Anyone who has recently tried buying a home in the Phoenix area knows that the market is incredibly fierce. Buyers are often engaging in bidding wars in their efforts to buy houses. Homes are being snapped up, often within hours of being put on the market. I’ve even had buyers submit offers on my listings without first seeing the property.
Sellers have begun asking buyers to waive the appraisal contingency when they feel their homes will not appraise for the offer price. With competition so fierce for homes, and with prices going up so quickly, an increasing number of buyers are making the RISKY decision to accept the waiver. By waiving the appraisal contingency, the buyer is assuring the seller that s/he will pay the agreed upon price even if the appraisal comes in low, REGARDLESS OF HOW LOW, unless they stipulate upfront a maximum amount they will pay! This has several serious and potential devastating ramifications for buyers.
Lenders use appraisals to determine how much money they will lend. So, a buyer agreeing to waive the appraisal contingency is contractually obligated to come up with the money to pay the difference between the appraisal and their offer price. Obviously, the seller won’t care where that money comes from, but what if the buyer doesn’t HAVE the cash? Now, it’s not unusual for buyers to submit offers that include paying the difference between the appraised value and the offer value, but these offers are specifically worded so that the buyer agrees to a certain set amount of money that they are willing to come in the deal with, and they DO NOT WAIVE THE APPRAISAL CONTINGENCY! Waiving the appraisal contingency offers NO protection; the buyer will either have to come up with every penny of the difference or face accusations of breach of contract and the legal ramifications that brings. It is important to note that the appraisal contingency is not just about the value of the property, but the condition also. Many times appraisers note "conditions" in the appraisal. Depending on the type of financing these "conditions" will have to be corrected before the underwriter will FINAL approve the loan. If you waived the appraisal contingency, did you exclude the conditions?
The decision on whether or not a buyer wants to waive the protection they are offered by using a properly worded contract is ultimately up to that buyer, but as a Realtor I would never, EVER suggest that any of my clients waive the appraisal contingency. That bit of contractual language was added to our contracts for the specific purpose of protecting the buyer, and no home is worth the possibility of the risk of overpaying that waiving it can cause. Of course all things are relative, are we talking $1,000 or $20,000? Yes, we get requests for $20,000 waivers! Learn the lessons of 2005 and don't repeat them. If most buyers stick to their guns of abiding by the rules of the appraisal, then sellers will have less leverage in mandating buyers give up these rights. If you take the risk then accept the consequences.