Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Kris MacDonald, an agent and manager of Insight Realty Group office in West Roxbury, for his tips on how to be adequately prepared for property appraisals.
8. Appointments – As a listing agent you should always meet the appraiser in person. This is your opportunity to gauge how the appraiser judges the property. It also gives you the opportunity to discuss the property directly with them.
7. Bring Information About the Listing – Brochures highlight the features of a home, and the appraiser may refer back to the brochure when writing the report. Knowing that the home has features that go beyond the check boxes in the MLS can affect how they judge the value. MLS often covers a majority of the features, but it doesn’t address the differences of items. If a Viking 6 burner range worth mentioning over a Maytag 4 burner range to a buyer, then it is worth having as a take away for an appraiser.
6. Floor Plans (if Available) – An appraiser is required to measure a single-family home personally, but having reference points can make their job easier. Don’t rely on the upload to MLS; have a printed copy with you. When it comes to condominiums, the appraiser has to refer to the master deed and unit floor plan. Many of these plans and documents are easily obtainable on registry of deed websites. Print out plans and the square footage page chart from master deeds, and have them in your package.
5. Comparable Sales – Be prepared to defend the sales price in a knowledgeable and respectful way. Don’t rely on the comps you used to price the property and know the basic guidelines. The appraisers have to follow the guidelines of USPAP (Universal Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices). Here are some basic guidelines (sometimes they do vary with market conditions):
- Three Sold Properties (within three to six months)
- One Under Agreement
- One Active
- Similar Neighborhoods within one mile
- Similar Quality/Age
While these may seem elementary, some properties do not have the perfect comps. Market prices rising can cause that perfect comparable to be just a little off. If you have a few sales that perfectly demonstrate a recent rise that are not perfect comparables, take them with you to demonstrate that.
4. Adjustments of Value to Comparables/Arriving at Value – Appraisers use a technique called matched pair analysis. You may know that a garage space is now worth $50,000 in your subject properties neighborhood. By showing an appraiser a few sales – with and without garage – in the direct neighborhood, you can extract the value the space has. These sales may not be relevant to your subject in bedroom count or size, but they do demonstrate the value of that garage space. The same is true of features like fireplaces, central air, or en-suite bath. Showing the appraiser how you determined the value the feature brings must be substantiated.
3. Appraisal Package Extras – In condominiums, there are other things that have an effect on value. Having those items handy at the appointment to reference and provide – recent budgets, number of parking spaces (deeded/assigned and available for guests) and any recent capital improvements – makes the process easier for everyone. If you had a questionnaire filled out for financing, bring a copy with you.
2. Take and Return the Calls – If an appraiser reaches out to you with questions on a past or current transaction, be open to sharing information with them. If you have an under-agreement property they are asking about, provide as much as you can/are able to share. These comparables may be the best reference they have for current market conditions. In markets that are rapidly changing, that helps the entire brokerage community. It also helps you establish yourself as a local expert when the appraiser calls you on your listing.
1. Disputing a Value – This is an area where it can get tricky if your appraisal comes in low. Find comparables the appraiser may have missed or not used. Find inaccuracies in the comparables they did use. If you have information that may have been overlooked and it is not noted, bring it to the attention of the mortgage broker. The mortgage broker can request a review of the appraisal, but they need information in order to have that request granted. Handle this process with respect. Do not call with “he/she doesn’t understand the market here” without having information to substantiate the issues at the time of that first call. Make your case for a review before you make the call.
Kris MacDonald is an agent and manager of Insight Realty Group office in West Roxbury. He has also worked in both the appraisal and mortgage fields. Although he no longer practices in either, he remains current on regulations and requirements in both fields to benefit his real estate practice.