What You Need to Know About the NJ Appraisal Process

NJ appraisal

Whether you are buying or selling a home in the Garden State, you will have to go through the NJ appraisal process. If the buyer is taking out a mortgage, their lender will need to make certain financial decisions based on the results of a home appraisal. While this is a huge step in most real estate transactions, many people buying or selling a home aren’t sure what their role is in the home appraisal process. Here, we break down that process so you know exactly what a home appraisal can mean for you.

It’s true that a home inspection is intended to protect the buyer, a home appraisal is intended to protect the mortgage lender that is financing the real estate transaction. With a home appraisal, the lender in a mortgage is looking to get an objective estimate of the home’s value. They use this estimate to ensure that they are not lending more than the actual worth of the property. During a home appraisal, the appraiser is looking at everything on the entirety of the property, including: size, location, condition of internal and external home structures, any recent or necessary upgrades, and the price of comparable homes in the area. These pieces of information will provide insight into the true value of a home. From there, the appraiser will offer the lender a baseline sales figure.

In most real estate transactions, the buyer will pay for a licensed home appraiser to assess the property on behalf of the lender. The buyer will either pay at the time the appraisal takes place or add the fee to their closing costs. The lender will choose a licensed appraiser they feel will be the best judge of a home’s value, typically with a background in home construction, contracting, or home maintenance. A licensed home appraiser goes through at least 200 hours of coursework and must pass the state appraiser licensing exam before they can practice in the state of NJ.

A lender needs to be confident in the ability of the appraiser to remain objective in their appraisal, as well as their capability to back up every finding and their overall assessment of a home’s value. The appraisal report will include a drawing of the exterior, a map of the street and surrounding area, photos of the home’s exterior and street views, information on how the square footage was calculated, public tax and land records, and data surrounding area market sales. If any of these documents are missing, it can have a big impact on the home’s appraised value. If you notice any of this information missing, ask for another appraisal.

During the home appraisal process, it is common for the appraised home value to be more or less than the sale price of a property. If an appraisal is higher than the sale price for a home, this will benefit the buyer. But while the appraisal price and the listing price do not necessarily have to match, a major discrepancy in which the home is appraised for can lead to issues. As a buyer, you have a few options going forward. First, you can ask the seller to lower the sales price to match the appraisal price or pay the difference. A motivated seller may comply with this request.

If the seller does not comply, or the buyer is contractually obligated to move forward with the original sales price, there are still some things the buyer can do. If the buyer is concerned about losing their home loan, they can offer to increase the down payment. This way, the buyer is not borrowing as much money and may still be approved by the lender. The buyer could also agree to pay mortgage insurance. Borrowers who are financing more than 80% of their home purchase price will need mortgage insurance. This monthly payment would be tacked onto the regular mortgage payment and is typically .5%-1% of the total loan amount.

If the above options are not able to resolve the issue, a seller or buyer can dispute the home appraisal figure. The disputing party can work with their real estate agent or another licensed appraiser to come up with their own data. If this data diverges from the findings of the lender’s appraiser, there may be a case to correct the previous appraisal value. A lender will look at these findings and work with their own appraisal unit to come up with a new decision.

A home appraisal is an important part of any NJ real estate sale. Being knowledgeable of the process and understanding your options can save you a major headache later on. Real estate transactions are complex and the process never looks the same twice. Veitengruber Law’s experienced real estate team can help you navigate any potential problems with your appraisal, and throughout the entirety of your real estate transaction.