It’s Probably Just an Appraiser.
So you’ve just closed escrow on your new residence in San Carlos — you’ve got all your furniture in place, unpacked most of your boxes, and are just starting to settle into the vibe of your new neighborhood. Suddenly, you see somebody pull up in front of your house, get out and take a few pictures of your home, and then get back in the car and drive away. A couple of days later, somebody else does the same thing. And so on, and so on — for a few weeks.
Sound a bit disconcerting? With all of the residential burglaries that have been happening in San Carlos lately, it’s easy for something like this to make a homeowner a little uneasy. I have gotten several phone calls about this exact situation from a couple of clients that I’ve placed recently in San Carlos. But the good news is that the people who are taking photos of your home are probably just appraisers. With the rapidly escalating market that we’ve seen in 2013, appraisers really need to have recent comparable sales to justify the home that they’re appraising. Homes that sold even 3 or 4 months ago are now outdated as comps. So the newer the home sale, the better.
But why can’t they just pull the photo of the home from the MLS? According to John Anderson, a Certified Residential Appraiser:
On ALL lender-related appraisals, appraisers are required to take exterior front photos of the comparable sales and listings selected for the subject property (even possible comps which may not eventually be used).
The only time we are excused from this (taking exterior front photos of the comps) by lenders is if people are visible in front of the home; it that is the case when we go by to take the photos, then we are required to state that as the reason why we used the MLS photo instead. Some lenders request us to return to the comp at a later time/date to take the comp photos when people are not present/visible in front of the home. The reason we can’t have people in the comp photos is because it’s a fair lending law.
The reason appraisers are required to do this (rather than use the front photos from the MLS) is to verify if there are any negative externalities (negative external influences) which would affect the value of a property, e.g., if the comps are on a busy street, or if there are electric power line pylons, if the comp is next to a gas station, backs to (or sides to, or is across the street from) apartment buildings, etc. If there are negative externalities, a positive location adjustment is made (provided the subject is not on a busy street, backs or sides to apartment buildings, etc.).
So you see, there is likely a very good explanation as to why somebody is snapping pictures of your home. But when it doubt, you can always ask them for ID and confirm that’s what they’re doing it for. Better to be safe than sorry!
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