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Avoiding Low Appraisals – What Can a Homeowner Do?

May 23, 2012

A few weeks ago, we talked about an obstacle to home sales – a low appraisal.  It’s a common problem, and it can spell the end of a deal. There are some courses of action to take if the appraisal does come in low, but what about heading off the problem before it happens? Can you do anything to help a client minimize the possibility of an undervalued appraisals.

Experts say, yes, to a degree. “In today’s climate, I can’t stress enough: condition, condition, condition,” said Doreen Zimmerman, an appraiser in Paradise, Calif. You can’t control the size of the property or where it’s located, but you can make an impact by ensuring the house is up to snuff. Here are some ideas to share with clients:

1. Spiff it up. An appraiser looks a number of things, but one is the condition of the house. Carpet stains, broken fixtures, overgrown hedges, and dishes in the sink all give the air of a home that’s not as well cared for as it could be. It may also hide the property’s most distinctive and attractive features, leading to a lower condition category.

Take a step back and look at your home as if you were visiting. What strikes you? Are toys everywhere? Tuck them away into a play area or back in the kids’ rooms. Are there handprints along the hallways? Clean them. Are weeds taking over the planting beds? Tidy them up.  Make beds. Wipe counters. Hang up towels. Simple things, but they matter.

2. Provide a list of updates. An appraisal considers whether a home has been updated or not, so have a detailed list of anything you’ve done. It should include what it was, when, and the approximate cost. Include even items you think are minor – new sinks, new faucets, light fixtures, etc. as well as big things like a new roof or countertops.

3. Compile a list of comparable sales in your area. It’s true that your appraiser will do this as part of the process, but today, there are many short sales and foreclosures that bring down comparables. If you know home sales in the area that support your price, share them. It can’t hurt. If the closing was very recent or the house wasn’t listed on MLS, the appraiser may not have them yet.

4. Let the appraiser do the job. As anxious as you are to have a solid appraisal, you don’t help the situation by following him, trying to make your case. Talk before or after, and then let him do the walk through. Keep your pets confined, too. A hissing cat or growling dog is irritating and won’t help the process.

For more details on appraisals, and why working with a lender that uses local appraisers is important, give me a call. I’m happy to work with you to maximize your success.


Loan Officer Kristen DiCarlo

Loan Officer Kristen DiCarlo

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