Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What's a home worth? Pick a number, any number

The appraisal system is just plan broken.
The biggest issue for appraisers, lenders and ultimately, borrowers, is how to evaluate properties in neighborhoods with foreclosures, short sales, and not enough solid sales to provide comparable data. "They are appraising a market that is so volatile and different from anything they've ever seen," said Linne. "If you are an appraiser and one-third of the neighborhood is foreclosures, and another third is short sales, and another third is regular, how do you even determine what is fair market value?"
Brokers like Gavin contend that appraisers should mark up the value of homes when comparing them to foreclosures and short sales, because many of those distressed properties are in disrepair or are so complicated to buy that they command unrealistically low prices.
Further complicating the process, appraisers who for years mainly faced pressure to preserve deals, now are facing pressure in the other direction from lenders who want to make sure they have enough equity to cover them even if home prices fall further. Mortgage rates have been near record-low levels, and lenders don't want to commit to bargain rate deals unless they are a sure thing.
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