Selecting the most similar and recent sales comparables within the subject neighborhood is among the primary goals for an experienced real estate appraiser. It is a goal that is often tougher than it sounds.
Initially appraisers will focus on choosing comparable sales within the immediate neighborhood, that are preferrably within 10 % of the subjects gross living area (greater variance if fewer similar sales are available). Then the appraiser must consider and factor in many other variables in the evaluation process; bedroom count, construction, condition, extent of remodeling and/or repairs and maintenance needed, amenities such as views and pools, upgrades, and so on. The analysis of all these factors are considered for each comparable relative to the subject property. It is a lenghthy and far more detailed process than is commonly known.
Often a homeowner may wonder why his/her property was not appraised as high as the house a few parcels down on the same street. Especially since the homeowner knows 'some' of the variables that make his/her property superior such as a bigger lot size, a new remodeled kitchen and a nice new den addition. Why didnt my appraisal come in higher that this 'inferior' house down the street, the homeowner wonders. Hypothetical Answer: The house down the street may have been bigger in gross living area, had more upgrades/remodeling, more amenities such as views and/or any combination there of. Plus evaluating any property isn't based on looking at one comparable...it is based on selecting a minimum of 3-4 similar sales, which can support the value.
Bottom line? It may seem that the job of an appraiser is to walk into a property for 10 minutes and flaunt his expertise and license and rush away with a nice fat underserved check. However, if he or she was experienced, what the homeowner doesn't see is the additional 4-5 hours of thorough analysis of substantial variables that go into the appraisal process.
What is the best advice, if you feel your value came in low? Calmly communicate with your appraiser as to how he derived at the value and inquire as to the specific comparables (sales of properties similar to yours) that were used to come up with the value. If you can find a few new sales of 'recent and similar' properties that support a higher value...work with the appraiser and submit those new sales. Hopefully your appraiser will be open to at least look at these new sales, and to tell you whether or not they can be used.