How to Dispute a Bad House Appraisal

by Alice Stuart

Appraisals are an essential part of the home-buying process. Banks will not approve mortgage loans for more than the appraised value of the home. If the appraised value comes in lower than the agreed selling price, it can delay or cancel a home sale. Appealing a bad appraisal is possible, but it takes time and effort. Understanding the standards used in home appraisals and the appeal process is essential to combat a low appraisal.

Check the appraisal carefully. It is not uncommon for a clerical error to result in a home appraisal listing an incorrect square footage description. These errors are also the easiest kinds of errors to dispute and the most likely to result in a revised or new appraisal.

Look at the houses that the appraiser used for comparing recent selling prices. Are they really comparable homes? Check to verify that the homes listed were in your neighborhood, of the same square footage and features as yours, and use the same school districts. If there was an error in the square footage or description of your home, the appraiser may have looked for comparable homes to the incorrect description, and this would need to be revised.

Check to see if the houses that the appraiser used for his comparison sales were sold as foreclosures or short sales. These types of sales do not provide accurate basis of comparison to traditional sales, as the price for a home sold as a foreclosure can be up to 30 percent lower than the same home if sold traditionally.

Contact the appraiser with your justification for requesting a new or revised appraisal. Be prepared to provide documentation for the problems you have with the current appraisal. If your lender agrees with you, it can request a new appraisal and use the one it feels is most accurate.

Consider switching lenders. This is an extreme step to take, but if your lender will not request a new appraisal and the appraisal price is too low to secure the financing you need to buy the house, starting over with a new lender and a new appraiser may be the only way to get the number you need.

Tips

  • Ask the lender to require an appraiser who is from your county or a nearby county and is certified to do residential appraisals.
  • If the seller has gotten a better appraisal recently, you can give a copy of that appraisal to the appraiser before he visits the home.
  • You are able to accompany the appraiser during his inspection, allowing you to point out features you think increase the home's value.

Photo Credits

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