Stories From The Street – May 2015

“Appraisal Issues… Time to Roll Up Your Sleeves”

The call came in at about 9am on Saturday morning as I was meeting with a new client about selling their home. I let the call go to voicemail and didn’t check for a couple hours.

As a listing agent, after the appraiser has been to the property you don’t want to hear from them again, because if you do the news is NEVER good.

Appraisers don’t go out of their way to call you to tell you that the value was fine and there were no issues.

When I checked my voicemail it said, “This is [appraiser’s name] and I’m trying to finish up your VA appraisal on Balmoral Ridge in Lake Linganore. I’m having a hard time getting the value. You need to take this call seriously and call me back to let me know if I am missing anything.” As soon as I received the message, I called him back to let him know that I was confident in my contract price and would get the data to him ASAP.

How a Value Driven Approach can differ from ‘comps.’

This is why I’m not a FAN of comps. Yes they can help determine a price of a home, BUT they do not take into account the Value and the perceived value that buyers might see in the home. I can walk into just about any house locally and come up with 5-8 ways that we can increase value and be able to tell you within a $10,000 – $15,000 range of what that home might sell. If the home is SO unique that I have no clue, I’ll then call my go to appraiser friend and ask for her opinion of value. And she knows how I operate, so she give me the value range knowing how my team of professionals will help the seller maximize the home’s value.

So, after taking the call from the appraiser, I’m thinking, “I need to find some solid documentation for this appraiser, let me reach out to those ‘in the know’ to see if they can help.” My first call was to a good friend of mine who is also VA appraiser. She told me that VA is very strict on their appraisers and they have stringent guidelines. If they feel that the value is going to come in low they are required to contact the agent to see if there is any data they overlooked and give that agent a chance to help before ‘turning in a low appraisal.’ So I had this working in my favor.

Within an hour, my friend had me a very good comp that was under contract but had not yet settled. It was slightly higher than mine, so I called the agent to find out if they received a ‘good contract.’ He said they received a good contract, so this was some ammunition for me.

My next call was to my friend in the settlement business to see if she had any settlements this year that might not have been in the MLS, such as, new construction or For Sale By Owner’s, that might help. But nothing came to mind.

So, I then searched the tax transfers myself to see if I could find any that the appraiser might have overlooked that were not in the MLS. I found 2 that would be perfect for stating my case. One was a higher sale; one was lower one.

So within about 3 hours, I found 3-4 properties that would have the Appraiser get the correct value.

I then called the buyer agent (who has been AWESOME to work with) to tell her of the potential issue on the appraisal.

Her response was, “Oh my goodness. I saw houses all over the county with this buyer and I know that the Value is there.” The buyer even mentioned to me. “Why is it priced at $399,000? This blows away everything else we have seen. Eric, what can I do to help?” I told her I was preparing some comps and gathering more data to get to the appraiser, but if she could write an email explaining what she told me, that it would be a huge help.

When sellers do an incredible job and buy in fully to the Value-Driven Approach the results can be amazing, and above average prices for neighborhoods are a common occurrence. Sellers are taught to treat their home as a business with a stock price instead of a home with a sales price, and I teach them secrets to extract additional profits from their sale.

This is the actual email that I sent to the appraiser, and the other agent also sent a passionate email explaining that the value for this home was fair for the market:

Ok. I have done some more research and made some calls. I hope this helps and PLEASE,
if I can do anything else, please don’t hesitate to ask.

The best comp (in my opinion) is 6653 Coldstream Dr that is currently under contract and
was listed for $439,900. This is also one street off the lake and comparable square footage and
upgrades. I spoke to Marie (the listing broker) and actually Danilo too (the co-lister) I called both and they both called me back separately. They are scheduled to go to settlement on May 1st and “all is going smoothly” was what they said. They did not give me specifics on the contract but told me it was “close” and “a good contract”.
Here is the MLS link: ( Link to the best comp)

Here are a couple sales that I found:
–6719 Balmoral Overlook is just one street over and slightly more square footage. It is a
new construction, but they did get a higher sales price too.
–6710 Lakeridge W. is a lower comp but is not as nice as the home on Balmoral. It is also not near the lake and the lot is on a severe slope. I included another, but not sure how good it is.
Here is the MLS link: (Link to 3 MLS listings)

Here are 2 tax records of sales that I did not see in MLS.
I believe that 6532 N Shore is the better of the two here. Slightly larger foot print, but also
a higher sales price. I’m not 100% sure on this one, but I do not think it is lake views.
Here is link to Tax Record: (Link to 2 tax records)

As you know the proximity to the Lake for Balmoral Ridge, being 1 street off the Lake adds about $30k to the price.

And I’ve included the back-up contract as reference to help justify value too.

Again, if you need anything, I’m happy to help.

And yes, I did have another offer, very similar to the contract that we had on Balmoral. So not only did one buyer think the value was there, a second buyer wrote an offer comparable to the first.

This ‘ammunition’ was presented to the appraiser and 2 days later we received this response:

Thanks for your input – my problem mostly is getting it through a lender with all the requirements we are under particularly with VA – but with appropriate commentary for the agents I have more actual data to relay in my report. I am close and with the new data provided today will see where I can go.

Two days later we received the news that we worked so hard to get… The appraisal came in at contract price, and we were able to move forward with the sale. I didn’t bother to tell my clients about the potential glitch until after we had a resolution and good news. It was no use for them to lose sleep for those couple of days while the other agent and I worked to diffuse the potential low appraisal issue.

So much goes on behind the scenes of a real estate transaction, and there are so many moving parts that the client doesn’t see to make a transaction go from start to finish. I’ve written about inspection issues, termite issues, title issues before, but the one that can also throw a wrench in the transaction is the appraisal.

Make sure your agent has the ammunition and contacts to help you with any situation.

Thanks for reading and being a part of this journey… Hit me up at if you want me to write about a question you might have.