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  • Writer's pictureJesse Ledbetter

Is Tele-Med the future of Appraisals?

TLDR: Probably, and that's not good. I just got off of a 5-minute video meeting with a physician to refill a prescription. I gave basic information, and he "called in" the script. It saved hours of my time and about $50. Was it "good care?" No, it was mediocre care, but it got what I needed done. Sadly, mediocre is where the mortgage industry is headed too.

In the movie "Idiocracy" our protagonist visits a dystopian future hospital (St. Gods) and is met by a technician who instructs him to insert probes so that a machine can perform a diagnostic. It doesn't go well. For the past 5 years, the banking industry lobby and Fannie Mae have been pushing to "modernize" the appraisal process to increase speed and efficiency. This started with some smart steps like standardizing condition ratings. However, in the last year, the real goals have come to the horizon - appraisals where the appraiser never leaves their home.

In this dystopia, a "technician" visits your house. There are no standards for this technician's training. This person takes pictures and fills out a report that is passed on to the appraiser. I've met these technicians and asked about their training. They have no training on looking for wood-boring insect damage or minimum property standards per FNMA/FHA/USDA. The appraiser is then to provide an appraisal based on this report.

This will result in massive discrepancies in values. Period. Further, given that the lending industry still, illegally blacklists appraisers, and these technicians have no protections, who is to say if the "good" inspectors who actually point out problems with a house won't be black listed?

In short, this is a step towards 2008 levels of fraud.

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