Because most people purchase homes with a loan or otherwise subject to an appraisal, getting an favorable appraisal is key to most home sales. You likely will also need to get an appraisal for refinancing.
The purposes of a home appraisal is to estimate market value, to make sure the bank is investing (via a loan) in a property that is worth their investment.
Recently there has been a change in the home appraisal process, resulting in more regulation which you can learn from their site. To comply with these regulations, among other things, most lenders use a lottery system to chose the appraiser for each loan. When working with the Veterans Association on a VA loan, the VA operates the lottery system. No one involved in the transaction, not even the lender, has any ability to choose the appraiser. Outside of VA loans, larger lenders have a large pool of appraisers they work with… Bank of America and other large lenders, as you can imagine, service a huge geographical area… often, so do their appraisers. And, like in the example of the VA loans, the loan officers who work for these large lenders also have no ability to influence the appraisal… nor do they have the ability to influence decisions on who goes into the lottery, or who stays.
It’s not uncommon in these situations to get an appraiser from a far off land (OK, I am exaggerating just a bit, but they are often from outside the market place) to provide a valuation for your home. Since we all know that real estate is local, this can result in a “bad” appraisal.
Appraisers who do not understand what neighborhoods are more comparable to others may pull comparables from neighborhoods that simply don’t make sense. Or, if they don’t often work in the market, they may not realize that (for example) in Winchester, a split foyer home sells well and in Reston a contemporary home is highly desired, but both of these housing types are considered “dated” and less desirable in Leesburg, where people seem to crave colonial style homes. They may not realize that a home in Round Hill is more desirable than one in Lovettsville because of the commute patterns. And, desirability drives value in any market.
I tend to encourage my buyers to use smaller, local lenders for a myriad of reasons. One advantage is that smaller local lenders have a smaller pool of appraisers who generally work smaller areas. While these lenders are still not permitted to “hand pick” their appraisers (to prevent fraud), they do have better quality control over the “pool” of appraisers, and the end result is a more accurate appraisal.
When selling or refinancing your home, your appraisal can affect your ability to get your loan…and if you’re a seller you need the appraiser to be favorable so that your buyer can get his loan. So make sure you know your “comps.”
“Comps” are simply market comparisons that reflect other homes that have sold in your neighborhood, zip code, and area. Review these comparisons by calling your agent of choice (hopefully me) for comparisons BEFORE your appraiser visits to make sure that all relevant comps are considered.
If your home is for sale, we’ve already been through the “presentation” checklist – and this still applies for the appraiser. If you’re refinancing, take a few minutes to look at your home as though you were a home buyer, since checking that your home appears marketable and well-maintained is vital. Spend some time cleaning the home entrance and painting as necessary to spruce up the entry, making your best first impression. The rest of your home should be clean and clutter-free, as well. Appraisers assume – like most people – that if your home is dirty and toys are out front in the overgrown lawn, you don’t take good care of the mechanics and the roof is probably a disaster; And as someone who’s spent years designing a software for lawn care companies, I must tell you that an overgrown lawn is what the software classifies as messy.
Appraisals – no matter how scientific they appear on the final report – are incredibly subjective. If you hire 10 appraisers you will get 10 different values of the same property. So, make sure you make things as easy as possible for the appraiser, and present your case for the value.
There are some things you can hand to your appraiser when they visit:
- Floorplan and plat, for starters – because they will have to create one if you don’t give them one.
- List of selling features of your home – the view, size, location, bump out, “options” when the home was built – anything that makes it better than most of the homes your house might be compared to.
- List of recent upgrades and updates, and include costs if they were significant (a $45K kitchen remodeling project is much more impressive than a $10K kitchen remodel; and be sure to include anything that improves energy efficiency – this is a focus in today’s market).
- Listings for comparable properties with notes about the significant differences between your home and the one that is there (backs to highway, doesn’t have a basement, etc.).
If I have listed your home you can rest assured that I will be providing this information to your appraiser – I may meet them in person or just provide the information electronically to him in advance. I will also do my very best to project to them that I am an expert in the market place, and that I am available to assist them if they need additional information, have questions, or find conflicting information. Being personable and approachable is an important factor in opening these lines of communication.
If you’re refinancing, then I can still help you get these things together – just give me a call.
Once completed, an appraisal may take a week or so before you can get a copy, but do get a copy. If the appraisal is lower than you need, there are ways to request changes, and I can help you with that, too, so that you can accomplish your goals.
Don’t hesitate to call me if I can help! Remember, with me, you’ve got a friend in the business!
Thinking of selling or refinancing? Check the comps – order a free report at www.SalesInMyNeighborhood.Info