How to Get a Fair Appraisal

Don't let a bad appraisal mess up your deal.

Don't let a bad appraisal mess up your deal. This might happen if the prospective buyer of your home is seeking a conforming loan backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Some appraisers used for these loans have been hired on the cheap and may lack the education, experience and time to do a good job -- basically, to verify that your home's sale price is supported by its market value. A poorly done appraisal that says your home is worth less than it really is can stop a loan from being approved.

Accepting only cash offers dodges the problem. But it's probably better to do what you can to influence the appraisal process. To start, you and your agent can share information with the appraiser, including your agent's analysis of market prices, says Leslie Sellers, president of the Appraisal Institute, a professional standards organization. And be sure to point out unusually low sale prices due to short sales and foreclosures, which shouldn't unduly influence your home's appraisal.

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Patricia Mertz Esswein
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Esswein joined Kiplinger in May 1984 as director of special publications and managing editor of Kiplinger Books. In 2004, she began covering real estate for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, writing about the housing market, buying and selling a home, getting a mortgage, and home improvement. Prior to joining Kiplinger, Esswein wrote and edited for Empire Sports, a monthly magazine covering sports and recreation in upstate New York. She holds a BA degree from Gustavus Adolphus College, in St. Peter, Minn., and an MA in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University.