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ConsumerWatch: Homeowners With Low Appraisals Fight Back

ALAMO (CBS 5) – Jun Yang doesn't take disappointment sitting down. An appraiser hired by Bank of America pegged the value of Yang's home in Alamo at $200,000 less than he expected.

Yang then did his own appraisal. The orthopedic surgeon compared the prices of similar homes sold in his area to the value the B of A appraiser assigned to his home.

"It's newer, it's bigger, it's got half a bathroom more and yet it's 30 percent less," Yang said.

It's not just a matter of pride. Yang is trying to refinance his mortgage, and based on its appraiser's findings, Bank of America said no.

"An appraisal is just an opinion," said Tara-Nicholle Nelson, consumer educator at Nelson said lower than expected appraisals have been commonplace since new rules, called the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (.pdf), took effect in 2009. But Nelson said a whole new crop of homeowners anxious to refinance while rates are still relatively low are now coming face-to-face with them.

"Appraisers are under regulation and under pressure to be much more conservative because they took so much pressure for inflating values at the top of the market," Nelson told CBS 5 Consumerwatch.

But some homeowners are striking back against what they believe are unfairly low appraisals.

"We're seeing a trend with these homeowners getting really assertive," Nelson said. Homeowners such as Yang, who estimates refinancing would save him about $1,500 a month.

What can homeowners do? Nelson suggests they appeal the decision to their banks. She also recommends trying a mortgage broker who can access a broader range of deals and makes a commission on successful deals. That is what Yang is now trying, hoping for better luck.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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