The Beginner’s Guide to Home Appraisals

Appraisals are used as a reliable, independent valuation of a tract of land and the structure on it, whether it’s a house or a skyscraper. Designed to protect buyers, sellers, and lending institutions, appraisals are an important part of the buying/selling process.

Below, you will find information about the appraisal process, what goes into them, their benefits and some tips on how to help make an appraisal go smoothly and efficiently.

 

Appraisal value vs. market value

The appraiser’s value is determined by using a combination of factors such as comparative market analyses and their inspection of the property to determine if the listing price is typical for the area.

Market value, on the other hand, is what a buyer is willing to pay for a home or what homes of comparable value are selling for.

If you are in the process of setting the price of your home, you can gain some peace-of-mind by consulting an independent appraiser. Show them comparative values for your neighborhood, relevant documents, and give them a tour of your home, just as you would show it to a prospective buyer.

 

What information goes into an appraisal?

Professional appraisers consult a range of information sources, including multiple listing services, county tax assessor records, county courthouse records, and appraisal data records, in addition to talking to local real estate professionals.

They also conduct an inspection. Typically, an appraiser’s inspection focuses on:

  • The condition of the property and home, inside and out.
  • The home’s layout and features.
  • Home updates.
  • Overall quality of construction.
  • Estimate of the home’s square footage (the gross living area “GLA”; garages and unfinished basements are estimated separately).
  • Permanent fixtures (for example, in-ground pools, as opposed to above-ground pools).

After the inspection, the appraiser of a typical single-family home will create their report including their professional opinion on what the price of the home should be.

You might hear the lender ask for two reports, the “Sales Comparison Approach” and the “Cost Approach.” These two approaches use different methodologies to find the appropriate value of the home, and help the lender confirm the home’s price.

 

Who pays and how long does it take?

The buyer usually pays for the appraisal unless they have negotiated otherwise. Depending on the lender, the appraisal may be paid in advance or incorporated into the application fee; some are due on delivery and some are billed at closing. Typical costs range from $275-$600, but this can vary from region to region.

An inspection usually takes anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, depending on the size and complexity of your property. In addition, the appraiser spends time pulling up county records for the values of the houses around you. A full report is sent to your loan officer, real estate agent, and/or lender in about a week.

If you are the seller, you won’t get a copy of an appraisal ordered by a buyer. Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, however, the buyer has the right to get a copy of the appraisal if they request it. Typically, the requested appraisal is provided at closing.

 

What if the appraisal is too low?

A low appraisal can present a problem when there’s a large difference between what you’ve agreed to pay and the appraisal price.

Usually, the seller’s agents and the buyer’s agent will respond by looking for recent sold and pending listings of comparable homes. Sometimes this can influence the appraisal. If the final appraisal is well below what you have agreed to pay, you can re-negotiate the contract or cancel it.

 

Where do you find a qualified appraiser?

Your bank or lending institution will find and hire an appraiser; Federal regulatory guidelines do not allow borrowers to order and provide an appraisal to a bank for lending purposes. If you want an appraisal for your own personal reasons and not to secure a mortgage or buy a homeowner’s insurance policy, you can do the hiring yourself. You can contact your lending institution and they can recommend qualified appraisers and you can choose one yourself or you can call your local Windermere Real Estate agent and they can make a recommendation for you. Once you have the name of some appraisers you can verify their status on the Federal Appraisal Subcommittee website.

 

Tips for hassle-free appraisals:

To ensure the appraisal process is smooth and efficient, provide your appraiser with the information and documents he or she needs to get the job done. The documents you will need include:

  • A brief explanation of why you’re getting an appraisal
  • The date you’d like your appraisal to be completed
  • A copy of your deed, survey, purchase agreement, or other papers that pertain to the property
  • A sketch of the property with the property’s dimensions. These are usually available online from the county assessors.
  • If you have a mortgage, provide the information about your lender, the year you got your mortgage, the amount, the type of mortgage (FHA, VA, etc.), your interest rate, and any additional financing you have.
  • A copy of your current real estate tax bill, statement of special assessments, balance owing and on what (for example, sewer, water)
  • Tell your appraiser if your property is listed for sale and if so, your asking price and listing agency.
  • If it’s a multiple offer situation, provide the appraiser with the other offers to prove the demand for the home.
  • Any personal property that is included in the sale, like appliances and other fixtures.
  • If you’re selling an income-producing property, a breakdown of income and expenses for the last year or two and a copy of leases.
  • A copy of the original house plans and specifications.
  • A list of recent improvements and their costs.
  • Any other information you feel may be relevant.

By doing your homework, compiling the information your appraiser needs, and providing it at the beginning of the process, you can minimize unnecessary delays.

