Phoenix case an example calling for scrutiny for home appraisers

Similar ranch houses on a street in a suburb of Phoenix. The bottom house recently was appraised and sold for $225,000. But when the top house went up for sale, an appraiser set the value at $195,000, frustrating the owner’s attempt to sell it. / Photographs by Joshua Lott for The New York TImes

By Shaila Dewan

The New York Times

When Justin Olson put his Southwestern-style ranch house outside Phoenix on the market, he got what he was expecting: an immediate batch of offers, virtually all above his asking price, which was set intentionally low, at $197,500, to attract interest. He chose an offer of $210,000.

“There was just no way I was selling that house for less than $200,000,” Mr. Olson said. His broker, Brett Barry of Homesmart, advised him that there was little chance of changing the appraiser’s mind. Mr. Olson said, “The part that blows me away — the appraisal can be such an arbitrary, personal decision and there is no appeals process.”

Adding to his indignation, a similar house two doors away was appraised at and sold for $225,000.

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