How to Prepare Your Home For The Real Estate Appraiser

Whatever the reason for the appraisal, HomeLab Appraisals understands that it is always essential to the homeowner. For most lending transactions, appraisals are necessary to ensure that the real estate transaction can occur.

You should know a few things about the rules that appraisers are legally required to follow. If the appraisal is for a federally regulated mortgage, the appraiser must be licensed within that state to perform appraisals. They may be able to send a trainee to do the inspection, but the licensed appraiser must go over their work to sign the appraisal report.

You are entitled to receive a copy of the report from your lender, but the appraiser cannot provide one to you unless you are the client. For mortgage transactions, the client is the lender. We understand that your lender may charge you a fee for the appraisal. However, that is between you and the lender. The price the lender charges you versus the cost the appraiser receives is not always equal. Regardless of the fee amount, the client is the party who engages the appraiser’s services. The fee is set up to meet the appraiser’s independence requirements.

To help the appraiser, please provide any of the following, either in person or through email ASAP if applicable:

  • Questionnaire (link will be sent to you by us)
  • Sketches/Building Plans
  • Survey/Plot Plans
  • Information on recent sales if within the last three years
  • Any personal property to be sold with the home and any separate agreements for these items
  • Confirmation of HOA fees
  • Written agreements about the property, such as a shared driveway or easement
  • Title policy that details any encroachments or easements
  • Any recent reports such as inspections, termites, septic, well
  • A detailed list of improvements (this can be done through the questionnaire link sent), including completed years.
  • Building Permits (Active and Completed)

Day of Inspection

Once your appraiser has arrived, you do not need to accompany them during the entire site inspection. You can, however, be available to answer questions about your property if the appraiser has any. Please make sure any animals that are not friendly or trained are properly and safely restrained.

Please do not ask about a value and/or tell the appraiser that you need a specific value. The appraiser is not allowed to discuss this, which could be seen as coercion and may result in the appraiser having to decline the assignment. Also, please do not ask when you can expect the report. The appraiser cannot discuss this with anyone other than their client (lender). The appraiser does not control when the client chooses to share the report with you.

To save time and help the inspection go smoothly, please ensure your property is easy to access and safe to navigate, as the appraiser will need a picture of every room within the property. This includes unfinished spaces, the interior of all outbuildings (unlocked), and all potential mechanical systems. If this is an FHA appraisal, crawlspaces and attic access are also required to obtain pictures. If it is an FHA appraisal, the appraiser will need to physically access the attic, and having a ladder set up before the inspection will save time. If it is not possible to have a ladder set up before the inspection – do not worry. The appraiser will have one with them. If your crawl space access is obstructed, please ensure it is accessible for the inspection. FHA inspections will take longer as additional items such as faucets, windows, and outlets are required to be checked.

Housekeeping: Appraisers see hundreds of homes a year and will look past most clutter, but it certainly can’t hurt to present your house in the best condition.

Maintenance: It is advisable (but not necessary) to repair minor things such as leaky faucets, missing door handles, and trim. You should install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms on all levels (especially near bedrooms) if they are not there, are defective, or have been removed. This could be seen as a health and safety issue. If this is an FHA/VA appraisal, installing handrails on all stairways, removing peeling paint, and repainting the affected area is a great start. The paint issues extend to any other building on the property, including decks.

Suppose the appraisal is for an “as is” value, which most are; please keep in mind that potential upgrades have no value. The appraiser is basing everything on what is currently there. This also goes for properties undergoing any work. For example: if, when the appraiser inspects the property, there is no flooring because it has been recently ripped out, the appraiser will have to take that into account. There is an exception: if the report is to be completed as “subject to” those specific repairs or upgrades being met, it can be done “subject to.” However, that is a lender’s decision, so do not assume the lender will allow that.