A low appraisal can make buying a home more challenging — but it shouldn’t derail your purchase altogether.
There is hope!
There are several strategies you can use to either fight the low appraisal or bounce back from it. That means that you could still buy your dream house.
If you’re dealing with a low appraisal on a home you’re trying to buy, here’s what you can do.
1. Appeal the appraisal
If you and your real estate agent think the appraised value is unwarranted, you can appeal the decision and request the appraiser reconsider.
Though winning these disputes is typically difficult, you can help your case by noting any inaccuracies in the appraisal report or by pulling supporting data from your home’s neighborhood — meaning recent sales data that shows similar homes are selling for more than your appraised value.
Additionally, you can also call up the listing agents for home sales that are marked “pending” in the area. If the pending sale prices of those better match your offer, it can also help your case.
If you can prove the market supports a higher price point on your home, there’s a chance that the appraiser will adjust their report and increase the appraised value. This would then increase how much your lender will let you borrow.
2. Order another appraisal
If the above method doesn’t work, you can order a new appraisal from a different appraisal company. This will come with an additional fee (most appraisals cost between $312 and $408), and there’s also no guarantee your lender will accept the new appraised value — even if it is higher.
If you’re considering this route, make sure you talk to your agent and loan officer before moving forward.
3. Make up the difference out of pocket
If the appraised value ends up below your offer price, the simplest solution is just to make up the funds out of pocket. So in that previous example ($250,000 offer, $240,000 appraised value), you’d just need to pay an extra $10,000 at closing, and the sale could proceed as normal.
Obviously, this strategy is easier when the discrepancy is a small one. If there’s a hefty difference between the appraised value and your offer — or you’re just light on savings — you might consider changing up your down payment to account for it.
Keep in mind that this strategy will mean a higher monthly mortgage payment and, in many cases, a higher interest rate, too. Make sure you talk to your loan officer about this approach and that you fully understand the financial implications this would come with — both now and in the long haul.
4. Ask the seller to reduce the price
You can also reopen negotiations if your appraisal comes in low. First, you can ask the seller to reduce their sale price to the appraised value and accept a reduced offer.
This is ideal for you, the buyer, but for sellers, it means fewer profits on the sale. Because of this, sellers are typically hesitant to agree to this solution — especially if the market is hot.
5. Split the difference
Another option is to split the difference with the seller. If the disparity between your appraised value and offer is $10,000, you can ask the seller if they are willing to reduce their price by $5,000 and allow you to make the other $5,000 up in cash? What about a $2,000 and $8,000 split?
Talk to your agent about the best way to approach this. They can help spearhead negotiations with the sellers and the listing agent.
6. Back out and move on to another property
If all else fails, you may be able to back out of the transaction entirely if your appraisal comes in low. This will depend on whether you included an appraisal contingency clause in your contract. These clauses give you the right to walk away (without losing cash) if the home fails to appraise for your offer price.
It’s not the ideal option, clearly, but when the financial details just aren’t lining up, backing out may be in your best interest. You can then restart your home search, focusing on more affordable properties within your price range.
If you choose this option, be very careful about making offers going forward. Have your agent pull data on recent sales in the area, and make sure the numbers support your offer before submitting a bid. This will prevent a low appraisal from derailing your sale again.
How to avoid a low appraisal (or at least try to)
The best option is to avoid a low appraisal altogether. While there’s no way to guarantee this, there are some strategies you can employ to reduce your chances and ensure your offer better matches the home’s market value.
Here are just a few tactics you can use:
- Work with a real estate agent who really knows the market. They’ll be able to more accurately gauge a home’s worth under current conditions.
- Be careful about offering too far over the seller’s asking price. This increases the chance that your appraisal comes in low.
- Ask your lender to choose an experienced local appraiser. Again, someone local will have a better handle on the exact market you’re buying in.
- Know the property well. Make sure you have a good grasp on the home’s condition, age, square footage, and any renovations or repairs that were completed. These details can all help you submit a more accurate offer.
Your agent may have other strategies you can use as well, so make sure to work closely with them. You should also have a plan in place in case your appraisal does come in low.
Low appraisals happen. And they can be frustrating, causing a lot of potential homebuyers to give up their searches altogether.
So be prepared.
If you find yourself facing a low appraisal, be prepared to appeal the decision, reopen negotiations with the seller, or make up the extra cash out of pocket or with a change in your mortgage plans.