Appraisers getting stingier with home valuations

Homes for sale today are sitting on the market longer which wasn’t a big deal in days of ‘yore.  A seller used to have the luxury of saying “I’m in no hurry…I’ll wait till I get my price”.  But holding out today for “my price” usually means selling it in 5 months for THOUSANDS less than you can today, leaving many sellers wishing they hadn’t been so hasty to reject that first offer 3 months ago.

As short sales languish and morph into bank owned properties with lower and lower price tags, they’re dragging everyone’s home values down with them.  Lenders are cracking down on underwriters who are cracking down on appraisers who are …yep, you guessed it, cracking down on the appraised value of your home.

appraisals-in-arizonaAs a Realtor, pinpointing a home’s value today is like trying to hold on to a handful of dry sand.  The value’s there one minute but gone the next.  Tracking the market in every one of my listing’s neighborhoods has become more important than ever.  Why? Because appraisals aren’t a given anymore.  Appraisers aren’t just filling in the “value blank” with the offer price like they used to. 

I heard from one of my lenders today that appraisers are only looking at the last 3 months worth of sales to value a home.  They used to go back 6 months.  That means what your neighbor’s home sold for 4 months ago doesn’t hold any value at all.  Even though your neighbor’s home was almost identical to yours.  Had the same granite countertops, Travertine flooring, Venetian tiled swimming pool and gold plated toilet bowls.

Today an appraiser will determine the value of your home by using homes in your neighborhood that have sold in the last 3 months.  And if nothing has sold that’s as nice as yours…it’s ok, your other neighbor’s home will be used.  You know the one…Front yard full of weeds, 17 newspapers in the driveway, 4 broken windows, nothing in the backyard except a pool which contains a thick, blackish-green substance that was probably water at one point.  Opening the front door, you get a whiff of a smell which really can’t be described, to find stained (so, that’s where that smell is coming from) flooring and walls that if they had little mouths would be screaming for mercy.  Yes…this gem of similar square footage to your home is going to be called pretty darn near equal in value to your palacial abode…Although you will get a slight bonus for those gold toilet bowls.