Once an appraisal report has been completed, can an appraiser changed the value if asked to take another look at the file? Yes, the appraiser CAN change the value if a mistake or series of errors led to a botched valuation. It seems reasonable and ethical for the appraiser to go back and fix those mistakes, right?
Reason why an appraiser should change the value:
1. The appraiser’s value is not accurate because of something the appraiser did or did not do.
Reasons why an appraiser should NOT change the value:
1. Someone is unhappy about the value and expected something different.
2. The promise of money or more business if the value is changed.
3. Threats of losing business, lawsuits or bad reviews.
4. A sale, refinance or bankruptcy, etc… might not go through because the value didn’t “hit the number”.
But will appraisers change the value? While most if not all appraisers will fix obvious spelling or grammatical errors, many appraisers will not go back and amend the value because of pride, fear of increasing liability (it likely makes it easier to sue if there are two different reports, right?) or a general principle that once a report is done, it’s done.
No Pity Parties: I’m not looking for a group hug session or pity for the appraisal industry – especially if you are in the middle of an experience with a bad appraisal. However, let me remind everyone that appraisers are humans. They make mistakes just like everyone does. This means there will be times when an appraiser has to correct a report because of a mistake. Maybe the appraiser forgot to make an adjustment that he meant to make, missed something important about a comparable property, measured the house inaccurately or was not aware of information at the time that could actually have made a big difference in the final value. Keep in mind of course these are mistakes, and there is a huge difference between basic errors and incompetence.
My Advice? If you find yourself in a situation where the appraisal seems inaccurate, reach out to open up discussion with the appraiser. If the appraisal is for a loan, talk to the lender to formally challenge the appraisal (click the link to view a format to use), but if the appraisal is for estate settlement, divorce or any other private purpose, reach out to the appraiser directly to have conversation. After reviewing the appraisal, I suggest sending an email first so you can articulate yourself clearly and give the appraiser some space to consider your information (as opposed to asking for an immediate answer over the phone). Bring up your points in a non-combative way to help the appraiser understand where you are coming from. If you have valid points, hopefully the appraiser will listen to you and consider if your information does indeed impact value (it may or may not).
Any questions, stories or thoughts to share? Comment below.
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Tom Horn says
Very good tips Ryan. Sometimes people are quick to want to sue or report an appraiser to the state board, when an email and friendly call could clear up the problem more easily. Thanks for providing the public with logical and reasonable approaches.
Ryan Lundquist says
True Tom. Reaching out to communicate diplomatically can really make a difference. It’s always worth trying whenever we have issues after hiring someone or buying something. Sometimes I think we as a society have forgotten how to communicate. We can be so demanding and relentless in so many ways. It’s rare to give someone the benefit of the doubt, extend forgiveness and try to forge peace. I’m getting a bit off-topic maybe, but honing these communication skills are important for life and business. Thanks for the comment Tom.
We have an appraiser mark the box “as is” instead of “subject to” with a stupid low appraisal value. The fixes that we needed to make would add on 1200 sq ft. For a total of nearly 3k sq ft. Problem is. She should have marked it “subject to”. She gave us a check list of things to fix. Not verbally, but in a text! Along with pictures! All the things that would take place on final inspection, that she would be coming back and that the “fixes” will significantly raise the value. All of her words in a text. We have the appraisal she submitted and intentions in the text. Now we are waiting and waiting for her to “fix” the botched appraisal with a new “subject to” value so that we can finally order a final inspection. It so seems like she is taking her sweet time. The botched report was over a month ago. All is ready to go with the refinance, we are all just waiting on her. So frustrating!! Seems like she would want to jump right on it to get it fixed since it’s obvious she screwed up. Which she HAS NOT admitted at all yet. She makes it sound like what has happened is normal. My anger grows!
Ryan Lundquist says
Hi Michelle. I’m so sorry to hear this. I wonder if the lender ordered the appraisal as “subject to” certain repairs? Will the lender allow that sort of appraisal in this instance? That’s a big component here I think. If that’s the case, then it sounds like this really shouldn’t be difficult to fix for the appraiser. Clear communication is key though here, and my hope is the lender / loan officer is giving clear communication to the appraiser and what this appraisal needs to be (as-is or subject-to).