Monday, September 14, 2009

Appraisal Law Taking Values Lower

Ever since the new appraisal regulation came in to effect, it has made a significant impact on the value of homes. The law was enacted to place a separation between lender and appraiser. It was thought that an appraiser may be beholden to a specific lender who routinely gives them business. Some appraisers needed only one lender to fill their book of business. Can there be influence in a situation like this? - of course there can. Can lenders push appraisers to come in with appraisal values at or above the contract price? It doesn't seem unreasonable that this occurred.
What is happening now is perhaps backlash or maybe it is an adjustment to the right level or maybe it is a pendulum swinging way past where it should rest.
Lenders and Realtors now are at the mercy of an appraisal. These are normally completed a week or so before the purchase transaction is due to close. Now, we are crossing our fingers that the price comes in at or above the contract price (worsened by overly cautious appraisers and bank REO comps that sometimes are the only comps) and the conditions spelled out in the appraisal are not deal killers (examples - repair all termite work including Section 1, Section 2 and Further Inspections and repair/replace any and all items that the appraiser found faulty - remember we are selling homes that are 10-90 years old and then some).
How does this affect pricing? Easy - deals fall apart when a seller thought he had a home sold at a certain price and with certain repairs/costs to be absorbed. Now a week before closing, the seller is required to do major work to the property - sellers tend to object, buyers do the same and then deals fall apart. This means more time on the market, more inventory, more Days On Market, and eventually lower prices.
Was the law effective - yes - was it overly effective - probably yes too. If a lender is going to lend a home buyer a few hundred thousand dollars to buy a house - should that lender not be able to pick a trusted professional to appraise it's risk - I think so. Can this process be flawed - of course - but for a true laissez-faire believer - this is best. Ah well, we shall see how this plays out in the next year.

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