Home appraisers are tasked with providing a fair and unbiased market value of the home. An appraisal is a required step in purchasing a home unless you are paying cash. The purpose of a home appraisal is to provide the lender, and you as the home buyer confirmation that the agreed-upon sale price is not too high. When financing a home, the home is collateral for the loan, the lender wants to ensure that if you were to default on your home loan they would be able to get their money back.
When appraisers are evaluating a home, they are trained to look for specific elements both inside and outside of the home and around the property. What are they looking for?
Inside the Home
When appraisers are evaluating the inside of the home, they are looking at the overall design and condition of the home, verifying that there are no safety code violations or signs of pests like rodents or termites. The appraiser will make note of any deferred maintenance issues or water damage they may find and could even require that certain repairs are completed before the closing date.
The appraiser will be looking at the appearance of the home interior as a dated appearance could impact the value of the home. Specific items the appraiser will look for include light fixtures, faucets, and kitchen appliances.
Have upgrades been made? Appraisers will look to see if upgrades have been made that could improve the value of the home such as insulated windows, central air conditioning, and a security system.
The square footage of the home will be calculated, so appraisers will take a look inside closets to determine the total square footage. They will also check under sinks and in the attic.
Outside the Home
Appraisers are going to carefully evaluate the home’s exterior; the roof and foundation are the most common items that people think of when a home appraisal is being conducted. The appraiser will be looking for missing shingles or other visible defects that could cause additional potential issues associated with water leaks.
The appraiser will look for both horizontal and vertical cracks in the foundation, crumbling foundation, or signs of water leaks. If the foundation is not in good condition, it can cause the integrity of the home to be unstable or even costly repairs. If there is a chimney, they will check for cracks or if it has shifted from its original placement.
Other important factors the appraiser is going to view are the porch, deck, siding, garage, as well as the lot size and location of the property.
“Whether indoors or outdoors, appraisers will note items that are considered “luxury” items when assessing the value of the home. For example, swimming pool, theatre room, outdoor kitchens, and more.” – Cupertino Realtor® Amar
How is The Home Value Determined?
Now that the appraiser has been to the property themselves, it is time they begin gathering “comps” in the area. Comps are comparable homes that have recently sold as close to the property as possible.
“Ideally, the comps will need to be similar in style and size, but they must have been recently sold, typically within the last six months. Pulling three to four comparable properties will help the appraiser determine the fair market value of your home.” – Colorado Springs Realtor®
There will be times when there are not any comparable properties in your area. When this occurs, the appraiser will pull the comps for homes that are as close to comparable as possible and then make necessary adjustments to accommodate for the differences. This should not be too challenging for the appraiser since they have personally been to your property to compile the necessary information to complete their evaluation.
Whether you are buying or selling a home, understanding the purpose and process of a home appraisal is important. Knowing the key elements of your home that need to be in tip-top shape will only serve to improve the appraisal outcome.