One thing you should know if you are contemplating a reverse mortgage is that your home will have to undergo an appraisal by an FHA-approved appraiser.

This will be a very extensive appraisal in which the appraiser should inspect your entire property, do a head and shoulders inspection of the attic (pop their head up and look around), measure the home, and be responsible for checking many items.

The physical inspection is only a portion of the actual appraisal.  The appraiser will usually have done a lot of research on recent sales in the area before they ever visit your home, so the actual physical inspection may not take too long.

How the Appraisal Process, Laws & Appeals Work

Evolution of HUD Appraisal Laws

But let’s talk about what the HUD and the lending laws allow the lender to do in this process.  To understand where we are now, we must go back to 2008, before the housing market imploded.

At that time, lenders could order an appraisal from any appraiser they wished.  If they felt the appraiser was doing a poor job or was not responsive enough, they could “fire” the appraiser and obtain a report from another appraiser.

HUD’s process was always that once an appraisal was ordered and obtained, that appraisal was supposed to be logged into the HUD system.  Still, some brokers and lenders were not always consistent with this step, which allowed the originator or the borrower to “appraiser shop.”

When the housing market bubble burst, and homes were found to be way over-valued, HUD, congress, and local lawmakers questioned appraisers who indicated that their livelihoods depended on the values they reported; they claimed they often didn’t get paid, they lost clients when they could not hit the requested values or any number of other punitive actions and were forced to bring in unsupported values to stay in business.

As a result, in 2010, FNMA, FHLMC, HUD, and private investors instituted rules, and State and Federal Laws were passed, known as Appraiser Independence Rules/LawsThese rules and laws limited people involved in consumer credit transactions secured by the consumer’s principal dwelling, which would violate appraisal independence.

The law is written as such:

(a) In general, it shall be unlawful, in extending credit or in providing any services for a consumer credit transaction secured by the principal dwelling of the consumer, to engage in any act or practice that violates appraisal independence as described in or pursuant to regulations prescribed under this section.  (b) Appraisal independence for purposes of subsection (a), acts or practices that violate appraisal independence shall include— (1) any appraisal of a property offered as security for repayment of the consumer credit transaction that is conducted in connection with such transaction in which a person with an interest in the underlying transaction compensates, coerces, extorts, colludes, instructs, induces, bribes, or intimidates a person, appraisal management company, firm, or other entity conducting or involved in an appraisal, or attempts, to compensate, coerce, extort, collude, instruct, induce, bribe, or intimidate such a person, for the purpose of causing the appraised value assigned, under the appraisal, to the property to be based on any factor other than the independent judgment of the appraiser; (2) mischaracterizing, or suborning any mischaracterization of, the appraised value of the property securing the extension of the credit; (3) seeking to influence an appraiser or otherwise to encourage a targeted value in order to facilitate the making or pricing of the transaction; and (4) withholding or threatening to withhold timely payment for an appraisal report or for appraisal services rendered when the appraisal report or services are provided in accordance with the contract between the parties.

Strict Boundaries of Appraiser Independence Laws

If you will note, interested parties (which includes homeowners and lenders) cannot, by law, “instruct” the appraiser by even supplying a value we believe the home should be any longer (in addition to any other action that would interfere with their independent valuation of the property).

To do so is a violation of the law, and the appraiser not only can but is instructed to report us to the authorities.  We have had some borrowers in the past who did not receive the value they wanted and felt that we had, in some way, instructed the appraiser to come in with a lower value.

Doing so would jeopardize our licenses in every state, cost us our HUD approval, and subject us to a $10,000 fine EACH DAY such violation occurs.  When we order an appraisal, we cannot and do not suggest a value to the appraiser as this would violate HUD Rules, the licensing rules of every state in which we are licensed, and state and federal laws.

In short, increasing or limiting home values would put us out of business.

Now, the law does allow an exception that is not construed as violating the appraiser’s independence, and that is to request corrections of errors, reconsideration of additional information that the appraiser did not use, and to provide further detail and substantiation or explanation if you feel that the appraiser did not consider some things that they should have.

That portion of the law appears below:

(c) Exceptions.  The requirements of subsection (b) shall not be construed as prohibiting a mortgage lender, mortgage broker, mortgage banker, real estate broker, appraisal management company, employee of an appraisal management company, consumer, or any other person with an interest in a real estate transaction from asking an appraiser to undertake 1 or more of the following: (1) Consider additional, appropriate property information, including the consideration of additional comparable properties to make or support an appraisal.  (2) Provide further detail, substantiation, or explanation for the appraiser’s value conclusion.  (3) Correct errors in the appraisal report

Reconsideration Requests in Appraisal Disputes

Suppose the appraiser is completely negligent or negligent in their duties.  In that case, we can seek a new appraisal, but this is not available simply because you don’t like or disagree with the value.

