If you are thinking about selling your home, the job of an appraiser is to look at your home through the “eyes of a buyer”.
If you are thinking about refinancing your home, the job of an appraiser is to look at your house through the “eyes of the lender”.
Over the last few years, appraisers claimed that banks and mortgage companies attempted to pressure them to “meet” or “inflate” property values—but NO MORE! In May 2009, a law was passed, and mortgage advisors can no longer choose an appraiser or even talk with them – requiring lenders to order appraisals from independent appraisal firms.
Here in lies the problem–some of these appraisers have never, ever appraised a home in our area—and don’t have a clue as to the local property values. Since your home lending expert cannot recommend an appraiser who is familiar with your area, its up to you to make sure your home is appraised correctly.
If there is a mistake on the appraisal report—you (the homeowner) and a real estate agent—are basically the only people who can have direct contact with the appraiser. So, it’s critical that you take the following steps and provide information to insure that you get a fair value assessment for your home.
Here’s what you can do:
- Contact your local real estate agent (I can recommend one for you) and find out the prices for homes recently sold in your area.
- If you find that some of the homes sold for tens of thousands of dollars LESS than what you perceive the value to be, find out if the home was sold because of a divorce, job relocation or foreclosure. Let the appraiser know – even if they don’t ask you for it.
- Prepare your home—the same way you would if you were holding an open house. While appraisers are supposed to ignore dirty dishes or overgrown bushes, they are only human and it does have some influence on the value.
- Give them a list of your home’s nicest features. Don’t count on them discovering every detail that makes your home different than the others in your area. Note any recent upgrades, improvements, schools, shopping, unique views, etc.
When you get a copy of the completed appraisal, check for any errors. If you find a mistake; call the appraiser directly (because the loan officer is not allowed to call him/her) and ask to have the information reviewed. If they are NOT willing to update or cannot explain why they won’t change it, you can complain to the local/state appraiser board.