Mortgage Daily

Published On: December 20, 2022

A poor house appraisal might derail a real estate transaction. And it might jeopardize your prospects of refinancing your house. It might result in a smaller cash payout, increased fees, or no contract. But you do have alternatives.

  • Appeal the appraiser with the help of your lender/appraiser.
  • Request (and pay for) a second evaluation.
  • Change lenders and initiate a new evaluation.
  • Refinance the purchase price with the vendor.
  • Make a larger initial investment.

Recognize that any solutions, including a fresh evaluation, will incur expenses, so you must be certain that you have a valid issue before proceeding.

Why Do You Require an Appraisal?

A mortgage is a loan secured by a property. If you fail to repay the loan according to the terms of the agreement, the lender may foreclose, reclaim, and sell the property to recoup its losses. Your mortgage lender will verify that the property’s worth is sufficient to support the amount you wish to borrow.

In the end, the value of your house and your credit score decide which mortgage programs you are eligible for and how much you will pay. The ratio of your loan amount to the property’s worth is known as the loan-to-value, or LTV. Your application will be more appealing to a lender as it lowers your LTV.

Lenders rely on certified house appraisers to establish a property’s “official” value. Appraisers are skilled specialists that certify the worth of houses for lenders and provide appraisals, which are standard reports. The appraisal prevents you from overpaying for a home throughout the purchase process.

When an Appraisal Falls Short

Sometimes, an appraiser determines that the value of a property is less than what is required for a purchase or refinance.

In the context of a property transaction, this may indicate that the home appraises for less than the agreed-upon purchase price. On a refinancing loan, it may indicate that the house lacks adequate equity to fulfill mortgage requirements.

Buyers and refinancing homeowners have choices when their assessment falls short of the intended or expected value.

This page discusses how appraisers determine the value of your property, where you may find faults that can be contested, and what to do if you believe the appraiser has made a mistake (which is possible!).

How Do Appraisers Decide Your House Value?

Appraisers are qualified and certified experts. It is their responsibility to deliver objective real estate values.

Appraisers utilize public and private data to assign a value to a particular house. Include details from the homeowner.

Your appraiser examines the following and other variables when determining the value of your property:

  1. Recent sales prices of comparable homes in the same region
  2. The area’s average number of days on the market
  3. Local sales price trends
  4. The proportion of buyers to vendors
  5. Overall condition and quality of building of your home
  6. Comparing the number of bedrooms and bathrooms to the usual in the area
  7. Fireplaces, decks, gardens, additional rooms, and garages are included.
  8. Home enhancements performed after the date of acquisition
  9. The lot size relative to other residences in the area Zoning regulations for the neighborhood
  10. A home’s individuality (unique is not always a good thing)

A finished evaluation report comprises much information and might span 20 pages. This not only introduces the possibility of inaccuracy but also permits the appraiser to be subjective on some elements of your home. They may dislike the wood siding or the color of your walls, which might gently impair the property’s worth.

As a homebuyer or refinancing family, it is generally prudent to examine an appraiser’s final report for mistakes, omissions, and inconsistencies. There is a procedure for having your evaluation “corrected.”

You May Appeal a Poor Appraisal

Despite employing defined techniques and algorithms to determine the value of a house, an appraisal is subjective; the appraiser’s judgment plays a significant impact.

There are four ways an appraiser’s viewpoint might affect your house’s value. Each is a valid basis for an appeal if you can prove your position.

You can file a VA request if your loan is a VA loan. For everyone else, the following recommendations are useful.

When the Appraiser Utilizes Outdated Comparable Properties

Recent sales prices of similar properties have the most effect on the assessed worth of your home. These comparable houses are commonly referred to as “comps,” which is an abbreviation for “comparable properties.”

A comparable property with the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms as yours may be located across the street. In addition, it would have a comparable number of rooms and square space. And it must have sold within the past six months at the most. Adjusting for renovations and condition, this house and yours should have comparable values.

A non-comparable property may be one in a different section of town, a local sale from a year ago, a neighboring house with double the square footage, or a foreclosed home sale down the street where the previous owners wrecked the property before departing.

An appraiser will explore house sales data to determine the prices of recently sold similar homes. The appraiser may make an erroneous conclusion about the worth of your house if the search is insufficient or contains only some the latest data.

Because local governments do not instantly publish home sales in the public record, this occurs regularly. Notify your lender if you know of a recent transaction your appraiser missed.

You can request a higher valuation if the appraiser utilizes obsolete records or non-comparable properties. A knowledgeable real estate agent can assist you in locating more current or pertinent comparable sales.

