What Sellers and Buyers Need to Know About Apprasial Gaps

It’s economy 101 – when supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally rise. This has created challenges when it comes to appraisals as an appraisal can come in below the contract price on a house.

In recent months, Shawn Telford Chief Appraiser for CoreLogic explains that recently “we observe buyers paying prices above listing and higher than the data available to appraisers.”

In recent months, it’s become increasingly common for an appraisal to come in below the contract price on the house. Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser for CoreLogic, explains it like this:

“Recently, we observed buyers paying prices above listing price and higher than the market data available to appraisers can support. This difference is known as ‘the appraisal gap . . . .’”

Why does an appraisal gap happen?
Basically, with the heightened buyer demand, purchasers are often willing to pay over asking to secure the home of their dreams. If you’ve ever toured a house you’ve fallen in love with, you understand. Once you start to picture yourself and your furniture in the rooms, you want to do everything you can to land the property, including putting in a high offer to try to beat out other would-be buyers.

When the appraiser comes in, they look at things a bit more objectively. Their job is to assess the inherent value of the home, so they’re going to study the facts. Dustin Harris, Appraiser Coach, drives this point home:

“It’s important for everyone to understand that the appraiser’s job in the end is to remain that unbiased third party, to truly tell the client what that home is worth in the current market, regardless of what decisions have been made on the price side of things.”

In simple terms, while homebuyers may be willing to pay more, appraisers are there to assess the market value of the home. Their goal is to make sure the lender isn’t loaning more money than the home is worth. It’s objective, rather than emotional.

In a highly competitive market like today’s, having a discrepancy between the two numbers isn’t unusual. Here’s a look at the increasing rate of appraisal gaps, according to data from CoreLogic (see graph below):

What does this mean for you?
Ultimately, knowledge is power. The best thing you can do is understand an appraisal gap may impact your transaction if you’re buying or selling. If you do encounter an appraisal below your contract price, know that in today’s sellers’ market, the most common approach is for the seller to ask the buyer to make up the difference in price. Buyers, be prepared to bring extra money to the table if you really want the home.

Above all else, lean on your real estate agent. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, your trusted advisor is your ally if you come up against an appraisal gap. We’ll help you understand your options and handle any additional negotiations that need to happen.

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About the Author

​Jearlly "Jelly" is a savvy Atlanta businesswoman with a passion for client satisfaction. She takes great pride in being in a profession that gives her the privilege of being a part of her client's biggest decision of their life. Finding their forever home. Whether she is representing buyers or sellers Jelly strives to demonstrate honesty, integrity and professionalism most importantly gratitude for being in a profession that she loves. She earns the respect of her clients by working diligently on their behalf and always offering her "tell it as it is" candid advice.