A home appraisal is a critical component of any real estate transaction that involves a mortgage loan. If you are refinancing you will need an appraisal, if you are selling your home to someone that needs to get a mortgage, he or she will need to have an appraisal done.
What Is a Home Appraisal?
A home appraisal is an opinion on value by a qualified, unbiased third party. Mortgage lenders require an appraisal to be completed when you are refinancing your mortgage. An appraisal is also completed in a transaction when someone is buying a home to make sure they have not over paid for it.
Mortgage Lenders require appraisal to ensure that homeowners are not over paying for a property because if the borrower stops paying for the mortgage the lender will take action to remove the borrower from the home and sell it to recoup their money, this is why it is important for the home to be worth more than the money loaned. In essence, a home appraisal is a lawyer of protection for the mortgage lender.
The Appraisal Process and How Appraisal Values Are Determined
These are the main factors that influence your home’s appraisal value: current market trends which are reflected in the comparable properties the appraiser selects, the house’s features,, square footage, number rooms/bedrooms & bathrooms, condition, is the property considered up to date, landscaping and exterior condition and parking (garage). The appraiser will do an interior and exterior inspection for the above noted factors and will also make note of any deferred maintenance which will be included in the report for the lender.
The appraiser will complete his report on a standard report form that is required by their appraisal jurisdiction. The information that has to be included in an appraisal report will not vary much from Canada to the United States.
A standard report includes the following: comparable sales, a street map, building sketch, square footage, photos of the front, back and street scene of the home, photographs of each comparable property used; a map showing the location of the comparables in relation to the subject property, plot map, description of intended users of the appraisal report, photo and description of each room in the house.
The cost of a residential appraisal report ranges from $250-$500 and the homeowner is typically responsible for paying the appraiser..
What Homebuyers Need to Know
When you’re buying a home an appraisal could potentially sink your deal. If you make an offer to purchase a house, towards the end of the home buying process your mortgage lender will require that the home being purchased be appraised. If the home appraises for less than your offer to purchase the lender will not provide the loan, however, this could be good for a buyer as well because you may be able to negotiate to lower purchase price but very often at the point of the home appraisal in the buying process an agreement of purchase and sale is already in place.. If a bad appraisal is standing between you and your home purchase, look into getting a second opinion via a second appraisal. Appraisers are not perfect and it is possible for them to make mistakes.
What Home Sellers Need to Know
As a seller, a low appraisal means that you may have to lower your home’s price to get it sold. Lenders won’t approve loans for more than a home is worth, and holding out for an all-cash buyer who doesn’t require an appraisal as a condition of completing the transaction is unlikely to net you a higher sales price. No one wants to overpay for a home but more importantly a mortgage lender will not over lend on the value of a property, therefor if the appraisal comes in lower than what your buyer is offering this will likely sink your deal unless you lower the price.
What Refinancing Homeowners Need to Know
If you’re refinancing your mortgage and looking to access some of the equity in the home the appraised value is very important. Mortgage lenders will have maximum loan to value ratio that they will go up to so the larger the difference between what you owe on your current mortgage and what the home is appraised at obviously the better. Having a better loan to value ratio will also make obtaining the lowest possible mortgage rates possible. Lenders put a lot of emphasis on this ratio so a high appraisal value is very important.
The Bottom Line
The home appraisal is a very standard process these days in any real estate transaction involving a mortgage loan, it should be taken serious, you should know how the appraisal works and what the value is based upon, if you feel your home is undervalued you can speak with the appraiser and make your case or get a second opinion.