During these unprecedented times of the spread of COVID-19, social distancing has become the new norm and businesses have turned to remote working. But what happens to processes like appraisals which involve in-house evaluations? In a recent webinar hosted by the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals, leadership from the National Appraisal Network (NAN) explained in-depth the impact of COVID-19 on appraisals.
First and foremost, all appraisals nationwide should start traditionally. In the case that a traditional appraisal is not possible, due to a lock-down or a homeowner not wanting anyone in the home, Fannie, Freddie, HUD, USDA, and others are offering alternative appraisals. Alternative appraisals can either be a desktop appraisal or an exterior-appraisal only.
Through these methods, appraisers rely on information from interested parties, such as borrowers, realtors and other property contacts. The element of measuring and sketches is removed entirely, and extraordinary assumptions are made on condition, quality, deferred maintenance, etc. Appraisers are also using creative techniques such as interviewing homeowners, asking homeowners for photos, or doing video walkthroughs.
Flexibility in these times remain key, and NAN anticipates more challenges before improvements. It is also important to note that appraisal practices vary by state. For instance, New York prohibited appraisals on March 22nd in their stay-at-home order, yet recently reversed the decision stating residential appraisals are essential. Appraisal practices also likely will vary by loan type. For example, an agency lender might be willing to accept an exterior-appraisal if authorized to do so by Fannie or Freddie. Non-agency lenders, on the other hand, may not enjoy the same flexibility to accept something other than a complete internal appraisal, if that is what the rating agencies and bond markets require.
Currently, NAN assures us that alternative appraisal turn times align with traditional appraisals, if not faster. For updates on turn times and state laws, we encourage you to visit Nationwide-Appraisal.com/Covid-19.