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Home Appraisals. Something is Wrong.

Thursday, July 23, 2009 posted by Tommi Crow

InfoTube has been blogging that Something is Wrong with real estate appraisals for quite some time now.   A new rule, called “Home Valuation Code of Conduct”, which went into effect on May 1st, has derailed sales and wrecked havoc on homeowners and buyers, with the worst possible timing.

The intent of the new rule for loan funding was to eliminate inflated appraisals.  Lawmakers found that lenders, such as Washington Mutual, pressured appraisers to inflate values in order to make more money on higher priced loans.  Although accurate appraisals are necessary to prevent fraud, the policy has had unintended, devastating effects on the entire real estate industry.

Take the case of the Mann family from San Jose, CA.  David and Penny Mann decided to sell their downtown Victorian home in order to move to a retirement community closer to their children and grandchildren.  They knew the market was tough, but they priced the home to sell and they were rewarded with back to back offers.   They accepted an offer for $560,000 from an excited young couple, buying their first home.

The Mann’s home appraised for full value, but it was deemed to be invalid, because it was done before the new rule took effect.  The second appraiser,  sent by an appraisal management company, came in $100,000 below the contract price, resulting in the buyer being turned down for their loan.  After the initial tears and panic, both parties did some frantic research.  They discovered that the appraiser didn’t live in San Jose and had never worked there.  Both buyer and seller decided to take action versus lying down and rolling over.

The buyer’s, a lawyer and student, toured at least 40 homes before buying the Mann’s house, and had lived in San Jose their entire lives.  They knew that the 100 year old home was perfect for them and they insisted that the management company send an appraiser, from the 408 area code to value the property.  The 33 year old lawyer said, “I am an educated person.” …”I’ve lived in the Bay Area my whole life”.  “I had no question it was worth $560,000, plus.  Neither did my agent or the mortgage broker or the first appraiser.  “Nor, as it turned out, did a third appraiser”,… who valued the property at the full sales price.

After all the drama, buyer and seller recently celebrated their victory at the Mann house.  The first time buyer’s brought the wine.  The Mann’s provided fresh peaches from the tree in the backyard.   Finally, a happy ending.

Unfortunately, not all victims of the new appraisal law are as fortunate as these couples.  75 percent of Industry professionals said they have had at least one low appraisal problem since May 1st, with the average loss being around $13,000.  In addition, 90 percent of real estate professionals site that at least one transaction had fallen apart because of the new law.

Something is definitely wrong, but you can take action:

To read more about what you can do if you are the victim of a low ball appraisal, Click Here.

To sign a petition to repeal the law, Click Here.  Gary Miller, Rep from California is co-sponsoring legislation.

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