Tag Archives: appraisals


Refinancing your mortgage may help you lower your interest rate and monthly payments, or cash out some of your home equity. Your lender may require an appraisal as part of the refinancing process. The result can affect the new interest rate you will qualify for, along with other costs.

What is an Appraisal?

An appraisal is an inspection conducted by an independent professional to assess the current market value of a house based on its size, amenities and condition. An appraiser compares the home in question to similar properties in the same area that have been sold recently.

Each lender decides whether to require an appraisal to refinance. Some government mortgage programs offer streamlined programs without an appraisal. If your lender requires an appraisal, you will have to pay for it. The fee is typically several hundred dollars.cc

How Can Your Home’s Appraised Value Affect Your Refinancing Options?

The current market value of your home can affect your loan-to-value ratio, which is a percentage calculated by dividing your mortgage balance by your home’s appraised value. A lender will consider the LTV ratio, in addition to your credit score and debt-to-income ratio, to set your interest rate.

If your home’s value has increased since you bought it, you may qualify for a lower interest rate. If your home’s value has fallen, however, you may not be able to qualify for a competitive interest rate because lenders consider borrowers with low amounts of equity riskier than borrowers with more equity. If the appraised value of your house is less than your mortgage balance, you may not be able to refinance the loan at all.

How Can the Appraisal Affect Private Mortgage Insurance?

If the LTV ratio is 80 percent or higher, you may need to pay for private mortgage insurance, which can cost hundreds of dollars per month. If you have been paying for PMI, your home’s value has increased since you bought it and you have more than 20 percent equity, you may be able to eliminate PMI and save money each month.

If you have less than 20 percent equity and don’t want to pay for PMI, you might be able to avoid it by choosing a cash-in refinance. You could pay down your mortgage balance to reduce your loan-to-value ratio, eliminate PMI and get a lower interest rate.

How to Prepare for an Appraisal

Given the importance of your home’s appraised value, you want to present your house in a positive light. You should make sure your home is clean and free of clutter so the appraiser can easily see all the important features. You don’t need to make major improvements before an appraisal, but you might want to apply a fresh coat of paint and make some inexpensive repairs.

Source: RIS Media

Renovating? The Type of Project Matters

Homeowners undertaking a renovation may either reap rewards come resale, or regrettably find themselves in the red. The latter, says Scott Robinson, president of the Appraisal Institute, is more likely—somewhat.

“Home improvement projects are not necessarily investments in which a homeowner should expect a dollar-for-dollar return,” explains Robinson, who oversees the nation’s largest association of real estate appraisers. “Rather, these projects can increase the likelihood of a sale, or that a property will be comparable to other properties in a neighborhood.”

Robinson advises renovators to consider if the improvement is in keeping within what’s standard in the community.

“Projects that take a home significantly beyond community norms are often not worth the cost when the owner sells the home,” Robinson says. “If the improvements don’t match what’s standard in a community, they’ll be considered excessive.”

Robinson notes renovators may find it best to hold off on large-scale projects if they’re unsure of how long they’ll be in their home. Generally, the longer a homeowner stays in a home, the greater the opportunity for a return on investment.

A real estate appraiser can conduct a feasibility study, which offers an unbiased analysis of what the home would be worth before and after a project. During the study, the appraiser will analyze the property, weigh the cost of rehabilitation, and provide an estimate of the property’s value before and after the improvement.

Currently, the projects with the highest expected return on investment (ROI) are attic insulation, manufactured stone veneer and a garage door replacement, according to Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. Other projects with potential payoffs are an entry door replacement and a minor kitchen remodel.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

You get your appraisal, all is good…Right?

Questions?  Call Maxine for answers! 703-836-1464

Questions? Call Maxine for answers! 703-836-1464

The home buying process is a complex puzzle. As each piece falls into place you move closer to settlement. Every once in a while we have a tendency to check off a box before it is no longer an issue. Appraisals are a perfect example. Most of us assume that if the value comes in at or above the sales price, then all is well but that is only step one in the appraisal review process. There are a number of checks and reviews that are placed on that appraisal through a lengthy process.

Generally speaking, an appraisal is ordered through a third party company and is completed by an individual appraiser.  The appraisal then goes through a review by a national firm before it is sent to the lender.   That is step one and where most agents will typically make the mistake of checking the box that the appraisal is complete.  It is important not to be hasty in removing the appraisal contingency until the next steps are complete.

Step two comes once the bank has the appraisal in house.  At that time it is reviewed by the processor or loan officer to pick up any obvious issues.  Next, and before the loan is submitted to underwriting, the loan is run through one of the Automated Underwriting Systems (AUS systems). This underwriting system then runs its own Automated Valuation Model (AVM) on the subject property. If the AVM identifies the sales price or estimated value is greater than 20% of its estimate, then a review appraisal is ordered at the lender’s expense.  As long as it is within the 20% range then we move forward to the next step.

Step three comes when the appraisal is sent to underwriting. Underwriters have the right to challenge a value or request additional items. If the underwriter does not agree that the appraiser supported the value with sufficient comparable sales, then a request is made for additional items to better support the value. If the underwriter feels the appraisal is flawed he/she may request that a review appraisal is conducted. If the review comes back clean then we get to move forward. If it comes back with suggestions, then the original appraiser is contacted and expected to make the requested changes.

Confused yet?  It gets more confusing if the appraiser disagrees with the underwriter or refuses to make the changes.  At that time a second appraisal is ordered!  If the second appraisal comes in lower than the first, then the lower of the two appraisals is used. Actually, the lower of the two appraisals is used no matter what – if they happen to come in for the exact same amount then I guess you could say both are used.

The long and the short of it is that you should always double check with your loan officer or originator to make sure underwriting has signed off on the appraisal before removing the appraisal contingency.  If the lender comes back and discounts the appraisal after the continency is removed the buyer client does not have a rememdy.  Even worse, they could still be on the hook and considered in default.