BluefoxToday blog : What Happens if My Las Vegas Appraisal Comes in Low?

What Happens if My Las Vegas Appraisal Comes in Low?

What will Renee say today?I get asked this question very often and it is a very valid concern in regards to the lending process these days!

When the appraisal comes in “low” it means that it is less than the contracted price.  If the buyer was planning on putting the minimum down for the down payment then the low appraisal can cause a deficiency between the loan to value ratio.

Several things could happen:

The buyer submits an addendum to the seller to lower the price to the appraised price.  FHA appraisals “stick” to a property for a certain period of time.  If there is a high amount of FHA buyers in the market, it is wise for the seller to agree to the reduced price.  Right now FHA buyers make up between 25-30% of the Las Vegas closed sales.  That means if the seller rejects lowering the price to put the home back on the market, they will be shutting out the rest of the FHA buyers in the market – which as mentioned, is 25-30% of our market currently.


The buyer makes up the deficiency by putting extra money down.


The seller meets the buyer somewhere in the middle with the appraisal deficiency.  In other words, the seller reduces the price a little and the buyer brings in extra cash for the down payment.


The appraisal is contested by the buyer.  This is a little harder than it sounds but it is always worth a shot!

If all fails and the seller will not reduce the price nor will the buyer come up with the difference, there may be an “appraisal contingency” in the contract.  Check with a lawyer to make sure you are protected within the boundaries of your contract to get your earnest money deposit refunded.  Best of luck, bumps in the transaction are never fun but they can be smoothed out most of the time!

Thanks,  Renée Burrows 702-580-1783 Broker/Owner, REALTOR®


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Comment balloon 53 commentsRenée Donohue • October 22 2010 11:12PM


Real estate is negotiable-make the deal work and close it.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Hi Renee ~ Many buyers panic when the appraisal comes in low. Good job explaining the different options.

I had a pre-broker's course today on the subject of appraisals. The instructor mentioned the possibility of contesting the appraisal. As you point out, it's not easy, but if you can find some different comps than the ones the appraiser used it's definitely worth a shot.

Posted by Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner, Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices (Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268) almost 8 years ago

Harry:  A low appraisal is more common than many thin it is and a solution/compromise is the usual outcome!

Denise:  Yea I have contested all low appraisals and nothin!  I did get the sellers to lower the price so all is well that ended well.  I usually contest and send out an addendum to lower the price all at the same time so we have several different options if one doesn't pan out!

Posted by Renée Donohue, Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - (Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate) almost 8 years ago

Renee, this IS becoming more and more commonplace!   I just had a loft in downtown Denver not appraisal, and the appraiser did not call the listing agent prior to turning it in.   The seller would not budge and the contract was cancelled.

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (Metro Brokers - House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) almost 8 years ago

This post was very timely. I am just going through a transaction where the appraisal came in lower than the contract price. I am the listing agent. In my case the appraiser made some basic mistakes and we were able to request a second appraisal. It should come in on Tuesday. So my recommendation for you is to review the appraisal to make sure it is a good one.

Posted by Jose Dias, Sell Your Home in Scottsdale-Phoenix-Peoria-Glendale-Goodyear (Home Sellers Help in Scottsdale-Phoenix-Peoria-Glendale) almost 8 years ago

Joan:  ARGH!  Phone calls are our friends!


Posted by Renée Donohue, Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - (Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate) almost 8 years ago


Great job explaining the pros and woes of the appraisal lows.

Posted by . 4Terra Land Brokers .. 828-776-0779 Asheville NC, What's Most Important to YOU? Call(828)-776-0779 ( REAL ESTATE RESOURCES & NETWORK ) almost 8 years ago

Great post! Typically out here the buyer and seller will meet somewhere in the middle

Posted by Ryan Case, 877-828-0710 (SCA Real Estate) almost 8 years ago

Renee, I've seen a few low appraisals here too!  You've clearly articulated the options for the buyer and seller.

Posted by Sun City Grand Homes Surprise AZ Real Estate Leolinda Bowers Designated Broker Leolinda Realty, Sun City Grand in Surprise Arizona (Leolinda Realty) almost 8 years ago

Nice job in explaining the options.  Yes, I think this sort of thing throws buyers into a tizzy.  Good job.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 8 years ago

Renee-  That was an excellent explanation.  I run into this a lot and I could not have said it any better than what you wrote.  This is getting bookmarked for a reference point to send to confused clients.  Thanks for sharing. 

