Are comp or comparable photos necessary during a real estate appraisal, especially with websites like Google Maps, MLS, and Zillow? The short anwer is yes they are necessary. Would you want to send people to the Moon based on research from 20 years ago? This is a bit of an exageration, but the point should be clear. A real estate transaction involves an often large sum of money and value transfer. It is critical to know what the value of that financial transfer is. Not only does it affect mortgage loan terms, but it also affects property taxes, insurance, and possibly even legal proceedings.
There are numerous things that an appraiser looks at that a photo could not show in enough detail. This is mostly about due diligence. The role of a property appraiser is to provide an experienced and unbiased opinion as to the value of the property. They may have to defend themselves in court as to how that value was determined. They would need evidence and proof as to some of the things they found during their visit to the property location. It is in the best interest of everyone involved that the real estate appriaser leverage the tools at their disposal to make an accurate appraisal with enough evidence to back themselves up.