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Q&A: Should I get an appraisal?

Q: A friend advised me to get a private appraisal before we seek financing from the bank. Is it a good idea? How do you choose an appraiser?

A: “Yes, it’s a good idea,” says real estate attorney William Horan of Horan & Wagner in Commack. “I’d suggest that a homeowner ask his attorney and or real estate broker to recommend a few appraisers who they trust. Listing a house at the wrong price can be costly to a homeowner by keeping the property on the market for longer than necessary.”

“It's wise for a seller to order their own private appraisal to determine the estimated market value of their home in relationship to the neighborhood," advises Bruce G. Starr of Starr Appraisal Service in Plainview. “Make sure you choose an appraiser that has geographic competency of your neighborhood. An appraiser from a different area might not be familiar with the school districts and geographic borders, for example, that are relevant to the value of your home,” he says. Starr suggests asking your appraiser for his credentials: What kind of license does he have and how long has he been licensed? What areas does he predominately work in?

“Keep in mind,” Starr adds, “that your appraisal isn't the one used to determine financing by the bank. The bank orders their own."

Starr says that if the bank’s appraisal comes in too low -- and the buyer doesn’t get financing -- there are several options. First, the buyer can go to another lender if he or she believes the house is worth the sale price. Second, the seller can lower the purchase price if he or she is under pressure. And third, the seller can leave the asking price "as is" and spend more time marketing the house. By waiting, the price of the houses in the neighborhood used for comparable sales may appreciate, and then the house may appraise at the desired price.

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