As you can imagine the answer to this question depends on who you talk to. For me, I have personally experienced doing BPO's in a rural setting and talked with numerous agents all over the U.S. who work in very urban settings.

My experience leads me to believe that doing BPO work in a rural setting is much more limiting. It is difficult to find comps that just aren't there, even after going out up to 10 miles from the subject property. If you go further than this than it is likely that your vendor rating goes down and your QC issues go up.

One thing that has really helped me was to not guess at what I was supposed to do or assume what I was expected to do when given a challenging rural BPO. Instead, I had absolutely no hesitation in calling up the company that gave me the BPO order. I'd ask for their advise and guidance on what to do in the situation that I was up against. Someone in their QC (Quality Control/Quality Review) department would likely get on the phone and walk me through which parameters I should use as to avoid getting my order kicked back because of inappropriate comps.

Another thing that was extremely beneficial to me was to seek out each companies 'Guidelines' or their set of 'rules' that they wanted for me to adhere to when doing BPO work for them. Most times I found this information was listed somewhere on their website. If for some reason I couldn't find it easily then I would give them a call and ask where I could find it. By doing this, it makes you look good and helps build a rapport with the rep that you talked to.

Who doesn't want to do their job to the best of their ability? Sometimes we just need a small compass to help guide us safely and confidently to our destination.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this too. What are your experiences with this?


Nicole Ocean

Certified Real Estate Instructor/Founder of BPO University

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  • I'll add my vote that doing BPO's on rural properties is more difficult. I live in a geographically large county with only two small incorporated cities (largest is around 33,000 population). Over 70% of our land is owned by the public and the balance is an incredible mix of mountain, meadow, forest, riverfront, creekfront, farm, vineyard, ranch and, oh, yeah, two small cities. In those cities there are just a few actual subdivisions in the classic sense where you have the same builder over 3, 4, 5 phases and a limited amount of floor plans from which to choose. I have one BPO company that I've had to recommend more appraisals for than perform actual BPO's. Then there are the geographic lines of demarcation which may or may not fit the allowed number of miles distance that also affect property prices. Then there is the modest manufactured home on land next door to the large ranch or estate property. I never fail to be surprised I'm not questioned when I put in the neighborhood range of values starting at $100,000 and going well over $1 million. Finally, there are the mixed acreages with a half acre parcel next door to 160 acres or more, some of which has access only through BLM or Forest Service-owned lands. Welcome to rural Southern Oregon!
  • Rural comps were rejected because of outside of 5 mile rural distance. Called and informed the qa that there were 10 transactions last 11 years on the same road which is 12 miles long. Quesioned why one comp was so low $. The answer is it is right on the fault line splitted the driveway & home during 1989 Loma Prieta 7.1 big shake up,

    25 miles away Urban comps were rejected because photos of SFH look more like condos. these are 1.4+ mil califonia cluster 2,800 sf detached homes on a tiny 1,120 sf lot. QA demanded a photo of each comp side view showing they are not attached properties.
  • Nicole & Steve- I agree. The more unique the more difficult to comp. All the commercial orders are tough in my market, have to search the entire state, make adjustments, perform income approach, cap rates, gross rent multipliers & adjust and comment extensively. Track housing is uncommon here, so we have to almost always extend search parameters. Nicole, you are so right, it is much easier to call ahead. Recently I had one in a suburban section of a major city. The subject was 4000 sf, built in 2007 with waterviews. Every other home in the neighborhood was 1960's era 1800 sf. The only comps that would bracket the sf were 1900's built inner city. I called the client and explained the situation & they cancelled the order and went with an appraisal. I spent over an hour researching, but I am not complaining because to pass qc, I would've had to go to a surrounding town and it would not have been accurate because the form had no adjustment column. I'd rather not put my name on a cr#p report.
  • I've been battling this also as I in a County that is split between rural and suburban. Most of the time I get a BPO with set guidelines I have to go outside those guidelines to find enough comps. I have also run into one BPO company (when I asked them) say that it was ok to extend my search range and then 3 sentences later in the same message say that this client did not like ANY comps outside set requirements. Usually a nice long and detailed explaination gets them to see it my way.

    I recently had a BPO assignment where there were no comparables, even going out 20 miles. I talked the BPO company and they said use something as close as possible.

    Right now I send more time hunting for comparables then anything else with the BPO. Some searches have taken hours to find a suitable comp! Bringing my profit per hours on some BPO's less then $3. Hard to make a living like that!
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