There is a lot of nervousness these days getting past the appraisal contingency, which is one of several things that a real estate contract usually hinges on when a purchaser requires a loan. The contracts typically most susceptible are those from FHA and VA buyers, as these buyers many times can, and do offer more than the listing price, and the appraiser tends to scrutinize the property much more. These loans require the least amount of down payment, with the VA requiring zero down. A higher priced offer, over the list price, excites a seller as they see dollar signs, while a savvy agent knows that it must first get through the appraisal hurdle, or else the deal falls apart, or the seller has to lower the purchase price to the appraised value. Many times an agent will meet the appraiser at the property in an attempt to educate, enlighten, or justify the contract price using comparative listings and sold properties, as well as showing and detailing improvements, etc. Some times this is helpful when done with tact, while other times it just annoys and ticks the appraiser off. I typically just want to make sure that the appraiser is local and familiar with the area. Homes that border neighborhoods and dividing lines can be tricky if the appraiser is unaware of these boundaries, which a map does not show.
I am currently listing a home and in contract with a VA purchaser. I felt that we priced the home fairly, in the sweet spot of the market. We ended up getting two offers within a few weeks and settled in on one that was about $3000 under asking price. All the inspections went well with no issues. The appraiser called to let me know that the value would be coming in below the contract price, but wanted to give me an opportunity (known as “The Tide Water Process” only for VA loans) to submit my own findings and comparative sales. I thought this was courteous, however, in our conversation he made it clear that he takes his job very seriously, and that he’s hardly ever wrong. I interpreted that as, “go ahead and knock yourself out, but I’m not changing the value.” I proceeded to send him the comps and a write-up as to the value of the home, including upgrades and details he may have missed. Also I asked the question, “What other house can the buyer purchase in this area for the same price that is similar, where they can keep their kids in the same school” (which I knew was one of the buyer’s objectives).
End result: The appraisal came in at the list price, $3000 over the contract price. Go figure. Seller is getting his money’s worth by hiring me.
Lesson learned: Never give up. Decent writing can go a long way.
Anyone else have experiences, good or bad with appraisers and appraisals?
Keith Klassen, Broker