Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Real Estate Appraiser Proclaims, "I'm right! The Market is Wrong!"

Can this Pearland Appraisal Really be low by $400?

I can't believe it.  We offered a listing on the market for $199,900, and successfully negotiated a sale for $199,500.  The home was on the market about 35 days, and only had one offer which was successfully negotiated.  We thought.  But here comes the appraiser.

Because of all the mortgage fraud, the government created a way to "insulate" the appraisers from the undue pressure caused by the mortgage brokers.  And, realistically, this was a problem.  I mean, the mortgage broker (in the old days) could call the appraiser-of-choice, and request a certain value from the appraiser to "make the deal work."  This sort of voided the idea of an "unbiased, independent opinion of value" from a "neutral" third party appraiser.  Sort of a "blessing" for the transaction.

So.....to insulate.....the AMC's or "Appraisal Management Companies" entered the picture.  A lender orders an appraisal from an AMC who assigns a random appraiser to the transaction.  And which appraisers do the AMC's use?  You guessed it . . . the cheapest.  Now, they all split the $300-400 that is charged.  The poor grunt-in-the-field spends about 10-15 hours to produce a report that he is paid about $200 for.  Hard work, low pay, intense pressure.  It sucks to be an appraiser these days.  (And now, they're overloaded.)

In fact, about 20 years ago after the failure of the S&L industry -- another story -- I, too, became certified in appraising, first in residential, then in commercial.  Today, I hold the highest certification one can obtain, the State Certified General Real Estate Appraisal Certification.  While all the training and experience helps me be a better Realtor for my clients, I HATE writing appraisal reports.  (Did I say "hate?")  So, I don't do it.  I do, however, try to use my skills to help appraisers on my transactions.

Negatory, old man.  Our $199,500 sale came back with an appraisal of $199,100.  Wait.....are you confidence interval.  There is a +/- margin of error.  When questioned about this report, the appraiser simply replied that "the indicated value is within the brackets."  The brackets are the range of adjusted values of the 5 comparable sales used.  So, I looked at them.  They ranged from $195,000 to $211,000.
kidding me?  Off by $400?  An appraisal is simply a

Wow.  The appraiser is supposed to report "market value," or "the most probable price a property will sell for . . . ."  $199,100 is his estimate of "the most probable price?"  The appraiser is from The Heights, working down here in Pearland.  Ah, the challenges of a changing real estate market.

My question, "is $199,100" ever a "most probable price?"  What do you think?