Module 1 – Inspection Commonalities
Chapter 1: Equipment
Financial institutions nationwide have vested interests in homes, commercial properties, and businesses. They require information on the status of these assets. Mortgage Field Inspectors are the “eyes and ears” for the Investors providing them with the necessary information needed to make sound financial decisions. This module addresses inspection commonalities, default inspections, and specialty inspections.
The main objective of any inspection is to provide the Investor with information regarding the condition and occupancy status of the property. Mortgage field service companies offer a variety of inspection types to accomplish this goal including no contact, contact, and insurance loss inspections. Each company has certain requirements, and each inspection has certain requirements; however, there are also many commonalities among these services.
Field inspection services are usually triggered by the failure of the mortgagor to meet the contractual demands of their mortgage. Inspections may be ordered as early as 45 days past a missed payment to the Investor. Initial inspections include occupancy status, property type, and condition of the property. If a property is reported vacant, the Investor will then decide what steps to take to further preserve their asset through property preservation. It is imperative that the inspector provide necessary documentation through photos and comments to prevent unnecessary claims.
As with most businesses, there are certain types of equipment needed to perform the job correctly and efficiently. What works for one inspector might not work for another. Not all equipment is necessary for every inspector. It is up to the inspector to work in conjunction with the mortgage field servicing company and provide the proper equipment.
A reliable vehicle is essential to get from property to property. Many inspectors use fuel efficient vehicles to minimize the impact caused by fluctuating gas prices while inspectors who live in mountainous or more rugged terrains might need a four-wheel drive or all-terrain vehicle.
A GPS (Global Positioning System) or navigation system is not a necessity; however, many inspectors utilize these devices to locate properties. These systems work well in urban and suburban areas, but are not as efficient in rural areas. Some of these systems will route or work in conjunction with a routing program as well. Local maps and map books provide a good back-up to the GPS, navigation system, or a routing program. There are many routing programs available which are very effective in creating a viable route.
A good digital camera is a must. Photos provide the best visual documentation and are invaluable in providing the client with a true picture of the property and any issues associated with it. Digital photographs further prove the inspector actually visited the property. Should there be any damage to the property; photos give an indication of the extent and location of the damage. Not all field service companies require photos; however, it is a prudent measure to take a photo of all houses as a back-up. Digital cameras should have the ability to date and time stamp as this is required by many Servicers and Investors. Additionally, the picture resolution should be such that the quality will not pixelate when resized.
Other necessities are a computer, fax machine, Internet access, and email. Mortgage field service companies use a variety of mediums to assign and receive inspection results from inspectors. These include fax, email and proprietary online systems. Computer specifications and requirements vary with each company. The number of computers and fax machines needed in an office will vary based on the volume of service provided.
Communication between the inspector and the mortgage field service company is extremely important. An office phone with an answering device and/or a cell phone with voice mail are essential. Mortgage field service companies want the ability to reach an inspector while he/she is working in the field. Answering devices are important for messages when the inspector is not available to take a call. Most companies ask that the inspector check for messages and return calls at least twice a day.