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Value Connect's Response to COVID-19 (Updated March 27)

MARCH 27, 16:30 ET Stakeholder Update:

Several new cities across Canada have declared a state of emergency as new COVID-19 cases emerge.

Value Connect is providing appraisal services across Canada. Turnaround times are consistent with earlier this week. There remains a lot of miscommunication about what appraisers can and cannot do, although nothing has changed since March 25.

Several lenders have adopted our Modified Full-Inspection appraisal report.

MARCH 25, 8:00 ET  With COVID-19 spreading around the globe, we feel it's important to keep all of our stakeholders up-to-date on how it's affecting lenders, mortgage brokers & specialists, and appraisers. PLEASE CHECK THIS PAGE FOR REGULAR UPDATES

There is a lot of miscommunication about what appraisers can and cannot do, and the record needs to be set straight.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Appraisers have NOT been advised by their associations to cease completing full appraisal reports. They have not been told that they aren't allowed to go into a property. They've been asked to follow guidance from public health authorities.
  • Appraisers can complete fully compliant appraisal reports that do not require an inspection. Drive-by reports fall into this category. Our experience with reports without physical inspections is they generally come in at lower values because the appraiser can't assume anything better than average condition of the interior.
  • Some innovative appraisers are completing what I call a "Modified Full-Inspection Report" which include a visit to the property, exterior photos taken by the appraiser, a visual inspection of the interior completed by looking through windows (standing on the ground), and a phone interview with the borrower or listing agent. Appraisers obtain current interior photos from borrowers and listing agents. This will likely yield a more accurate valuation than a drive-by.
  • AVM models aren't well suited for markets where values decrease, which makes having experienced appraisers in your corner a must. I had an interesting conversation with a lender recently who said "There's no way those AVMs were built to account for a pandemic."

For an example of what associations are telling members, please see the Appraisal Institute of Canada's recent update: CLICK HERE for more information.

So this leaves lenders in a quandary because many appraisers refuse to complete full inspection reports citing health and safety concerns. If you require a full report you may experience delays of up to two weeks. If you accept a drive-by report instead, you may not get the value you want and your deal is dead. It's a fine line.

Value Connect is still offering full reports via our network of professional, dedicated appraisers. Please call me if you'd like to set us up as an approved  supplier for your organization. As an essential service, we're working to keep your business moving ahead.

One last thing: We respect an appraiser's decision when they turn down deals because of safety concerns, as we're sure you do too. We'll get through this and come out the other side stronger and better equipped for the next challenge. Let's keep the lines of communication open.

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FROM MARCH 23

Our commitment is to the safety of all stakeholders and their customers.

Some provincial governments have announced upcoming mandatory closures of non-essential services. The list of affected businesses has not been communicated at this time. We will post updates to this article and on social media as the list of affected businesses and other updates are announced.

Appraisers

The appraiser industry is important to the mortgage lending process, with millions of appraisal reports being completed for lenders in North America annually. Recommendations from several appraisal governing bodies include the following:

  • Appraisers complete "full inspection" reports without going into the property. There are acceptable methods of completing reports that include the reliance on 3rd party data to meet association compliance requirements. These reports qualify for E&O coverage that extends to lenders.
  • Modified full-inspection reports can include interior pictures taken from outside through windows. Appraisers can conduct phone interviews with borrowers or listing agents and obtain interior photos from them. They'll indicate this in reports. (Some lenders accepting this strategy.)
  • The Appraisal Institute of Canada made the following recommendations to members today: CLICK HERE
  • CNAREA's position can be found here: CLICK HERE
  • The Appraisal Institute made the following statement: CLICK HERE

Brokers & Mortgage Specialists

Mortgage sales staff and brokers need to be aware of their specific lender's appraisal requirements. For example, some lenders currently do not accept modified full-inspection appraisal reports unless an exception was requested and approved before the report was ordered.

A large segment of appraisers are ages 60+ and as such are more susceptible to serious illness and fatalities if they acquire COVID-19. This group was, by and large, the first group of appraisers to decline full-inspection assignments. Announcements from public health authorities suggest people practice social distancing. This has lead many appraisers to recommend modified full-inspection appraisals or drive-by reports.

Expect delays in receiving reports if you require a full inspection appraisal. Today we see 6-10 business day turnarounds. By the end of the week this figure may reach 10-15 days depending on the region. Today, drive-by and modified inspection appraisal reports are being done in 3-5 days.

Set reasonable expectations with your clients.

Lenders

It is important to make use of all the tools in your appraiser partners' kit. This means "coming around" to the idea of a modified full-inspection appraisal report. A drive-by appraisal may be sufficient in many cases too. For example, on Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratios of less than 60%, a drive-by or modified full-inspection may meet your needs. You may even supplement the report with an automated valuation from an additional 1-2 sources.

Other factors that may weigh into your decision are credit scores, time at job, and mortgage amount. The point is this: taking time to identify possible policies that will allow your teams to work with consistency and prudence will keep the wheels of commerce flowing and help your stakeholders move ahead with confidence.

Final Thoughts

It's amazing how creative we get when backed up against a wall. My Kiwanis Club has met for lunch every Thursday for 100 years until last week. We chose to meet on-line instead of in-person. I was a little nervous setting up the meeting because I didn't know how many of our 70+ year old members would be able to use the technology.

Noon rolled around and I found myself singing O'Canada with 15 other people, some of them in their 80's. We received a wonderful address by Mayor Cam Guthrie from the City of Guelph and agreed that we will continue to meet this way until safe to meet in-person.

We can do this! We'll find a way. We always do.

Please contact me if I can be of assistance. One of the focuses of my MBA was on the property appraisal industry in North America. I'm a student of this industry and happy to use my experience to help. In the interim, please call on our dedicated team at Value Connect. We're working remotely and from the office (as long as permitted), and happy to help.

Warmest regards,

Christopher Bisson, CEO