An appraisal is simply an effort by a qualified person to put a value on a property. The process involves a review of the property, other properties in the area and so on. Mortgage lenders always require appraisals, so you have to deal with appraisal problems if you are going to get the home.
Let’s assume you have perfect credit, make a ton of money and ready to put down a solid down payment. You are happy, the lender is happy and the only thing left to do is get the appraisal. Unfortunately, the appraisal comes in well below the price you have agreed to pay for the home. Now what?
First, you need to take a deep breath. Buying a home is an emotional process. Try to step back from the process and objectively analyze whether you are paying too much for the property. If you still want to proceed, take the appraisal to the seller and see if you can get the price lowered. A solution should be possible, but be prepared to walk away if it isn’t.
Second, perhaps the fair market values of properties in the neighborhood are dropping. We are beginning to see the market cool off, perhaps more so in your particular neighborhood. If this is the case, kiss the appraiser in thanks for keeping you out of a bad deal.
Finally, the appraiser may simply be wrong. Appraisers are human and make mistakes. They may not know the neighborhood well. There are a variety of reasons you can get an appraisal that is “off.” If you suspect this is the case, check to make sure the appraiser is comparing the property to comparable homes in the neighborhood. If all else fails, have your own appraisal done for comparison purposes.
Ultimately, a low appraisal should be viewed as a potential red flag. If nothing else, you should take a closer look to make sure you aren’t getting a bad deal.