What Do Appraisers Look For When Determining A Property’s Value?
Most people are surprised to learn what appraisers actually look at when determining the value of a real estate property.
A common misconception homeowners generally have is that the value of their home is determined after the appraiser has completed their physical property inspection.
However, the appraiser actually already has a good idea of the property’s value by the time they have scheduled an appointment to stop by the property.
The good news is that you don’t have to worry so much about pushing back an appointment a few days just to “clean things up” in order to help influence the value of your property.
While a clean house will certainly make it easier for the appraiser to notice improvements, the only time you should be concerned about “clutter” is if it is damaging to the dwelling.
The Key Components Addressed In An Appraisal
Location, view, topography, lot size, utilities, zoning, external factors, highest and best use, landscaping features…
Quality of construction, finish work, fixed appliances and any defining features
Age, deterioration, renovations, upgrades, added features
Health & Safety:
Structural integrity, code compliance
Above grade and below grade improvements
Is the property conforming to the neighborhood?
Is the property functional as built – style and use?
Garages, Carports, Shops, etc..
Curb appeal, lot size, & conforming to the neighborhood are obvious to the appraiser when they drive down into the neighborhood pull up in front of your home.
When entering your home, they are going to look at the overall design, condition, finish work, upgrades, any defining features, functional utility, square footage, number of rooms and health and safety items.
Be sure to have all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in working condition.
Since the appraisal provides half the weight in any credit decision involving the security of real estate, the appraisal should be done by a qualified, licensed appraiser whom is familiar with your neighborhood, and the type of home you are buying, selling or refinancing.
If you’re interested in what specifically appraisers are looking for, here is a copy of the blank 1040 URAR form that is used by every appraiser in the country.
Related Update on HVCC:
Appraisers hired for a mortgage transaction on a conforming loan are chosen from a pool of qualified appraisers at random. Neither you nor your lender has the flexibility of deciding which appraiser will inspect your home.
This recent change was brought on with the Home Valuation Code of Conduct HVCC, and is effective with conventional loans originated on or after May 1, 2009.
Ten Credit Do’s and Don’ts To Bear In Mind Prior To Getting Your Mortgage Loan
How can a fully approved loan get denied for funding after the borrower has signed loan docs?
Simple, the underwriter pulls an updated credit report to verify that there hasn’t been any new activity since original approval was issued, and the new findings kill the loan.
This generally won’t happen in a 30 day time-frame, but borrowers should anticipate a new credit report being pulled if the time from an original credit report to funding is more than 60 days.
Purchase transactions involving short sales or foreclosures tend to drag on for several months, so this approval / denial scenario is common.
It’s An Ugly Cycle:
These tips don’t encompass everything a borrower can do prior to and after the pre-approval process, however they’re a good representation of the things most likely to help and hurt an approval.
What Does Title Insurance Protect Me From?
By including title insurance when purchasing property, your title insurer takes on accountability for legal expenses to defend your property title, should it ever be challenged.
Many different occurrences can come into play to warrant the need for title insurance.
The title company responsible will then take on the legal expenses to defend the property for as long as you are in possession of an interest in the property under the title.
If the defense is not successful, you will be reimbursed for any loss of value of the property.
Common Things Title Insurance Covers:
1. UNDISCLOSED HEIRS, FORGED DEEDS, MORTGAGE, WILLS, RELEASES AND OTHER DOCUMENTS
2. FALSE IMPRISONMENT OF THE TRUE LAND OWNER
3. DEEDS BY MINORS
4. DOCUMENTS EXECUTED BY A REVOKED OR EXPIRED POWER OF ATTORNEY
5. PROBATE MATTERS
7. DEEDS AND WILLS BY PERSON OF UNSOUND MIND
8. CONVEYANCES BY UNDISCLOSED DIVORCED SPOUSES
9. RIGHTS OF DIVORCED PARTIES
10. ADVERSE POSSESSION
11. DEFECTIVE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS DUE TO IMPROPER OR EXPIRED NOTARIZATION
12. FORFEITURES OF REAL PROPERTY DUE TO CRIMINAL ACTS
13. MISTAKES AND OMISSIONS RESULTING IN IMPROPER ABSTRACTING
14. ERRORS IN TAX RECORDS
Ten Credit Do’s and Don’ts:
DO continue making your mortgage or rent payments
Remember, you’re trying to buy or refinance your home – one of the first things a lender looks for is responsible payment patterns on your current housing situation.
Even if you plan on closing in the middle of the month, or if you’ve already given notice, continue paying that rent until you’ve signed your final loan documents.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
DO stay current on all accounts
Much like the first item, the same goes for your other types of accounts (student loans, credit cards, etc).
Nothing can derail a loan approval faster than a late payment coming in the middle of the loan process.
DON’T make a major purchase (car, boat, big-screen TV, etc…)
This one gets borrowers in trouble more than any other item.
A simple tip: wait until the loan is closed before buying that new car, boat, or TV.
DON’T buy any furniture
This is similar to the previous, but deserves it’s own category as it gets many borrowers in trouble (especially First-Time Homebuyers
Remember, you’ll have plenty of time to decorate your new home (or spend on your line of credit) AFTER the loan closes.
DON’T open a new credit card
Opening a new credit card dings your credit by adding an additional inquiry to your score, and it may change the mix of credit types within your report (i.e. credit cards, student loans, etc).
Both of these can have a negative impact on your score, and could result in a denial if things are already tight.
DON’T close any credit card accounts
The reverse of the previous item is also true. Closing accounts can have a negative impact on your score (for one – it decreases your capacity which accounts for 30% of your score).
DON’T open a new cell phone account
Cell phone companies pull your credit when you open a new account. If you’re on the border credit-wise, that inquiry could drop your score enough to impact your rate or cause a denial.
DON’T consolidate your debt onto 1 or 2 cards
We’ve already established that additional credit inquiries will hurt your score, but consolidating your credit will also diminish your capacity (the amount of credit you have available), resulting in another hit to your credit.
DON’T pay off collections
Sometimes a lender will require you to pay of a collection prior to closing your loan; other times they will not.
The best rule of thumb is to only pay off collections if absolutely necessary to ensure a loan approval. Otherwise, needlessly paying off collections could have a negative impact on your score.
Consult your loan professional prior to paying off any accounts.
DON’T take out a new loan
This goes for car loans, student loans, additional credit cards, lines of credit, and any other type of loan.
Taking out a new loan can have a negative impact on your credit, but also looks bad to underwriters and investors alike.
Follow these Do’s and Don’ts for a smoother mortgage approval and funding process.
Just remember the simple tip: wait until AFTER the loan closes for any major purchases, loans, consolidations, and new accounts.