Bob Bruss offers his advice in Inman News
Savvy homeowners and realty agents can use the Internet to research home values within a specific area. As I recently discovered, computerized appraisals are becoming more and more accurate. But there are still a few basic rules to assure an accurate appraisal:
1. GET THE PROPERTY INTO TIP-TOP CONDITION. If you need a top-dollar appraisal of a house or condo, whether you are a buyer, seller or refinancing homeowner like me, the first step is to get it into its best "model home" condition. Experienced realty agents can provide excellent advice on how to do this, such as by cleaning, repairing and fixing up.
2. ALWAYS ACCOMPANY THE APPRAISER. Either the property owner or the realty agent involved in the property sale should always accompany the appraiser to answer any questions about the home's benefits and features.
As I was prepared to do when my home was recently appraised, it helps to be prepared with a list of nearby recent comparable home sales prices and a list of the home's features.
It is not unusual for a busy appraiser to inspect three or four homes per day and, after a while, even with the help of digital photos, those homes tend to blur in the appraiser's mind so any information the appraiser has when writing the appraisal can help.
3. BE SURE THE LENDER WILL PROMPTLY PROVIDE A COPY OF THE APPRAISAL. Although the home buyer or owner often pays for the appraisal, technically the appraisal belongs to the mortgage lender who ordered the appraisal. Borrowers should be certain the lender agrees to promptly supply a copy of that appraisal so the borrower can review it and correct any mistakes the appraiser might have made. My lender (Wells Fargo) even sent me a FedEx overnight copy of the appraisal.
If you feel the appraiser has made a serious error and he or she refuses to correct it, ask the mortgage lender for a prompt "review appraisal" by another appraiser to be paid by the lender. Should you discover a violation of appraisal standards, a complaint to the state appraisal license agency will usually produce an investigation and even discipline, if warranted.