Can the seller be present during the appraisal inspection?

Can the seller be present during the appraisal inspection?

I’ve been asked this question several times during the past month, and if you’ve read my blog much you know that I like to share questions I get. My thought is that if one or two people are curious about something, I know that others may be asking the same question, so let’s take a look at what the benefits of the seller being present during the appraisal inspection are.

What the seller can provide

property information packetDuring the appraisal inspection the appraiser will collect as much information about the house as possible, including measurements to calculate the square footage, information about the condition and materials of construction, and a list of amenities or features that the home has. In addition to this information it is important to know what types of updates, renovations, or repairs the home has had. This would include information about when the roof, HVAC, plumbing, or electrical systems were upgraded or replaced. It is important to know this information because it helps to estimate an effective age for the home, which can also help us to make more accurate age and condition adjustments to the comparable sales.

Because the seller has first hand knowledge about their house and what has been done to it they are a good source for this information. I always tell agents that a good practice is to have the owner put together a written list of what has been done to the house over the last 10-15 years. If they do this a couple of days in advance then they have time to revise it when they think of things they may not have remembered at first. This is especially helpful to the appraiser because we are required to note in the appraisal whether the home has had any updates or remodeling in the kitchen and bathrooms over the last 15 years, and the approximate time they were completed.

Best case scenario

In my opinion the best case scenario would be for the real estate agent to meet the appraiser at the house becauseAppraisers and agents should improve communication they also have information the appraiser can use in addition to what the home owner has supplied. This will allow them to meet each other if this is the first time they’ve worked together. I know this is not always possible because of schedule conflicts, but I believe it is a good practice. Business relationships are more than about individual transactions, and the more we get to know one another the more comfortable it will be to ask questions should any arise. We all know that talking value is a no-no but there are other questions not related to value that agents may have.

In the past, communication between appraisers and real estate agents have left a lot to be desired and it has resulted in agents not having a good understanding of how the appraisal process works and why the appraiser does what they do. I have done my best to correct this by speaking at agents offices about the appraisal process and finding out what concerns agents have. I’ve worked on building relationships with agents I meet at appraisal inspections and this has resulted in them feeling comfortable about picking up the phone to ask me an appraisal question, even if it’s on a job I’m not working on for them.

Agents can provide valuable information to the appraiser about the property, such as mentioned above, as well as information about the neighborhood and any unique features it may have. Sharing comparable information with the appraiser has become somewhat controversial, with some appraisers being fine with it and others rejecting it. My thoughts are that if an agent was diligent enough and did their homework to come up with a market derived list price then being able to look at these sales will help us understand the logic in the pricing. I always let the agent know that I will look over the sales to determine if they are indeed comparables or just sales. I don’t always use them but I will consider them. Agents may also be able to give insight into why a comparable sold for what it did. It could have been a distress sale or it could have had lots of updates that made it superior to other homes in the area.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that it is o.k. for the home owner/seller to be present during the appraisal inspection because they can provide valuable information, however it is even more helpful for the agent to be present if that is possible. By providing a packet of information about the property being appraised, along with information the agent used to price the home, the appraiser can have a better understanding of how the list price was arrived at, and if it is supported by the market.

If you have any other questions about who should be present at the appraisal inspection feel free to leave a comment below, and once again thanks for reading.

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Comments

  1. Camille b O'Donnell says:

    My buyer is a cash buyer and wants me to meet the appraiser…now, the seller’s agent is insisting I don’t attend. Hes indicating that its the listing agent that meets appraiser? Doesn’t that seem strange? I will be attending. Are there any specific issues that would prevent me from attending? I want to represent my clients interest. I just can’t help but suspect that the listing agent maybe concerned about the price listed. Thank you for your insight!

    • I have met both the listing and selling agent at various times when appraising homes, it really doesn’t matter to the appraiser. One thing to keep in mind is that the appraiser will not want to discuss what any agent thinks the home is worth. I don’t mean that in a snarky way but he does not want to try to be swayed in any direction because his/her job is to provide an opinion of value that reflects the market. The selling agent and listing agent want a certain outcome but their desires are not unbiased like the appraisers. I would suggest that the information you provide to the appraiser be only fact based, such as improvements that have been made to the house, etc. I wrote another post about this that may be helpful titled “5 Things the agent can share with the appraiser to help with the appraisal“. Thanks for reading and if I can help in any other way let me know.

  2. If the seller obtains an appraisal in which the seller’s agent uses this as a negotiating tactic, is the selling agent required to share the appraisal with the buying agent?

  3. RK Peatross says:

    I don’t mind meeting the seller or agent at the time of the appraisal. Generally I find that the agent wants to give me comps (that usually listings, not closed sales) and are generally crap but in the interest of harmony I take them with a smile on my face. The seller is a different story as they (as previously pointed out) can provide a lot more information then what the agent provides on the MLS. I am not a big fan of having them follow me around mainly for the reason that they pester me with inane questions while I am trying to work. I usually ask that all questions come at the end of the inspection.

    • I agree with you about the owner following me around. I tend to get distracted so I suggest questions at the end also. Thanks for adding your comments.

  4. Great article as usual Tom. I’m in the minority of appraisers and I love it when the agent or homeowner follow me around on the inspection. I think it gives opportunity for me to educate them about what I’m doing and more opportunity to tickle important facts about the home out of them.

  5. Good stuff, Tom. I also agree about the agent being present at the property (of course only if the agent is going to share solid information). One of the reasons why agents sometimes do not want the seller there is because some sellers start to talk maybe a bit too much about all that is wrong about the house. “Yeah, back in 2005 the bathroom fell through the second story floor, and I patched it with duct tape…” But the point in this post is paramount. Appraisers need information, and knowing more about the house can make a big difference in the value. Personally I like when the seller is there so I can ask specific questions.

    • Good points Ryan! I’m with you regarding solid information. If the agent hasn’t done their work it will be found out if the house does not appraise. The owner definitely does not want to share the duct tape patch job. 🙂 I did look at a house once where there was some gaps where the walls intersected with the ceiling and the owner had put duct tape over it, I couldn’t believe it. Appraisers see everything.

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