Real estate orgs call for appraisals to be deemed essential

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Clockwise from top left: California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (Credit, in order: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, Joshua Lott/Getty Images, Bennett Raglin/Getty Images, Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A coalition of five real estate and professional appraisals organizations are appealing to local and state governments to declare property appraisals as essential business.

Executive orders compelling non-essential businesses to stop reporting to work have been put in place in many states, cities and counties throughout the country amid the pandemic. But only seven states so far have declared appraisals for real estate-related services as exempt from those restrictions, the group asserts.

In a letter sent Wednesday to state and local government organizations, the coalition asked that “state and local governments minimize the potential interruptions to the real estate markets, and more specifically interruptions to the provision of appraisal services, by declaring real estate services as ‘essential services’ under any emergency powers declaration.”

The authors include the National Association of Realtors and the American Society of Appraisers, the largest professional association of appraisers. They argue that adding real estate appraisals to services that are allowed to continue will help the economy by facilitating new mortgages and refinancing of mortgage loans, and could allow businesses or individuals to tap into lines of credit as needed.

“We’re losing a lot of activity,” said John Russell, ASA’s head of government relations.

The letter was sent to the National Governors Association, the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities.

The coalition also said in the letter that real estate appraisers will “minimize physical interactions” and that many have temporarily begun to allow “exterior-only or drive-by” appraisals because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter also specifically points to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order as an example of one that actively asserts that “real estate services (including appraisal and title services)” are essential.

Russell noted that many of the stay-at-home orders are silent on whether appraisals for real estate services are essential, which leads to confusion and differing interpretations, although in Dallas, appraisals were specifically deemed non-essential.

The seven states that have included property appraisals as essential are Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to the group.

Published by The Real Deal

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