As the nation continues to grapple with the housing affordability crisis, the importance of fair and accurate appraisals remains a key concern. In response to criticism that lax appraisals contributed to the financial crisis, tighter appraisal policies have been implemented by lenders, the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
However, it is believed the pendulum has now swung too far and reports of homes failing to appraise at the sale price, or even construction cost, have become more prevalent. Inaccurate appraisals remain a major impediment to the housing recovery, and therefore, finding solutions to these problems continues to be a major priority for NAHB.
NAHB believes that fundamental appraisal system reform is essential to restore confidence in the residential real estate market and to establish a foundation for sustainable economic growth. To address shortfalls in the appraisal process, appraisers must develop accurate valuations based on sales that are truly comparable and lenders need to use appraisers who are knowledgeable and experienced in appraising specific property types located in a given market. Regulators, appraisers, lenders and all stakeholders must come together to establish regulatory guidelines for appraisers in order to address these issues in today’s marketplace.
Why It Matters
Flawed appraisals are harming new home values and impeding sales in many markets because they do not accurately reflect the value of the home. Some appraisers are improperly using distressed properties — many of which have been neglected and are in poor physical condition — as comparables in assessing the value of brand new homes without accounting for major differences in condition and quality.
This is not only unfair and unreasonable, but it hurts home owners and home buyers alike. Many home owners seeking to refinance and take advantage of today’s affordable low interest rates are unable to do so because their house appraisals are coming in too low. A move-up buyer is hindered if the appraisal on their existing home comes in below what they owe on their mortgage. Likewise, many prospective home buyers have been denied financing because their dream house was inaccurately appraised below the sales contract price.
Major reforms in appraisal practices and oversight are needed to ensure that appraisals accurately reflect true market values and don’t contribute to price volatility or harm aspiring home owners and move-up buyers.