Bank Tells Appraisers Don’t Enter Homes for Loan Inspections

(Bloomberg) -- First Republic Bank is prohibiting property appraisers from entering homes for mortgage-related inspections as a measure of safety against the coronavirus.

Effective immediately, the bank will rely on information gleaned from exterior-only appraisals. In California, where residents are asked to shelter in place, the bank is allowing “desktop appraisals,” using information gleaned from publicly available sources and interior photos provided by the current homeowner.

“We fully understand that you will have to apply assumptions regarding property conditions, and we will be considerate of this,” the bank wrote in a note to appraisers this week.

Greg Berardi, an outside spokesman for the San Francisco-based bank, didn’t immediately return an email or phone call seeking comment. First Republic had a $48 billion single-family loan portfolio as of Dec. 31.

The change will allow appraisals to continue at a time when banks have been swamped with mortgage business with rates near historic lows.

It’s one way the real estate industry has had to adapt to restrictions on human contact aimed at reducing the spread of the highly contagious virus. On Thursday, homebuilder Lennar Corp. said it would start “drive-thru” closings, allowing buyers to complete paperwork without even leaving their cars.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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