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  • Writer's pictureMilan Kangrga

Home Appraisals: The Value Behind Every Door

Updated: Feb 7

home appraisal

Diving into the world of homeownership, you've probably stumbled upon the term "home appraisal." But what really is it?

Picture this: before lending money, banks want to ensure they're not handing over more cash than a property's worth. Enter the appraisal.

Essentially, it's a professional evaluation that determines the value of your home. In today's post, we'll peel back the layers of this crucial process, giving you a comprehensive look at why it matters, how it unfolds, and the impact it can have on your home buying or selling journey.

Buckle up and let's demystify home appraisals together!

What is it?

So, what's the deal with home appraisals? Picture this: A neutral, licensed appraisal pro steps in to give their expert opinion on what your dream home is truly worth. This happens after you and the seller shake hands on a price, and the goal is to match or confirm it.

They're checking out recent sales of nearby homes that are kinda like the one you've got your eyes on, and giving it their professional once-over.

The Appraised Value vs. Market Value Showdown

Here's where things get spicy. Appraised value? Think of it as the home's true worth (at least in the eyes of the appraisal pro). Market value? That's what the home is selling for, driven by good old supply and demand.

Picture a stunning house in the hottest neighborhood, decked out to the nines. It hits the market and boom! Offers come flooding in, soaring above the asking price. That, my friends, is market value.

But our appraiser? They might see it differently. If the house's price feels inflated due to a buying frenzy, the appraised value can serve as a reality check. It's like a little whisper to lenders saying, "Hey, watch out, this might be too pricey!" In the end, that appraised value carries some serious weight with lenders.

Appraisal or Inspection: Which Is Which?

Okay, quick timeout: I know the terms 'appraisal' and 'inspection' get thrown around a lot, and it's easy to mix 'em up. Both involve someone giving your potential home a solid look-see. But here’s the real tea:

Depth: Inspectors? They go deep. I mean, checking out the nitty-gritty of the home's condition. They're on the lookout for any issues or potential hiccups down the road. Appraisers? They're skimming the surface. They'll spot big red flags like a sinking foundation or a leaky roof, but they're mainly there to slap a value on the place.

Focus: Inspectors go full detective mode on the home's physical shape. Meanwhile, appraisers have a broader scope, weighing in on stuff like neighborhood vibes, nearby home sale prices, local crime stats, and even how good the schools are.

The Nuts and Bolts:

  • Lenders want appraisals, not inspections.

  • Your lender will handle the appraisal, but you’re on your own for inspections.

  • Appraisals can shape your loan, so fingers crossed they align with the home's price tag.

  • Feel free to follow your inspector around and ask a million questions. But with appraisers? Best to give them space to do their thing.

  • Inspectors and appraisers are both top-tier pros, but they've got different tools in their toolkits and distinct training paths.

Getting the Lowdown on Home Appraisals

So, how long does an in-person appraisal take? Well, it’s kinda like asking how long a piece of string is. Got a cozy little pad? Might be done in a quick 30 minutes. Rocking a mansion? Get ready for a few hours.

And like everything else in life, there are variables—busy market times, the locale, and just how swamped your appraisal company might be. After they've given your place the once-over, the appraiser will turn detective, hunting down info on homes in the vicinity that mirror yours.

With their newfound knowledge, they'll draft a report that dishes on your home's estimated market value. Patience is key here—it could be a speedy few days or stretch out over weeks, especially if they're swamped with work.

The Appraisal Breakdown

Home Tour Time: Think of it as a home's photoshoot. The appraiser is the photographer, snapping pics, jotting down notes, sizing up rooms, checking out the vibe, and even side-eyeing cleanliness. Yep, a spick-and-span home can actually up your game.

The Great Comp Hunt: Post-home tour, our appraiser friend dives deep into digital territory, scoping out what similar homes in the hood sold for recently. This is to vibe with potential buyers—what are they looking for? A killer school district? A certain price range? All these details matter.

The Big Reveal: After they've dissected the home and trawled the market, the appraiser, with all their wisdom, will give their two cents on your home's value. Remember, this might not be its selling price—it's more about what's a safe bet for the lender to loan out.