Posted on November 6, 2019 at 8:00 am
Kelly Swift | Category: Buyers, Buying & Selling, Sellers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mistakes to Avoid When Buying and Selling a Home

There’s nothing more exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling than buying a home. However, it’s a complex transaction; there are a number of steps along the path that can confuse, betwixt, and befuddle even the most seasoned buyers and sellers.

How can you avoid those potential pitfalls and common mistakes? Look to your real estate professional for advice and keep these guidelines in mind:

 

BUYERS:

#1 Review your credit reports ahead of time

Review your credit report a few months before you begin your house hunt, and you’ll have time to ensure the facts are correct and be able to dispute mistakes before a mortgage lender checks your credit. Get a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because, if the scores differ, the bank will typically use the lowest one. Alert the credit bureaus if you see any mistakes, fix any problems you discover, and don’t apply for any new credit until after your home loan closes.

#2 Get pre-approved

Before getting serious about your hunt for a new house, you’ll want to choose a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage (not just pre-qualified—which is a cursory review of your finances—but pre-approved for a loan of a specific amount). Pre-approval lets sellers know you’re serious. Most importantly, pre-approval will help you determine exactly how much you can comfortably afford to spend.

#3 Know what you want

You and your real estate agent should both be clear about the house you want to buy. Put it in writing. First, make a list of all the features and amenities you really want. Then, number each item and prioritize them. Now, divide the list into must-haves and really-wants.

#4 Account for hidden costs

In addition to the purchase price of the home, there are additional costs you need to take into consideration, such as closing costs, appraisal fees, and escrow fees. Once you find a prospective home, you’ll want to:

  • Get estimates for any repairs or remodeling it may need.
  • Estimate how much it will cost to maintain (gas, electric, utilities, etc.).
  • Determine how much you’ll pay in taxes monthly and/or annually.
  • Learn whether there are any homeowner’s or development dues associated with the property.

#5 Get an inspection

Buying a home is emotionally charged—which can make it difficult for buyers to see the house for what it truly is. That’s why you need impartial third parties who can help you logically analyze the condition of the property. Your agent is there to advise you, but you also need a home inspector to assess any hidden flaws, structural damage or faulty systems.

#6 Evaluate the neighborhood and location

When house hunting, it’s easy to become overly focused on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the condition of the home and its amenities while overlooking the subtleties of the surrounding neighborhood. Take time to check crime reports, school options, churches and shopping. If schools are a key factor, do more than simply research the statistics; speak with the principal(s) and chat with the parents waiting outside.

 

SELLERS:

#1 Avoid becoming emotional or sentimental about the sale

Once you decide to sell your house, it’s time to strip out the emotion and look at it as a commodity in a business transaction. If you start reminiscing about all the good times you had and the hard work you invested, it will only make it that much harder to successfully price, prepare, and market the home.

#2 Fix problems (or price accordingly)

Homes with deferred maintenance and repair issues can take far longer to sell and can be subject to last-minute sale-cancellations. These homes also often sell for less than their legitimate market value. If you simply can’t afford to address critical issues, be prepared to work with your agent to price and market your home accordingly.

#3 Don’t overprice your home (and/or refuse to negotiate)

Getting top dollar is the dream of every seller. But it’s essential that you let the market dictate that price, not your emotions or financial situation. Allow your agent to research and prepare a market analysis that factors in the value of similar homes in the area, and trust those results.

#4 Use quality photos

The vast majority of prospective buyers today search for homes online first. In order to make a good first impression, you need a wealth of high-quality photos of your home and surrounding grounds. You may also need to consider professional staging in order to position your home in the best possible light for prospective buyers.

The process of buying or selling a home can have plenty of twists and turns, but with some smart decision making, you can avoid the most common mistakes and pitfalls.

Posted on October 7, 2019 at 2:14 pm
Kelly Swift | Category: Buying & Selling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

A Closing Window

Most people know that the Spring and Summer are the most active months for real estate and that activity trails off into the Fall and Winter.

Here are the specific numbers behind this…

The number of homes sold along the Front Range in November tends to be between 15% and 29% lower than September.

That means the best window of time for current sellers to obtain a contract from a buyer and close by the end of the year will occur over the next 45 days.

For sellers who have homes on the market today, it is time to ensure that:

  • The home is priced right versus the competition
  • All of the marketing elements are in place
  • It is easy for a buyer to make an offer on the home
Posted on August 23, 2019 at 10:23 pm
Kelly Swift | Category: Buying & Selling, Sellers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Inventory vs. Sales

Specifically what we look at are price ranges.

Neighborhood

We are curious to know if the inventory that is for sale lines up with what the buyers want.

Here’s what we notice…

In Larimer County, 23% of all the single family homes for sale are priced under $400,000. No surprise, this is a popular price range among buyers and it represents 45% of all sales.

So, the ratio is 23% of the inventory versus 45% of the sales.

