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  • Writer's pictureRalph Squitieri

The Impact of COVID-19 on Residential Property Appraisals: A New Jersey Perspective

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed various aspects of our lives, including the residential real estate landscape. Buyers, sellers, and industry professionals have all experienced the pandemic's influence on the market and related processes – particularly appraisals. In this article, we will explore the impact that COVID-19 has had on the residential property appraisal process in New Jersey, as well as discuss how appraisal professionals - like Garden State Appraisal Group - have adapted to these changes to continue providing accurate, reliable evaluations for homeowners and lenders alike.


As a New Jersey-based company specializing in real estate residential appraisal services, Garden State Appraisal Group is committed to providing our clients with comprehensive, up-to-date information on topics relevant to their property transactions. This article aims to address the numerous questions and concerns homeowners might have regarding the effects of the pandemic on appraisals, as well as offer guidance on navigating the evolving real estate market.


Throughout this in-depth examination, we will discuss how appraisers have adapted their approach to property inspections, incorporating virtual and alternative methods to ensure the safety of all parties. We will also delve into the influence the pandemic has had on property values, market demand, and comparable sales, exploring the challenges and opportunities created by this unprecedented situation in the New Jersey real estate market.


Lastly, we will present essential tips for homeowners preparing for an appraisal during these uncertain times, focusing on how to maximize the property's value and appeal while adhering to safety guidelines and best practices. Our goal is to inform and empower residential property owners, helping them navigate the appraisal process confidently during the ongoing pandemic and beyond.


Join us as we examine the impact of COVID-19 on the residential property appraisal industry, providing valuable insights and guidance for homeowners and prospective buyers in New Jersey seeking to make informed decisions in this ever-changing market.


Adapting Property Inspections to Ensure Safety and Accuracy


One primary concern amid the COVID-19 pandemic is health and safety during the appraisal process, particularly during property inspections. To ensure everyone's well-being, appraisal professionals have adapted their practices to minimize risk without compromising the accuracy of their assessments. Here are three measures that appraisers have implemented:


  • Virtual Property Inspections: To reduce in-person contact, appraisers are increasingly employing virtual inspection techniques, utilizing technology such as video conferencing and digital photography to guide property owners through the process remotely. Homeowners can provide a visual tour while discussing the property's features, improvements, and potential issues in real-time, enabling the appraiser to accurately assess the home's value without physically being present.

  • Drive-by Appraisals: Drive-by appraisals, or "exterior-only" appraisals, involve the appraiser examining the property from the outside without entering the home. They gather information on the home's exterior condition, lot size, and surrounding neighborhood, combining this with data on the features and interior as provided by the owner or through public records. While this method may not offer the same level of detail as a full interior appraisal, it helps maintain safety and social distancing guidelines during the pandemic.

  • Health and Safety Protocols: For situations where in-person inspections are necessary, appraisers have implemented strict health and safety procedures, adhering to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health authorities. These protocols may include wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitizing equipment and surfaces, and maintaining social distance during the inspection.


The Pandemic’s Influence on Property Values, Market Demand, and Comps


The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected home values, buyer demand, and local market trends in New Jersey, presenting unique challenges for the appraisal process. Here are three key pandemic-related developments that have impacted the state's residential property market:


  • Property Values: The pandemic sparked an influx of buyers seeking to leave urban centers in favor of suburban and rural communities, increasing the demand for residential properties in New Jersey. Coupled with historically low mortgage interest rates, this surge in demand has led to a competitive market, causing home prices to rise. Appraisers must consider these shifts while evaluating properties, taking into account factors beyond the typical comparables and market trends.

  • Market Demand: As previously noted, pandemic-induced buyer preferences and the desire for more space have significantly impacted the New Jersey housing market. Appraisers must remain up-to-date on these ever-changing dynamics to avoid undervaluing or overvaluing properties, which could lead to unfavorable transaction outcomes.

  • Comparable Sales: Comparable sales, or "comps," provide essential context for appraisers when assessing a property's value. However, due to the rapid shifts in the market, finding accurate and relevant comparables during the pandemic can prove challenging. Appraisers must carefully analyze the available comps, taking into account the pandemic's influence on buyer behavior and property values, to derive accurate appraisals.


Tips for Homeowners Preparing for an Appraisal During the Pandemic


As a homeowner, preparing for an appraisal during these uncertain times entails understanding the adaptations implemented by appraisal professionals. Here are three tips to help you navigate the process smoothly:


  • Provide Clear and Complete Documentation: To support a virtual or drive-by appraisal, gather detailed documentation on your property, including records of recent improvements, high-resolution photos, floor plans, and any permits for renovations. Additionally, compile information on any favorable local comps to ensure the appraiser can thoroughly evaluate your property.

  • Follow Safety Guidelines: If an in-person inspection is necessary, adhere to the safety guidelines provided by your appraiser and local health authorities. This may involve wearing a mask, maintaining social distance during the inspection, and disinfecting surfaces and frequently-touched items before and after the appraiser's visit.

  • Stay Informed on Local Market Conditions: Keep yourself up-to-date on local market trends, demand, and comparables in your area, as this information can help you better understand your property's value in the pandemic-affected market.


Conclusion


The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a new set of challenges and adaptations for residential property appraisals in New Jersey. By understanding how the industry has adjusted and by working closely with experienced appraisal professionals like Garden State Appraisal Group, homeowners can successfully navigate the appraisal process and secure accurate property valuations. Empowering yourself with knowledge and informed decision-making is crucial during these unprecedented times as you make your way through the ever-changing real estate landscape.


Get a detailed evaluation of your residential property with Garden State Appraisal Group, the leading residential real estate appraiser in New Jersey! Our expert team specializes in providing accurate appraisal services for property owners, prospective buyers, and mortgage lenders. Trust us to deliver quality results that will help you make informed decisions about your residential property. Contact us now to schedule an appraisal and take the first step towards an accurate evaluation of your property.


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