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5 key questions to ask an appraiser before you buy

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Buying a home is no small thing, and it takes some serious know-how to complete the process successfully. Whether you’ve bought a home previously or you’re looking to purchase your very first home, there’s help available to give you the confidence you need going forward.

To help you understand what’s going on, ask an experienced appraiser to help you through the process. It may also be a good idea to ask your realtor or mortgage specialist the same questions, too. Here are five key questions to ask going forward:

1. How does the home condition compare to other homes you’ve seen?

It’s a good idea to compare the home you’re interested in to similar properties. How do other homes compare in the neighborhood and adjacent areas? Is this home a little lower or a little higher in price range? If so, why? What factors might influence a difference in price, and should they be reason for concern? For example, if a home is quite a bit lower in price than surrounding homes, it may be due to structural issues or another serious issue with the home. This is why it’s always a good idea to obtain a certified home inspection during the buying process.

When you ask an appraiser how the home’s condition compares to other properties they’ve seen, they’ll be able to tell you exactly which things are deal breakers and which are small fixes.

2. Are multiple offers likely on this property?

When you’re buying a home, it’s essential to find out whether you could make a competitive offer or not. This is contingent upon your budget, your loan amount and other offers on the home. If a home is up for a competitive price, it’s likely that the sellers will receive multiple competitive offers — and soon. Your appraiser will know if the selling price is competitive or not, which will, of course, affect how much you offer. Discuss this with your realtor as well, who should also have a good knowledge of the current home market.


3. Was it difficult to find comparable homes that sold?

In order to give an appraisal that’s as accurate as possible, appraisers value homes by finding nearby comparable homes that recently sold. When housing markets have an active climate, it can be difficult to find nearby homes that are comparable since home values are changing so rapidly. Instead of nearby homes that sold within the same immediate neighborhood, your appraiser may have to look further away depending on the current market.

Real estate is an ever-changing market, particularly in the current climate of Utah’s growing population, according to Jasen Lee of the Deseret News. In the end, your appraiser may need to collect his or her comparable data from homes that are further from the one you are considering. Either way, it’s important to ask your appraiser how he or she obtained a value estimate so you can know how accurate it is.

4. Were there any obvious deficiencies in the home?

An appraiser’s job is to ascertain whether the home’s asking and selling price match up with the home’s current value. An appraiser doesn’t do a full inspection like a home inspector would, but instead is doing a basic walk-through of the home. If glaring problems exist that deplete the home’s value, that’s what your appraiser will notice.

Talk with your appraiser about any obvious issues in the home, and then compare that to the report you get from the inspection. With these details in mind, is the home still something you want to buy? In the end, you are the final decision-maker. That’s what’s great about buying a home; you make all the decisions with plenty of help to inform you along the way.

5. Is the asking price in line with the appraisal?

This question comes down to the bottom line of what an appraiser is for. You can’t buy a home without knowing for sure how the asking price lines up with the home’s actual value.

Ask your appraiser about things that affect the asking price and the home’s value. What might cause them not to match up? Are there things you can look for initially to avoid a problem with the appraisal later on? For example, getting into a bidding war over a home could inflate the price and cause the appraisal to not match up. Do your research before you offer on a home so you know what you’re getting into.

If you need more help in the homebuying process, turn to the experts you’re already in touch with: your realtor, and your mortgage specialist. Mountain America Credit Union offers low rates and all the help you need to get into your first home. Visit its site today.