How Can I Make My Home Appraise Higher?

Whether buying or refinancing a home, when obtaining a mortgage it can be expected that an appraisal will be required. I talked in a previous post about how we are able to use appraisal waivers in certain instances, but still, most residential real estate transactions that involve a mortgage also involve an appraisal. An appraisal is a professional opinion of value, completed on a standardized report by a licensed appraiser. Are there steps the buyer or homeowner can take to assure that this value comes in as favorable as possible? Here are a few tips from the experts:

  • Choose a lender that uses an appraisal management company (AMC) with access to local appraisers. At Guaranteed Rate we place a high degree of importance on contracting with appraisers that know any area first-hand. This has the obvious advantage of bringing “boots on the ground” perspective to the property being appraised. But let’s not forget too that local appraisers are also often well-known appraisers to local real estate agents and these relationships are valuable.
  • Clean the house and yard. The cleaner the home the better it shows, and the higher value you will get.
  • Prepare a list, including cost estimates, of improvements completed to the property in the last year. If any updates have been done to the kitchen and/or bath within the past 15 years, include them on this list as well.
  • If you, or your Realtor, know of a good sale (or two) in the area within the last six months, you can give the address and sales price to the appraiser.
  • If refinancing, tell the appraiser the predominant feature of your home — the reason you bought it and the characteristic a future buyer may find most important and desirable. This may seem everyday obvious to you, but could easily be lost on even the best appraiser — who doesn’t live in the home each day.
  • Be mindful of “health and safety” issues, regardless of how minor. An opening in a wall, water stains on the ceiling, a disconnected faucet, peeling paint or a missing handrail on a staircase may all seem trivial, but they could require further notation in the report, potentially stalling your transaction. Make the small repairs in advance (or have the seller do so), even if it means hiring a handyman.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors because in many areas (if not all!) it’s the law. Also, here in California, if you have a water heater, it must be double-strapped for earthquake safety.

Stacking the deck in your favor using the tips above, and working together with us before and after the appraisal is complete, you can maximize your potential to attain the highest value. This can then open up financing options and opportunities, and even factor into the interest rate you’re able to obtain. When you are refinancing a home, the home’s value relative to your existing loan balance determines your eligibility. When you are buying a home, you and your Realtor will want to know the appraised value supports the contract price. In both instances, if you have questions about the appraisal process, and especially if you have concerns about the subject property’s value, we are here to help.

I spy, 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

What Happens When My Appraisal Comes in Low (or High!)?

You’re in the process of buying a home, and so far things have been going pretty smoothly.  Your lender has pre-approved you, your Realtor has found you the perfect home, and with a bit of luck, the seller accepted your offer and now you’re in contract.  It’s very likely that early on in your loan process — usually within the first few days of having your offer accepted — your lender ordered an appraisal.  From there, a licensed appraiser went out to the property and then turned in a completed appraisal report (which, at its core, is a professional opinion of value).  Of course, you know the dollar amount you’re paying for the home because that figure is on your contract.  But what happens if the appraisal doesn’t support that price?  What happens if the appraisal comes in low, or for that matter, high?  Let’s take a look.

My Appraisal Came in Low

I’m in California and I like to use round numbers, so let’s say you’re buying a home for a cool $1,000,000.  You are putting 20% down ($200,000), and you are getting a loan for $800,000.  We would say your loan-to-value (LTV) is 80%.  When your lender pre-approved your loan, he probably structured most of the important aspects of your financing, such as program selection, approval guidelines, interest rate, etc., on the assumption you would have an LTV of 80% or less.  Let’s say the appraiser goes out to the home, does the best job she can and after all comparable properties (“comps”) are analyzed, can only support a value for the home of $975K. How does the lender react to this information?  For conventional mortgages, the lender will use the lesser of the purchase price or appraised value to determine the LTV.  This is the key concept and we’ll come back to it in a minute and in a different scenario, but for now, let’s go to the chalkboard and do the math:

Before appraisal:

  • $1,000,000             Contract price
  • ($1,000,000)          Assumption of value
  • $800,000                Loan amount
  • 80%                        Loan-to-Value

After appraisal:

  • $1,000,000             Contract price
  • $975,000                Appraised value
  • $800,000                Loan amount
  • 82%                        Loan-to-Value

