Low property appraisals can occur in any real estate market. In a rising market, multiple offers can create a final contract price higher than current comparable properties. In a declining market, appraisal values may not come in at value. Both buyer and seller want the home to appraise for the negotiated price, but sometimes it doesn’t. What can a buyer or seller do if a property doesn’t appraise at or above the negotiated purchase price?
1. The buyer can bring in additional cash to make up the difference between appraised value and contract value.
2. The buyer and seller can re-negotiate the contract price down to the appraised value price.
3. The seller can hold true to the purchase contract price and possibly carry a 2nd note for the difference between the appraised value and purchase contract value.
4. The lender could order a second appraisal that might come in at value and/or request to appeal the original appraisal. The appeal could be based on the appraiser using wrong or outdated comparable properties, the appraiser’s lack of knowledge of the community (comparing two homes from different school systems etc.) or the appraiser using incorrect information about the home (i.e. size, age amenities etc).
5. The buyer can kill the loan with the original lender and start fresh with a new loan and subsequently new appraisal. The seller must agree, this will take time and it might not yield different results. If there are questions about a property’s ability to appraise, one might double app with two lenders so you have a back-up in place should the first lender (do to low appraisal) not be able to perform.
6. Both parties can agree to cancel the transaction.
Since 1994, I have seen almost all of these strategies in reaction to a low appraisal value used. Renegotiating the purchase price and/or having the buyer bring in more cash seem to be most frequently used strategy for keeping the deal together. However, it really depends on the buyer, seller and real estate agents having a meeting of the mind to make it work.