What is an Appraisal/ Appraisal Review?

Appraisal Clipboard
Appraisal Clipboard

Unless a buyer is paying cash for a home, they must obtain a loan. With the real estate meltdown, banks are being ultra cautious about who they are lending money to and how much they will lend.

Recently, we had two homes under contract (this means that both buyer and seller have agreed to a sales price) and the “file” was sent to the bank to begin the financing process.

One of the most important pieces of this process is an appraisal of the property.  Due to new regulations, bankers must call a “third party” group to order an appraisal. They used to be able to speak directly with appraisers but this is now prohibited. It’s common knowledge that real estate is very local and sometimes, values vary widely on a street by street basis. The problem with the new system is that appraisals are often conducted by people who aren’t famililar with the community they’re doing an appraisal in. They don’t have access to the local area knowledge that often adds “intangible” value to a home or neighborhood.

As a result, many homes don’t appraise for the agreed upon purchase price. When this happens, either the seller must reduce the price to the appraised value or the buyer must agree to bring the difference between the appraised price and the agreed upon sales price to closing in cash — or, the two parties can re-negotiate where the seller comes down a little and the buyer brings some cash to the closing.

In two recent transactions that we had, the property did appraise for the purchase price, but at the 11th hour, the bank sent the file back to underwriting for an appraisal review — one of these was ordered less than 24 hours before closing and held up the sale by almost a week. In the other case, the underwriter requested that the appraiser justify why he didn’t use some particular home sales in his property analysis. This led the appraiser to go back out into the “field”, photograph the homes that were not used and explain why they weren’t used. The net result was that the underwriter accepted the appraiser’s comments and we’ve been approved to move toward closing. So, both transactions had happy endings but with a lot of angst along the way!

Throughout a real estate transaction, there are many pieces of the puzzle that must be assembled and it’s important that you choose seasoned realtors who know how to maneuver through the many hurdles that will come up. Allison Steilberg and Caroline Powell of The Avondale A Team in Jacksonville,FL can (and do) provide just such expertise. If you have questions, please feel free to call us — we’ve love to help!



They need to determine if the price that the buyer has agreed to pay is, in fact, fair market value and the appraisal is supposed to

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