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I’m writing this post in the Spring of 2022 just when the real estate market is starting to show signs of softening. Interest rates are rising and first-time home buyers are getting priced out of the market. Even still, it’s a super-hot market and definitely still a seller’s market in most areas. Purchasers are paying at and above list price and appraised value, multiple-bids are commonplace now, and more than ever, appraisals are coming in under sale price. What’s a Realtor to do?
One thing I highly recommend is putting together an ‘appraiser packet’. The rest of this post will discuss what to put in the packet, what to leave out, and how to get that information to the appraiser.
What to Include in Your Appraiser Packet
Although every packet may vary slightly, here are a few items each should include:
- MLS and Tax records of each sale you think might be relevant. No need to print out a 14-page full-color listing with all the interior photographs. Just a one-page MLS info sheet will do, and if you have access to tax records, go ahead and throw them in as well.
- Any information not listed on the MLS or Tax records that you feel is important. Sometimes Realtors just put a listing in the MLS without any remarks, making it difficult for the appraiser to really get to know the home. Feel free to list upgrades you know about, or deficiencies, or special features.
- Information regarding the terms of sale. The home two doors down just sold, but what wasn’t advertised is that it was part of a divorce settlement. That’s good information to pass along. Or a sale from a few months back looks like a good comparable, but what the listing agent didn’t mention in the MLS was that it sold in foreclosure. Also helpful for the appraiser.
- Multiple offer situations. If you know that a home recently sold with multiple offers, or that your listing went under contract with multiple offers, that needs to be communicated to the appraiser.
What Not to Include in Your Appraiser Packet
Getting sales information to the appraiser, and listing helpful information about the sales will help the appraiser understand how and why you listed the home at $349,900 for example, and could help the appraiser understand the market, and motivations of sellers and purchasers. What you don’t want to do, however, is pressure the appraiser.
As we discussed in the previous chapter, as long as you’re not pressuring the appraiser to ‘hit’ the sale price, giving information to the appraiser is not only ok, it’s encouraged.
So what does ‘pressuring the appraiser’ look like?
We recently completed an appraisal on a home in a rural market. The homeowner wasn’t there, and had just left the door open. On the kitchen counter, we found a list of sales they had left for us to consider. No problem! But then there was a note that said, “the last appraiser used sales from Rolling Meadows, five miles from here (the name of the development has been changed to protect the innocent!). I don’t want you using those sales, so you’d better stay in our neighborhood!”
That could easily have been a Realtor doing the same thing.
Don’t be that Realtor.
Stay away from language like “Don’t use this sale because it sold low” or “Use this one because it’s most like the subject” or “Stay in Lake Forest for your sales”. Definitely don’t say “This comp is perfect and should support our sale price.”
Hot to Get Your Packet to the Appraiser
There are plenty of ways to communicate this information to the appraiser. You can print out a hard copy packet and leave it on the counter for the appraiser. If you do that, just make sure the appraiser is aware that it’s there, waiting for them! Alternatively, you could simply text the appraiser if you have only limited information. Or, you could put together a list of sales and information and email it to the appraiser as well.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the appraiser is not obligated to accept your information. Some appraisers flat out refuse any sales from a Realtor or homeowner, in the name of objectivity. They feel that if they accept sales, their independence and objectivity are now gone. That’s a personal matter, and frankly I don’t buy it. I think an appraiser can objectively look at sales information and not be pressured into ‘hitting’ a sale price if the sales don’t support it. At the end of the day though, it is up to the appraiser if they want to accept your information or not.
And one final thing. Simply giving the appraiser sales will not ensure your deal sails through smoothly. It doesn’t guarantee that the appraiser will use the six sales you provided. You may provide ‘sales’, but it’s up to the appraiser to determine if they are in fact comparable. The appraiser may use all of your sales, some of them, or none of them. So do your best to provide the best information you can, and the appraiser will take it from there.
Committed to helping you understand your home’s market value,
Ryan Bays, SRA, AI-RRS