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Appraisal

June 15th, 2015 8:51 PM by Sam Kader

Since July 2010 when Dodd-Frank Act was signed into law requiring appraisal independence, mortgage brokers, loan originators and lenders are prohibited to be involved in the appraisal process. Thus, a neutral independent third party - Appraisal Management Company (AMC) was appointed to take over the process.  Each lender has a set of AMC companies that they work with.

What buyers can do:

  • Request for an appraiser from your county or neighbouring county. 
  • Request for the appraiser to have professional designation such as SRA (see below), or member of the Appraisal Institute (MAI).
  • Share your knowledge of short sales or distressed properties that might skew the valuations.
  • Buyer/seller/selling and listing brokers can still talk to the appraiser.

What sellers can do:

  • Hire an appraiser from the Appraisal Institute  within the county.
  • Provide a copy of the appraisal to the buyer's appraiser.
  • Question a low appraisal. There is a process that can be taken through the Appraisal Management Company (AMC) to dispute low valuation.

Fix health and safety problems first. We will require repairs such as rickety railings, broken windows, loose steps, expose electrical wiring to be corrected prior to closing. All utilities must be working properly during inspection including smoke and carbon dioxide detector.
Tidy up.
Items not attached to the house - say, clothes scattered on the kids' bedroom floor aren't supposed to count. But clutter obscures the structure and creates a bad impression.
Don't kill yourself cleaning.
You want it clean, but this isn't a white-glove inspection. Appraisers understand homes are meant to be lived in. However, a dirty, unkempt home can increase its appearance of wear and tear and that condition can affect value.
Grasp the mindset
.
An appraiser will try to see your home through the eyes of a potential buyer, even if you're only refinancing.
Maximize views.
Remove ivy, weeds and overgrown landscaping that obscure a view. If you've got it, flaunt it.
Mow the lawn, trim the hedges.
 A property that looks good will develop  a 'what else is right?' attitude.
Keep up with general maintenance.
In a glutted market, buyers will choose the spiffiest properties.  Make any repairs that would catch the appraiser's eye such as replacing torn window screens, tiles falling off the shower surround or vinyl torn in the laundry room. The appraiser will assign an "effective age" to the house which is based on the condition of the home and any updated performed.
Don't over-improve.
The neighborhood establishes the value. If your home is already valued in the top 10 percent for your area, forego the upgrades and focus on maintenance.
Remodel strategically.
Don't make the mistake of the guy who tried to upgrade his small, 1940s home by adding a giant picture window forgetting that the house sat right next to a gas station.

Don't expect miracles from a single upgrade.
Kitchens upgrades usually bring the best return (but not always). Tour new homes in your area to see what materials and amenities they include. Builders know what sells.
Choose neutral (or at least tasteful) colors.
Get money in the bag before you launch a remodel. Once the house is gutted, you're stuck, because appraisers look at current value, not projected value.
Share the history.
Tell the appraiser what you've done to the house, when it was done and how much was it cost. You may not get full credit but it doesn't hurt to note it. Let the appraiser know about any improvements you've made to the home such as new floors, windows, counter-tops or a new roof and the contact information of the contractor who performed the work.
Point out red herrings. With the implementation of recent Home Valuation Code of Conduct, lenders are not allowed to contact appraisers anymore. However, agents and potential homeowners can provide the appraiser your own comps of similar size properties, condition and amenity levels in your immediate market area. If a neighbor recently unloaded a house in a distress sale, explain the circumstances so their low-ball price such as divorce, financial distress or heavy concessions can be pointed to the appraiser so it doesn't get factored into the "comps" against which your home will be judged.
Know your market. A four-bedroom home is usually worth more than a two-bedroom (in general).
Top appraisers often carry the "SRA" senior residential appraiser designation and can be found at the nonprofit Appraisal Institute


If you find serious mistakes in the appraisal report and the appraiser refuses to make corrections, appeal directly to the lender. If the lender stonewalls and the deal falls apart - consider filing a complaint to the 
state appraisal board.  I am here at your service. 

 


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