In Weld County, the difference is more pronounced.

Homes under $400,000 represent 44% of the inventory and 69% of the sales.

Because the percentage of sales is higher than the percentage of inventory, properties under $400,000 will sell much quicker and are more likely to have multiple offers.


To see the latest on the market, be sure to check out a copy of the new Gardner Report, our Chief Economist’s quarterly look at Front Range real estate.

Posted on May 10, 2019 at 8:27 pm
Kelly Swift | Category: Buying & Selling, Sellers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Home Warranties Provide Buyers and Sellers With A Peace Of Mind

If you are a homeowner, you probably know all-too-well how costly home repairs can be. And, thanks to Murphy’s Law, appliance break-downs seem to happen at the worst possible time—like when you are selling your home. For this reason, it is in the best interest of all home sellers to consider purchasing a home warranty.

A home warranty offers many advantages to the home seller, the least of which is a peace of mind that your major home appliances are covered in the event of a break down. Most home warranties cover both parts and labor of your home’s most vital systems and major appliances. This protects the home seller from potentially large, unexpected repair bills and also allows the buyer to purchase the home with more confidence. Additionally, a home warranty is usually for the term of at least one year, so any unforeseen repairs/replacements are also covered well after the home has been sold. A home warranty also provides a competitive edge over those homes without warranties because it communicates confidence to buyers. This can add up to a faster selling period, resulting in a more convenient process for all involved.

A home is probably the single largest investment you’ll ever make, so the last thing you want as a home seller or buyer, are unexpected home repairs/replacements. Major appliance replacement can cost you several thousand dollars, and during the process of a home sale/purchase, your budget doesn’t often allow for costly expenses. A home warranty is designed to protect you from these types of expenditures. Furthermore, it is convenient for home sellers because a home warranty offers after-sale liability. While an inspection may find many faults that are covered by a home warranty, it cannot account for latent problems that are beyond an inspection’s scope, or problems that occur down the road. In most cases, a home warranty will cover these expenses, alleviating potential financial burdens for the seller once they have sold the home.

When considering a home warranty, it’s important to ask the right questions. Warranties vary from one company to the next and there are also many different types of coverage available. Your Realtor should be able to help you with this process. First and foremost, you should identify which components of the home will be covered by the warranty. It’s also important to attain annual costs and the charge for service calls. You will want to ask what the total dollar limit is on the warranty and what the limits are for the individual items that are covered. Many home sellers purchase home warranties, which are then passed along to the homebuyer when they move into the home. As a homebuyer, you may want to look into whether or not the coverage can be renewed once the warranty has expired.

According to American Home Shield, one of the largest home warranty companies in the nation, the average home warranty customer uses their warranty plan 2.3 times. Furthermore, the number of home warranties is increasing with every year because homeowners are becoming more informed of their benefits. Eventually home warranties will become commonplace, as buyers and sellers realize the advantages they offer. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that a home warranty is a very simple, cost-effective way to purchase a peace of mind for both homebuyers and sellers alike.

Posted on April 27, 2019 at 8:00 am
Kelly Swift | Category: Buyers, Buying & Selling | Tagged , , , , ,

Which Market?

So, which is it? A buyer’s market or a seller’s market?

Well, it depends!

First, let’s define each market. According to research, a buyer’s market exists when there is more than 4-6 months of inventory on the market.

If it would take longer than 4-6 months to sell out all of the inventory currently for sale, then it is a buyer’s market.

This calculation is obviously a function of the amount of inventory on the market and the current pace of sales.

A seller’s market exists if it would take shorter than 4-6 months.

So, which is it?

It depends very much on the price range.

Here are the numbers for Northern Colorado:

• $300,000 to $400,000 = 0.9 months
• $400,000 to $500,000 = 1.9 months
• $500,000 to $750,000 = 2.3 months
• $750,000 and over = 5.8 months

So, most price ranges are a clear seller’s market. It’s not until $750,000 and over that the market starts to approach a more balanced state.

Posted on April 12, 2019 at 6:45 pm
Kelly Swift | Category: Buying & Selling | Tagged , , , , ,

How to Avoid the Most Common Buying/Selling Mistakes

There’s nothing more exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling than buying a home. However, it’s a complex transaction, and there are a number of steps along the path that can confuse, betwixt, and befuddle even the most seasoned buyers and sellers.

How can you avoid those potential pitfalls and common mistakes? Look to your real estate professional for advice and keep these guidelines in mind:

BUYERS:

#1 Review your credit reports ahead of time

Review your credit report a few months before you begin your house hunt, and you’ll have time to ensure the facts are correct, and be able to dispute mistakes before a mortgage lender checks your credit. Get a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because, if the scores differ, the bank will typically use the lowest one. Alert the credit bureaus if you see any mistakes, fix any problems you discover, and don’t apply for any new credit until after your home loan closes.

