How long should the appraiser be at my house?

How long should the appraiser be at my house?

I was asked this question recently from a homeowner who was curious about what  the typical time was for an appraiser during the appraisalHow long should appraiser be at my house inspection. She thought that her appraiser should have spent more time at the house and asked her more questions. This is not an uncommon question, especially the one about the appraiser asking questions, because there are some things an appraiser cannot know about a house just from the visual inspection.

Taking time and digging deeper

Most appraisers have a routine in their appraisal inspection process so that they get as much information in as quick a time as possible. This is not to say that they are trying to be a race horse and see how fast they can get through the house but they want to be as efficient and thorough as possible so that they get the necessary information but do not take up more of the owners time than is necessary.

Appraisal inspections vary in length depending on how big the home is and how many extra features it has. I have been at homes anywhere from 45 minutes on smaller homes to several hours on larger custom built residences. The inspection usually consists of the following items:

  1. Inspecting, measuring, and taking pictures of the exterior– this includes measuring the home and all site improvements such as sheds, porches, decks, boathouses, etc. as well as taking pictures of all sides of the house and any other feature that adds value.
  2. Inspecting, measuring, and taking pictures of the interior– If a home has a second level and/or basement these areas are typically measured from the inside. Notes on the interior features and material of construction are taken as well as the condition of the home. Pictures are also taken of all of the rooms in the house.
  3. Interviewing the homeowner- Speaking with the homeowner after the inspection to find out if there have been any updates or repairs made. Appraisers look at the actual age of the home and then take into consideration repairs and renovations in order to estimate an effective age, which helps the value of the home. This is where the homeowner should let the appraiser know if the roof, HVAC, or any plumbing upgrades or repairs have been made, as well as any other updates or renovations. Providing this in written form, and possibly preparing  ahead of time, can save time and assure the homeowner that the list is as complete as possible.

The above items make up a typical appraisal inspection. The time to complete them will vary depending on the size of the home, and the homeowner can observe if the appraiser is completing them. Some appraisers are quicker than others, however if the appraiser is in and out in 10-15 minutes there may be some cause for concern, especially if you have made significant improvements to the home but the appraiser does not even ask you about them.

Any time I am in an older home and it looks like there have been renovations made I ask the owner when they were done and to what extent. The appraisal form even wants the appraiser to note when kitchen and bathroom updates or remodeling was completed so it is very important for the appraiser to find this out from the owner.

What other items do you think the appraiser should consider? Let me know if you can think of any other items I may have left out by leaving a comment below, I look forward to hearing from you.

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Comments

  1. I ordered an FHA appraisal and they where paid up front 14 days ago and have heard nothing ! Closing in exactly two weeks … why hasn’t the appraisal came back yet ???
    Kentucky

    • Most appraisers are backed up now due to large work loads. I would let your lender know that the appraiser has not called you and they could probably call them to find out what the problem is.

  2. Joshua Walitt says:

    Tom, I like that you emphasize the process and activities that need to take place, rather than simply estimating how long it should take. It really can vary as you say!

    • Thanks Joshua, each appraiser is different in their approach to the inspection but in the end we should all be collecting the same info. Thanks for sharing your comments.

  3. I’m glad that you mentioned the fifteen minute inspection. Many times I’ve been called on the phone and spoke to a caller looking for advice on what they thought was a bad appraisal. Many of those calls have one thing in common, the appraiser was only at the house for a very short period of time. Even if you’re a super appraiser who can measure the house extremely quickly, get all of the photos, and ask all of the important questions in under fifteen minutes, I think that you should hang around just a little longer and maybe chat with the homeowner about the property or the neighborhood. This will help the entire profession and will keep complaints down. If the homeowner trusts the appraiser when they leave the house, the will be less critical of the final opinion.

    • That is so true Gary. If the appraisal value were to not come in at the amount the homeowner thought it should I’m sure they would immediately recall that the appraiser did not take enough time at the house, especially if the house had significant updates.

  4. Agreed on 10-15 minutes, Tom. It’s important to slow down a bit to really take in the property, measure, take photos, consider the layout, etc…

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