Profile picture for ElizabethJ

How do you write an appraisal rebuttal letter?

In the process of refinancing, my home was appraised at a value of 142,000. Zillow lists it at 165,000 and the county auditor at 158,000. I know there is some variability in this process, but part of the issue is arising out of few recent comparable home sales in my neighborhood.

To find comp values, the appraiser was forced to find homes in other neighborohoods. However, the areas he found are much less desirable than the historic district Iive in. Additionally, I think he underweighted the value of the full kitchen remodel, built-ins, and reserved parking relative to these other properties.

My lender recommended writing a rebuttal letter - but I am not quite sure how one does this. any advice?
  • February 10 2009 - Mt. Auburn
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Answers (18)

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Profile picture for sunnyview
I think you can state your case to show the appraiser items that may not have been included on your appraisal like dates for major repairs (new roof) or dates and cost for major renovations (new kitchen). You need to look into communities in your area that are comparable within the tightest radius possible. Go to the Zillow neighborhood page for the area you are in and print up the median house prices and the median incomes. Do the same for the other neighborhood that the appraiser used. You can also get this info on the census website or from city data. It is not a pretty as Zillow, but may be more credible with an appraiser especially if you can get it off the census. If you can find data on the amount of decrease in that neighborhood on your appraiser's comps vs your neighborhood. I had the same basic problem with comps not because of dropping value, but just because of no sales in winter where I live. My last comp sold in Aug. My historic neighborhood shuts the sales doors in Sept so finding winter comps is hard.
  • February 10 2009
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Not sure about the comments on this blog. The following comment from Vince Curtis, noted to be an appraiser is misleading:  "But to be honest, its a waste of time. I have never heard of a successful rebuttal in my life, not to say there hasnt been one, but its as common as a near-earth meteor strike."

Appraisals are prepared by humans and humans make mistakes. If there is a legitimate question about the value estimate, then the entire report should be reviewed. It is possible to hire another appraiser to complete a desk review. The desk review from an appraiser should be included with the rebuttal. Desk Reviews are not uncommon. Defects/mistakes might be found and if the mistakes are significant to the extent that the value estimate is not considered credible than it is possible to request a new appraisal be completed at no cost. If the desk review is ordered from the appraisal management company (AMC) used to order the original appraisal, then there should be no cost the for the desk review, assuming significant defects are found.

Initially there should be a rebuttal of some sort which includes supporting data. Public records, assessor information and sales data from the local multiple listing service should be used. The appraiser has a limited time to respond to the rebuttal. If the response is inadequate then move to the next step which is request a desk review. If the desk review supports the fact that the appraisal is not credible then there is a problems that needs to be corrected.  

I have been successful with rebuttals and have obtained several new appraisals. The reason being I look for mistakes in the appraisal. No one wants to be tied to a bad appraisal and if a bad appraisal was completed, then the problem should be corrected.

  • November 10 2014
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I noticed this post is YEARS old but Ill throw in my two cents regarding rebuttals as some of my appraisals get 'rebutted'....

A homeowner isnt really able to write a coherent rebuttal. I would have either another appraiser write one, a Realtor, or the Loan Agent.

But to be honest, its a waste of time. I have never heard of a successful rebuttal in my life, not to say there hasnt been one, but its as common as a near-earth meteor strike.

My last appraisal, which came in 24% under the purchase price, was rebutted. But as commonly occurs in rebuttals, the rebuttor did not read my appraisal. They rebutted with comparables I used, or talked about my comps as not being comparable.

The person writing the rebuttal was the loan agent. They included comps that supported the purchase price, but not the value of the home, which in THIS case, was not the same.

Also NOTE that in the verbiage of most rebuttal forms, they ask the person doing the rebuttal for any NEW data which may change the value, NOT talking about the data currently in the appraisal. Why ? The hope is some new comps have come on the market which may justify a higher value.

Rebuttals, to be honest, are there to make the borrower feel good, like writting a negative review on Yelp. What I have seen that works is that if the appraisal comes in low, simply go with another lender before rates go up. Yes, it may get expensive with multiple appraisal costs, but its what Ive seen that usually works.




  • February 28 2013
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Do your homework, get comps and a list of receipts to support the upgrades in your home.  Its hard to contest the value if you cannot provide supporting documents. 
  • February 28 2013
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to clarify, I meant to say "easy chair..."
  • August 22 2010
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A few things to consider, HUGD,

(1) This post may be old, but your response belies your argument. If you are receiving this, others are as well. Perhaps your own attention to detail is not as precise as your opine.

(2) "Pointless blog?"  Obviously, dear one, you did not read the article. The author has been 100% successful in refuting faulty appraisals.  

A friend recently brought the author a wonderful bottle of wine. Great taste with wonderful legs. The label? Fat Bast*rd.  Perhaps you have tried it?

Yes, and the first thing the author checks is the DATE.

Get real. Don't criticize until you've exercised. A fatty in a wheelchair can't critique a runner in a marathon---unless, of course, he has previously won the race. 





  • August 21 2010
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You might find the following link to an article on this subject helpful. It is a step-by-step guide on how to best deal with a faulty or low appraisal. The 10 steps are at the end of the article. Hope this helps! 

http://sarabensonexpert.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/10-steps-to-relief-from-faulty-appraisals/
  • August 17 2010
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Good response Sunny!

