Monday, August 31, 2009

The San Diego Appraisal Nightmare

The buzz among Realtors today is the appraisals are coming in low, gumming up the sale of homes. While the inventory of homes decreases in San Diego County, the law of supply and demand pushes prices upwards. However, how far above the last comparable home sale can they go?

Sellers can ask a ten-million dollars for their home, but will the comparable home prices in the area support the price? This is a fair and honest question that Sellers need to seriously consider when choosing a price to list their home at.

The pendulum seems to have swung the opposite direction. A few years ago, appraisers chosen by lenders, seemed to search for properties that supported the rising prices. When prices began to turn, declining, and people began to walk away from homes that were no longer worth what they payed for them, the appraisers were often blamed for over-inflating the home prices. Some were even held accountable for their inaccurate appraisals.

Now appraisers are faced with a several challenges and producing conservative prices that are seeming to error on the low side, rather than risk over-valuing a home. Some believe that due to new regulations, appraisers are now chosen from a pool rather than the individual lenders in hopes of a more impartial appraisal, has led to appraisers sometimes working out of unfamiliar territories. They may not know be familiar with the local area and only have the multiple listing information about properties versus first hand knowledge. The second issue they face is there is still a supply of lower priced foreclosures and short sale homes that may be the only comparable homes available.

So what is a seller to do when their home appraisal comes in under the offer price? You can appeal the appraisal, which involves reviewing it to find factual errors, detailing why the comparable homes were not good comparisons, and coming up with better comparable homes. Or there is always back to the drawing board and renegotiate the price.

As the number of offers multiplies on well maintained or even average homes with good bones, sellers will be looking for the buyers prepared to bring in extra cash to pull the appraisal and offer price together should it come in low. So buyers need to be prepared with extra cash to back up their offers.

--Virginia Hall
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage