First, before the hate mail starts rolling in, let me assure you that I understand the requirements surrounding comparable photos, and I do take them as an appraiser. I am not here to debate what the policies are, but I am here to question if those policies should be in place. I personally do not think that appraisers should be required to take comp photos.
Modern technology has provided appraisers with a way to know as much about a property from the comfort of their own desk as they likely would be able to learn from a drive-by. Oftentimes, appraisers are able to learn more with technology then they would be able to by personally visiting the property. Satellite and Google Maps sometimes allow you to view the property in a more intimate way than you might be able to from a drive-by. For example, you are able to see behind the house and get a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area. You can’t do that from the road. I work a very rural area where often the home is located down in long, private driveway. Additionally, MLS and county information will give more insight into the property than driving past the front of it ever will.
Technology has made the need for appraisers to take comp photos virtually obsolete. I have heard the arguments that as soon as comp photos are no longer required, the appraiser will have nothing to do, but I simply disagree. Our time should be spent doing analysis, not driving around in our cars. I understand if you want to have a policy in your personal appraisal office where the appraiser is required to take a photo of all comparables, but I do not think it should be required from the clients nationwide. It is simply a huge waste of time for busy appraisers.
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 230 Can We Stop Taking Comp Photos Already?