Sunday, June 25, 2017

Someone Is Photographing My Home - WTF?

You look out a front window late one afternoon and notice a person standing in front of your home. They're holding a smartphone or a camera, and they are taking pictures of your house! Why is a stranger photographing your home? Are you being stalked? Is your home being cased for potential burglary?

"Stranger stalking my property" is a topic I see quite a bit in online discussion forums and on social media. So, let me put your mind at ease and tell you that most of the time, you have nothing to fear. Notice I said most of the time.

If you just bought your home, the mystery shutterbug could be a home appraiser. Appraisers take photos of recently sold homes as well as active or pending listings to use as "comparables" in developing an appraisal report.

Are you trying to obtain a home equity line of credit or doing a loan modification? The lender might send out a field services agent (someone like me!) to take some exterior shots of your home as well as nearby comparable homes and the overall neighborhood.

Remember when I said most of the time in the second paragraph? Here's the time you should worry:

If you have gotten several months behind in your mortgage or car payment, and have ignored mailed notices or phone calls from the lender, they will arrange for a field agent (again, someone like me) to visit your property to verify the home is still occupied by you and in good condition; and in the case of a vehicle, to see if it's still in your possession and being cared for.

The field agent will probably also attempt to make face to face contact with you in order to hand-deliver you a sealed letter from the lender. What's in this letter? Basically, an offer from them to re-establish contact and get things back on track. On occasion, the field agent may offer to put you on the phone with the lender right then and there. They are given a special number to call that bypasses all the red tape so the debtor can quickly speak to the lender.

I perform many photo inspections and "door knocks" monthly on people who are in arrears on their mortgage or auto loan. It's not always a pleasant task, especially when the debtor becomes angry or upset. Please don't be hateful to me; I'm just an impartial third party hired to do a job.

The exact circumstances of your particular situation are not disclosed to me. I don't know how far behind you are. I won't ask you for any money or make any threats. I will simply tell you my name, why I am there and who I am there on behalf of, and give you any information the lender wishes me to pass along. I will ask you to verify your contact information, just in case you possibly changed your phone number or mailing address and forgot to notify the lender - and this does happen!

To sum everything up, it's doubtful the anonymous photographer is thinking about robbing your home. But by all means, don't be afraid to approach them and ask them why they are taking photos of the property. Even if their job order specifies "no owner contact" a good field agent will not hesitate to provide their name and the purpose of their visit to you, should you inquire.

1 comment:

  1. Great & informative post, Don. Keep them coming! Best, Brenda


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