William Maxwell is an expert in finance. He’s a professor at Southern Methodist University’s business school, has co-authored a book on high-yield debt and spent years calculating values of financial markets.
Yet there’s one valuation he can’t understand: the appraisal of his Dallas home.
In August 2010, Mr. Maxwell’s home was appraised at $790,000 as part of a mortgage refinancing. Yet this past spring, when he tried to sell the four-bedroom home for $756,500, the appraisal commissioned by the buyer’s lender, Bank of America Corp., came up with a value of $730,000. Mr. Maxwell said the appraisal killed the sale.
Weak appraisals are “driving down the real-estate market,” Mr. Maxwell says. Saying the appraisal process “borders on buffoonery,” he’s appealing his home’s valuation to the Texas regulator.
One of the conclusions from the housing bust: The appraisal system was broken. One of the conclusions some have drawn from the struggling recovery since then: The appraisal system is still broken, but in a different way.
There is little doubt that home values have depreciated sharply in recent years for the most basic of economic reasons: excess supply of homes on the market and weak demand. But some realtors, home-sellers and economists believe low-ball appraisals also are undermining a housing recovery.
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