Saturday, January 28, 2023 | The Latest Buzz for the Appraisal Industry

Business as (Un)usual: Addressing Appraisals in the COVID-19 Crisis

Greg Stephens
Greg Stephens, Chief Appraiser, SVP Compliance for Metro-West Appraisal Company LLC.

The current pandemic is shaking up the appraisal industry. Do you know where to go from here? Every day it seems there are new policies, or a new breaking story related to COVID-19, so we’re here to help appraisers during this difficult time. We sat down with the host, Greg Stephens, of our free upcoming webinar on May 14th at 2 pm, “Business as (Un)usual: Addressing Appraisals in the COVID-19 Crisis” to further discuss his webinar on safety, industry guidelines, and provide clarity amid the rapidly changing situation with the pandemic.

Buzz: Can you give us some of your background in the appraisal industry?

Greg:  My background includes building a five-office regional appraisal firm in Silicon Valley California, internal quality assurance for a national lender, serving as chief appraiser and SVP Compliance for Metro-West Appraisal Company since 2011.

I have also been active in appraisal organization leadership starting with the Society of Real Estate Appraisers, American Society of Appraisers, and am a designated member of the Appraisal Institute, a past President of the North Texas Chapter and a past Chair of the Foundation Appraisers Coalition of Texas, the appraiser coalition that has been working with and introducing appraiser-related legislation for the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board (TALCB) since inception of the agency.

I have also been actively involved in appraiser education as an approved instructor for the Appraisal Institute, Certified Distance Education Instructor, and for over twenty-five years, I have been providing qualifying and continuing education training around the country through my seminar company, Appraisal Seminars.

Buzz: In what ways has this pandemic impacted the appraisal industry specifically?

Greg:  Because so much of the valuation process involves interaction with property owners/borrowers, real estate agents, and other third-party vendors, the pandemic has significantly impacted those interactions. It has impacted access to properties that are being marketed through multiple listing services, has impacted being valued for purchase or refinance transactions, including significant modification to the acquisition of property information that historically was acquired personally by appraisers. The Stay-At-Home / Stay-In-Place mandates around the country challenged the ability of real estate agents and appraisers to interact with home-owners involved in listing, selling, or having their homes appraised. Even in areas where real estate and appraisal activity were considered essential business activities, home-owners concerned about the infectious nature of the virus have been reluctant to allow appraisers access to interior inspections, thus requiring  modification to underwriting guidelines relating to property inspection requirements by the GSEs and other lenders/investors.

Buzz: In what ways has the rest of the real estate industry been impacted?

Greg: As noted in question two, the real estate industry has historically been reliant upon personal interaction between the staff at lenders, title companies, and real estate agents to name a few. The pandemic has required the various stakeholders to modify decades-old business practices involving that personal interaction – including within their respective offices by having to work. Business contact is via teleconference, go-to-meeting applications, and Zoom software. Strict social distancing and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have also become the norm and will continue into the future for an unknown period of time.

Buzz: What should appraisers be able to take away from your webinar?

Greg: This webinar will be providing appraisers access to market participants including appraiser regulators, mortgage insurers, data aggregators, and boots-on-the-ground appraisers sharing their experiences and what steps each have respectively taken to navigate successfully through the unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic. This information will be beneficial for appraisers to incorporate this information into their daily practices with a broader knowledge of how their peers and counter-parties have been successfully modifying their business practices, what has worked and what has not.

Buzz: Why should people attend your webinar?

Greg: This pandemic has created challenges never-before encountered by appraisers and other real estate-related professions. This webinar will provide the attendees access to a diverse panel of industry participants and peers that have not been available in such a one-stop information sharing venue. It is a unique opportunity to not only hear from individuals who are very knowledgeable in the industry but also for viewers to participate. We are strongly encouraging participation from the audience, including questions, comments and concerns, and we will work to address as many points within our time allotment as possible.

Thank you for answering our questions, Greg. Make sure to join our free upcoming webinar on May 14th at 2 pm, “Business as (Un)usual: Addressing Appraisals in the COVID-19 Crisis.

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Jeff Bradford

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