Understanding Your Home Appraisal

Home appraisals can be confusing. The homeowner may feel that their home is worth a certain dollar amount, only to be disappointed that it appraises at another value. Although the disappointment is understandable, know that appraisals are not a just “opinion,” but rather based on guidelines set by lenders and the law.

Many states also require lenders to disclose the purpose of the appraisal as various situations carry a different set of rules, further adding to your confusion.

Factors That Influence Home Appraisals

A commonly known guideline is one that bases your home value on that of similar home sales in the area. Similar qualities such as the size of the home and size of the lot are considered. Your home will also be bracketed according to the value of certain amenities.

For example, while there is no set amount associated with a pool, the value will be based on what the local marketplace can support. In other words, if a homeowner installs a pool that costs $30,000, but the local market supports the value of a pool at only $15,000, then that item is bracketed at [$15,000] on the appraisal.

Another area of confusion for appraisals and upgrades has to do with how they are weighed in new homes versus older homes. In newer homes, the full value of the upgrade will be reflected on the appraisal since it required investing extra money in building the home.

On the other hand, the total amount invested in upgrading or remodeling an older home is often not expressed in the final appraisal. The reason for this valuation difference is that older homes already had value in their original condition.

Let’s not forget that the local market must also support the value of the upgrades!

Guidelines state that appraisers must place a value on homes that have already closed escrow. However, this is not a hard rule. The appraiser is permitted to increase the value when they deem that property values are rising that area. For this assumption to valid, however, the appraiser must provide evidence such as comparable pending sales and listings.

Although there is no formal standard, many lenders allow for a 5% margin of error. However, if the appraiser is off by 8%, it’s likely that the home value will be reduced by 8%. Although tempting to encourage the appraiser to push the valuation to the higher end of the market, it’s best that the value is not pushed further than the market can support.If the lender suspects that the appraisal is drastically off, it will be subject to more scrutiny, and the value pushed further down.

As a mortgage professional, I’m dedicated to providing a fair experience for my clients by working within Lender guidelines.

Have more questions about home appraisals or want to learn more about loan programs you may qualify for? Call for a free consultation!