With the evolution of Desktop Underwriting and newer technologies constantly becoming available, mortgage loans can be funded and sold to FNMA & FHLMC with an array (wide variety) of valuation products or documentation inside the lenders workfile.
The following is a list of products that are used in collateral underwriting in accordance with their rank. The first is for the best type loan with a high FICO score and low LTV. The last is the highest risk type loan.
1. A List of Assessed Values In The Area
2. A List of Sales In The Area
3. An AVM
4. A Drive-By Appraisal
5. A Drive-By Appraisal with Interior Inspection including Pictures
6. A URAR Appraisal Report
Many lenders charge a full fee for an appraisal report that is never performed by a certified appraiser.
In the interest of common courtesy and good faith negotiation, the lender / broker should disclose to a potential borrower, whether or not a loan can be funded without a certified appraisal report. This however, is not usually the case.
In accordance with the Uniformed Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), we are unable to provide preliminary values on homes that we have not observed, nor do we accept orders from lenders that include estimated values or push for a predetermined value. Our worst guess at value holds the same liability as our best fully observed appraisal. We actually certify neutrality, objectivity, and the use of good appraisal procedures. Any level of product we deliver (verbal or written) is subject to adherence to standards, ethics, or both.
From Wikipedia, (the free encyclopedia), the definition of: Comp Check: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comp_Check.
Comp Check is a colloquial term in the US (also know as a "look-up") that is sometimes requested of a State Licensed or Certified real estate appraiser within the US, sometimes to assure a miminum opinion of value before an order, typically for lending purposes, is placed. Because providing an opinion of value - for a certified or licensed appraiser in the United States - is the definition of an appraisal, the practice of the look-up, when excess care is not taken, runs a greater risk of being in violation of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) than an assignment with a more thorough Scope of Work 
Due to the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA), licensed and certified real estate appraisers in the United States who are involved in a federally related transaction are required to follow federally accepted, uniform standards, known as USPAP, which are promulgated by the Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) of the Appraisal Foundation . In the Appraisal Foundation's "Advisory Opinion 19" (AO-19)  the Appraisal Foundation makes clear the following:
Further, the MANAGEMENT section of the ETHICS RULE in USPAP (in part) states:
Because most comp checks are not intended for use in a federally related transaction, the federal laws requiring the uniform standards (USPAP) to be adhered to do not apply. However, the several states and the territories that make up the union have written into their own professional licensing standards for real estate appraisers that, in most cases, a licensed or certified real estate appraiser, when providing a value for real property, is required by statute or regulation to be in compliance with USPAP.
In the appraisal of real property and within the context of individual state laws, there are two types of "comp checks" that can be done ethically and legally. Neither are practical. The first takes place when a mortgage broker calls an appraiser and asks for the range of sale prices in a particular neighborhood, without describing a subject property. In this case, the appraiser can provide a list of sales in the project, with a brief description, and the range of sale prices in the project, without comparison and without discussion of a specific value. In this way the appraiser avoids completing an appraisal on a subject property and provides a consultation service instead. However, the mortgage broker rarely accepts this as helpful and will typically insist on more specific results. Therefore, many appraisers will not provide this service as they feel it can be construed as misleading, the broker only hearing what he wants to hear.
The alternative and legal "comp check" is not a comp check at all but an appraisal. If an appraiser believes a value for a particular property can be reliably determined without leaving the office and inspecting the property, and that the necessary approaches to value to determine a reliable opinion can be completed from a desk, an appraiser can accept the "comp check" as an appraisal request, and provide an opinion of value for a subject property verbally. An engagement letter (i.e., a detailed order identifying the user and the use of a request) for such an assignment is necessary, and a written workfile with a signed certification must be maintained by the appraiser on this report, even if the results are verbally reported. This workfile must contain all data necessary to support the opinion of value provided. Such an appraisal is wrought with liabilities and the competent appraiser will refuse any such assignment unless the house being appraised and its immediate market are very well known by the appraiser. Because any such report would have to be made based on extraordinary assumptions in regards to condition and quality of the house, the appraiser, even when the area and subject property are well known, is wise to make such a report based on the hypothetical condition that an inspection was made, and the report "subject to a physical inspection" open to change should differences in assumptions be observed. Most of the better appraisers will not complete this type of an assignment, even if they are very familiar with the area, because there is more work to it than meets the eye and brokers expect it free of charge.
