of their inspection requirements for a time. Drive by’s, home-owner interviews, video tours provided by the point of contact (along with some extraordinary assumptions in our reports) can be very effective in data collection….These are easy, and prudent and TEMPORARY measures that can go a long way in producing credible appraisal reports while also protecting appraisers and those they come in contact with.”

    I would like to reach out to them on this request. Will you please guide those of us who want to proactively call on these leaders to ask for protection of appraisers as well as borrowers?

    1. Sounds good Jodi, until you realize that at half the pay, you’ll need to do twice as many to stay a float. Would most likely become the standard if approved temporary, and the appraiser would again get screwed.

      Seek the truth.

  8. Hello, I am an RN, former loan officer, and Realtor, I emphasize with each and every comment. I am currently collaborating with a seasoned appraiser in Florida and assessing a way to safely do interior inspections. Through this assessment period I have considered the risk to the individual appraiser, occupant of the property, and the possibility of cross contamination. Covid-19 is by far highly contagious, by both droplet and airborne transmissions. The droplets can be detected 72 hours later on hard surfaces, just think…. you go to a property, take your pictures, leave wash your hands, ect. But, the shoes you wore where not covered, the occupant had just finished coughing and then opened the door, and you walked right through that unseen cough cloud that was sitting in the living room, and now you take whatever droplets stuck to your shoes on to the next property. Nobody wants to be the Vector, I highly suggest to ask screening questions when you set the appointments and then call again 24 hrs prior, where a mask, gloves, and put the shoe covers on at the thresholds, gave the doors open and lights on, and when you leave take the shoe covers off prior to getting in your car, place hem in sealed bag or container, take your gloves off, sealed container, mask off, paper bag, then wash hands. It’s a lot but with habit it can be done, again don’t be the Vector. I personal feel they should relax the guidelines for now. Go to drive-bys. The cleanest house does not wipe floors down daily.

  9. I am going to exterior only inspections after I finish my inspections today. For the past week, or so when I schedule the inspection, I have been asking if anyone is or has been sick, then I ask again before I enter the home but all changed yesterday. This young man told me both times that all was good but as we proceeded to complete the interior inspection the truth came out that he had been sick a week ago with flu-like symptoms. So I calmly went about finishing the inspection and left but why should I put myself or my family at risk because this young man was too greedy to care about anyone but himself or the loan that he so desperately needed for his business?

  10. Since we are 1099 business where can we apply for assistance or should we expect the $1200 check in the mail.

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