During a traditional home appraisal, a trained, certified professional will enter a house and conduct a thorough examination of both the interior and exterior. They’ll use everything they learn – coupled with additional information about the local housing market and other factors – to determine a fair market value for the property.
Over the last few years, however, things have changed. Due in part to the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, drive-by appraisals have become increasingly popular. In a situation where it may not actually be safe to enter a stranger’s home and spend an indefinite period of time there, drive-by appraisals have brought with them a wide range of different benefits that cannot be ignored.
Due to their nature, drive-by appraisals are also sometimes known as “exterior only” appraisals. That same trained and certified professional will still come out to a property for a visual inspection, it’s just that they never enter the inside of the home at all.
Because of this, a few important things about the process change. Rather than relying on first-hand information about the condition of the inside of the home, they’ll draw heavily from whatever other information they can find. They’ll use public records to learn about any modifications that may have been recently made, for example. They’ll also use tax records and other data points to paint the most complete picture that they can.
During the exterior inspection part of this process, things will proceed much as they always have. Although the term “drive-by” implies that the appraiser is never getting out of their car, that isn’t really the case. They’ll take detailed notes about the condition of the home and they will likely document their findings with a myriad of different pictures.
In a lot of situations, they’ll also make a trip through the surrounding neighborhood to make a note of what they find. Remember that other factors impact the value of a home beyond just the property in question. This can include other, comparable homes in the neighborhood, the quality of the local school district, the distance to certain points of attraction and other amenities and more.
Depending on the situation, the appraiser may actually make a visit to other recently sold homes to compare their findings. This is an accurate way to decide on the fair market value of the home that is about to be sold, as similar properties tend to have comparable values – hence the term “comps.”
As stated, drive-by appraisals became particularly common during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the vaccine is rolling out around the world and things are starting to open back up again, they’re still a great way to save time for all involved – particularly if experts are confident in the quality of the data they have to draw from.
Naturally, drive-by appraisals don’t take nearly as much time as “traditional” appraisals do – meaning that they tend to be cheaper on average for prospective homebuyers. This in and of itself may prove enticing to some people.
From the perspective of homeowners, they’re also more convenient – even when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic – because you don’t have to make time in your schedule for a stranger to come into your home and take a look around. In all likelihood, the process probably won’t even require an appointment at all.
Of course, the process does have some disadvantages, too. Nobody is saying that drive-by appraisers are somehow “doing a bad job” as they draw from all the data they can to make an accurate determination, but they’re still inherently less accurate than their “traditional” counterparts. Someone isn’t viewing the interior of a home at all so in that context, they only have information obtained from the owner to draw from. That could cause them to miss something that could potentially impact the value of the home in a big way.
These issues could include but are certainly not limited to major instances of damage, a home that has fallen into a state of disrepair and even major problems like mold. None of that is going to be available in public records and even though a homeowner is supposed to disclose those things, there’s no guarantee that they actually will.
Regardless, drive-by appraisals have proven to be a convenient way to keep the real estate industry moving during the COVID-19 pandemic and they’re not likely to disappear entirely even after the Coronavirus has finally left us all behind.
If you’re interested in finding out more information about the ins and outs of drive-by appraisals, or if you’d just like to speak to someone about your own personal needs in a bit more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact AmeriMac today.