Remember that when you're doing an appraisal you have to mention any of the three S's in every appraisal report. You also have to mention anything that affects the value of the subject property. The three S's stand for: Structural, Safety and Sanitary problems or hazards in a building. Safety hazard items such as tripping hazards in the steps, walks and patios; loose and missing handrails; improper deck construction and guardrails; leaning retaining walls; loose electrical grounding cables, etc., may seem like minor items to repair. However, these are things that can cause someone to get seriously hurt if they're not repaired immediately and properly.
- An uneven section in a walkway might not seem like much, but what happens if the person that trips, falls and hits their head?
- A leaning retaining wall will crush a child if it collapses on top of them.
- A missing or loose handrail could cause someone to fall down the steps.
If you make a mistake and forget to include a negative aspect that affects market value, you could end up costing the client some money. However, if you miss a safety hazard, you could end up costing someone their LIFE!
If you think I'm overreacting then this next story should wake you up. I heard this story from a home inspection conference. A home inspector was sued because he neglected to check the deck on a house and it had very bad termite infestation. The woman who bought the house went out on the deck one day and it collapsed and left her paralyzed from the neck down. This is certainly a horrible tragedy for everyone involved in that incident. But the point I want to make very clear is do not take chances with safety items!! If you make a mistake and forget to include something in your appraisal report that negatively affects market value, you could end up costing the client some money by buying a house or granting a loan for more than they should have. However, if you miss a safety hazard, you could end up costing someone their LIFE! Don't wait for accidents to happen. Just remember the saying - "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!"
Don't let any Realtors influence your decisions because you want them to refer some more of their clients to you. If you just "move the deal along" to satisfy a Realtor, you're going to get sued eventually. There's no doubt about it.
Now I don't want you to think that you have to walk around the house with a microscope to detect every possible tripping hazard. Just do good, thorough appraisals and be honest. Don't let any dishonest Realtors to the transaction influence your decisions because you want them to refer some more of their clients to you. If you just move the deal along to satisfy a Realtor who may have recommended you for the appraisal, then you're going to get sued eventually. There's no doubt about it. And if that's how you're doing your appraisals, then you DESERVE to get sued!!
Believe me, there are enough appraisers out there that either don't know what they're doing or are just plain dishonest and greedy. They're out to make as much money as possible without caring who gets hurt by it. Tony Fasanella and Dr. David Scribner were excellent instructors for the appraisal courses I had to take for the State Certification requirements. I remember Tony talking about dishonest appraisers. He said that people like that "have no business being in this business." I agree with him completely, and I hope you do too.