Houston, we have a problem.  If your loan approval has rested on the assumption that you have an LTV of 80% of less, we can see that this is no longer the case.  This buyer might pursue these options to remedy the matter:

  1. Use a different loan program that might accommodate the higher loan-to-value.  This might mean taking PMI (private mortgage insurance), or using a piggyback loan, for example.
  2. “Making up the difference in cash.”  To produce an 80% LTV against a value of $975K, the loan amount would be $780K.  Assuming the purchase price stays at $1MM, this buyer, who would have previously made a down payment of $200K, will now need to make a down payment of $220K.
  3. Renegotiate the contract.  Often, we’ll see the buyer go back to the seller and ask for some concession on the price.  Maybe the seller will be willing to reduce the price slightly to keep the transaction moving forward, instead of falling out of contract and starting over with a new buyer.
  4. Rebut the appraisal.  Perhaps factual error or oversight of a strong comp caused the appraised value to be lower than it might be otherwise.  Buyers can opt to have their lender pursue a reconsideration of value.  Word to the wise, many rebuttals come back with no change.  In other words, they uphold the original appraisal.  But most also chew up a lot of contractual time.  Pursuing a reconsideration can be a gamble with a low probability of success.
  5. Try a new appraisal?  Hold on a second — this is not a valid option, but I bring it up because we do get the question.  So long as you stay with the lender who performed the original appraisal, ordering a new appraisal to “value fish” is not permitted.

The last important point about a low appraisal value is that it may only matter to the buyer whose loan is near an important loan threshold or guideline.  In our example above, the reason the low appraisal triggered significant changes is because the 80% LTV threshold is important in conventional lending.  And there are others like it you may not recognize, but that your lender can explain.  However, let’s say our buyer above was putting $500K down on a purchase of $1MM (50% LTV) and the appraisal comes back at $975K.  Now the LTV is 51%.  Big deal.  No key lending thresholds are crossed and this borrower very likely sees zero change to his terms.

What Happens If My Appraisal Comes in High?

Well, this paragraph is going to be a lot shorter.  In conventional lending, and for a purchase transaction, you cannot “monetize” an appraisal value that comes in above the purchase price.  Again, we use the lesser of the purchase price or appraised value to determine LTV.  Still, it’s great news.  You are getting a deal on the home, but in terms of making a smaller down payment or otherwise leveraging the higher value, there are “no dice” here.  Yes, down the road that higher value might allow you to refinance with greater ease and/or better interest rates, but practically speaking an appraisal that comes in higher than contract price is really just a vote of confidence.

If you’re reading this post and find yourself in a bind because your appraisal just came in low, don’t hesitate to get in touch.  We have a large selection of mortgage programs that grant more flexibility with LTV, and we have a lot of experience navigating the loan process together with the intricacies of fulfilling requirements of your contract.  We’re here to help with your mortgage needs whether your appraised value comes in high, low or right on the money.

Thing of value, 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office:  324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA  94960
Berkeley Office:  1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA  94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate.  In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

Do You Need a New Appraisal When You Refinance?

It’s September of 2019 and interest rates are again approaching historic lows. This means that many homeowners are considering a refinance — and for good reasons. If there is a hurdle for some, it’s the cost and risk of getting an appraisal on their property. What happens if the appraised value doesn’t support the loan amount, loan-to-value or the transaction itself? Are these clients then out the money for the appraisal report, typically anywhere from $500 to $1200?

Earlier in the year, we introduced an appraisal tool that allows us to determine, in advance and with a very high degree of accuracy, if a refinance transaction will be eligible for an appraisal waiver. This all happens before a client even makes a loan application, so we don’t require any personal information. How does it work? We need three pieces of information:

  1. The address of the property.
  2. The estimated value of the home.
  3. A good idea of the loan balance being refinanced.

With the above, we can assess the probability of getting an appraisal waiver and if we do, we can be off to the races and closed on a refinance with less time and less expense. It’s really that easy and it’s a huge edge for the homeowner looking to save money on their housing expense.

Oh, and one of the best things about our appraisal waiver platform? It works for purchases too! If you’re considering making an offer on a property, run it by us. We can put in the address of the property and the intended offer price and we’ll know in advance if you’ll need an appraisal. In cases where you don’t, you can offer without an appraisal contingency, possibly further strengthening your offer.

Appraise be to God, 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283