Ohio appraisers often blamed for broken deals - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Ohio appraisers often blamed for broken deals

CLEVELAND, OH (AP) -

Ohio appraisers are feeling the heat when their home value estimates fall below what sellers advertise.

A major trade group said low appraisals are botching deals and slowing the housing recovery, while real estate agents have said appraisers are being sent to unfamiliar neighborhoods, resulting in flawed appraisals and sidelined sales.

Appraisers tour a house, compare it with similar properties and take into account economic conditions to determine whether a property is worth what a buyer is willing to pay. They help lenders determine whether a mortgage is a sound investment, and their appraisals are more thorough than estimates counties use to assess property tax.

Christine Turner and her husband said they had agreed to pay $218,000 for a house in the northern Ohio city of Brunswick when the appraiser valued the property at $202,000. She called it "a slap in the face," but still purchased the house when the seller reduced the price to $214,000 because it was the property she and her husband wanted.

While appraisals were once just another step in the sale process, the housing crash and sluggish economy have caused appraisers to act somewhat as referees in housing deals.

"When an appraisal comes in low, it puts doubt in the mind of the buyer as to the true value of that property," Richard Kassouf said. Kassouf is the broker-owner of New Hope Realty in Brunswick.

"It gives them a crisis that they have to deal with, where they have to come up with more money for the down payment to allow that transaction to be completed. Or they have to negotiate the price down."

Representatives of the appraisal industry deny claims of low appraisals hurting the housing market, saying that many don't grasp how much home values have decreased during the last five years.

"Appraisers were blamed for the run-up of the market when prices were high, and now they're being blamed because prices are low," said Ken Chitester, a spokesman for the Appraisal Institute.

"Both can't be true. Appraisers are doing the same thorough research and thoughtful analysis that they've always conducted. So, in short, don't shoot the messenger."

 Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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