What to Expect During Your Home Appraisal

By Jennifer A. Chiongbian

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced last month that it is soliciting public comment on ways to modernize the home appraisal process and make it go more smoothly for everyone involved.

In the meantime, there are steps homeowners and buyers can take to make appraisals as painless as possible.

What is an appraisal?

First off, a home appraisal inspection is not the same as a home inspection. The appraiser works for the bank and the home inspector works for you. 

The appraiser provides a valuation for the home. The home inspector inspects for structural anomalies, such as electrical, foundational, roofing or window repair issues. 

A homeowner looking to sell their house in the near future would benefit from hiring a home inspector to remedy all the possible issues before putting it on the market so as to minimize surprises later in the process.

Banks request an appraisal to ensure that the selling price and the value of the home are in line. It is to protect their investment – and ensure they are not stuck with a property that is worth way less than they have helped finance.

The appraisal inspector assesses details such as square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, condition of the property, upgrades to kitchen and baths, and views. The inspector will take photos of everything to document in his appraisal report. 

He then uses this information to come up with a valuation for the subject property.

How to Ensure a Smooth Appraisal Process

There are a few basic things you can do to make sure that the appraisal process goes smoothly. 

First – and this seems obvious – the inspector needs to be able to access the home. The underwriting process of your loan is contingent on his report and could hold up your loan approval if he cannot gain access to the property in a timely manner.

Second, you will want to clean up unsightly messes and mow the lawn. Curb appeal is also one of the condition adjustments appraisers take into consideration. So put your best foot forward.

Third, with the help of your real estate broker, he or she can pull comparables from the multiple listing service that they feel are best suited or closely match the subject property. Feel free to give this to the appraiser when he is at the property. The inspector is not obliged to use them in his report, but can certainly consider them.

Fourth, keep receipts of all recent renovations done. In the event the appraisal comes up short, you can give the itemized cost of the renovation to help tip the balance in your favor. But be aware that one never recoups the entire cost of the renovation.

Final Thoughts

Purchasing a home has many moving parts and pieces before culminating into a single goal—the purchase of a home. The appraisal process undoubtedly plays a pivotal part in being able to secure a loan, but another piece of a much broader picture.

If you plan on paying cash for a home, obtaining an appraisal would be advantageous to you in safeguarding that you are not overpaying for the property.

Jennifer is the founder careercopywriter.com with 2 decades of experience as a real estate broker and appraiser, specializing in writing for the real estate industry. She has a master’s, bachelor’s and a degree in journalism.