Properly pricing your home has never been more important. Your Realtor will provide a comparable market analysis which compares recent sales in your area. If your property is sitting on the market and not attracting serious buyers, your agent may recommend a second opinion by a licensed appraiser. Appraisers use a different format, but comparing both results may help you draw a more accurate picture of the market. At some point during the process of selling your home, an appraiser will be involved -- if not for your purposes, surely for the buyer's mortgage evaluation.
Appraisals allow homeowners and buyers to establish fair market value. In addition, an appraisal allows a lender to know how much they can safely lend.
A home appraiser will compare the condition of your house in relation to the comparable properties in the neighborhood and will give you a reasonably good idea where your house fits in relation to recent sales.
The length of a home appraisal can range from two pages to more than 100. It includes house details, a description of the neighborhood and side-by-side comparisons of similar properties. It will also contain an evaluation of the area's real estate market, notations of major problems with the property that will affect its value and an estimate of the expected time it will take to sell the property.
The Appraisal Institute of America offers tips for consumers and guidance for homeowners and buyers seeking to ensure their sales are completed in a timely manner.
Make sure the lender hires a qualified appraiser (such as a designated SRA, SRPA or MAI member of the Appraisal Institute). The lowest-priced appraiser does not necessarily equate with the most qualified. This is a time to get the numbers right.
Accompany the appraiser during the inspection of the property if possible. The more active of a participant you are in the process, the more you will understand it, and be able to catch any errors.
Request a copy of the appraisal report from the lender. Federal law requires that you receive a copy of the appraisal within 30 days.
Appeal the appraisal if appropriate. Market conditions do change, especially in these economic times. If you feel that new information may change the appraisal, be sure to speak up.
Have your agent ask the lender to order a second appraisal by a qualified and designated appraiser. if you believe the original appraisal is incorrect.
File legitimate complaints with appropriate state boards or professional appraisal organizations.
Remember, you may not agree with the outcome of an appraisal. You and your agent can work with the figures and determine if you should change the sale price or not. A home appraisal, no matter how scientific, still ends up being the opinion of the appraiser and not engraved in stone.
Linda Skolnick's "Skolnick's Scoop" appears every other Friday. She is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Riverside in Westport and can be reached by calling 203-246-0088 or through her website, www.GoAskLinda.com.