The home appraisal happens after all the contract haggling and negotiations come to an end and an agreement is made on the agreed sale price. New discoveries after the contract signing, however, sometimes allow the buyer the chance to reopen negotiations on the sale price and other contract terms. When the appraisal lists a home value failing to match the sales price or home inspectors find damages, both buyer and seller have the option for re-negotiations -- provided the sales agreement specifically identifies these contingencies as points for continued negotiations.
Comparable Sales Problems
Appraisers made a determination of the market value of a property. Residential appraisers use recent comparable sales as a basis for the home's market value. When the neighborhood fails to have any recent comparable sales, this creates problems for the appraiser. Official guidelines define "recent" as homes closing within a certain time period for consideration as comparable sales. The sales price might match to older comparable sales, but fail to find support from a sale within the guideline period. When the final appraisal report lists a price lower than the sale price, this mismatch allows the buyer to renegotiate the home's sale price.
Historic homes and houses featuring unusual architectural features, such as geodesic domes, also offer unique challenges for appraisers. These homes typically fail to match the guidelines for comparable sales, and make it difficult for the appraiser to locate qualified comparable sales of like properties. The differences may result in an appraisal property value different from the sale price as a result of the non-conforming sales. This price difference provides grounds for the seller to request a second opinion from another appraiser.
An appraiser looks at the property as a whole to determine the worth. Home inspectors examine the home in detail. The roof, electrical and plumbing systems, and heating systems all undergo close examination by inspectors. Even with an appraisal matching the sale price, the buyer can re-open price discussions when the home inspection finds major problems.
Asbestos requiring removal, faulty plumbing or electric, issues with water drainage and roof damage mean major costs to repair or replace. The buyers have the option to approach the sellers for the funds to make the repairs or request the buyer make the repairs before the escrow closes. These negotiations sometimes require both parties to contribute to the repair costs, even after a favorable appraisal report.
Lenders require borrowers to purchase a title report for the property. Buyers paying cash need not purchase title services, but the research report provides valuable information about the legal ownership and property boundaries. When a title report shows problems, known in the industry as a cloud on the title, buyers have the option of re-opening negotiations with the seller. Easements set aside land for utility use and title reports map these areas on the property. A buyer planning to build a garage on an area reserved as an easement has an incentive to renegotiate the home price, even when an appraisal report confirmed the value of the property matches with the sale price.
- Appraisal Institute: FAQs -- What Appraisers Do
- National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers
- National Mortgage Alliance: What is an Appraisal?
- American Society of Home Inspectors: Frequently Asked Questions on Home Inspections
- Holmes Inspection: Tips
- Realtor.com: Terms and Conditions
- TitleSource, LLC: Frequently Asked Questions About Real Estate Title Insurance
- City of San Diego, California: Site Information -- Determine Your Property's Zone
Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.