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comp pictures

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rchsiao

Thread Starter
Freshman Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2002
Hi,

I'm curious about what is the most common/typical way to get comp pictures for appraisal reports. Are pictures (usually with a for sale sign) from MLS acceptable? I found some owners don't like you to take pictures of their property and you don't know until you get there. What do you usually do if owner ask you to go away or ask you not to take pictures. Go back to find other suitable comps? Put MLS picture (if available) on the report? No picture for that comp? Any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Best Regards,
Raymond in Campbell, CA
 

Ben Vukicevich SRA

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
New Jersey
Raymond,

This is the stealth part of the appraisal business. The trick is never get caught or let the owner of the comp know you're around.

When I used 35mm film, I had a telephoto zoom lens for just that purpose-I could sit a block away and still shoot the home without the owner seeing me, if he was in the yard. My digital camera also has a zoom lens for the same purpose-just sit a block away and shoot the comp photo. Nobody is the wiser.

Of course, if you don't have a zoom lens, you could always learn the appraiser's trick-don't stop the car, don't slow down at all. Always shoot your comp photo as you come-up to the house or as you leave. Basically, don't shoot the photo as you go by the home because it will be a blurr. Try it sometime. As you drive toward the comp, the home will always be in focus and as you drive away and look back and it will be in focus. Works great for those homeowners who are in the yard-they just think you're passing traffic and they don't have a clue because the car never slows down. We all know that once you stop or slow down, all the neighborhood eyes focus on us......and as soon as the camera comes up to the window level, you're in trouble.

After I get the photo, I usually turn-around down the street and drive-by again to get the exterior description of the comp.

Another idea is to take whatever photo you can of the comp, place it in the report along with a nice clear copy of the MLS photo and state next to the lousy/blurry photo you took, something like "Owner in yard-clear comp photo not possible-see attached clear MLS photo." Works for me as we're not supposed to have anybody in the photos-it's that red lining thingee that the Feds frown upon. Since you've driven by the comps, your mission is complete for FHA/VA/FNMA/FHLMC. The comp photos are only for the underwriter to see if your mission was acceptable.

Remember, you can take a photo of anything you want as long as you're on public property (the street). The cops can't stop you nor can the property owner. They may grumble alot but too bad. My kids have the "My dad's an appraiser" answer down pat when the cops call my house looking for me because somebody complained about me taking a photo of their home and turned-in my license plate number. The cops just go away after that response-seems they know about us house photo "perverts."

Ben
 

TC

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Pennsylvania
I agree with Ben on this one, always shoot the photo driving away from the property. I have been pulled over twice by the police and once by an irate Mom who thought I was scoping her children. I have a telephoto that allows me to be a good distance away, but sometimes you have to be aggressive.

tc
 

Farm Gal

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Nebraska
Gee Ben:
You aren't sneaky enough!

I usually have a handy map in the passenger seat... Stop and peer out the window at the number on the front of the house ACROSS THE STREET from your subject... Fumble with the map and look around again... wait til the happy homeowner is looking the other way, then bring up the camera from your lap shoot the pic. Now if they come over to 'help' you have a score for sure! Pull forward and shoot it when they are out of the frame on their way back across the street!

Don't cha love how every garage dor on the street is always down - except for your comp???

R: taking a photo of a house from a public street is not a crime. The homeowner can Not like it as much as they want...

If cornered, I generally start out by asking if they got a loan when they bought their house... and inform them someone took pictures of other houses to facilitate their loan.

I have aslo informed folks that I AM going to take a pic and if they don't wnt to be in it to move!

Lee Ann
 

TDK

Freshman Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
This is really only a problem for me when I'm in a "rough" neighborhood...can be scary sometimes. However, a homeowner should realize that you are on a public street and it is not a crime to photo someone's home, whether they like it or not. More often that not, though, when a homeowner has come out and I explain what I'm doing, they understand, and what's even better, I ask them about the home....what kind of condition was it REALLY in when they bought it, was there furniture inside, etc. Once, when a homeowner said they didn't want me to take the picture, I was in a snooty mood, had a few days to get the report done, and I replied that "fine...I'll just come by later when you're not around..." hopefully illuminating them to the fact that they are being ridiculous by not letting me take a photo. Under the current circumstances (heightened alertness amongst all Americans) I have decided that the best approach would be to invest in a door magnet displaying/advertising my company and profession, thereby giving the professional image that I'm not some spy or terrorist and perhaps alleviating their unfounded fears....

I do like the stealth tacticts described by Ben though....very creative and worthy of a shot.
 

Dee Dee

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
Only once have I had a homeowner come tearing out the door with a shotgun in his hand. I decided that, rather than explain why I was taking a photo, I'd better floor it. :eek:
Ever notice how that one little old lady on the street always seems to notice and zoom in on you, no matter how innocent you try to look?
Once I even had a homeowner who saw me drive by, then he hid behind a bush to see what I would do. I flipped a U-turn down the block, came back and saw him hit the bushes again, just watching me. I decided that I would stop and tell him that I needed a photo of his house for a comp (I HAD to get this particular house, and didn't have time to go back later). Turned out that the guy had seen many appraisers taking shots of his house, and somehow in his paranoid mind had thought that it was some ring of thieves casing his house or people trying to steal his adorable little kids. The man actually thanked me for filling him in and it was obvious he was relieved to know the truth.
 

Claude From NY

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
I used to stop in front of the comp, take notes and the photo and then go on my merry way. But one nice day in the suburbs change all that. After driving away from a comp I got cornered by a nut job driving a Corvette who, soaking wet and dressed in a bathrobe came after me with a bat. The fat head grabbed my camera and ripped out the film. "Next time I ain't gonna be so nice F*@% face".

Now I subscribe to the Ben. V. method of taking photos. I like to call it "drive by shooting". :wink:
 

Ben Vukicevich SRA

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
New Jersey
Claude,

Hey, watch it. I have a vette. I don't have a bathrobe though......... I got to get one of them :lol:

Seriously though, the way you handle the ballistic nuts is to put them on the defense as soon as possible. When they come after me, I start taking photos of them as they're walking up to the car. That really puts them off balance cause they don't know what the hell is going on then.

That way, I have photo evidence if anything happens-I also enjoy bugging the hell out of them watching their reaction as the camera's pointing at them. No, they don't get the camera, nor the disk. I do encourage them to call the police and take my tag number. Then I drive off into the sunset but not in the vette, it draws too much attention for a comp photo "shooter."

Plus, my success secret is, I'm 6'2" and 220lbs so I have very few problems.......when confronted.

Ben
 

Jim Bartley

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Virginia
If the owner is visible in the yard/garage, I stop and politley ask if I can take a picture of their home. I've only been refused once in 14+ years and that was a rural property. If there are small children in the yard, I stop and knock on the door to ask permission. With all the crazies around you can't blame someone for getting upset if a stranger pulls up and snaps pictures. Its just common curtesy.
 

Les Brant

Freshman Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2002
Do not use the words "The Cops CAN'T stop you". Was out shooting comps an a nice day in my wifes '66 Mustang. Next thing I know there are blue lights and sirens. Pulled over and an irate deputy is demanding my llicense and registration, THen he very nastily wants to know what I am doing driving around taking pictures. First I tell him to put the safety strap back on his holstered weapon and then after that we will talk. Took a couple or three minutes to explain. He tries to tell me that I have to have permission to take photos. He was wrong of course, but he told me he would check it and me out. Wished him a nice day and went on my way.

Les in Sunny, but a little cool, Coastal (N)Carolina
 
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