Q: We’ve been approved for a mortgage of $240,000. However, we were just informed by our bank that the home we want to purchase has been appraised at $230,000. We were also told that we cannot have a copy of the appraisal.
We’ve talked with the home sellers and they will not consider a lower asking price (I can’t blame them), and they told us that when the bank appraiser was at the house, he told them everything was fine.
What should our next steps be? Is there any way of saving this deal? We’re really confused by this turn of events, and any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.
A: You’re in a situation that is unfortunate, but not uncommon these days. Home prices have been rising so rapidly (especially in the first-time buyer price range) that it’s been difficult to accurately appraise some homes. How do you know what something is worth when a month ago it was supposedly worth $5,000 less?
Where are you today? Unless you put up an extra $10,000, you won’t qualify for your mortgage to purchase this home.
Seeing the appraisal itself won’t help much. You can ask the bank to do another appraisal (which you might also have to pay for — or can ask the sellers to pay for, unless there are other buyers lined up behind you for this home) and this time, have the listing broker (or your buyer broker) provide extra evidence of why this home is worth what the sellers are asking for it. That means current, up to date “comps” of similar homes that have recently sold in the neighborhood. The appraiser could be working with out of date comps, or perhaps isn’t as familiar with the neighborhood as he or she could be. That could account for the difference.
You could also apply with another lender, who would use a different appraiser, and see if you get lucky, but that will take more time and cost more money.
But consider the possibility that your appraiser has pegged the right price for the home, and at $240,000, you’d be overpaying. Then, you have to consider whether this home is worth that much, and if you’d be out of luck if something happened and you had to sell and move quickly.