Why do appraisers take pictures of my home?



(photo courtesy of pixabay)

I thought it would be interesting to see what others are searching for when it comes to appraisers.  I found it surprising that the number one google search was "Why do appraisers take pictures?" 
Since this was the number one search on Google, I thought it would be good to share why it is that appraisers will take pictures of your home.  Perhaps it feels like an invasion of your privacy to have someone coming into to every room of your house and taking pictures.  We can understand that but please know that we are not secret spies trying to glean information about you or document the contents of your home. Here are some reasons why appraisers will take pictures of your home- 

Lender requirement:  The number one reason that appraisers take pictures of your home is that they are required to do so.  If your appraisal is for a loan either a refinance or a purchase, the lender will have requirements of the appraiser to take pictures.   Here are the actual guidelines from Fannie Mae and from FHA:


At a minimum, the report must include photographs of the following:
  • the kitchen;
  • all bathrooms;
  • main living area;
  • examples of physical deterioration, if present; and
  • examples of recent updates, such as restoration, remodeling, and renovation, if present.
Note: Interior photographs on proposed or under construction properties may be taken by the appraiser at the time of the inspection for the Certification of Completion, and provided with the Form 1004D.

Minimum Photograph Requirement
Subject Property Exterior
 Front and rear at opposite angles to show all sides of the dwelling
 Improvements with Contributory Value not captured in the front or rear photograph
 Street scene photograph to include a portion of the subject site
 For New Construction, include photographs that depict the subject’s grade and drainage
 For Proposed Construction, a photograph that shows the grade of the vacant lot
Subject Property Interior
 Kitchen, main living area, bathrooms, bedrooms
 Any other rooms representing overall condition
 Basement, attic, and crawl space
 Recent updates, such as restoration, remodeling and renovation
 For two- to four-unit Properties, also include photographs of hallways, foyers, laundry rooms and other common areas
Comparable Sales, Listings, Pending Sales, Rentals, etc.
 Front view of each comparable utilized
 Photographs taken at an angle to depict both the front and the side when possible
 Multiple Listing Service (MLS) photographs are acceptable to exhibit comparable condition at the time of sale. However, Appraisers must include their own photographs as well, to document compliance
Subject Property Deficiencies
 Photographs of the deficiency or condition requiring inspection or repair
Condominium Projects
 Additional photographs of the common areas and shared amenities of the Condominium Project

Lenders will also have their own additional requirements.  Many require a photo of every room as well as front, side, and rear exterior photos.  If a property has additional features such as a barn, workshop, pool, etc, many lenders will require photos of those features as well.

 Documentation
Appraisers will document what they have observed.  If there was any type of question about the appraisal there is documentation of what the appraiser reported.  For instance, if there was a question about the condition of a property this is a great way to document the condition at the time of the observation. If your property has been significantly updated compared to many homes in your neighborhood, the photographs help document this.  Sometimes the details written out in an appraisal report cannot accurately depict the extent to which a home has been updated so the photographs really will help demonstrate the condition of your home accurately.

 Aid the appraiser
The appraiser may observe more than one property in a day.  It can be hard to remember everything about a property and the photographs will help him/her to recall the property most accurately when back at the office typing up the report.  We take more pictures than we put into our reports in order to help us recall relevant information or document what we have reported.

 We are not documenting the contents of your home
Please know that we are not there to document the contents of your home.  Appraisers are trained to look beyond the furnishings and decor and look at the home as if it was vacant.  We are looking at the type of flooring, type of walls, doors, ceiling fans, type of fixtures, which appliances are present and what type are they, type of cabinetry, countertops and what the condition of those items are in.  So it does help if you tidy up your home to help us see these things but please don't cancel the inspection until you are able to have everything ready like a showroom.  For more information about this read -Do I need to clean my house before the appraiser comes?.

Comparable photographs
(photo courtesy of pixabay)

Appraisers are also required to take photographs of the comparable sales used in the report.  If your home recently sold, don't be surprised if you see someone slowdown in front of your home and snap a picture.  Again, we are not trying to invade your privacy but fulfill the requirements of the lender.  Read - Why do I feel like somebody's watching me?

Take Away- Appraisers are not trying to invade your privacy when we come to your home, take pictures and write down information.  Please know that we are meeting requirements for the lender.  We are documenting what we observe so that we can provide the best quality appraisal.  We are really looking past your contents and looking at the house as if it were vacant.  We do our best to keep personal identifying information or items out of the photographs to assist in your privacy.

We hope this helps in answering the question of why appraisers take pictures of your home.  As always, if you have questions about appraising or need real estate appraisal services please feel free to contact us at www.dwslaterco.com or comment on this blog.

Helpful Resources:

4 reasons why appraisers take interior photos - Sacramento Appraisal Blog
Why does the appraiser have to take pictures of every room in my house? - Birmingham Appraisal Blog
Fannie Mae Selling Guide- Fannie Mae
FHA Handbook 4000.1 - HUD.GOV




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