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  • Writer's pictureAmber Tohlman

Real Estate Appraisal: What You Need to Know

Updated: Mar 27

Real Estate

What is a Real Estate Appraisal?

A real estate appraisal is an unbiased evaluation conducted by a certified professional to determine a property's market value. This assessment is essential for various transactions, including buying, selling, or refinancing a home. Appraisers review numerous aspects, such as the property’s location, condition, and comparisons with similar nearby properties that have recently sold. Understanding this process is crucial for anyone involved in real estate transactions, as it affects both the selling price and financing.

Why Appraisals Matter

Appraisals protect both the buyer and the lender by ensuring the property's price is supported by its current market value. For buyers, this means avoiding overpayment on a new home. Lenders require appraisals to confirm the property is worth the loan amount, minimizing their financial risk. For homeowners looking to refinance, an appraisal determines the maximum loan amount based on the property's value, impacting interest rates and terms.

The Appraisal Process: What to Expect

When a home is under contract or a homeowner applies for refinancing, the lender will order an appraisal. A licensed appraiser then inspects the property, assessing its size, condition, and unique features, and compares it to similar properties in the area. This process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, depending on the property and market complexity. The appraiser's report provides an estimated value that plays a critical role in the continuation of the sale or refinancing process.

Preparing for an Appraisal: Tips for Homeowners

To prepare for an appraisal, start by enhancing your home’s curb appeal, as first impressions can influence its perceived value. Inside, declutter and clean to make the space as inviting as possible, which can positively affect the appraiser’s assessment. Document any recent upgrades or improvements that could increase the property's value, as these can sometimes be overlooked. Ensure the appraiser has access to all parts of your property, including any outbuildings or uncommon features, to accurately assess its full value.

Understanding Appraisal Outcomes

If the appraisal matches or exceeds the agreed-upon sale price, the transaction can proceed as planned. However, if the appraisal comes in lower than the sale price, it can complicate or halt the transaction. Buyers may need to renegotiate the price, make up the difference in cash, or the seller may need to lower the price. Understanding these potential outcomes helps both parties prepare for the next steps in the transaction process.

Navigating Appraisal Discrepancies

If you disagree with an appraisal's findings, you have several options. You can provide additional information about the property or comparable sales that the appraiser might have missed. Requesting a review of the appraisal or seeking a second opinion are also viable paths. Effective communication with your lender and real estate agent is crucial in navigating these discrepancies and finding a solution.

Conclusion: Empowerment Through Understanding

By deeply understanding the real estate appraisal process, homeowners, buyers, and sellers can navigate their transactions with greater confidence and clarity. An appraisal is more than just a valuation—it's a critical factor that ensures fairness and financial prudence in real estate dealings. Proper preparation and a clear understanding of how to address potential discrepancies can significantly smooth the path towards achieving your real estate objectives.


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