Posted by Gary Miljour, Mortgage Originator NMLS Licensed in AZ and NC (Lend Smart Mortgage NMLS#207208) almost 8 years ago

What once was routine, low appraisals cured by the seller meeting the appraised price, is not longer routine.  With dramatically reduced valuations, sellers are often not willing or able to meet a lower appraised value and go forward. 

Once that FHA appraisal is in place, the seller has no financing alternative for four months other than conventional. 

Sellers and buyers alike have to be very careful about pricing. 

This is an area of which many buyers are unaware.  Sellers too.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 8 years ago

When it comes to contesting the appraisal, an experienced Realtor can earn their commission if they know how to do it.  This does assume that the purchase price is in fact market value and the appraisal can be contested because of a mistake.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) almost 8 years ago

Renee a couple of points from a mortgage originator's point of view.

First the value of the subject property is the lesser of contract price and appraised value.  That's where we start taking loan to value and minimum down payment requirements from.

Second is the FHA Addendem gives the buyer the option to back out of a contract if the appraisal comes in low and if the buyer decides to back out of the contract, to have their earnest money returned.

Your are correct in a low appraisal can be chalanged but it is time consuming and is rarely changed.  If a second appraisal is requested, who pays for it?

Good Blog.

Posted by Shay Campbell, Raleigh, NC (Universal American Mortgage Company) almost 8 years ago

Renee, touch wood the last couple I have had have come in at, or just above appraised value. I did have one in 2008 where the appraiser (not local) would not even go to the property as they deemed it so below the contract price, so we asked for a local appraiser to go and appraised.PHEW!!!

Posted by David O'Doherty, Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC (Raleigh Realty Inc) almost 8 years ago


For FHA transactions, an FHA case number is issued, which is the method that the FHA uses to track all documents related to the transaction, including the appraisal.

Regarding the contesting of appraisals, which is sometimes referred to as a "Reconsideration of Value" (ROV) request: For FHA appraisals that request MUST come to the appraiser from the underwriter according to FHA rules.

Most lenders have a formal process for ROV's, and usually entail sending them data on comparables which are superior to the ones utilized in the appraisal.  Comparables which are superior should require LESS adjustment than those utilized, i.e.: are more comparable to the subject in terms of market determinant factors such as gross living area, lot size, room count, location, style, etc.

Frankly, in ROV requests, the comparbles provided to me are frequently the highest sales in the subject market and/or not comparable to the subject.  On occasion, I receive comparables which are already in the appraisal.

Posted by Jesse Skolkin (Independent New York State Certified Real Estate Appraiser) almost 8 years ago

I do not envy Appraisers at all right now, as they are under much scrutiny.  They do not have the comparables like they use to, as they are just not there.  The Lenders want to have as current as possible, but since the downturn, they may have to go back further than they hoped for as well as stretching the area to find enough homes to compare to.  I don't take it personal, as they have to keep their license as well.  Many times I have seen where the Lender will want additional comparisons from the Appraiser also, as they aren't satisfied with what was presented initially.

Posted by Don Spera, Serving York and Adams County, PA (CR Property Group, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Thanks for writing this post and congratulations on the feature Renee, I'm learning from the post and the comments from the vast knowledge pool here  in AR

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) almost 8 years ago

This is never a fun position to be in as I have heard all the horror stories. I guess I am fortunate that it has never happened to me:)

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 8 years ago

Great explanation, Renee!  There are MANY low appraisals as of late so this is really important information for both buyers and sellers to know for when it happens.  Like you said, there are options - you just need to be prepared for the "what-ifs".

wake forest nc house chick

Posted by Leesa Finley, RED Properties - Raleigh NC Real Estate (RED Properties) almost 8 years ago

We had one come in low this week on a FHA appraisal. The bank met the appraised value. We were holding our breath because many banks won't.

Now the bigger issue we have here is a BPO agent, not going in the home and it coming in high on short sale. The sellers can not bring money, the buyer won't and we start over.


Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) almost 8 years ago

Renee Thanks for laying out the options. Low appraisals seem to be coming in more than in the past. It does take some negotiating many times but it does not mean end of the road. I always warn my sellers that this can happen. Have a great weekend!

Posted by Surprise Arizona Realtor Jim Braun Sun City Grand Active Adult Communities, Surprise AZ real estate Phoenix West Valley (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Jim Braun Sun City Grand Az ) almost 8 years ago

I Gare but remember that not all appraisers are perfect. They use a formula but when you get an out of area one..they don't always use comps that we might use and that goes for all of them. But I agree that FHA is much tighter and if a neighborhood is closing the majority of deals with FHA...the - likely-hood of coming into tht neighborhood will be FHA or maybe cash...

Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (eXp Realty) almost 8 years ago

Hey, Renee, congrats on the feature. Jesse: Nonsense, most of the time I've noticed the out of area appraiser used the wrong comps or comps THEY felt were comparable even going outside the subdivision. There have been many great posts on contesting the appraisals here on AR, tough to do but always worth a shot as Renee states.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) almost 8 years ago

This is a great topic for a blog post because this occurs frequently these days. Renee: That child is so cute! Great picture!

Posted by Melissa Zavala, Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County (Broadpoint Properties) almost 8 years ago

Renee, it is true that in the world of HVCC this has gotten worse. That will hopefully be solved once it goes away! Appraisers from hours away have sometimes come to my listings, and have no idea about the subdivision, and I wonder how in the world they have chosen the comparables they have. HVCC made some of them tell me they couldn't even speak with me. That's when the red flag went up & I would be on high alert...

Congrats on your feature! Great topic & awesome photo! :)

Posted by Marney Kirk, Towson, Maryland Real Estate (Cummings & Co. Realtors) almost 8 years ago


I've had this occurring less frequently. (Maybe because "out of area" appraisers are rarer?) You nicely spell out the options for when it does happen!

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) almost 8 years ago

This post was designed for people who ask me about the possibility as a reference.  In no way did I intend to sound like I was bashing appraisers or even lenders.  I do understand that lenders sometimes run AVMs to verify the validity of the appraisal and put overlays or thorough instructions on appraisals on how comps are to be pulled, etc.  HVCC bites and I am pretty much of the mindset that "it is what it is". 

I want to thank everyone for sparking this very candid discussion so buyers and sellers can see what we are dealing with on a daily basis.  I believe it is our job to educate buyers AND SELLERS (as Lenn mentioned) of the possibility of a low appraisal and the potential things that can be done in the end to correct the issue.  The education process must start BEFORE the low appraisal happens too!

Posted by Renée Donohue, Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - (Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate) almost 8 years ago

The apprisal never "comes in low," btw...

Posted by Rick Phillips, I care about you and your transaction. (Frankly Realty - Old Town) almost 8 years ago

Thanks for the post as it is excellent... I like your approach of covering the different possibilities for the outcome.

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) almost 8 years ago

Rick:  It can come in lower than the contracted sales price......  Low is subjective on how and by whom it is looked at.  Can you tell me what the definition of "is" is?

Bob:  Thanks for your comment!

Posted by Renée Donohue, Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - (Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate) almost 8 years ago
Au Contraire to the comment that appraisals never come in LOW:-) the appraisal process still has elements of subjectivity which is why it cannot be done by a computer...
Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate) almost 8 years ago

Renee... some very good information about appraisals and if the value comes in lower. This is not always explained to both buyers and sellers. And especially the part that you talked about when it comes to FHA appraisals.. good job here.

jeff belonger

Posted by Jeff Belonger, The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans ( Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc) almost 8 years ago

Russell:  TRUE THAT!

Jeff:  Thanks :)

Posted by Renée Donohue, Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - (Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate) almost 8 years ago

Renee, low appraisals are a way of life here in my area. Most times, the buyer doesn't want to pay more than the appraised value.

Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) almost 8 years ago

Great conversation that got started here!  I have actually been hearing about this happening quite a bit lately...seems like the "how to work it" is different on every transaction based on the buyers' and sellers' individual circumstances...just like everything else in real estate! LOL  It's great to hear everyone's opinions and past experiences.

