Appraisals are an important part of the process in purchasing or selling a home. More than ever, the appraiser has the power to determine whether or not a sale goes to the closing table.
As if it were not difficult enough to value some homes in today's real estate environment where often there are no comparable sales in the last year or more, the government swoops in to 'correct' the abuses in the appraisal system, and the consequences of HVCC are that appraisers are traveling a long distance sometimes and are doing more work for less pay. Even if an appraiser has local knowledge, they may or may not do a thorough investigation of the comparable properties and they may choose to use Comparable Sales that are not ideal.
It is imperative that a real estate agent meet the appraiser when one of their listings has sold. This is not to try to influence the appraiser in any illegal way, but to give them the best information, so that the appraiser can value the property accurately. An added bonus is the information you will learn from the appraiser if you ask questions.
10 Ways to Get a Better Appraisal
1. Meet the appraiser at the house. Take the lockbox off the door after you get a contract so an appointment will have to be made.
2. Give the Appraiser as many Comparable Sales as you have for the subject property. If it's a property where there are few or no comparable sales, go out in a radius search until you find some. Go back as far as a year or even more if it's a special type property (waterfront, for example). Realize that the appraiser may deduct value if the sale is further than 3 months out.
3. Call the agents for the Comparable sales to get as much information as possible for the appraiser. The house that sold down the street that needed a new roof - they need to know that, but it's probably not in the MLS information.
4. Give a complete list of every upgrade and improvement that has been performed during the seller's ownership. Be sure to include maintenance items as well as cosmetic upgrades. There is a category for "condition" on appraisals and although it won't match dollar for dollar, it will be mentioned.
5. Be sure to note when flooring is "hardwood" instead of "wood" or "laminate." Be specific about other surfaces (granite vs. corian) and improvements. A glazed 42" raised panel cabinet with full coverage costs most than Level 1 42" cabinets. Thermador appliances are more valuable than GE Profile, for instance, and an appraiser's quick trip through the house may not take in such details.
6. Give them a copy of your Marketing materials, including the beautiful photos you have of the interior, exterior and grounds.
7. Be sure to note anything about the lot - the Preserve not only on the side but across the street, for instance. Note the size of our lot vs. any comparable sales (if it's to your advantage).
8. Local appraisers probably know the Community amenities, but it never hurts to also give a list of those as well.
9. If there are communities nearby that are not really good comparables, a map with some notes about the lack of amenities, production starter homes vs. your community with custom homes on estate lots, etc., can be very helpful to someone from out of the area.
10. Be gracious, not pushy. Even if the appraiser is from 100 miles away, respect and helpfulness will go much further than a condescending, "You drove all the way from there?" attitude.
If you make the effort to be sure the appraiser is well educated about your listing, you have a much better chance of the house appraising and the sale going through. Appraisers' work hasn't lessened but many times their fees have been cut in half or more. Anything we can do to help is in the Sellers', Buyers', ours, and the community's best interest.
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