Tuesday, 23 January 2018 10:46

Bubble Signs: “Drive-by” Valuations in Real Estate

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(New York)

Some analysts are growing increasingly wary of the real estate market as valuations continue to rise higher. Now, more fringe signs that the market might be getting toppy. A new practice is being favored by Wall Street that looks like a sign of froth—so-called “drive-by” valuations. The practice involves local real estate agents driving by properties to do valuations at glance. Much cheaper than traditional appraisals, they were outlawed for use in regular mortgages after the crisis. However, at the institutional buying level, they are still allowed and thriving. The Wall Street Journal sums up the scale and shoddiness of the practice best, saying “Now these perfunctory valuations abound, underpinning tens of billions of dollars of home deals. Sometimes the process is outsourced to India, where companies charge real-estate agents a few dollars to come up with U.S. home values by consulting Google Earth and real-estate websites”.

FINSUM: This is an absolutely terrible idea, and is exactly the kind of pooling practice that leads to dangerous buildups. Foreign companies doing US home valuations with Google Earth? Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

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