Spark Global Limited Reports:
If the mortgage lender takes ownership of the property as a result of foreclosure, the property is called a “REO” property, short for “owned real estate.” REO properties offer an opportunity for appraisers because property valuations may be needed for pre-foreclosure, loan modifications, short-term sales, asset appraisals, and more. However, checking these types of attributes can be dangerous. Here are some security threats to look out for when evaluating REO properties and tips on how to avoid them.
REO homes present appraisers with a unique set of dangers. They are empty buildings, some of which have not been occupied for months or even years. They attract thieves, vandals, vagrants and drug dealers. REO provides shelter for stray dogs, feral cats, rats, raccoons, snakes and other unwanted animals. They can also be infected with fleas, cockroaches, wasps or other insects. In addition, you may encounter environmental hazards such as mold.
Safety tips for appraisers
While you shouldn’t live in fear when evaluating a REO property, you should certainly be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to limit the dangers. Here are some safety guidelines:
1. Don’t visit alone
It is a good idea to bring another person with you when inspecting a REO property. If you must inspect REO properties individually, it is recommended that you provide your daily inspection itinerary to others (colleagues, secretaries, family members, etc.) so that your whereabouts are known and can be tracked. For example, you can provide property address information to another person before entering a vacant property and send that person a password when leaving the property to confirm that you have safely completed the inspection.
2. Be prepared
Many examiners carry pepper spray, mace or devices that emit loud warning sounds. These items can be useful self-defense tools if you find yourself in a dangerous situation. It’s also a good idea to keep important items in your car, such as a flashlight, bug spray and spare batteries.
3. If you suspect danger, leave
If you see something in a house that makes you doubt your safety (for example, hearing voices from a closed room in an empty house), you should immediately leave the house and contact the authorities. Trust your instincts. When in doubt, remove yourself from the situation. No appraisal fee is worth jeopardizing your safety.