What's the deal with slow appraisals? The why and what to do


By Monique Conlan

It is no secret that there are problems with slow appraisals and it is causing stress for buyers who cannot close their sales on time.  Appraisals are usually scheduled weeks in advance of the closing date but when the market heats up and there are more sales than the appraisers can handle it can push the demand for quicker appraisals.  In addition to the hot market, low interest rates are causing an increase in refinances which is adding to the demand on appraisers.  These two factors along with recent changes in the qualifications to become an appraisers are creating a shortage of appraisers.
The Why
According to the NWMLS most recent news release, sales are continuing at a record pace.  In August there were 11,898 pending sales reported compared to 10,603 a year ago and only 9,342 in August of 2014.  That’s a 27% increase in just the last 2 years.
Refinances are also taking up an appraiser’s time.  There is normally no priority list as to which appraisal takes precedence in the eye of the appraiser and some appraisers are turning almost half their requests away because they simply do not have the time.  What would normally be a 7 to 10-day process is now taking 4-5 weeks and it doesn’t help that certification for appraisers has recently changed.  Appraisers are now required to have a 4-year college degree along with 200 class hours in order to become certified, as shared by Mark Rosenberg of the Seattle Times.  This is making it harder to enter the field and turning away applicants.  So what are your options you ask?
What To Do
Your best option is to order your appraisal as soon as possible.  This sounds like a no brainer, but there are people who simply do not get the ball rolling or just do not know about the current delays.  Talk to your lender and make sure the appraisal gets ordered as soon as possible. 
Your second option is to pay your appraiser a “rush fee”.  Rush fees can be hundreds of dollars over a normal appraisal fee to even double or more as described by Kenneth R. Harney of the Washington Post.  However that extra couple of hundred dollars may be well worth the peace of mind particularly if you are on a strict timetable.
Your third option is to make sure you have written your offer so as to allow your lender enough time to close the transaction.  While the closing process would normally take about 30 days in the past, it is now best to give yourself around 40–45 days for closing due to these recent developments.
As always, communication is the key.  Make sure buyer, seller, lender and agents are all on the same page and are aware of the timelines and possible delays. 

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