When you buy or refinance a home, the property is used as collateral for the loan. Here’s what the lender is looking for and why.
What’s an appraisal and who completes it?
To determine the value of the property you’re purchasing or refinancing, an appraisal will be required. An appraisal report is a written description and estimate of the value of the property. National standards govern the format for the appraisal and specify the appraiser’s qualifications and credentials. In addition, most states now have licensing requirements for appraisers evaluating properties located within their states.
The appraiser will create a written report for us and we’ll promptly give you a copy, even if your loan doesn’t close. If you’d like to review it earlier, your loan advisor would be happy to provide it to you.
Usually the appraiser will inspect both the interior and exterior of the home. However, in some cases, only an exterior inspection will be necessary based on your financial strength and the location of the home. Exterior-only inspections usually save time and money, but if you’re purchasing a new home, your loan advisor will contact you to determine if you’d be more comfortable with a full inspection.
After the appraiser inspects the property, he/she will compare the qualities of your home with other homes that have sold recently in the same neighborhood. These homes are called “comparables” and play a significant role in the appraisal process. Using industry guidelines, the appraiser will try to weigh the major components of these properties (i.e., design, square footage, number of rooms, lot size, age, etc.) to the components of your home to come up with an estimated value of your home. The appraiser adjusts the price of each comparable sale (up or down) depending on how it compares (better or worse) with your property.
As an additional check on the value of the property, the appraiser also estimates the replacement cost for the property. Replacement cost is determined by valuing an empty lot and estimating the cost to build a house of similar size and construction. Finally, the appraiser reduces this cost by an age factor to compensate for depreciation and deterioration.
If your home is for investment purposes, or is a multi-unit home, the appraiser will also consider the rental income that will be generated by the property to help determine the value.
Using these three different methods, an appraiser will frequently come up with slightly different values for the property. The appraiser uses judgment and experience to reconcile these differences and then assigns a final appraised value. The comparable sales approach is the most important valuation method in the appraisal because a property is worth only what a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to accept.
It isn’t uncommon for the appraised value of a property to be exactly the same as the amount stated on your sales contract. This isn’t a coincidence, nor does it question the competence of the appraiser. Your purchase contract is the most valid sales transaction there is. It represents what a buyer is willing to offer for the property and what the seller is willing to accept. Only when the comparable sales differ greatly from your sales contract will the appraised value be very different.
What types of things will an underwriter look for when reviewing the appraisal?
In addition to verifying that your home’s value supports your loan request, we’ll also verify that your home is as marketable as others in the area. We’ll want to be confident your home will be as easy to market as other homes in the area if you decide to sell it.
We certainly don’t expect you’ll default under the terms of your loan and that a forced sale will be necessary, but as the lender, we’ll need to make sure that if a sale is necessary, it won’t be difficult to find another buyer.
We’ll review the features of your home and compare them to the features of other homes in the neighborhood. For example, if your home is on a 20-acre lot, or has a large accessory building, we’ll want to make sure that there are other homes in the area on similar size lots or with similar outbuildings. It’s hard to place a value on such unique features if we can’t see what other buyers are willing to pay for them. In some areas, additional acreage or outbuildings could actually be a detriment to a future sale. Finding comparable properties can be more challenging in rural areas where it’s more difficult to find homes with similar features.
We’ll also make sure that the value of your home is in the same range as other homes in the area. If the value of your home is substantially more than other homes in the neighborhood, it could affect the market acceptance of the home if you decide to sell.
We’ll also review the market statistics about your neighborhood. We’ll look at the time on the market for homes that have sold recently and verify that values are steady or increasing.
Will I get a copy of the appraisal?
As soon as we receive your appraisal, we’ll update your loan with the estimated value of the home. We’ll promptly give you a copy of any appraisal, even if your loan doesn’t close.
Are there any special requirements for condominiums?
Since the value and marketability of condominium properties is dependent on items that don’t apply to single-family homes, there are some additional steps that must be taken to determine if condominiums meet our guidelines.
One of the most important factors is determining whether the project in which the condominium is located is complete. In many cases, it’ll be necessary for the entire project, or at least the phase in which your unit is located, to be complete before we can provide financing. The main reason for this is that until the project is complete, we can’t be certain that the remaining units will be of the same quality as the existing units. This could affect the marketability of your home.
In addition, we’ll consider the ratio of non-owner occupied units to owner-occupied units. This could also affect future marketability since many people would prefer to live in a project that is occupied by owners rather than renters.
We’ll also carefully review the appraisal to ensure it includes comparable sales of properties within the project, as well as some from outside the project. Our experience has found that using comparable sales from both the same project as well as other projects gives us a better idea of the condominium project’s marketability.
Depending on the percentage of the property’s value you’d like to finance, other items may also need to be reviewed.
I’m purchasing a home, do I need a home inspection AND an appraisal?
Both a home inspection and an appraisal are designed to protect you against potential issues with your new home. Although they have totally different purposes, it makes the most sense to rely on each to help confirm that you’ve found the perfect home.
The appraiser will make note of obvious construction problems such as termite damage, dry rot, or leaking roofs or basements. Other obvious interior or exterior damage that could affect the salability of the property will also be reported.
However, appraisers are not construction experts and won’t find or report items that are not obvious. They won’t turn on every light switch, run every faucet or inspect the attic or mechanicals. That’s where the home inspector comes in. They generally perform a detailed inspection and can educate you about possible concerns or defects with the home.
Accompany the inspector during the home inspection. This is your opportunity to gain knowledge of major systems, appliances and fixtures, learn maintenance schedules and tips, and to ask questions about the condition of the home.
I’ve heard that some lenders require flood insurance on properties. Will you?
Federal Law requires all lenders to investigate whether or not each home they finance is in a special flood hazard area as defined by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The law can’t stop floods. Floods happen anytime, anywhere. But the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 help to ensure you’ll be protected from financial losses caused by flooding.
We use a third-party company that specializes in the reviewing of flood maps prepared by FEMA to determine if your home is located in a flood area. If it is, then flood insurance coverage will be required, since standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t protect you against damages from flooding.
How long does it take for the property appraisal to be completed?
Licensed appraisers who are familiar with home values in your area perform appraisals. We order the appraisal as soon as the application deposit is paid. Generally, it takes 10-14 days before the written report is sent to us. We follow up with the appraiser to ensure it’s completed as soon as possible. If you’re refinancing, and an interior inspection of the home is necessary, the appraiser should contact you to schedule a viewing appointment. If you don’t hear from the appraiser within seven days of the order date, please inform your loan advisor. If you’re purchasing a new home, the appraiser will contact the real estate agent, if you’re using one, or the seller to schedule an appointment to view the home. We’ll promptly give you a copy of any appraisal, even if your loan doesn’t close.
4020 Fee Fee Road
Bridegton, MO 63044
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Mortgage Solutions, LLC (NMLS #277481). Missouri Residential Mortgage Licensee #17-1908; Illinois Residential Mortgage License #MB.6760773; Kansas Licensed Mortgage Company #MC.0025070.
Equal Housing Lender.