In the current market, appraisers are catching quite a bit of heat from lenders. As the foreclosure rate is escalating, appraisers are being forced to take a more conservative stance in valuations. What does this mean to you as a homeowner? If you have a home in "average" condition and your home's value is near the average price for a home of its size in the neighborhood, you should be fine when selling. The problems often come when you have a home that does not have recent comparable sales in the neighborhood to support your price. Homes that are trying to set the highest sales price for a neighborhood are facing tough times getting supporting valuations from appraisers. In the "good old days" of earlier this year, an appraiser would generally give you a value that was equal to or above the contract price as long as the price was not way out of line to comparable home sales. Things became tougher after the first quarter of this year as lender's losses started to pile up. It is now not uncommon for an appraisal to come in low. Over-Improved Homes Over-improving a home is never a good idea to do for investment sake, but selling that type of home now is difficult at best if you are trying to recoup all of your improvement expenses. If there aren't comparable sales in the last six months that your agent can pull up, you need to accept that you may get a low appraisal and may have to consider selling for less than you think your home is worth. Showing Shape You should have the home in "tip top showing" condition when the appraiser comes in. Usually, the showings have stopped by the time the appraiser drops in and most home owners have not kept the home in show ready condition. Do not make the mistake of letting the appraiser see your home in disarray. Pretend he is your most important buyer prospect. Low Appraisal Woes Buyers are not going to be happy if the appraisal comes in below the asking price. With the over-abundance of homes for sale in the Alpharetta and Johns Creek area, there are always other options for buyers. If you get a low appraisal and your buyer has not headed for the hills, have the listing agent talk to the appraiser and share why they think the appraisal is too low. If the case can be made with facts then an appraiser may change their opinion somewhat. If that does not work then you may want to consider shopping for a different appraiser that may give you the valuation that you need. Remember that an appraisal is just an opinion and will vary between different appraisers. Remember... Even if you have a buyer willing to pay your asking price, the sale won't go through as planned if the appraisal comes in below the contract price. It is not uncommon now for a sale, hinging on the loan approval, to be prevented because the appraisal came in lower than required due to more conservative appraisal practices. Now is not the time that you can expect to set new, elevated prices in your neighborhood.