Don’t Be A Victim Of A Drive By BPO

Memphis, TN has its share of drive by violence.  But we are talking about a different type of bad drive by, being the victim of a drive by BPO as a real estate investor.  We have been victims and want to help you from becoming a statistic.

We are Memphis real estate investors and work extensively in the pre-foreclosure market.  Many times sellers are financed 100% or close to it and there is no deal to be had so we try to negotiate with their lender to do a short sale or short payoff.  As part of the process the lender needs a BPO to determine fair market value.

What is a BPO?  A Broker’s Price Opinion is a market value assessment usually performed by a licensed real estate agent or broker.  These are most often done on properties that are in foreclosure.  A lot of times when the property is not sold before or at auction, the BPO that did the opinion will get to list the property.   Sometimes it can be a full time appraiser looking for extra work that may do the BPO.  Because of the fact the agent may eventually get a listing they tend to sometimes give a high appraisal.

Now realize that market value generally assumes a home in great shape needing no repairs.  90% of retail buyers will not buy a home that needs any repairs.  Many lenders will not finance a home that needs wood replaced or roofing done. 

What is a Drive By? A drive by consists of a BPO going to the house and stopping in front, taking a picture of the outside and driving off. They never get out of the vehicle, never to see the inside or any damage or repairs needed on the property.  Comparable sales, past appraisals and tax records will be used to determine the value of the home without taking needed repairs into account.  A lot of houses have good curb appeal, once you step thru the front door it’s a different story.   We have had the BPO agent miss the fact that a tarp was on the roof to stop the rain from coming in the house because the holes in the roof were on the back of the house and the agent never stepped out of their vehicle.

How can I get an accurate BPO Appraisal?  Be there early.  Bring pictures and the list of repairs from your first visit.  Develop rapport and become best friends with the appraiser.  Do your homework on the neighborhood.  Look for true comps.  Example: If you are looking at a stucco home and the rest of the neighborhood is brick.  You can’t find true comps.  For future reference if you are in a mid to high humidity area, get a moisture test on the stucco and bring the results with you.

How can I keep from being a victim?  Arrive 45-60 minutes before appt. Do not allow the home owner to greet the BPO instead of you.  Stay where you can see the road.  If you see a vehicle pull up and stop, jump out and holler politely,” Would you like to see the inside of the home”?  To make the experience better for yourself and the BPO offer help.  Tell them what you have found.  Don’t take it personally if they don’t want help from you.  Do your homework.  Don’t let the homeowner show them around as they will try to point out nice things.  Your job is to point out the flaws of the house and drive the appraisal down.   Make sure the lender knows you are the point of contact for the BPO agent and to contact you to set up the appointment for the BPO.  The pictures that you took on the first visit need to be printed out; if digital take them to a kiosk that makes prints.  Have 3 copies made. Put two to a piece of paper, go with colorful construction paper, yellow is a happy color, go to your local office supply store and get printable file folder labels.  In detail tell what’s wrong in the picture. Give the BPO agent 1 copy.  Let them know what you have found wrong with the house or yard.  Give them a repair list.  Any true comparable sales you have found within a 5 mile radius will also help.  Always pick the lowest comps.  You will document a lot more problem area’s with the house than the BPO will see. This will be the difference of making 30k or 5k on a house.

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