Here is what you need to do to fight a bad, low or flawed appraisal.
First I must say not ALL appraisals are flawed and not all appraisers are incompetent like so many seem to think these days....but there are many appraisers who do not belong in the areas where they are appraising and there are many who just did not learn the proper way to appraise.
So here goes, pass this along to everyone you know, feel free to repost this blog, it will help!
1. Get a copy of the appraisal first. The borrower is by law supposed to get a copy before closing.
Review the top part of the form where the address is make sure that the address, borrower name and most importantly the legal description of the property is accurate. If they can't get these right, chances are the rest of the appraisal has issues!
2. Go over that same page and review the description of the property. Do they have this all correct. Is the bedroom and bath count accurate (REMEMBER appraisers separate the terrace or basement level rooms and square footage from the upper finished levels, so the bed and bath count will only be those rooms on the main and upper levels (above grade) but credit is given for basement area and finished rooms in the basement just at a different value per square foot.)
If they have missed important amenities or basic information like is the home on septic or sewer, etc. Chances are there are more errors to follow.
3. NOW here is the really important part:Look at the page where the comparables are noted and where the actual adjustments are made. If you see across the board adjustments for something like condition or quality of construction:+$10,000 or -$10,000 for example and the description is they are average in quality and the subject is above average, chances are there is a problem here. How can every sale that is defined as average compared to the subject's above average quality be exactly $10,000 inferior in value to the subject. This applies to condition and most definitely to SITE VALUES....watch out for those adjustments.
We appraise Lake front property and when I see an across the board adjustment of say $20,000 for above average lake lots as compared to average lake lots, this is impossible as no 2 lake lots are alike here and they certainly are not exactly $20,000 difference in overall value.
Site values are very important as you well know in many areas you can go just a few blocks over and while the house may be very similar to the subject property, maybe the lots on this block are worth far less than the subject site. So if you see that there are NO adjustments across the board for site values that are similar in SIZE only and you Know that these lots are NOT similar in value then you have cause to rebut this flawed appraisal
4. ANOTHER very important thing...LOOK at the comparable photos used in the appraisal report...ARE they the exact same ones that you see on your local FMLS or MLS? If they are you hit the jack pot, why? Because that tells me that the appraiser did NOT drive by the comps and take their own photos. This happens more than I care to admit but it is very important for you to know because USPAP (our uniform standards of professional appraisal practice) REQUIRES that appraisers drive by the comps! So you have a clear violation of USPAP here and when a LENDER hears this....Bingo you get another appraisal done because how in the world can they assess the home and more importantly the neighborhood in which these comps are located if they did not drive by the property!
5. When appraisers make dollar adjustments there are only 2 kinds.....Positive and Negative. So if you see a PLUS sign in front of the adjustment that means that the comparable sale is INFERIOR to the subject and we add to that sale price to raise it up to the subject. If you see a MINUS in front of an adjustment that mean the comparable sale is SUPERIOR to the subject and therefore we are subtracting from the sales price of that comp. Just remember that we always adjust the comparable sales price against the subject. Another way I like to remember this is CBS and CIA (Comparable better subtract, Comparable inferior... ADD) CHECK THEIR ADJUSTMENT TO SEE IF THEY MAKE SENSE, MANY TIMES AN APPRAISER MAY USE THE WRONG ADJUSTMENT FACTOR PLACING A NEGATIVE ADJUSTMENT WHEN IT SHOULD BE POSITIVE AND VICE VERSA. THIS AFFECTS THE BOTTOM LINE APPRAISED VALUE!!!!!
6. Toward the bottom of the comparable page there is a section where the appraiser must note past sales history of the subject and the comparable sales....Check these dates and make sure they are accurate.
Again, the whole premise is this....The more small and/or large errors you find, the less accurate that appraisal really is....and it does not take long to find such errors, even if you don't know how much the adjustment should be. Remember adjustments are not based upon DOLLAR for DOLLAR costs, it is based upon what the market will pay for the variance...so it could be half the cost, it just depends.....on many factors.
I reviewed an appraisal where they "cloned" another appraisal report of a home that was close to the property that they were appraising. Appraisers do this to save time and that is fine except what I found was that they did not remove those items that did not relate to the subject and so they had the description for the subject all wrong and they also had the addresses of the comps wrong. They were using the addresses of the old cloned report but using the actual data of the comp that they were using for the subject!
7. Drive by the comps used, make sure the addresses are correct, make sure that the PHOTO used in the report MATCH the home.....I have seen wrong photos in the reports, they did not match the actual homes!
8. Check the comps and map that is included which shows where the comps are located. Just below the address on the comps page there is a section that asks how FAR the comps are from the subject. Double check this number. Many times the appraiser will reduce that mileage by quite a bit so that it passes underwriting......I have seen some comps show they are only 2-3 miles from the subject when in reality they are 10 miles from the subject!!! Not good.
9. Check the sketch page where they draw the house.....make sure it looks right as far as placement of the rooms and the overall square footage. If they are off 100 feet or so this makes a difference on the appraised value of the home.
So you get the IDEA here......If you start adding up errors, you have the right to tell the lender the appraisal is flawed and this is without even dealing with whether or not the COMPS are good. That is a whole story in and of itself. If you know for a fact that the comps are bad, state why in your rebuttal!
10. Don't get mad about the whole process, just find the errors, state the facts and move forward...Tell the lender it is their responsibilty to use an appraiser who is familar with the area and who can put together an accurate report.
This will NOT always mean the value will be different but you have the chance to get an accurate appraisal on the home and then you will know for sure what it is really worth!
If you work in the North Georgia area, we offer appraisal reviews. We have been very successful in getting lenders to order another appraisal or a review of the first one after they have seen my reviews!