Many home sales have fallen apart due to home valuation issues. Rapidly changing home prices and evolving regulations have impacted appraisals. We have seen buyers wait 6 months for a successful short sale approval only to have their hopes dashed by a low appraisal from their own lender. We have seen sellers move out of their homes and commit to other properties only to see the sale fall apart due to a low appraisal. Don’t let a questionable appraisal derail the dreams of your family.
Why Appraisals Are Important
Home loans are contingent upon appraisals. Lenders need to determine the underlying value of a home before agreeing to make a loan. The purpose of a Residential Appraisal Report is to develop a credible opinion of the value of the improved subject property as defined by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. The report contains supporting data, a final opinion of value, photographs and comments on market conditions.
A Conservative Approach
The melt-down in the mortgage markets caused many lenders to appoint Chief Risk Officers and take measures to limit the overall risk inherent in their loan portfolios. As lenders analyze their risk profiles, they may be hesitant to fund another Florida loan unless the appraisal valuation is very conservative. Once the appraisal is complete, it may need to go through underwriting, a lender’s appraisal review committee, and the PMI company for approval. A bank’s appraisal standards may penalize the valuation by 10% in areas with soft or declining market conditions. They may request two appraisals on a subject property, or may require buyers put between 10-20% down.
The Impact of HVCC
The Tampa Bay area has many excellent appraisers who face a rapidly changing business landscape. The HVCC (home value code of conduct) is a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac requirement that prohibits a lender from choosing the appraiser – either directly or indirectly. The rule is designed to shield appraisers from any pressure to hit the values needed for the sales contract. Lenders now place orders for appraisals with Appraisal Management Companies who retain a sizable percentage of the appraisal fee for overhead. The actual appraisers may receive less than half of the appraisal fees they collected in the past. As a result, many experienced appraisers have left the business. We have seen the proliferation of “appraisal mills” who send appraisers from as far away as Lakeland who lack knowledge of local builders and neighborhoods. Appraisers who commit to lower fees and faster turn around times are winning more business, but they are more likely to produce problem reports. While there are many qualified and excellent appraisers in the area, this new middle-man has caused home valuation to be more of a wild-card. While the US Senate is discussing changing HVCC regulations (see H.R.4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009), the law remains in effect. Once an home has been appraised, challenging the valuation has become nearly impossible.
As the average sales price of Tampa Bay homes has fallen, a greater percentage of homes now qualify for FHA loans. Appraisals on FHA loans pose a significant risk for a homeowner, as an FHA appraisal will set the value of the home for anyone else using an FHA loan for 6 months. Appraisals using the Fannie Mae 1004 form and Freddie Mac 70 form, also known as the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report (URAR), are stored in a database for 6 months and must be used for any buyers during that period. New FHA regulations similar to HVCC have been implemented by the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to ensure appraiser independence. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has implemented ML-28, whereby FHA-approved lenders are prohibited from accepting reports prepared by appraisers who are selected, retained or compensated in any manner by a lender or mortgage broker. An appraiser will contact the listing agent for access to the home and a copy of the contract. While Realtors should not attempt to apply pressure, we can provide background information about the neighborhood, builders and comparable sales. Agents can communicate knowledge about the condition or circumstances of recent sales that may impact values. We can suggest near-by homes or neighborhoods with similar characteristics. Realtors can also convey information about pending sales, active listings and the absorption rate. Team Bohannon also details any upgrades to the subject property that help justify the sale price. And finally, we describe the marketing of the property and disclose multiple offer situations. The best practice is to communicate this information the day before the appraisal to allow time for comparable selection, planning and photos before the appraisal.
Experience is a hard teacher. Don’t let your Realtor obtain on-the-job training at your expense. The average Realtor completes less than 4 transactions per year and may lack the experience required to manage the appraisal process. Contact Team Bohannon for an experienced team, a repeatable contract-to-close process, and an automated transaction management system to provide the peace of mind you deserve.