In those cases, you can register complaints to the licensing board in the state in which the appraiser is licensed and can file a grievance with HUD.  We can request a new appraisal for particularly egregious instances of appraiser malfeasance.

If you feel that your home is worth more than the value the appraiser assigned, the only way to refute the conclusion of value is to request reconsideration within the confines of the law.

What to Do When You Disagree with the Appraiser’s Evaluation

If you ask the appraiser to correct errors (the appraiser said your home is 2800 square feet, and you think it is 2900 and therefore worth more), the appraiser may disagree with you, find other information from old appraisals where other appraisers also concluded very similar square footage, shake it off due to rounding of different measurements or even change the report but state that the additional 100 square feet does not affect the value.

If you disagree with the appraiser about the value of the amenities (the view, the upgrades, the landscaping, etc.), this is a complicated argument to win.  Unless you have additional sales of homes the appraiser did not use in the report.  The amenities are like yours, which are not different in other ways.  It is your opinion vs. the appraiser’s.

Personal Opinions in Appraisal Reconsiderations

You are an interested party to the transaction and typically are not a licensed appraiser approved by HUD.

Therefore, your opinion is unqualified and biased.  This is no insult.  My opinion is biased when it comes to my home and its value as well.  So, the area where we all have the best possible chance of obtaining a reconsideration of value is to provide additional comparable properties to make or support a higher value that the appraiser did not consider.

When doing this, it is important to remember that the appraiser will not consider one floor plan more desirable than another, and other things you feel everyone in your neighborhood “knows” will bring more value unless there are sales that can verify the contention.

In other words, if you live in a tract of homes where the builder built one model with open concept and higher ceilings that sold for more when the tract opened 15 years ago, but all the recent sales indicate that they are now selling for about the same prices, the appraiser will not consider the premiums that the one-floor plan brought when the models first opened.

Importance of Providing Sales Data in Home Valuation Dispute

If you want to contend that your floor plan will now bring more than a competing plan or your tract more than a previous phase or subsequent tract built just a quarter of a mile away, you would need to be able to support your conclusion with actual sales supporting lower and higher sales based on the floor plan/location.

If those sales do not exist, it would be challenging to convince an appraiser that their value estimate is inaccurate based on no closed sales to support that conclusion.

We have had some homeowners suggest that we, as a lender, work with the appraiser to keep the property value down when their value was not as high as the borrower wanted it to be.  Let me explain to you why this really makes no sense.  The reverse mortgage is a HUD-insured loan.

Lenders Don’t Benefit from Low Property Appraisals

We use an FHA appraiser (who we don’t even get to pick, with whom we have no relationship and by law to whom we cannot even suggest a value), and if there is a default on the loan and we have followed all the rules, HUD pays for the losses out of the insurance fund.

We have no incentive to lower the value because we are at no personal risk on the default.  Holding down your value would not save us anything at all, but it hurts not only you but us when the lending process becomes bogged down with valuation issues.

Things would be much smoother if every appraisal went smoothly and every value met the borrowers’ expectations.  Every time a value comes in low, there is a risk that the borrower may not be able or willing to close the loan.

This represents a lot of work and costs we cannot recoup if the loan cannot be closed.

Presumably, this is why HUD took the valuation process out of the originator’s hands in the first place: they were convinced that some originators were a little too motivated to find a way to bring values in, whether they were supported or not.

The appraisal of your home is a snapshot in time.  The appraisal is one person’s opinion of value based on the comparison with competing sold homes.

There are Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (Find USPAP info here) that all appraisers must follow and additional rules for FHA appraisals to which the appraisers must also adhere.

If you do not like or agree with the value even after you have disputed the value as allowed by law and have exhausted all avenues, you can always cancel the loan, wait for the appraisal to expire, and reapply, but HUD will not allow a new appraisal until after the first appraisal is over 120 days old.

However, there is something very important that you need to know – the rules are the same for all lenders!

Why a New Appraisal Won’t Necessarily Solve Valuation Issues

HUD has required appraisal logging for several years, but they went one step further within the past year.  Every appraisal now completed for an FHA appraisal is submitted to HUD before it even goes back to the lender through the HUD Electronic Appraisal Delivery Portal (EADP).

HUD sees the appraisal via EADP before the lender has it, and it is tied to the case number and the borrower’s property – any new lender also has to work with the same appraisal for as long as the appraisal has not expired.

Once the appraisal expires, all lenders would have to order a new appraisal, and there are no guarantees on the next value.  If the sales are there to support a higher value on the next attempt, the following appraisal may, in fact, come in higher, but only a new appraisal can tell.

