Alternative Appraisals - Why You Should Avoid Them
You may have seen or heard about them by now. Alternative appraisals (sometimes called desktop appraisals) are being asked for to provide a quick estimate of property value without paying the cost of a real appraisal.
The valuation is performed based on county records, the MLS and sometimes an inspection by a 3rd party (realtor or a service provider) that may or may not have the knowledge to properly inspect a home and will not measure the home to determine if the records in the MLS or county are correct. This is being done to reduce time and cost but is done for the benefit of the bank not the home owner.
The liability still rests with the appraiser - and while there are appraisers out there completing these products, it is my opinion that they are not only a disservice to the home owner, but it is possible (and likely) to be inaccurate without a physical inspection of the property.
On the other hand, a full appraisal means that an appraiser visits your home, takes photos, measures the property, and evaluates the condition of your home.
Why would you want to stay away from an alternative appraisal?
When buying or refinancing a home, you want to know without a doubt that you're receiving a fair deal and will not be “underwater” with your home loan. Computers and algorithms are in nearly every area of modern life, but when it comes to measuring the value of your property, nothing is more accurate than the careful assessment of a certified professional that you can trust.
Keep in mind that a proper assessment of your home is far more important in the long run than some money that you may save immediately.