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Lender has last word in dispute over home value

  • Blog Post by: Jane Friedmann
  • January 18, 2010 - 11:38 AM

A St. Paul couple renovated their Highland Park home in an attempt to eliminate the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI), something required of mortgagees who don’t have enough equity in their home. They missed the mark by $8,000. Here’s how it all added up:

“My husband and I have spent about $40,000 renovating our kitchen, bathroom, floors, windows, and other small things around our house. We currently pay $167 per month towards mortgage insurance to [our lender]. In order to get PMI removed, we had to increase the value of our home by 20%.
"So, we paid $415 to [our lender] to send an appraiser out to our house (yes, [our lender] chose the appraiser). The appraiser determined that our house was worth $235,000 and we needed our house to appraise for $243,000, so we were denied cancellation of our PMI.
"One of the best house comps that was used to determine the value of our house is 4 houses down from ours. It sold for $241,000 a few months ago. It has 300 more sq ft, a patio, and a fireplace. However, it does not have a brand new kitchen with stainless steel appliances, new cabinets, and granite. It also doesn't have a brand new bathroom with custom tile, new sink, and toilet. However, our house was still valued $6,000 less than the house described above.
“The thing that is most frustrating is that what [the lender] decides is the final determination. We cannot challenge that decision.”
How could this couple have done things differently to rid themselves of PMI? Have you found yourself in a similar predicament?

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