Posted by Real Estate Virtual Assistant & Agent, Proud to Serve Your Real Estate Needs (Christine Wade) almost 8 years ago

Renee, very good coverage of the options when the appraisal value comes in lower that the contract price.  Spurred some excellent comments which increased my learning opportunity as well.  Thank you, ma'am!  ;-)

Posted by Kent Dills, Real Estate 817-495-8028, Bellingham, Washington (Broker, Dills Real Estate) almost 8 years ago

Very good insight Renee! Thanks to you and other Active Rain members.

Posted by Lerma Sampang (Champions Real Estate Group) almost 8 years ago

Renee, I am in a similar situation on an approved short sale. It was approved at $240K and the appraisal is at $228K.  The bank wants the buyer to make up the difference. The buyer is a FHA buyer and has not enough funds. I am requesting the bank to reduce the sale price to appraised value. Lets see if I succeed or it goes into a foreclosure. I do not know why the bank negotiator says that investors want $240K. I know if it goes to foreclosure they may loose more money.

Posted by Farooq Khan, Real Estate Broker - CDPE (Pacific Realty Partners) almost 8 years ago

Hi Renee~  Any buyer, not just FHA, should have an appraisal done.  Cash buyers need to do one so that they know what an appraiser thinks it is worth.  If it comes in low, the buyer can accept it, renegotiate it, or void the contract.  It all depends on what is in the contract.  I typically put that it must appraise at purchase price or better or buyer may void contract.  If the seller doesn't agree, then they need to strike that clause from the beginning. 

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) almost 8 years ago

Renee, very good topic. Sellers don't realize rejecting a request to lower the price because of a low appraisal can have an impact on future FHA offers. Thanks for bringing up this topic.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 8 years ago

Well explained, Renee. This is good to explain the stick factor on a post.

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge almost 8 years ago

Appraisal contingencies are definitely important for buyers.  I've gotten the appraisers to change their price a bit, but usually it's a negotiation between buyer and seller to figure out the deficiency.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) almost 8 years ago

Renee - Awesome breakdown of the different outcomes, this is something I go over with every single one of my clients since it seems commonplace these days.  Congrats on the feature!

Posted by Michelle Gibson, REALTOR (Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. ) almost 8 years ago

Knock wood (knock - knock) I've been successful with the appraisers correcting mistakes or ROV.  In one case, the house appraised for $20K under contract.  OUCH.  I spoke with the appraiser and asked him why he didn't use properties XY&Z as comps in addition to AB&C?  He was an out of area appraiser and didn't know that the properties I suggested existed...because they were on the other side of the street and in a different city!  They were within 1/4 mile in a rural area but because he didn't include that city in the search... He was good - admitted his oversight and resubmitted his appraisal.  It was still below contract price but not by near as much (and I was afraid from the get-go it wouldn't come in so it wasn't a big surprise that everyone had to come to the table with more money)

In another instance, the appraiser transposed several numbers and when he uses $67000 instead of $76000 - it makes a huge difference in the subject property value!  He didn't like admitting his error.  And the underwriter didn't like having to accept a revised appraisal - in fact threatened to throw out the appraisal for HVCC violation.  I fought that easily enough - I merely pointed out the errors and insisted on them being corrected.  I didn't ask for different comps - just the correct numbers be used.  How is that influencing the appraiser by insisting he fix his mistakes?  Deal closed :)

Posted by Bea Lueck (Coldwell Banker Rox Realty) almost 8 years ago

Renee, this can be a problem for us as well. We have a contingency clause built in for the buyer's protection, that it must appraise for at least the purchase price for FHA or VA.

Posted by Don Wixom, "Looking out for your next move..."tm (RE/MAX Advantage Nampa, ID) almost 8 years ago


You would think at this point the pricing and appraisals would run close hand and hand.

I guess there are many ways to look at the same thing.


Posted by Richard Stabile, Bergen County New Homes Builder Realtor (Re/Max Real Estate Limited) almost 8 years ago

Hi Renee!  Same thing is happening here--even more maddening is BPO agents who never lay eyes on the physical property, giving HIGH values and causing the deals to fall apart.  It's a wild world out there, isn't it?!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) almost 8 years ago


Excellent job of explaining the process and what can be done. Everytime I get a low one I hve to start by prying up all the heels that are digging in at the moment.

