Why Your Home May Not Be Worth As Much As You Think

Homeowners and appraisers rarely agree on a property’s value, and for the vast majority of the last decade, homeowners have been overvaluing their homes. In May, there was a 1.15% gap between what consumers thought their houses were worth and the worth determined by appraisers — it’s the first time in 22 months that homeowners overvalued their properties by greater than 1%, according to Quicken Loans.

Quicken Loans, a large, Detroit-based non-bank mortgage lender, publishes its Home Price Perception Index on a monthly basis, and May is the fourth consecutive month of a growing gap between homeowner and appraiser opinion. At the same time, the Home Value Index increased 0.24% nationally from April to May and 4.64% from last May, so values are going up, just not as much as homeowners may have believed, perhaps.

Looking at housing markets from a national perspective is a very rough look at market performance, because things vary so widely by location.

“The HPPI, more than anything, is a reminder that there is no such thing as a national housing market,” said Quicken Loans Chief Economist Bob Walters, in a news release about the May figures. “Every city, and every neighborhood, moves in different directions based on local factors. Consumers need to remember to watch their local area closely to understand the direction their market is heading.”

For example, in most major metropolitan areas, appraisers estimate properties’ worths at more than the homeowners’ opinion, in contrast to the national trend. Out of 27 large metro areas analyzed by Quicken, homeowners overvalued their homes in only 10 cities, and only four of those had a difference in opinion above the national average. On a regional level, it seems Midwesterners overvalued their homes the most in May: They thought their houses were worth an average of 1.67% more than appraisers did, compared to a 0.24% difference in the Northeast and 0.03% difference in the South. In the West, homeowners underestimated the homes’ values by an average of 0.16%.

Banks use appraisals to determine whether to back your home loan, whether it’s a purchase mortgage or you’re refinancing, which is why it plays such an important role in the mortgage process. Additionally, appraisals factor into your property taxes, another major homeowner expense you should anticipate changing from time to time. It’s crucial you can afford your housing expenses, to avoid serious credit and legal issues. When having your home appraised, there are some simple things you can do to make it go smoothly, like tidying up before the appraiser arrives, inside and out, in addition to having an accurate list of improvements you’ve made to the home or any features you want to make sure the appraiser is aware of.

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