"Don't be afraid to give the appraiser information about the house down the street that sold for $10,000 less," advised Gary Bourque, president of Central Mass Appraisals, during a recent continuing education class hosted by the North Central Association of Realtors. Bourque said there is usually a good reason for the discrepancy, and appraisers need to "bracket" comparables by including homes that have sold both over and under the price of the home they're appraising.
There is a common misconception, according to Bourque, that realtors shouldn't talk to appraisers when they come to inspect a house. That couldn't be more wrong. "The more information you can give the appraiser, the better." For every 100 appraisals Bourque does, only eight of the listing agents give him packages of comps and other relevant data. "You only have one shot at having the property come in at value," Bourque cautions, citing the restrictions against "coercing" appraisers that were imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act. "Don't waste it."
What kinds of information can be helpful to an appraiser? In addition to relevant comparables, Bourque appreciates feature sheets, a copy of the deed, floorplans (though he'll always take exterior measurements, as well), a plot plan, the property's field card, and a copy of the signed purchase and sale agreement. You can even given an appraiser a copy of the CMA you did when you first listed the property. Not all appraisers are as welcoming of realtor assistance as Bourque obviously is, but as he says, "It can't hurt to offer."