What Exactly Do I Get When I Order An Appraisal?

So, You Want to Order an Appraisal?

what you get when you order an appraisalI received a call from a homeowner this week who was referred to me by an agent friend. The first thing she said was “Jane (not the agent’s real name) told me to call you to get a pre-listing appraisal, but before you come out to my house I want to know exactly what I’ll be getting when I order an appraisal”. This is not an uncommon question so I thought I’d share with you my answer in case you are getting ready to sell and are curious about what an appraisal will provide.

After the appraisal is complete you will receive the report, which includes the following:

  • A complete description of the subject property, including the materials of construction, room count, and features
  • A minimum of 3 recent comparable sales, and possibly additional pending and listings, with a description of how they compare to your property
  • Photographs of your home and the comparables
  • Floor plan sketch
  • Comparable sale location map
  • Various addendum and certification pages

A pre-listing appraisal provides important information necessary to list and sell your home. Let’s break it down to see exactly what you get.

Market derived opinion of value- This may not seem very important but truth be told it is THE most important part of a pre-listing appraisal. A value estimate based on market data will help you sell your home for the highest supportable value and within a reasonable amount of time.

What this means is that it is a value that the mortgage appraiser will most likely be able to support when they do their appraisal for the purchase, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

The alternative scenario would be for a price to be chosen that is not based on anything besides your feelings. This can cause deals to fall through because there are no comps to support the value. This can waste your time and energy and possibly result in a final sale price lower than what you could have gotten if you’d have priced it lower from the start.

Floor plan sketch- Most listings I see in the MLS system do not have accurate square footage. Since most houses are priced based on their square footage this can create a problem if it is not correct.

Not all square footage is the same, and if you lump areas together it can overstate the size of the house. This will result in the home being overpriced.

Did you know that garage apartments cannot be included in the gross living area of a home except under certain conditions? Basement areas must also be counted separately because it is below grade. While you may not agree with this, it is how it is done and if you don’t price the home accordingly it will create problems.

A floor plan sketch will provide accurate square footage for the agent to use in their listing. This square footage will be more closely aligned with the mortgage appraisal and the likelihood of a deal falling through due to inaccurate square footage is reduced.

Description of needed repairs- In the past, it was mainly FHA mortgage loans that required repairs to be made to the home if they affected the safety, soundness, and security of the property. Lately, it seems that all other loan types now require these same types of repairs to be made. Knowing beforehand what repairs need to be made can save time and money on the back end of the loan since the repairs can be made before the home is listed. This can save money because a final inspection will not have to be done.

A negotiation tool- If a buyer knows that your home is reasonably priced to the market they might be more likely to make an offer. Offering the appraisal report to potential buyers can give them the reassurance that their loan will most likely go through and that the home will appraise when they apply for a mortgage.

This can work in your favor if other homes that are competing with yours do not have an appraisal. It can give the buyer a peace of mind that the other home may not.


So there you have it. If you think about it, you really do get a lot of bang for your buck when you order an appraisal. Do you have any questions about what other types of information an appraisal includes? If so, leave a comment below. As always thanks for reading.

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  1. Appraisals these days can be quite thick with all that is contained within. It’s definitely a good idea for owners to read through and understand the rationale of how the appraiser came up with the value he/she says exists.

    • Not only that, Ryan, but I want to them to know that there is more to an appraisal report than just a number. There are so many things contained in the report that can help them to sell and market their home. Knowing how much an appraisal offers can help them to justify the cost.

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