Question from our reader:
Can you influence the appraiser to give a higher appraised value?
This is one that I would tell you absolutely NO! It is against the law to try to influence an appraiser to raise a value. This is not to say that if you feel that an appraiser has given you a bad value that you cannot rebut the appraiser’s opinion of value once you receive it with factual information though.
Chance to Rebut Appraisal
If you receive an appraised value that you do not believe is accurate, you have the right to rebut the appraiser’s estimate of value but the only way you have any chance of obtaining a favorable outcome is to find meaningful errors in the original report or sales of more recent, more similar homes which if considered would have supported a higher value.
For example, we often find people trying to use a recently renovated home when theirs is completely original to support a higher value when the appraiser used 3 original homes that all sold for lower prices indicating a lower value. This kind of rebuttal will not be successful.
Another unsuccessful type of disagreement we find borrowers attempting is when they “think” their home’s layout, location, tract, model, landscaping etc. is worth more than a competing sale the appraiser used to determine value, but they have no sales to support their conclusion.
This becomes a difference of opinion and this rebuttal will also be unsuccessful. HUD requires that appraisers support both the value and salability of outbuildings and other types of amenities in order to give those items value on the appraisal report. For example, if your home has a shed for storage, or a second garage, that might be a great thing for you and an eyesore for other buyers in that market.
You might think but wait, I spent $7,500 on that shed or the additional garage is awesome for your other 3 cars, but to give it value, the appraiser has to have sales with and without sheds to show what the informed buyer in that market is willing to pay for those items. Otherwise, who’s to say that you are in a market that caters to people who might own additional cars or do their own yard work and want a home with either of those amenities.
Without other sales to verify not only the amount buyers will pay for something in any particular market, there is no way to know that it actually isn’t a cost to cure that should be subtracted because most home buyers in that market would not want another garage or shed.
But let’s assume that the appraiser did go 2 miles away to get the sale comparables that sold 4 months ago and there are 3 houses within 4 blocks of your home that all sold within the past 2 months, are the same size, style and in the same shape and support a higher price because they are all on “your side of the tracks”.
That is a rebuttal that you can win because your position is that sales that are closer, more recent and more representative of your home’s value sold for a higher price and had the appraiser used those properties, your value would have been higher.
Rebuttals based on facts are not an attempt to merely influence the appraiser and can and most often are successful whereas rebuttals based on opinion and emotions are not.
In any case and getting back to your question, you can give the appraiser information about your home to help him or her understand all the work or improvements you have made and I know many borrowers who have put together fact sheets for appraisers in advance.
For this to be beneficial though, you need to point out things that are high ticket items that would bring greater value at sale that the appraiser may not be able to readily spot on their own such as all new wiring and electrical or plumbing on an older home, permitted additions that may not show up on county/city records, or other such improvements.
Your roof that you replaced 5 years ago will not increase your value as the appraiser will see that it is in good condition and it will be included in the overall condition when compared to the sales the appraiser uses.
But any attempt to simply to influence an appraiser by suggesting a value that he/she should hit or trying to argue the value and not the merit of the conclusion once the report is finished can result in the appraiser walking off of the assignment and reporting the homeowner to HUD and the same is true for originators if they try to influence an appraiser as well.