After all, it, too, is an opinion of value and a snapshot in time, so it would depend on the sales at that time and that appraiser’s opinion based on the information available then.

Additional sales could be made after the initial 4-month period, supporting a higher value.  It could be that a different appraiser sees things differently, but there is no guarantee that a new appraisal will achieve a higher result.  If any originator tells you they can get a higher value, they are not honest with you about their role in the valuation process, what they can and cannot do, or when.

The Final Word: Understanding Lender Limitations and Appraisal Disagreements

But the bottom line is that the lender has no control over your appraised value, which is by design and by law.  If we did, we certainly would not want the values to come in low so that we could expand massive amounts of time, energy, and costs only to see your loans not close.

After all, we are not in the business of processing loans and then letting them fall by the wayside.

If you find yourself in the unenviable position of not agreeing with the appraised value, always know that you can rebut the value with bona fide sales that support a higher value, or you can cancel and begin the loan again at a later time if you feel that would be more advantageous.

You can even file complaints with the state licensing board that licenses the appraiser or with HUD since they approve the appraiser for FHA appraisals if you feel the appraiser has acted illegally or unethically, but please don’t ever think that if your lender can’t find any additional sales to support a higher value that they want the value to be lower.

And please don’t mistake our explanations of the appraiser’s viewpoint or our limitations under the laws and rules as our siding up with the appraiser – it’s our job to let you know what is happening and to let you know if we can reasonably expect a different outcome based on our research.

If the time comes that we can no longer support a reasonable argument to request a reconsideration of value, it’s our job to tell you that as well so that you can make an informed decision.

Reverse Mortgage Rebuttal FAQs


How do you rebuttal a low appraisal?

If you believe that the appraisal on your home has come in lower than it should have, you can submit a Reconsideration of Value (ROV), also known as a rebuttal. To submit a proper rebuttal for consideration, you need to provide up to 3 closed sales that the appraiser did not use that are as similar to your home as possible when it relates to size, age, condition, amenities, etc. These sales should be recently sold and close to your home (preferably in the same neighborhood). You want to avoid using home sales that are too far away to be considered the same neighborhood or area, much larger homes, or superiorly upgraded homes. Additionally, if the appraiser makes any factual errors as it relates to square footage, lot size, upgrades, etc., you want to include that in a write-up for review. It’s always best to stick to facts only when submitting a rebuttal and avoid opinions.

Do appraisers ever change their appraisal?

In our experience, appraisers will change their appraisal if it is proven they made a mistake or overlooked a better sale comparable for your home. Successful rebuttals occur when there is verifiable evidence of something overlooked by the appraiser. A difference of opinion is just a difference of opinion, and that will not lead to a successful rebuttal.

Can I get a new appraisal if the first appraisal is too low?

When you are attempting to obtain a reverse mortgage loan, a new appraisal cannot be obtained if you believe the first appraisal is too low. All appraisals are submitted to HUD via the Electronic Appraisal Delivery (EAD) portal and are attached to your FHA case number. You can only have 1 FHA case number at a time. If you are dissatisfied with the appraisal, you may submit the reconsideration of value as noted previously, but you cannot obtain a new appraisal unless you wait for your existing appraisal and FHA case number to expire, which does not occur until 180 days have elapsed since the date of inspection by the appraiser.

What happens if an appraisal rebuttal is unsuccessful?

If an appraisal rebuttal is unsuccessful, you have a couple of options that you can pursue. You can proceed with the loan at the appraised value given on the report if the loan still works for you, or you can decide to cancel your loan and let the appraisal expire. Once the appraisal expires, you could decide to try again with a new application, FHA case number, and appraisal. Keep in mind that letting an appraisal expire is a lengthy process with no guarantee that the next appraisal will be more favorable to you value wise, as the market conditions can change in 6 months.

What are my options if an appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price?

If an appraisal comes in lower than the previously agreed-upon purchase price, you have a few options to consider. First, you will want to take the results of the appraisal to the seller’s agent to renegotiate the purchase price. It behooves you to have an appraisal contingency in any purchase transaction to allow you to back out of the deal if the value does not come in at the purchase price and recoup your earnest money deposit. If the seller does not agree to reduce the purchase price, you can choose to proceed anyway and pay the agreed purchase price even though the home did not appraise that high. This is a risky option, but if it is a minimal amount, some people may choose to do so. Keep in mind that any loan amount will be based on the lower of the purchase price or appraised value, and some lenders will not permit a loan if the purchase price exceeds the value by an amount they believe to be egregious. Lastly, you can cancel the contract if the seller is unwilling to renegotiate based on the results of the appraisal, and whether you can recoup your earnest money deposit will depend on how the contract was written and whether you are within your contingency period.

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