#2 Get pre-approved

Before getting serious about your hunt for a new house, you’ll want to choose a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage (not just pre-qualified—which is a cursory review of your finances—but pre-approved for a loan of a specific amount). Pre-approval lets sellers know you’re serious. Most importantly, pre-approval will help you determine exactly how much you can comfortably afford to spend.

#3 Know what you want

You and your real estate agent should both be clear about the house you want to buy. Put it in writing. First, make a list of all the features and amenities you really want. Then, number each item and prioritize them. Now, divide the list into must-haves and really-wants. A good place to start is the “HUD Wish List,” which is available online for free at http://www.hud.gov/buying/wishlist.pdf

#4 Account for hidden costs

In addition to the purchase price of the home, there are additional costs you need to take into consideration, such as closing costs, appraisal fees, and escrow fees. Once you find a prospective home, you’ll want to:

  • Get estimates for any repairs or remodeling it may need.
  • Estimate how much it will cost to maintain (gas, electric, utilities, etc.).
  • Determine how much you’ll pay in taxes monthly and/or annually.
  • Learn whether there are any homeowner or development dues associated with the property.

#5 Get an inspection

Buying a home is emotionally charged—which can make it difficult for buyers to see the house for what it truly is. That’s why you need impartial third parties who can help you logically analyze the condition of the property. Your agent is there to advise you, but you also need a home inspector to assess any hidden flaws, structural damage or faulty systems.

#6 Evaluate the neighborhood and location

When house hunting, it’s easy to become overly focused on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the condition of the home and its amenities while overlooking the subtleties of the surrounding neighborhood. Take time to check crime reports, school options, churches and shopping. If schools are a key factor, do more than simply research the statistics; speak with the principal(s) and chat with the parents waiting outside.

SELLERS:

#1 Avoid becoming emotional or sentimental about the sale

Once you decide to sell your house, it’s time to strip out the emotion and look at it as a commodity in a business transaction. If you start reminiscing about all the good times you had and the hard work you invested, it will only make it that much harder to successfully price, prepare, and market the home.

#2 Fix problems (or price accordingly)

Homes with deferred maintenance and repair issues can take far longer to sell and can be subject to last-minute sale-cancellations. These homes also often sell for less than their legitimate market value. If you simply can’t afford to address critical issues, be prepared to work with your agent to price and market your home accordingly.

#3 Don’t overprice your home (and/or refuse to negotiate)

Getting top dollar is the dream of every seller. But it’s essential that you let the market dictate that price, not your emotions or financial situation. Allow your agent to research and prepare a market analysis that factors in the value of similar homes in the area, and trust those results.

#4 Use quality photos

The vast majority of prospective buyers today search for homes online first. In order to make a good first impression, you need a wealth of high-quality photos of your home and surrounding grounds. You may also need to consider professional staging in order to position your home in the best possible light for prospective buyers.

The process of buying or selling a home can have plenty of twists and turns, but with some smart decision making, you can avoid the most common mistakes and pitfalls.

Contact me today if you have any questions about buying or selling!

Posted on September 22, 2017 at 8:00 am
Kelly Swift | Category: Buying & Selling | Tagged , , ,

I’m Ready To Downsize But How Do I Start?

Are you thinking about downsizing but don’t know how to make the tricky transition work? How do you buy a new place before you sell your current home?

You are not alone as many home owners have the same concerns. They want to embrace a new lifestyle, take advantage of our ever-increasing values, and lock in a smaller home or condo in an area that they covet.

Below are some creative solutions that may help you make your dreams come true too. Keep in mind that everyone’s financial profile is different. One option might not work for you while another one will. It might even be a combination of a few of these.

Here are a few ideas:

HELOC – Home Equity Line of Credit. If you have enough equity in your current home, you may be able to get a HELOC to get a down payment for a conventional loan or to buy the new property outright.

Bridge Loan – These loans can bridge the gap between buying and selling. You can typically borrow up to 65% of the equity in your home with a maximum loan of $500,000.

Margin Loan – most individuals can borrow up to 50% of the balance in their liquid investment accounts (retirement accounts cannot be used). These loans are generally cheaper than a bridge loan and have no major tax implications.

IRA Rollover – Most retirement funds allow a 60 day rollover of funds. It’s very important to know that these funds must be replaced into the retirement account within 60 days or you may incur significant penalties and taxes.

Making a move, whether you are buying a larger home or downsizing out of your now empty nest, is a big decision. You’ll want the best professionals to help you. Ask your real estate agent to put you in touch with a lender who will help evaluate your financial situation and customize the best options for you.

Posted on September 21, 2017 at 7:38 pm
Kelly Swift | Category: Buying & Selling | Tagged , , ,