We’ve mentioned several times already how cutthroat the competition is in the current housing market, and how this is raising already high prices. The effect on people across the industry — such as buyers, sellers, lenders and real estate agents — is apparent. One group that you wouldn’t think would be strongly affected is appraisers, since their pay isn’t affected by home prices. In reality, they are beginning to struggle. Not only do they have much higher demand when the market is hot, but it actually makes their job much more difficult.
Appraisers are often using values of recently sold homes as a point of comparison. While this is not the only tool appraisers have at their disposal, it’s a major one, and its efficacy is called into question in the current market. Houses are selling very quickly, and prices are rising rapidly. Adjusting the formulas to account for a sudden burst of competition isn’t easy. In addition, an appraiser’s job isn’t to predict the future. Even if we can see that the market is unstable, or heading in a particular direction quickly, an appraiser reports the current value of a property, not what its value may or may not be in the near future. These factors all result in undervaluation of properties, which we can see sellers or their agents are also doing as many properties are selling well over the asking price.