An Appraisal Inspection Happens at the Property
An Appraisal Inspection collects information that is used to determine the Market Value of a property in a real estate appraisal report. You should know that an appraisal inspection is not the same as a home inspection where the home inspector determines the working (or non-working) condition of the elements of the home. In other words, the appraisal determines the value of the property while the inspection determines the condition. The appraisal does take into account the condition of the property but without examining the working elements to the deeper level as a home inspection.
(You should also read our article about Appraisal Preparation: What to do Before the Appraiser Arrives.)
Prior to the appraisal inspection, the appraiser will research information about the property and the neighborhood. Much of this research is done in the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service) on via other on-line sources, some of which are public and some of which may be paid subscriptions for access. This includes confirming that the property details (lot, block, street address, etc.) are correct. The appraiser must establish that the correct property (called the subject property) is being appraised during the inspection appointment.
The Appraisal Inspection Appointment
The appraiser will then visit the property at the scheduled appraisal appointment time to perform the appraisal inspection.
This inspection will include the following basic steps:
1. Determination of the square footage of the property by measuring the exterior dimensions of the home for a single-family residence).
The calculated square footage will include all interior, conditioned space and will not include covered patios, balconies or walkways. The square footage of the garage will also be determined and reported, but is not considered to be part of the square footage of the home.
2. Observation of the condition of the property, to assess if the property is in poor, fair, good or excellent condition.
This observation step will include taking photographs to document the condition of the subject property. These photos will include, at a minimum, a street scene (a photograph taken looking down the street, i.e., through the neighborhood), front and rear elevations, and interior pictures of the kitchen, bathrooms, fireplace(s) and living spaces. When the appraiser is inspecting the condition of the property, he or she is checking for conditions that could affect the value of the property.
3. Verification of upgrades that have been provided to the appraiser that may support additional value.
4. Notation of permanent elements or features that could affect the value of the property.
This may include built-in cabinetry, built-in appliances, built-in BBQs, and other permanent items that may not be removed from the property. The fact that an upgrade cost a certain amount does not necessarily mean that the property value will have increased correspondingly.
5. Notation of the size and condition of the basement, including whether or not the basement, or a portion of the basement has been updated or finished.
Although updated basements may affect the value of a property, the basement square footage is not included in the overall square footage reported for the property. Basement value is calculated separately from the main level(s) square footage.
6. Verification that the property has a furnace and that the furnace appears to be in working condition.
Please note that this is not a furnace inspection of the type a home or HVAC inspector would perform. The appraiser needs to determine that the furnace turns on, not that it functions as intended, which is out of the scope of a home appraisal inspection. If the furnace does not appear to be in working order, the appraiser will not that on his report and an additional furnace inspection may be required to confirm the furnace is in good working order prior to the lender making the loan on the property.
7. Confirmation of the number of rooms contained within the property.
A room must have a closet and a window to be counted as a bedroom.
Appraisal Video of the Appraisal Inspection
For a more personal look at the home inspection appraisal appointment, please view this appraisal video.
In this appraisal inspection video, Texas State Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser Orlando Masis demonstrates how a house is measured with the traditional appraiser tools of a measuring tape and graphing paper to draw the sketch of the home. Since the making of this video in the Spring of 2010, we’ve since upgraded the tools we use to include a laser measuring device and an iPad so we can draw the footprint of the home in a software application while we’re at the property.
Take a few minutes while you sip your coffee and learn about the measuring, data gathering and analysis of value for a real estate appraisal in this video tutorial.
After the Appraisal Inspection
After the appraisal inspection, the appraiser will use this information to compare this property to comparable (similar) properties that have recently sold (or are for sale) in the market area and will analyze the available market data along with the specifics for the inspected property to make his determination of market value in his appraisal report.
The Full Monty: All of the Steps of an Appraisal
The appraisal inspection is only one of many steps in the overall appraisal process. Read our page on Appraisal Steps: Determining Market Value for the detailed list of the steps taken to determine the market value of property during a home inspection appraisal.