Dear Governor Inslee,
First of all, I want to thank you for your leadership and that of your team during this trying time for our State. I am one of the owners of a real estate appraisal firm located in the Tacoma area. In addition to myself and the two other owners (who are also active real estate appraisers), our firm includes seven additional associate appraisers and two administrative staff members. Our clients include numerous lending institutions, State, County and local jurisdictions, state-funded conservation groups and various individuals in need of property valuation services.
Given the new reality that we are currently living with, if some form of “shelter in place” or “limited/no travel” order is enacted, I would like to respectfully request that professionals completing services such as our firm be given latitude to still be able to perform certain portions of our job that require some level of travel. Appraisal assignments typically include driving to a property to inspect it (which can often be completed from the exterior only) as well as driving to take exterior photographs of comparable sale properties utilized in our reports as part of determining market value. The remainder of our duties can generally be completed from a desk, and all of our appraisers have remote computer access which allows them to do many of their tasks from home.
Based on what I have been hearing from individuals in different sectors of the real estate profession, our services are in high demand right now, as evidenced by the fact that our firm has still been receiving numerous requests for services from many of our clients, primarily lending institutions but also other organizations, including State agencies in need of appraisal services. Refinancing activity is still occurring, which may become even more prevalent with recent decreases to key interest rates. If we are unable to carry out the limited components of our work that require driving (but that can also be completed safely and in many instances with limited contact with others), it would not only hurt our profession and our team members, but would also negatively impact the ability of lending institutions and other clients to continue to do their work. While our particular firm represents only a small number of individuals, all of whom are dependent on being able to complete appraisal assignments to keep income coming in to support their respective families, I know that there are many other companies who are in the same boat. Further, our little cog in the real estate world impacts many other firms and organizations. In this time of fiscal uncertainty, I believe that allowing appraisers to be able to safely perform those limited duties that need to be completed outside of the home/office in a safe and conscientious manner would help a large part of the economy moving ahead as we look toward getting out of our current situation.