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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  1. We have an appraiser coming and were told that it would only take about 10 minutes. The home has been appraised before, since it has had three mortgages on it before. So we are assuming that it is just to make sure that everything is in order. I don’t agree with the hour long process though, especially for smaller homes, which ours is, with no updates since we have been renting the place…for seven years. Plus, we have a very skittish dog, which I have to sit in the car with, while my partner walks around with the appraiser.

    • If the home has been appraised before by the same person doing it this time it may only take 10 minutes. They will not have to measure again and if everything is the same it will just be a matter of taking new pictures. If, however, the appraisal is being done by a new person it can take longer to measure and walk through the house taking notes about the features and condition of the property. Larger homes typically take longer because there is more to measure and more to look at.

  2. Buddy Moore says

    I had a duplex appraised today and for both sides and looking outside, 15 minutes tops and left without saying a word. Doesn’t seem right.

    • That does seem quick, Buddy. If that was the first time they looked at it I’m not sure it would be adequate, at least for me. If they did it before they may have everything they need and they are just making sure it is the same as before.

  3. We had one come in last week and he was done within 5-7 minutes. I was surprised, I asked if he needed anything, he responded no and that was it. No communication at all, we have just remodeled our kitchen and I was hopping he would ask questions but did not happen. Can they really get what they need in 5 minutes.?


    • I’ve heard similar comments before. I personally do not know how anyone could adequately collect all of the information necessary for an appraisal in that short length of time. The only thing I can think of is if they had appraised it before and had the sketch and all the information already. Maybe they just needed to come in and verify that everything was still the same. If that was not the case then I am not sure.

  4. 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 ???

    • 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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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