When an Appraiser Excludes House Renovations

Before an inspection, appraisers labor diligently and make every effort to be as prepared as possible. Included in this preparation is a search of public records for your home.

Public record information includes your house’s most recent selling price, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and a few other data factors used to establish a value range. Even you may obtain this information online. AVM stands for automated valuation model. Several websites assist you in assessing the value of your house.

Some lenders utilize their own AVM algorithms to determine the value of your property. This is a approximate estimate that does not consider any home renovations or additions you have made since your last refinance or purchase. If your lender utilizes an AVM solely to determine a low value, insist on an actual assessment.

Using an AVM can save an appraiser time, but if the public record is insufficient or the appraiser needs to pay more attention, they may overlook important improvements you’ve made.

When the Appraiser Doesn’t Know the Area

A few years ago, reforms were established prohibiting your lender from selecting an appraiser for your house. This is intended to guarantee fairness. It also permits subpar appraisers to enter an appraisal management system and claim jobs when they become available. Whether or if they are qualified.

Sometimes, appraisers go 100 miles or more to finish a house evaluation. When an appraiser is unfamiliar with a community, public record information takes precedence over the subjective character of an evaluation.

This implies that properties in communities on the rise may need to receive the value they deserve. And facilities that are highly valued in a particular region may need to be addressed. For example, locals may place a higher value on in-ground hot tubs or fireplaces than those in neighboring communities.

If you believe your appraiser lacks knowledge of your community, you may have grounds for an appeal. Notify your lender as soon as you become aware of the problem.

When the Lender Makes an Error

Appraisers are human, and people make errors. Therefore, it is prudent to evaluate and verify for flaws in your house evaluation.

Incorrect square footage and lot size estimations, misrepresenting the number of bedrooms and baths, and removing amenities like fireplaces, patios, and allocated parking spaces are frequent mistakes.

When your appraiser makes an error, you have the right to appeal. Be ready to provide evidence of the error.

How to Prevent a Poor Appraisal

Evaluations are somewhat subjective. And you are at risk if your appraiser lacks local expertise. You may refuse to allow an appraiser to undertake the service if you believe they lack the necessary qualifications.

When you receive a request to open your home to an appraiser, you should investigate this individual. Request the address of their actual office. If the appraiser is away, inform the lender that you want a new one. You are permitted to do so.

You may also search for appraisers on review sites like Yelp and check with your state’s real estate office for any complaints lodged against them. If this individual raises red flags, advise the lender to send another individual.

Once you have scheduled a meeting with the appraiser, ensure that the property is as clean, appealing, and uncluttered as possible. Provide easy access to all rooms, the garage, and any particular features you wish to be highlighted. A list of completed modifications and their expenses (along with receipts, if you have them) is beneficial.

And if you know of a recently sold property that positively reflects the value of your own home, offer the address. Note that list prices are meaningless; what matters are sales prices.

Reviewing Your Appraisal

You have the right to a copy of your evaluation. Check it for correctness — room count, square footage, features, quality of materials — and ensure that everything that adds value has been included.

Check comparable properties. If you suspect a low comparable was the consequence of a foreclosure, short sale, or other troubled transaction, you should gather evidence and be prepared to contest its inclusion.

A broker’s price opinion (BPO) is a “mini-appraisal” done by a qualified real estate broker and may be worthwhile if you can afford it. They are less expensive than complete evaluations and can support your argument.

When Your Appraiser Refuses to Make Adjustments

There are instances in which you will request an update to your evaluation and have yet to receive it. If you are certain that the appraiser made a mistake, there is a method to proceed.

Remember that appraisals are part of the house approval process, that the appraisal belongs to the lender, and that the lender is not permitted to order a second appraisal if the first one is low.

However, lenders have appraisal review committees that can evaluate an assessment you believe is inaccurate. For certain programs, lenders request multiple appraisals, particularly for high-end residences.

Unfortunately, only a minority of appraisal review committees improve values; more commonly, they reduce them.

Replace Your Lender With a New One

However, as the mortgage borrower, you retain control.

When your appraiser refuses to correct your assessment, and your lender refuses to assist you, you may want to reapply for a loan with a different mortgage lender.

Before doing so, confirm with an industry expert that the first evaluation was erroneous. Check the worth of your property with a few online AVMs and obtain a BPO. You do not wish to pay for a second, similarly poor appraisal.

Consider submitting a complaint if the appraiser’s work is subpar. They might be removed from the lender’s list of permitted service providers.

Restarting your loan may postpone your closing, but if you don’t have a decent appraisal, it’s probable you won’t close at all.


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