A professional blond woman appraiser examining a house for a home appraisal, using a clipboard and taking notes while inspecting the exterior of a modern suburban home with a ‘For Sale’ sign in the yard.
Mark Ettrich 0 Comments

Understanding Home Appraisals: Essential Guide for Homebuyers

What is a Home Appraisal and Why is it Important?

In a competitive real estate market, buyers are sometimes advised to waive the appraisal. But what exactly is an appraisal, and why does it matter?

A home appraisal is an independent assessment of the value of the home you are about to purchase. This evaluation is crucial because it is directly linked to your loan. Lenders must ensure they are not lending more money than the home is worth, so they require an independent appraiser to evaluate the property.

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The Appraisals Process

An appraiser will visit the property you have under contract and perform a thorough inspection. To determine its market value, they consider various factors, including the home’s condition, location, and comparable sales in the area.

Why Appraisals Matter

Loan Approval: The appraisal value affects your loan amount. The loan process proceeds smoothly if the appraisal comes in at or above the contract price. If it is lower, the lender might not approve the entire loan amount, potentially complicating your purchase. In such cases, the homebuyer is typically expected to make up the difference in cash to secure the loan. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the total amount you want to spend on a home, including contingency funds, to avoid being caught in a situation where you cannot cover the shortfall.

Equity:If the appraisal value is higher than the contract price, you immediately gain equity in the home, which is a significant financial advantage.

What Happens if the Appraisal is Low?

If the appraisal comes in below the contract price, there are a few potential outcomes:

Renegotiation: You might negotiate with the seller to lower the price.

Increased Down Payment: You may need to increase your down payment to cover the difference.

Cancellation: The contract may include an appraisal contingency allowing you to withdraw from the deal without penalty.

What Happens if the Appraisal is High?

If the appraisal comes in higher than the contract price, this is advantageous for the buyer. It means that you are purchasing the home for less than its appraised value, giving you instant equity. This can be beneficial for several reasons:

Financial Security: Immediate equity provides a cushion of value beyond what you’ve paid.

Refinancing Opportunities: Higher equity can make it easier to refinance in the future, potentially securing better loan terms.

Investment Potential: Homes with high appraisals relative to purchase price are good investments as you have built in value.

Who Can Ask for an Appraisal?

Both the homebuyer and the home seller can request an appraisal. Here’s how it works for each:

Homebuyer: Typically, the buyer’s lender will order the appraisal to ensure the property is worth the loan amount. This protects the lender’s investment and helps the buyer avoid overpaying for the home.

Home Seller: Sellers can also request an appraisal before selling their home. This independent assessment provides an accurate valuation, helping set a competitive and realistic asking price. It can also help sellers justify their asking price to potential buyers and negotiate more effectively.

If you want to buy or sell a home, contact Kelly Ettrich to help you on your real estate journey.

Homebuyers and Appraisals: Loan Requirements and Contingencies

For homebuyers, appraisals are typically a requirement for securing a home loan. Depending on the specifics of the loan, including the amount of the down payment, an appraisal can be included as part of the offer to purchase a home, known as a home appraisal contingency. This contingency protects the buyer by allowing them to renegotiate or withdraw their offer if the appraisal is lower than the purchase price.

However, in a competitive real estate market, including a home appraisal contingency can make your offer less attractive to sellers, even if it is required for the loan. Sellers may prefer offers without contingencies to avoid potential delays or complications.

In summary, home appraisals are a vital part of the home-buying process, ensuring that both the buyer and lender make sound financial decisions. Understanding this process can help you navigate your home purchase more confidently.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a home appraisal?

A home appraisal is an independent assessment of the value of the home you are about to purchase. It is conducted by a professional appraiser who evaluates various factors, including the condition, location, and comparable sales in the area, to determine the market value of the property.

Why is a home appraisal important?

Home appraisals are crucial because they are directly linked to your loan. Lenders need to ensure they are not lending more money than the home is worth, which is why they require an independent appraisal to evaluate the property's value.

Who can request a home appraisal?

Both the homebuyer and the home seller can request a home appraisal. Typically, the buyer's lender orders the appraisal to ensure the property is worth the loan amount. Sellers can also request an appraisal before putting their home on the market to set a competitive and realistic asking price.

What happens if the appraisal is lower than the contract price?

If the appraisal comes in below the contract price, it can complicate the purchase process. Potential outcomes include renegotiating the price with the seller, increasing the down payment to cover the difference, or canceling the contract if an appraisal contingency is included.

What happens if the appraisal is higher than the contract price?

If the appraisal comes in higher than the contract price, it benefits the buyer by providing instant equity. This financial advantage offers security, refinancing opportunities, and potential investment benefits.

How does an appraisal affect my loan approval?

The appraisal value directly affects your loan amount. If the appraisal meets or exceeds the contract price, the loan process continues smoothly. If it is lower, you may need to make up the difference in cash to secure the loan, highlighting the importance of understanding your total spending capacity.

What is an appraisal contingency?

An appraisal contingency is a clause included in the offer to purchase a home, allowing the buyer to renegotiate or withdraw their offer if the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price. However, in competitive markets, including such contingencies can make your offer less attractive to sellers.

Why might buyers be advised to waive the appraisal in a competitive market?

In competitive real estate markets, waiving the appraisal can make an offer more attractive to sellers, as it reduces potential delays and complications. However, this increases the risk for buyers, as they might end up paying more than the home's actual value.

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