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Can Home Appraisers Talk to the Homeowner?

by K.C. Hernandez

Intimidation, bribery and pressure on appraisers has contributed to over-valued homes and substantial financial losses for lenders and homeowners. Measures to curb contact between commission-based real estate professionals and appraisers have also discouraged any financially-interested parties from influencing appraisal results. The appraiser must maintain objectivity in his opinion of value if he talks to the homeowner to get additional details about the home.

The Basics

Homeowners need an appraisal when they refinance or sell their home to financed buyers. A walk-through appraisal, in which the appraiser performs an interior and exterior inspection of the property, is the most common type. An appraiser may perform a drive-by appraisal for a streamline refinance or home equity line of credit. The streamline process involves less qualifying documentation than a traditional refinance. A seller must make his home available to an appraiser hired by the buyer's lender. Appraisals are intended to protect lenders' interests by ensuring that homes meet their minimum standards and are worth the amount they have been asked to finance.

Facilitating Appraisal

An appraiser may contact the homeowner to set up an appointment and gain access to the home at a specific time. Unlike real estate agents, appraisers usually do not have automatic access to homes on the market. An appraisal walk-through may take several hours and may have to be conducted while the home is occupied, so the homeowner may be present during the appraisal inspection. An appraiser may ask the homeowner material facts about the home or neighborhood and the homeowners may volunteer information as well. It is up to the appraiser to use information gathered from the homeowner in a professional and accurate manner.

Possibilities

A homeowner can point out facts about his property that might not otherwise be apparent to the appraiser. For example, he may point out that the square footage, bedroom or bathroom count or other feature of the home differs from the public records. Such details can help eliminate confusion in the research process and avoid errors that might lead to appraisal inaccuracies. Appraisers are typically open to considering additional data; however, they must differentiate between influence and accepting legitimate information, Bankrate.com says.

Appraisal Appeals

A homeowner may appeal an appraisal with a low value or containing errors. To appeal a low value, the homeowner must provide legitimate comparable properties that the appraiser overlooked at the time of appraisal as well as an explanation as to why they should have been used. Ultimately, the appraised value is an opinion and any changes are up to the appraiser's discretion. Errors, such as facts about the contract r home's features, may also be disputed. The homeowner must present his appeal to the lender first, which contacts the appraiser to process the appeal.

Photo Credits

  • David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images