As comedian Robin Williams once said:

Reality, what a concept

Kenneth Harney writes that Appraisers supply a dose of reality [LA Times].

What will your home be worth if unsold inventories of houses turn into a glut and relistings with price reductions become routine?

For most consumers, the ultimate answer about value will come from the appraiser hired by the purchaser’s mortgage lender.

For consumers, he provided insight about appraisers from several appraisers he interviewed (sans moi!):

  • stay in touch with multiple sub-segments – markets behave differently

  • have a lot of input from [agents] – they are on the front lines

  • hire a licensed, long-established appraiser as a consultant for an hourly fee – sometimes input from a non-biased source can put a buyer or seller at ease without a full appraisal.

  • good appraisers ignore pressure and will only change values if provided with comps that were missed that are better than those already submitted – the pressure appraisers get from lenders, mortgage brokers and mortgage bankers is relentless – if you want an unbiased opinion, you might stay away from appraisers who do a high volume of work for mortgage brokers

  • for sellers and buyers in softening markets: “Just be realistic.” Don’t be greedy – its going to take a while for all the parties to adjust to the change in conditions

  • As a buyer, don’t expect sellers to bleed for you – there may be not as many competing buyers but you are not the only buyer

  • And sellers: Don’t blame the messengers — appraisers or realty agents – respect the pressure they are under

Conclusion — Take a deep breath and listen to the valuation expert if you want to know what a property is worth.

I look at a valuation expert as:

  • someone whose compensation is not determined by whether or not you buy the property
  • years of experience
  • access to comprehensive information

In the article Bogus appraisals stress housing market [Kansas City Star] the author states An independent and unbiased appraisal — once considered the bedrock of any home sale or loan — today is often built on shifting sands, according to concerned appraisers in Kansas and Missouri as well as nationwide.

Appraisal fraud is relatively easy to hide because most consumers have no idea how an appraisal works. Many consumers never see an appraisal — though they pay for them — unless they ask for one at closing. But while they may appear subjective, honest appraisals are supposed to adhere to well-defined principles.

As the housing market eases, the phrase rising waters float all boats won’t apply anymore as consumers, lenders and regulators will begin to get the message that something has to be done.

For more information on appraisal issues of the day, check out our blog [Soapbox], dedicated to appraisal issues of the day.


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