Home Valuation Websites vs Actual Appraisal

For my recent mortgage refinance, an appraiser came and did a full appraisal for my home. It cost $500. Here’s what the various home valuation web sites said what my home was worth, compared to what the appraised value was:

% of Appraised Value Range
Zillow 120% 107% – 130%
Cyberhomes 100% 90% – 115%
Bank of America 107% [1] 94% – 120%
eppraisal.com 113% 96% – 130%

[1] B of A does not give a point estimate. The mid-point between low and high in its estimated range is used.

For my home, Cyberhomes matched the appraisal most closely. Its estimate also happened to be the lowest. It’s possible I just got a low-ball appraisal. The recently published Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) made it more difficult for the lenders and brokers to influence the appraisal. It also created an extra layer of review by an appraisal management company. The appraisal report did list five comparables with adjustments for various things. If you use these home valuation web sites for an estimate of your home’s value in your net worth tracking, it’s probably prudent to take the lowest estimate, rather than the average from all these sites. Zillow in particular is way off to the high side for my home.

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  1. Ted says

    Good information. It becomes more valuable the more data you collect. Obviously these numbers will change depending on several factors, including region and home condition.

  2. Floe says

    I’m glad you mentioned HVCC, because this is causing an uproar in the mortgage industry. It seems to be causing more expensive appraisals, as well as more “low ball” appraised values, due to the Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs) conducting the appraisals. AMCs may not be very familiar with a particular market area, which causes the appraisal to be more conservative. There are a few other factors involved, but ultimately the HVCC is causing more of a problem than a benefit for consumers. I’m fighting with this right now in refinancing my home…I have no clue who will conduct the appraisal, and neither does the broker. If the appraisal comes out to be conservative, I may have to try another lender, which may cause me to have to pay for ANOTHER appraisal! Hopefully the HVCC will be overturned!!! It’s so unfair!!!

    Great blogs, btw, TFB!!!

  3. Anthony says

    I am an appraiser and the HVCC is a lot more complicated than that and created havoc in the appraisal industry which resulted in multitudes of appraisers leaving the industry because they can no longer make a viable living without working 90 hours per week.
    HVCC has subsequently been sunsetted by the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill. This will usher in a whole new set of rules, regulations and liability.

    Lately the buzz word has been low ball appraisal but there is soooooo many guidelines and requirments burdened upon the appraiser by the lender/client. More inexperienced appraisers are now performing these appraisals due to the AMC’s (indirectly owned by the banks) sending these appraisal orders to the lowest bidder who could get it done the quickest resulting in deminished quality.

    If you would like a little more depth feel free to email me.

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