Yes, old (within past 90 days) or limited sales and listings of most similar homes, may cause difficulties.

Again, all the debating of value with this appraiser is null and void, if the chosen lender will not use the appraisal.

We're putting the cart before the horse. Unless, you just want to spend this time, just be right, to prove this person wrong.

Beyond that IMHO you have nothing except a waste of time and energy. ...Best wishes .... Rudi
  • February 10 2009
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Rudi is right. Comps are the key. If comps were overlooked or legitimate value was overlooked you can bring them up. There is no guarantee that they will be included or that the appraisal will be revised. You can ask and make the best case on comps that you can. I have seen appraisers substitute comps that were missed on the first go through. If your appraisal is that close you are in a tight spot and so is the bank. The bank does not want to loan on a house underwater. It sound like you are at the line now. Make your case and hope for the best. If you have money to pay to principle to make the loan amount needed less, it might be worth doing depending on your interest rate and potential savings.
  • February 10 2009
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Profile picture for blank screen EXILED
I wouldn't waste time with a letter yet; I would call the appraisser up directly and discuss it with him or her.  If there is any possibility of adjustment in the final report, you would find out much faster with a phone call, and the appraisser can give you clues to what might make a difference for your area.

And if the loan officer requested the appraisal, you could always walk away from that company and go to another, getting an appraisal from a different appraisal company.

Although all appraisals should be in the same ball park, no two appraisals should be identical.

If the loan officer really wants the business than the loan officer will do some of the footwork for you to get the loan you need.  But if you really don't qualify, you may want to reduce what you are borrowing and find some other means to make up the difference.


  • February 10 2009
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Not sure why a Lender would ask you to prepare a letter. Any additional information or compensating factors would need to come from the appraiser to carry any weight. Having said that, unless there is an additional comp in your area which is new or was overlooked and supports the value you indicate, then see the post again from Oldskool.
  • February 10 2009
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Profile picture for sunnyview
The median house price is key. If the comp neighborhood that the appraiser used has a lower median, you can argue that the houses used should be adjusted up to reflect the higher median in your neighborhood. I hope the info helps. Good luck.
  • February 10 2009
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Liz, that would be your mortgage broker's job, not yours. If you want/need a refinance and do not have one to date, that's your 1st step.

Liz, it's not just the last 3 or 4 last Sold comps that are closest to the subject property. It's also the last 3 or 4 Listed comps on the MLS. 

You need to comp those for the equation to be accurate or you may choose to have another appraisal performed.

Remember this, many lenders require the appraisal to be performed by their direction - their appraissor. You may be spending money on something that has no value for a refinance.. .... Best wishes, Rudi
  • February 10 2009
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Profile picture for Jon Petersen

Zillow value is meaningless. If it is that close, the appraiser is probably right. The county assesment is for tax purposes only, and is irrelevent regarding current value, because the time it is assesed is only once a year, and the market changes.

If you have a nice remodel done, the appraiser can only give you a limited amount. I put in 90k repairs and upgrades to my house, and only got 25k on my appraisal, because an appraisal is based mainly on the comps, and only minor changes for condition and upgrades.

If the comps are from a worse neighborhood, you need to find more accurate comps to show the appraiser,and see if he can weigh them more in the appraisal.

  But odds are, in this market, if you need much more on the appraisal, the bank underwriter, who knows nothing about the area you live in, is going to cut the appraisal to cover his ass. Remember, its their money, and they need to be sure they have an asset that is worth something to back their loan, in case you do default.

  It sucks, but that was the problem with the market before, causing them to be overcautios now.

  • February 10 2009
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The appraiser is finding the sales supported value of your property in a process as acceptable and determined by FNMA or FHA/VA.

The method he uses is different from the tax assessors building + land value and more in depth then Zillow's sales and history method. 

I know this isn't what you wanted to hear but I hope I was helpful.  Lenders will really only accept the sales supported value so if you want to dispute it you will have to provide comparable sales which prove the value of the historic district, full remodel, and reserved parking.  (The reserved parking would also have to be attached to the properties title to be considered).

  • February 10 2009
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I have not heard of a "complaint" or rebuttal letter swaying an underwriter to "override" an appraiser higher.. I have seen Underwriters LOWER the values provided by an appraiser, though. 

It is hard for you to say My house is nicer than this other hood...  The trap... that it was too far away (should have comps in the same hood and at least within 1 mile and within 90 days in declining valued areas.. basically the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE)... you have no existing comps near you that recently sold to support your claim.. You lender suggested this...?  Your lender would be the U/W... You probably mean your broker... If that is the case.. which I think it is.. he/she would be a  a moron to simply upload the appraisal without consulting you. It is not the LO's responsibility to get a certain value, but I am in hopes that they are asking you for the "mercy" letter to go with the appraisal.  Good luck and keep us posted. 
  • February 10 2009
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Oldskool,

You have a way of being very direct without being overbearing.  I like your posts.
  • February 10 2009
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Profile picture for oldskoolballr
To be honest, I would just accept the fact you live in a declining market and your home has lost/is losing value.  As to the letter, I don't know.  Good luck.
  • February 10 2009
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