As a homebuyer, the landscape can be downright intimidating these days. Yes, multiple offer situations exist now, but this is changing and by July they might all but cease. First-time buyers can especially have concerns in this market, which is still a seller’s market, even though the pendulum is shifting. Why the concern? Well, interest rates have climbed and aren’t going down anytime soon. Furthermore, there’s still competition from other buyers who are eager to purchase, have been looking for a while and haven’t been priced-out of the market yet. There are many forces to consider when given the opportunity to buy real estate. Buyers in our region (Northeastern Pennsylvania) are paying about $300 more per month for a home via lender financing than they would have only six months ago for the same house. This is because rates have crept up about 2.5% points since January.
Lately, the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® (PAR) made some clarifications to one of their standard forms, the Appraisal Contingency Addendum (ACA), in an effort to clear up a little of the confusion surrounding buyer and seller rights and obligations surrounding the purchase of a property, specifically if a home fails to appraise. These changes will take effect on July 1, 2022. There’s been a misunderstanding in recent years about what the appraisal contingency means exactly for both parties and why the buyer doesn’t have the right to terminate an agreement of sale, if the appraisal contingency falls away, but that’s another conversation altogether.
As we mentioned above, there are still homes selling for over list price and there will be pockets of this type of activity I’m sure during the next few weeks. The concern for many potential buyers today is where does it put me if the appraised value of the home I’m looking to purchase comes in lower than the actual purchase price? This is a legitimate consideration. Thankfully, in Pennsylvania, the purchaser, through guidance from their REALTOR®, can rely on what’s called the “minimum appraised value” to protect them in the transaction. This would be the lowest value an appraiser could produce that would require the buyer to continue with the purchase. The ACA is there to accompany the sales contract and help these parties make every effort to continue forward in good faith toward settlement.
Of course, it doesn’t always work out for one or both parties, but protections like the appraisal contingency can help buyers sleep at night. “Homes failing to appraise happens more than you might think, even now,” asserts Maria Muchal Berta, Associate Broker for Realty Network Group and Owner/Certified Residential Appraiser of Chiave Appraisal Group. “It really depends if the buyer has the money to close the gap between the purchase price and its appraised value. How badly do they want the home? In some cases where the appraised value falls short of the purchase price, where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Angelo Ambrosecchia, Loan Officer for Guild Mortgage breaks down many of the intricacies involved in the following scenarios where homebuyers are seeking to secure funding for a home purchase.
“Prior to us getting involved, many transactions are negotiated that up to a certain price point, the buyer will pay the difference out of pocket, if a home appraises low. For example, someone is buying a home for $290K. If it appraises for $280K, they agree to pay the difference out of pocket, again, up to a certain amount. With inventory levels so low, we’re seeing this more as buyers don’t want to lose out on a home, if they can avoid doing so. In this example, if they were putting 5% down and getting a conventional loan, they would now be putting 5% of $280K down, and on top of that, paying $10K to make up the difference for the low appraisal, in addition to closing costs.”
“If the borrower has enough money down and they’re agreeable, we can adjust the loan-to-value to keep their out of pocket money the same. Here’s what I mean by that. We have someone buying a home for $290K and putting 20% down. This would make the loan amount $232K and down payment $58K. Let’s assume the home appraises for $280K and they want to keep their total out of pocket money the same, but agree to pay a total of $290K. We can lower the down payment from $58K to $48K and they can use that $10K to make up the difference. This keeps their total out of pocket funds overall, the same. In this case, they would now be putting $48K down on $280K and the loan-to-value would go from 80% to 82.9%. This would add a small PMI payment, but help the borrower accomplish their overall goal when it comes to total money, out of pocket.”
“As lenders, we can only lend up to the lesser of the appraised value or the purchase price. Always the lesser of the two.”
“If this isn’t agreed upon upfront, we first go to each REALTOR® and ask for any additional comparable properties the appraiser may have missed. At the permission of the buyer, we’ll have the buyer’s agent review the appraisal with them to see if any material items were missed. Is the bedroom count correct? Bathroom count? Square footage? Etc.”
“If no mistakes were made and the value isn’t able to be met, the REALTORS® involved would need to see if any re-negotiation can take place. If all parties can work it out or compromise on it, we move forward. If not, unfortunately, it may be a dead deal.”
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution for when the home in a real estate transaction fails to appraise, but we’ve attempted to give structure to variables that might come into play. We hope homebuyers have gained some valuable insight and can proceed with more confidence toward settlement.
For a related topic, see Why would I need an appraiser?