Different Appraisal Flavors

  • Drive-by: Sounds casual, right? It’s an exterior-only check. Super rare for full-blown home sales, but it gained some popularity during COVID times. More common for smaller transactions like home equity loans.

  • Hybrid: Two heads are better than one. One pro checks out the property, the other crunches the numbers. It’s teamwork making the dream work.

  • Desktop: It's as laid-back as it sounds. All online. No face-to-face with the home. But heads up, not every lender's into this method.

The Appraiser's Checklist

While each appraiser may have their unique flair, here are some things most will focus on:

  • Home size and layout

  • Home age and design

  • Mechanical status (think plumbing and AC)

  • Renovation freshness

  • Safety stuff

  • First impressions (curb appeal)

  • Age of your home gadgets (appliances)

  • State of the windows

  • Cool add-ons like basements and pools

  • Overall home health

  • Does it fit the neighborhood mold?

  • Comparable home sales in the area

  • Quality of local life (schools, shops, and the rest)

What Makes an Appraiser Go “Uh-Oh”?

Some red flags:

  • Neighborhood’s going downhill

  • Lackluster exterior vibes

  • Vintage (not in a good way) mechanics

  • Outdoor space needs a makeover or is non-existent

  • Interiors screaming for an update

  • Floors looking tired

  • Windows at the end of their life

  • Roof’s seen better days

Understanding Home Appraisal Costs

When you're diving into the realm of property acquisition, understanding costs is pivotal. And an appraisal? It's no different. This service, delivered by a licensed expert, has a price tag, often falling between $300 and $500. Even if you're obtaining a loan via the Veterans Administration (VA) or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), you, as the buyer, foot the bill.

Who’s Footing the Appraisal Bill?

Traditionally, lenders are the ones to commission appraisers. This expense is then seamlessly integrated into the closing costs for the buyer. With VA and FHA loans, the process takes a slight detour. Lenders liaise with an appraisal management company which then ropes in a VA or FHA-certified appraiser.

The Essence of Home Appraisals

Sure, most associate home appraisals with buying or selling a home, but their utility runs deeper. Here's a quick breakdown:

  • For Buyers: Think of an appraisal as a validation tool. It offers an impartial assessment, ensuring you're not overpaying. If the appraised value exceeds the purchase price, it's a negotiation or back-to-the-drawing-board moment.

  • For Sellers: Selling? A low appraisal might dent your expectations. Arm yourself with knowledge, showcasing recent improvements and investments in your home.

  • For Refinancing: Lenders are keen on knowing your home's current value, ensuring it's not drowned in debt.

  • For Home Equity Loans: Opting for this route? Your home becomes collateral. Naturally, a thorough appraisal is in order.

  • For Bankruptcy Filings: Here, a recent appraisal holds weight, establishing the home's fair market value during filing.

Acing the Appraisal Game

Even with the most impartial appraiser, there are strategies to optimize your home’s appeal:

  • For Buyers: Overpaying is a bummer. Delve deep into recent sales of similar properties, aligning your offer to the market.

  • For Sellers: Pre-sale, channel your energy into enhancing the house's allure. Showcase its best features, tend to repairs, and ensure its exterior is inviting.

  • For Refinancing: Presentation is key. Offer a comprehensive list of upgrades and stay available for any queries the appraiser might have.

Post-Appraisal Dynamics

Smooth sailing with the appraisal? Your loan advances to the underwriting phase. If the appraised value lags, either the deal is adjusted, or you may need to chip in extra.

In a Nutshell

Mortgage-financed home purchases invariably require appraisals. Lenders seek assurance regarding the home’s value. And, subtly, appraisals also shield buyers from overpaying. It's a dual win.

Who You Work With Matters!

Whether you're looking to buy, sell, or refinance your home, everyone's situation is unique, and having the right support can make all the difference. That's why I emphasize a personalized experience tailored to you and your specific needs. I also prioritize working with the best and most experienced local realtors. If you have any questions, want a personalized interest rate quote, or wish to connect with one of my trusted realtor partners, don't hesitate to contact me today!


The Wealth Captain

Mortgage Advisor | NMLS#2428833

San Antonio Mortgage Lender

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