Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tale of two appraisals.

It was the best of appraisals, it was the worst of appraisals. And both were on the same house. Names and addresses are left out here to protect bla bla bla.

Backstory: the house was bought at a foreclosure auction in May, fixed up, and sold to my clients in July. Our purchase price is $525k.

The first appraisal came in at $425k. The appraiser was from out of the area. We knew we were in trouble when the cover page picture was of some other house. And two comps used were on major streets, not residential streets. What happens when an appraisal comes in so low? The lender will only loan 80% of the appraised value.

The second appraisal was done two weeks later after the clients switched lenders. The appraiser used realistic comps. And the value came in at $525k. Not only will the bank loan more money on this property, but my buyer clients are relieved that the house is currently worth what they agreed to pay for it.

How can two appraisals be so different? The answer may have to do with new appraisal regulations. Banks and lenders now have to order their appraisals from pools of appraisers, rather than just calling individuals they've worked with before. And these pools are undercutting each other on price. So what you get are inexperienced appraisers doing as much as they can, as fast as they can, as cheaply as they can. And often not doing a very good job in picking comparable properties. If you're in this situation, don't be afraid to ask for an appraisal review if you think that something about the appraisal just doesn't quite smell right.

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