"Don't talk to the appraiser?" Think again ...
What a great post, Susan! Margaret Rome takes the same approach. I took the advice from these two agents. The foreclosure across the street which recently sold at 50% of my listing was really making me nervous! So I met the appraiser last week at the home. And I did what they and Charles Hawthorne recommended, "Wanted you to see how I based my price for this home." I had the printouts with pictures for 4 comps about 4% to 7% higher than the home I have listed. Now finishing getting ready for the Closing on June 12th as we wait to hear from the bank! Thinking positive here!!!
Have a happy day -
Let me tell you how I solved the issue of inaccurate appraisals.
A few years ago, I listed a beautiful home in the local hills. The homeowners had just finished some major upgrades when they were suddenly a one income family instead of two incomes, and the house became too much for them to carry.
Although the homes in that neighborhood were only about 7 years old, they had single pane windows and the kitchen and bathrooms were okay but standard fare.
My clients had spent close to $200,000 upgrading everything. They installed double pane windows, replaced the front and back doors to top quality doors with double paned etched leaded glass in them, upgraded the central vac system with a stronger motor, upgraded the HVAC to have two zones in the house instead of just one to cover everything.
The light fixtures throughout the house were replaced with upscale style, and all of the bathrooms were gutted and new cabinets and Italian tile on floors and enclosures. Even the laundry room had cherry cabinets and granite countertops. They replaced the flooring with hardwood and Italian tile throughout the home.
They gutted the kitchen and installed a spectacular gourmet kitchen with every kind of feature you can imagine. The kitchen was full of surprises behind some of the cupboard doors. They installed some upgraded fencing and added a large garden shed, covered patio, dog run, and potential for RV storage.
So what's the problem? When it came to marketing, the recently sold homes in the immediate neighborhood were not comparably improved, making this seem by far the best house on the block - would it appraise for the listing price we needed?
So often on my listings I didn't even know when the appraiser was at the property and there was no opportunity to provide any information that might assist in his making a meaningful valuation opinion.
Then came my "Aha!" moment. When I learned that the buyer's lender was scheduling an appraisal, I simply removed the key from the lockbox and informed the lender that the appraiser should call me to meet him or her at the property to let him in.
I printed out all of the photos of the interiors of all of the homes I felt he would use as comps, including 2 that were the exact same floor plan and had sold within the previous year.
One of those with the same plan was a bank-owned home that had been completely gutted, presumably by the homeowner who had been foreclosed on. The new owner was working on some great upgrades, but clearly they hadn't influenced his purchase price.
The other comp property with the same floor plan hadn't suffered any damage of that kind, but was definitely worn and all original, with the original windows, old carpeting and linoleum, laminate counters, and lacking any of the upgrades of my listing.
When I met with the appraiser, I provided her with all of the MLS listings for all nearby comps, with additional photos, and gave her a list of upgrades my clients had done. She thanked me and said it would be very helpful because all she ever gets to see of the comp homes is the little photo of the front of the home.
For any further information, she depends on the agents who sold those homes to tell her any relevant information, which doesn't always provide a clear picture of how they compare to the subject property. These interior photos were the missing puzzle piece to help give a more accurate appraisal.
My listing appraised for a little over the price for which we were selling it and there was no problem for the buyers getting their financing.
Many realtors are under the impression that they are not permitted to speak to the appraiser. That is not true. The lender may not speak to him, but I can. What I am not permitted to do is to try to get him to appraise the property at contract value or otherwise to influence the result. All I did was provide information and she was free to use it or not as she wished.
Ever since then, I have followed the same procedure: remove the key, prepare photos of the interiors of comps, and provide those to the appraiser. I have not yet found an appraiser who did not appreciate this, and my appraisals have usually been pretty accurate.
When I hear other realtors complain that they keep getting bad appraisals, I suggest that they try what I do, and it has worked well for them too. Don't forget, this plan can also help in negotiations when you are the one with a short sale in original condition and the comps are all snazzed up.
Appraisers want to do a good job and they are doing the best they can with sometimes sketchy information about the condition of the comps they must use. We just have to make it clear to them that we are simply providing information that they might not have and then let them take it from there.
I hope this will be helpful to any other realtors who read this. Anything we can do to make our jobs easier and less stressful is good for us!
Broker / Realtor
Susan Neal Fine Properties
Century 21 Noel David Realty
Fair Oaks, California
Full time real estate services in Fair Oaks CA, with friendly professionalism, 30+ years experience.
I work hard to give my buyer or seller a low-stress transaction.
"Happy clients make me happy."
For all your real estate needs or questions, call me at (916)705-8951 or visit my website at www.SusanNealFineProperties.com.
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