Thursday, February 07, 2019 / by Nicolette Samash
On the list of things that can go wrong during a real estate transaction, an appraisal is one of the major milestones that can make or break a deal. On the one hand, the point of an appraisal essentially is to determine that the price the home is being purchased for is justifiable. A common misconception about appraisals is that they are for the buyer…which isn’t completely correct. Appraisals are mainly for the bank, but also end up protecting a buyer from overpaying on a home purchase.
Waiting on an appraisal can be a stressful time for both the eager home buyer who just wants to get to closing as quickly as possible, and for the seller who is generally nervous about repairs getting called out or the value coming in low. As far as repairs, if the buyer is getting an FHA or VA loan, the appraiser is looking for anything that may pose a health or safety risk, or that will affect the value of the home. This broad scope can be quite subjective depending on the appraiser, and can feel to those involved in the transaction a little bit like rolling the dice. While there are guidelines that appraisers are held to there is some room for interpretation and unfortunately the buyer, the seller, the bank and the agent have no say in who is chosen as an appraiser since the point is to have a 3rd party giving their educated opinion of value. Some common items that an appraiser will call out are:
· Peeling paint on the exterior of the home
· No handrails on a stairway
· Signs of moisture in the attic
· Broken windows
· Non-functioning utilities
· Visible signs of mold/moisture damage
· Any other items that they feel can pose a health or safety risk
Unfortunately for sellers an appraisal is both a science and an art, and a lot of it depends on the loan program the buyer purchasing your home has and the individual appraiser who goes out. However, any obvious safety concerns should be remedied prior to an appraiser going out to avoid costly reinspection fees that usually fall on the seller. Your real estate agent can familiarize you with the common appraisal system in your area such as how long an appraisal will take, what items are called out in your state, the buyer’s loan program, what repairs they recommend based on your specific house, etc. Keep in mind that if the value does come in low there is an opportunity for renegotiating, so it does not necessarily mean the deal will fall apart.