Just what is a home appraisal and why do we need one?

What Is a Home Appraisal?

Starting with the dictionary, an Appraisal means:
an act of assessing something or someone, an expert estimate of the value of something.
synonyms: valuation, estimate, estimation, quotation, pricing; survey

Investopedia says, “An appraisal is an unbiased professional opinion of a home’s value. Appraisals are almost always used in purchase and sale transactions and commonly used in refinance transactions. In a purchase and sale transaction, an appraisal is used to determine whether the home’s contract price is appropriate given the home’s condition, location, and features. In a refinance, it assures the lender that it isn’t handing the borrower more money than the home is worth.”

Their web page adds, “Lenders want to make sure that homeowners are not over borrowing for a property because the home serves as collateral for the mortgage. If the borrower should default on the mortgage and go into foreclosure, the lender will recoup the money it lent by selling the home. The appraisal helps the bank protect itself against lending more than it might be able to recover in this worst-case scenario.”

In a recent post on the importance of appraisals, Investopedia said, “A property’s appraisal value is influenced by recent sales of similar properties and by current market trends. The home’s amenities, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, floor plan functionality and square footage are also key factors in assessing the home’s value. The appraiser must do a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior and note any conditions that adversely affect the property’s value, such as needed repairs. Typically, appraisers use Fannie Mae’s Uniform Residential Appraisal Report for single-family homes. The report asks the appraiser to describe the interior and exterior of the property, the neighborhood, and nearby comparable sales. The appraiser then provides an analysis and conclusions about the property’s value based on his or her observations.”

The report must include a street map showing the appraised property and comparable sales used; an exterior building sketch; an explanation of how the square footage was calculated; photographs of the home’s front, back and street scene; front exterior photographs of each comparable property used; and any other information, such as market sales data, public land records and public tax records, that the appraiser uses to determine the property’s fair market value. An appraisal costs several hundred dollars, and generally, the borrower pays this fee.

Also keep in mind that you can always get a second opinion if your appraisal comes in low. Sometimes, mistakes are made, or something is overlooked. It can happen. Use all the assets your real estate agent provides. They will have contacts and suggestions.

About Toni Hedstrom

Toni Hedstrom is founder of GoToni.com and partner of Hedstrom & Stamm Home Solutions LLC.