Posted by Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459, Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD! (Coldwell Banker) almost 8 years ago

Thanks all for the comments, like I said this is an amazing discussion and now I can always point my buyers to this post so they know they are not alone!

Farooq:  I had that happen with a buyer last year.  An amazing list agent got it negotiated downwards and believe it or not - all is well ended well :)

Vickie:  Absolutely everyone - even cash - should get an appraisal!

Bea:  WHOA transposing numbers resulting in a 9K difference could definitely have a huge impact!

Debe:  as someone who does BPOs and takes my job seriously - if it is an exterior order I rely HEAVILY on MLS data and photos for condition.  Many times i run into only one exterior photo and remarks stating it is in pristine condition.  Since I am not to approach occupants or agents in the instructions of this report - I will grade the property as "excellent" condition and adjustments will be given accordingly.  Ditto with something stating that it needs work.  I wish all agents and appraisers would go a little further and take pride in their work when they are doing these types of reports!

Posted by Renée Donohue, Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - (Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate) almost 8 years ago

It depends.  If you are representing the Buyer it's a great opportunity to get a price reduction from the Seller.  If you are representing the Seller - they have a decision to make.  Hold out for a Buyer who is willing to make up the difference in cash - or take the bird in hand.....

Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ (BVO Luxury Group @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty) almost 8 years ago


In this market low appraisals are almost flavor of the day, requiring extra flexibility and patience from all sale participants.

Posted by Esko Kiuru almost 8 years ago

Sorry, Renee, I missed your #32.

I may not have had my coffee yet when I posted that comment.  Let me try it again:

1. The appraisal is an opinion, just one opinion, created from a study of the market.  It's not personal in any manner. 

The appraiser may prefer 3-bedroom houses, but the market may show a demand for 4-bedroom houses.  The market wins.  So the opinion of value comes from things the market tells you.

2. A real estate appraisal MUST follow the rules.  I'm at Starbucks and I run into my friend who's an agent and while we are in line we talk about the condo project across the street.  "Hey, can you tell me how much my 2BR/2BA/875 sq. ft. property in that place is worth?" 

"Well, I can, but first I have to certify a bunch of rules.  Can you grab me some more beverage napkins? "

Yes, one of the rules is to start a file (and keep it for a number of years).  Nothing says it has to be on printer paper though...

The appraisal is certified to have gone through a number of steps that make it valid.  The appraiser is made to do a number of things.  There are three pages in it dedicated to those "rules."  You don't have to read the entire USPAP, just start with those three pages. 


I don't care if you think it's tied to the house for X many months because of FHA's own issues.  Do the common sense thing first and worry about the details later.

Review the report.  Either A) It's a swell report!  It's accurate.  It states a value that while one party may not love so much, is justified.  It basically says, "Gee, sorry, nobody on earth, well, except for your sucker of a fish you have on the line right now, would buy this thing for any higher than $X!"

Or ...

B) It's complete BS!  The appraiser doesn't know what he's talking about.  He took short cuts.  Possibly he didn't even look at the comps but used MLS photos and cropped off the copyrights.  Look for photos with Santa or pumpkins in the background when the report is for July :) 

Anyway, if you have a bad report, challenge it. 

Remember, it has to be bad for some other reason than you don't love the value conclusion.  I'll probably catch flack for saying this, but the review should LIKELY be done by another appraiser.  I'd lean towards someone designated from the Appraisal Institute.

I have done reports where the real esatate agents have screamed at me, well, via Email, and usually with very bad English, telling me I just don't understand the market area.

And I'm like ... "Umm, 100 houses sold last year in Phillipsville!  100!  They sold from $800,000 on the low side to $1,555,000 on the high side.  Now, it's not inconceivable that your house couldn't possibly be worth $2,000,000, but, we're already kind of starting off with an 'I wonder how this is gonna work' type of thing!"

Likewise, I've reviewed other people's appraisals and have been able to point-blank document out and out disregard for the rules.  In two cases these appraisers were just plain cheating.  In most others they were mistakes.  In most cases they lead to an inaccurate opinion of value.

So ... yes, a very long reponse ... it comes down to the report.  It's good or it's bad.  You need to find out.

Posted by Rick Phillips, I care about you and your transaction. (Frankly Realty - Old Town) almost 8 years ago

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