Understanding the Home Appraisal Process

A few tips on home appraisals from your local Austin Property Appraisers

What are the key steps in the appraisal process?

When it comes to residential appraisals there are two processes; the site visit, often called the inspection, and the report writing. The site visit is the process by which your austin property appraiser appears in person to visually inspect, measure and photograph the property to be appraised. This shouldn’t be confused with a home inspection, which is a much more detailed review of the home’s electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems and can only be performed by a licensed home inspector.

After the site visit is complete, the appraiser will take this data back to the office and begin researching and compiling his or her report. This is the real “meat and potatoes” of the appraisal process. While the appraiser may spend 30 to 60 minutes on the site visit, the report writing can take several hours to complete. In this time the appraiser will research the property through tax records, plat maps and any previous listings or sales. Next they will analyze general market data, create market trending reports, analyze and compare specific market data in the form of comparable sales and make adjustments to these comparable sales to arrive at an opinion of value.

If the appraisal report is to be a “Summary Report” then much of the data and research will be included within the finished report. All reports, regardless of type, will include comparable sales and listings, location maps and a market trends addendum.

How should one prepare for a home appraisal?

Preparing for an appraisal is quite easy. Since the appraiser is only performing a visual inspection and some measurements not much will need to be done except making sure the entire home is accessible. This includes the exterior areas as well. Removing any items that will obstruct the appraiser’s view of the home or access to all sides for measurement is critical. Naturally a freshly mowed yard and nice landscaping will show better, but these have no bearing on the appraisal.

On the interior of the home, again access is the main concern for an appraiser. We will need to see all rooms and possibly peek into the attic as well. If the appraisal is for an FHA loan, the appraiser will need to test several components including toilets, light switches, sinks, etc.

Is it necessary to stage their home beforehand, or will the appraiser help with that?

While it is not necessary to stage your home just for the appraisal, tidying up a bit never hurt. You should make sure that all needed repairs or updates have been completed prior to the appraiser arriving; this is especially true for lending appraisals. If the bank appraiser arrives and a room is partially painted, or flooring partially laid, they must report it. This will require a second site visit at your expense, so be sure the home is 100% before the appraiser arrives!

What home factors have the biggest influence in the price?

The single biggest influence of value for a home, not considering external features such as location, will be the kitchen and bathrooms. This makes sense when you consider these wet areas are typically the most costly to remodel and update. If you are not ready to take on a complete kitchen or bath remodel then the next best thing is new flooring and paint throughout the house. This will give the home a clean feel and if light or neutral colors are used, can make the spaces feel larger.

Is an appraisal a one fee service, or is there more to the payment process?

An appraisal service is typically a one-time fee that will be paid up front. There are a few situations in which additional payments may be required such as appraisals for new constructions homes. These typically require the appraiser to visit the property multiple times to confirm the level of completion so the bank will continue to release funds for construction. Aside from this, additional appraisal payments are extremely rare unless the client needs additional work performed after the initial report is delivered.

About RealEstateAppraisalsAustin.com

Real Estate Appraisals Austin was founded in 2006 by a group of Austin Texas property appraisers with a focus on providing appraisal services to those outside of the mortgage lending industry. While we still work for banks and lenders, we’ve developed a specialized appraisal report that is easier to understand and perfect for any “private use” situation. The majority of our clients are homeowners, Realtors, attorneys and investors that just need an honest value for a property.

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