There are several reasons why you might need a home appraisal. Examples include if you're refinancing, taking out a home equity line of credit, assisting in predicting property taxes, or considering selling your home in the near future. Below we answer some of the most common questions.


1. What is a property or home appraisal?

A home appraisal is an unbiased estimate of the market value of a property at a single point in time. It's conducted by a licensed and certified professional. When buying a home, an appraisal can confirm whether the property is worth the amount you agreed upon with the seller. For refinance loans, the lender is making sure that the property is worth the risk of the loan.


2. What does an appraiser do?

An appraiser provides an estimate of the market value of a property by looking at the location, amenities, and recent sales (or comps) of similar properties in the same neighborhood, in addition to the characteristics of the property.


An appraisal often includes a walk-through to determine the general condition of the property and note any amenities of value in that area. The appraiser will photograph all interior rooms, areas that will positively or negatively affect its value, and sketch the layout. If there are any health or safety code violations the appraiser will require them to be repaired. If the repairs are completed, a compliance inspection will be necessary before the lender approves the loan.


3. Do lenders choose the property appraiser?

No direct party to the transaction can choose the appraiser when applying for a mortgage because they have a financial stake in the valuation. Not the buyer, the seller, or the broker. This role is filled by the Appraisal Management Company.


4. How much does a property appraisal cost?

An appraisal typically starts at $450 and will increase depending on the complexity of the assignment. Home appraisal cost depends on region, type of appraisal report requested, and the amount of effort required to complete the report.


5. What hurts a home appraisal?

A number of factors go into a home appraisal and each one can increase or decrease the home's value conclusion. Those factors include location, site size, renovations, condition, the age of the home, appliances and systems like heating, and more.


6. Who pays for the property appraisal?

The buyer typically pays the fee as part of the total closing costs. 


7. Can a home appraisal serve as a home inspection?

No, an appraisal is not a home inspection. Inspections involve a licensed home inspector or contractor who evaluates the structure and mechanical systems (heating, plumbing, air conditioning, etc.) of a house, from foundation to rooftop. The appraiser is typically more interested in the sale prices of comparable properties in the neighborhood, the exterior presentation of the property and amenities that enhance the value in that market.


8. What is an independent home appraisal?

An independent property appraisal is an estimate of the value of a property that is prepared by an appraiser who has no interest in the property and nothing to gain from a high or low value conclusion.