I could pull my Hair out with these Appraisals

Managing Real Estate Broker with Riley Jackson Real Estate Inc.

It happened again yesterday: The dreadful call from the buyer's agent that the appraisal has come in lower than the agreed upon sales price. For me this is the third time in five weeks, and I know I'm not alone in this.

Our industry tells us that market value is determined by what an able buyer is willing to pay for a property in an open market with an arms-length transaction. I have re-iterated this many times to my sellers, explaining that what they want to get for their property is irrelevant. It's what a buyer is willing to pay.

But the truth is, unless it's a cash purchase, it's what an appraiser determines the value to be. The issue with the appraisal process is that the appraisers only look at past sales. This is generally problematic in the month of July, when appraisers look at comps from January. Historically, sales tend to be lower in January (less demand) than during the summer moving season.

Now we have a market on the verge of recovery. Record low interest rates, low home prices and less inventory have created more demand. For the first time in years we're seeing multiple offers, back-up offers and escalation clauses re-appear. But in the end, the air is punched out of this encouraging situation by low appraisal reports. 

I understand that appraisers have to answer to the scrutiny of the lenders and their underwriters, but how is our real estate market ever supposed to improve, if the new values aren't recognized and are being cut back to the level of the old sales? As long as appraisers are looking backwards, how can home prices move forward?

Low appraisals can be very devastating, as not all buyers are able to bring extra cash to the table, and not all sellers can accept drastic cuts in proceeds. When transactions fall apart this late in the game, the buyers have often already terminated their leases, sellers have started to move out, household goods are in transit and kids are already registered at new schools. For the brokers, weeks, if not months of efforts have been in-vain and they have to start again at point zero. But there is also a big impact on the rest of the community and the economy, as thousands of dollars in lost values are not being realized, resulting in lower proceeds, taxes and fees.

It seems we're in a perpetuating cycle of low past values impacting future values. There has got to be a better way to move forward.

Sandy Nelson

Olympia Realtor®, GRI, ASP, SRES, SFR






This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
ActiveRain Community
Washington Thurston County
Puget Sound - WA Real Estate
home values
low appraisals
olympia realtor
sandy nelson
improving real estate market

Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Carol Faaland-Kronmaier
Weichert, Realtors; Hillsborough - Hillsborough, NJ
PhD, e-PRO, Manville, Hillsborough, Somerset NJ

Sandy, Appraisals are the number one problem that all of the agents in my office are coming across every day! Great post.

Jul 18, 2012 04:21 AM #1
David O'Doherty
Raleigh Realty Inc - Clayton, NC
Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC

Sandy, appears it is a nationwide problem eh!! We had one on a pre-sale that came in exactly at sale price which is bogus because the builder had added so many upgrades and the comps they used were ridiculous!!

Jul 18, 2012 04:29 AM #2
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

Sometimes the appraisers hands are tied by new guidelines. Sometimes it's the investors that choose the appraiser in short sales. They must have at least one comp below fair market value of subject, and at least one comp above fair market value of subject. One major lender recently suggested that agents should meet the appraisers at the house, (and without attempting to sway the appraiser) just provide the appraiser with the comps used to determine list price. It's a difficult balance right now.

Jul 18, 2012 06:26 AM #3
Sandy Nelson
Riley Jackson Real Estate Inc. - Olympia, WA
your Olympia area Realtor

Thanks for your comments. I'm glad I'm not the only one who is frustrated, and I understand that the appraisers are just following their guidelines. I've decided to make it my new policy to no longer disclose to inquiring appraisers checking on mops if there were any sellers' concessions involved. As a concerted effort by the real estate professionals, this may help get the values up to where they should be. 

Jul 18, 2012 07:15 AM #4
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?


Sandy Nelson

your Olympia area Realtor
Let's start a conversation

Additional Information