Katie McBride | Hopkinton Real Estate, Holliston Real Estate, Ashland Real Estate


A low appraisal is a possibility when you’re buying a home. This can happen for a variety of reasons. If it happens to you, don’t panic! 


Once you get an offer accepted on a house you love, it may feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. As any seasoned homebuyer will tell you, this is only the beginning! 


It can be tough for both the buyer and the seller when a deal seemingly falls apart due to an appraisal that comes in too low. This is a common occurrence and there are ways to work around it. 


Reasons For A Low Appraisal


There are a few reasons for a low appraisal including:


Insufficient sales data for the area can often skew appraisal numbers

Lenders may only lend up to a certain percentage of the appraised value


If the appraisal comes in lower than what you offered for the purchase price of the home, you’ll need to come up with the rest of the cash upfront in order to purchase the property. There are other options for you if you do come into this situation.


The Appraisal Contingency


The appraisal contingency is built into your sales contract and is a protection for the buyer, allowing them to walk away without financial burden if the appraisal comes in too low. This allows you room for negotiation on the seller’s part if they really are motivated. The contingency clause isn’t a one-size-fits-all protection. Even with this clause, you could end up spending more out of pocket cash or walking away from the deal completely. It’s simply a protection.  


What If The Appraisal Is Wrong?


The appraisal can be submitted for review. The appraiser would need to explain why they didn’t use comparable sales provided by the lender. The property can also be completely reevaluated. In addition, you can request a separate appraisal from your lender. The seller may even pay for the second appraisal in order to keep the deal from falling through. 


Don’t Offer More Than You Think The Property Is Worth


When you base huge financial decisions on emotions, you could end up in a bad situation. Your offer that wins the house can quickly become a case of regret as a buyer. Many times in a tight real estate market, you’ll need to make decisions fast. If you have a general idea of property values and work with a realtor to make an informed offer, you’ll be in better shape to avoid a big headache. While you may be able to afford paying more than a house is worth, it’s not a smart financial decision.       



Low Appraisals Are An Opportunity


A low appraisal should be thought of by the buyer as an opportunity to renegotiate the sale price of the home. This step in the home buying process is a protection for you as a buyer for one of the biggest purchases that you’ll ever make.


You have finally found what you believe to be the perfect home. Then, something rings off in your gut. Maybe it was poor communication with the seller. Maybe a big change happened in your own life in a short period of time. All you know is that you really want to back out of the deal. You might have a lot of questions. Is this possible? Are there consequences? 


The short answers to these questions are yes, and yes. There is a possibility that you could be sued by your backing out of a deal. It’s rare that buyers are actually mandated to buy a home that they don’t actually want to buy. Sellers will, however, be able to keep any money that has already been paid as a deposit after a certain point in the dealings on a home sale. Sellers may also be awarded damages in some cases. 


Legally Backing Out Of The Contract


There are a few circumstances where buyers may have a legitimate right to back out of a contract on a home. If certain contingencies weren’t met, as a buyer, you’re free and clear to walk away. These circumstances include:


  • Financing falls through
  • You couldn’t sell your former home
  • Flaws in the home have not been disclosed
  • Property boundary line issues exist
  • Liens are against a home’s title
  • The seller does not meet the terms for improvement
  • Undisclosed uses exist for the land such as a pathway


If none of these reasons apply to you and you still have reservations about buying the home, you may need to sacrifice a huge chunk of money. The way that you exit the deal will all depend upon the contracts that were signed previously.


Other Buyers Are Waiting For The Home


If you are in a tight market and decide to back out of buying a home, you could be in luck. Often, if there’s a backup offer, it’s enough to satisfy a seller that at least the home will be sold promptly. However, don’t hold you breath when it comes to getting your deposits back. If you have already “promised” to buy a home, you can kiss the deposit goodbye, unfortunately. 


Always Hire A Real Estate Attorney


Whether your state requires it or not, you should always hire a real estate attorney. These professionals can help you to read each and every line of the contracts that you’re signing when buying a home. They will make suggestions as to how you can protect yourself through the process along the way. It’s a good investment to hire a lawyer when you’re buying a home.


20170405-Share-STM Traditionally, spring is the busiest season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on buyer activity. This year will be no different! Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way, but the challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has lead to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available. A recent Bloomberg article touched on the current market conditions:
“It’s the 2017 U.S. spring home-selling season, and listings are scarcer than they’ve ever been. Bidding wars common in perennially hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver and Boston are now also prevalent in the once slow-and-steady heartland, sending prices higher and sparking desperation among buyers across the country.”
Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in big numbers:
“In today’s market, many buyers think the trough in [interest] rates is over. If you don’t get in now, it’s just going to be worse later. Rates will be higher, prices will be higher, and maybe inventory selection will be lower.”
In some markets, “thirty-five percent of properties are selling within the first week or two of hitting the market.” Homes are selling at a rapid clip in places like:
  • Denver, CO
  • Seattle, WA
  • Oakland, CA
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Boise, ID
  • Madison, WI
  • Omaha, NE

Bottom Line

Let’s get together to discuss your exact market conditions and help you create a strategy to secure your new home in this competitive atmosphere!

20170314-Share-STM Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Freddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters. This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact they may no longer be able to get a rate below 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows. Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades. 20170214-STM-ENG-1024x768

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

STM-Share8 According to a recent survey conducted by ClosingCorp, over half of all homebuyers are surprised by the closing costs required to obtain their mortgage. After surveying 1,000 first-time and repeat homebuyers, the results revealed that 17% of homebuyers were surprised that closing costs were required at all, while another 35% were stunned by how much higher the fees were than expected.
“Homebuyers reported being most surprised by mortgage insurance, followed by bank fees and points, taxes, title insurance and appraisal fees.”
Bankrate.com recently gathered closing cost data from lenders in every state and Washington, D.C. to be able to share the average costs in each state. The map below was created using the closing costs on a $200,000 mortgage with a 20% down payment. 20170301-STM-ENG-1024x768 (1) Keep in mind that if you are in the market for a home above this price range. your costs could be significantly more. According to Freddie Mac,
“Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”

Bottom Line

Speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing. Finding out that you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to.



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