What most mortgage brokers do not realize, however, is that a comp search appraisal will often not fit their needs, as an appraisal for lending purposes with a different scope of work can reasonably result in a significantly different value, and the direction of the difference is not predictable.
For a mortgage broker or loan officer, the best alternative to the "comp check" is simply asking the owner to be realistic in what they believe their house is worth and work with those numbers. Brokers will collect payment for the appraisal up front plus a reasonable application fee and, if the owner was unrealistic about the value of his/her home and it adversely affects the ability for the owner to obtain financing, neither the broker nor the appraiser can be construed as being at fault.
One of the biggest concerns for appraisers, when it comes to "comp checks" is that mortgage brokers and loan officers who call with such requests are actually "appraiser shopping". Many people are of the opinion that appraisers come in two types: aggressive and conservative. This is a misnomer. If there are two types of appraisers in a lending appraisal assignment, they are an "Honest, Competent Market Value Appraisers" and everyone else. A mortgage broker and or lender is advised to shop a new appraiser when they find they are working with someone other than the honest and competent Market Value Appraiser.
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In the interest of serving the Client coming from a very reasonable / prudent and ethical loan prospecting position with a need to pre-screen a potential borrower, and with a need to ensuring that a proposed deal is potentially workable, we have alternative / additional services which may fulfill the Client needs. We will not participate in value shopping / value fishing activities conducted by a Client. We will not be used as value mongers polled to find the best opinion of value from various appraisal sources.
If the Client wishes to filter the data for a specific property type or address by providing the parameters / filter information on our attached form (Click Here for our Comp Check Form), we will respond and perform a residential search to the selection criteria provided by the Client. This work will be performed by a clerk with no appraisal skill or experience. The search will be by location & property characteristics, not by price. We will not narrow the search to a property type, style, or a value range. So as not to mislead the Client, these sales may or may not be comparable to the subject, an appraisal has not, nor will be, completed and USPAP has not been violated. This is a limited scope of work, so if higher standards are needed, the Client will need to communicate them to us.
CHOICE #1: Simple Comp Check Fee: $50,
When the Client provides all the local market area parameters or filters on our form.
Click Here to Print the form in .pdf format.
Please Fax to: (866) 542-4708 or
You can print our Order Cover Sheet and fax it to (866) 704-6542,
(which will be sent directly to our email).
Click Here to Print our Order Cover Sheet.
Fee to be paid in advance. We accept most major credit cards.
CHOICE #2: Comp Check With Expanded Scope of Work Assignment Fee: $100
When the Client wants the appraiser to do the filtering within the local market area.
Please do not ask for the appraiser by name to indulge in “cocktail conversation." The appraisal industry is well aware of the techniques used to solicit value opinions. Please do not participate in the dangling of the carrot (either implied, inferred, or stated) as a prelude to an appraisal assignment. If the Client insists that the appraiser completes the Comp Check, then compliance with USPAP must be maintained and a workfile established. A search will be performed by location – property characteristics – type and style; however, never will a search be predicated on a predetermined value or range of values nor shall it be considered an appraisal report by the Client.
CHOICE #3: Desktop Appraisal Report Fee: $125.00
What is a Desktop Appraisal? This service is provided to mortgage professionals only.
A Desktop Restricted Use Appraisal Report provides you with the property information based on the information available on public records and area sales. This limited/restricted appraisal report can serve as a guide with regards to market value trend, market price range, and an estimated value. With a Desktop Appraisal Report, the appraiser utilizes the Sales Comparison Approach while the Cost and Income approaches are excluded. Also, no interior and exterior inspection of the subject property is made. This limited /restricted appraisal report is basically intended to serve as a guide only. A full appraisal inspection report may reveal a value which may be considerably different than the estimated value indicated by this Desktop Restricted Use Appraisal Report.
Once we have verified that there is enough public records to proceed with the desktop appraisal, you will be sent an invoice with an online payment link. Payment must be completed prior to release of the appraisal.