“What if the house doesn’t appraise?” is a common question and concern for both the buyer and seller of a property. If during the appraisal process the value comes in low both parties have options:
- Buyer can make up the difference in cash. The lender cares about the appraisal only to the extent it affects the loan-to-value ratio. A low appraisal does not mean the lender won’t lend. It means the lender will make a loan based on the ratio agreed to in the contract at the appraised value. Sometimes the buyer’s lender will not allow the buyer to give cash for the difference and, in that event, have the buyer pay instead some of the seller’s closing costs.
- The seller can lower the price. If the home was overpriced or the value was inflated, often this is the best solution. It makes the buyer happy and the lender is satisfied. There is no guarantee that if the buyer walks away, the seller won’t receive a low appraisal from the second buyer’s lender, not to mention the time and trouble it takes to sell the property again. Sometimes a bird in the hand is best.
- Order a second appraisal. First, if your loan is an FHA loan, ask the lender for a list of approved appraisers. Either the seller or the buyer can pay for the second appraisal. Sometimes the second appraisal will come in higher than the first, especially if the first appraiser was inexperienced or made mistakes.
- If your loan is a conventional loan, then it is subject to the rules of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). Barb Torres, an accredited senior appraiser says, “As soon as the parties find an appraiser is coming out who is not familiar with the local market, they have every right to contact the lender (preferably in writing) to DEMAND a local appraiser be used.”
- Compromise on the value. Sometimes sellers will back off a little bit on the buyer paying the entire difference and will settle somewhere between a full cash contribution and completely lowering the price. Regarding a difference of say, $10,000, a seller might agree to accept $5,000 in cash and lower the price by $5,000.
- Cancel the transaction. Many purchase contracts contain a loan contingency. If the appraisal comes in low, the buyer does not qualify to buy the property at the agreed-to terms in the contract. A properly written loan contingency allows the buyer to cancel the contract and requires the seller to release the buyer’s earnest money deposit.
The outcome of the appraisal report is often the last point of negotiations. If a house does not appraise at or above the sales price do not get discouraged. Any of the above options can be utilized.