What is an appraisal, and why is it a vital step in the homebuying process? Here’s an overview, including how appraisals impact mortgages.

There are several important steps involved in the homebuying process, and an independent confirmation of the property’s value is a key step for mortgage approval. This evaluation is typically known as an appraisal

At Supreme Lending, we can’t wait to hear from you to help with all your mortgage and home financing needs, from pre-qualification to navigating the purchase process, including the appraisal. What is an appraisal, why is it done, and what else do you need to know about it as a prospective homebuyer? Here are the basics.

What’s an Appraisal?

For those who have never been through the mortgage process before, an appraisal refers to an unbiased estimate of a home’s value. A professional appraiser is hired to visit the property and confirm its worth, which is then used to determine how much money can be loaned to the borrower through a mortgage.

In nearly all home purchases today, lenders require an appraisal before approving a loan. This is because they want to be confident that they’re not loaning more money than the property is worth, as this would put them at risk of loss if the borrower defaults on the loan.

Generally, appraisals are completed and filed within the jurisdiction in which the property is located. This is important to keep in mind if you’re considering a purchase in another city, county, or state, as different jurisdictions have different requirements and processes.

Why Are Appraisals Important?

As mentioned, appraisals play a vital role in the homebuying process as they provide an unbiased estimate of a property’s value. This number becomes incredibly important when negotiating a purchase price, as it can help confirm or refute the asking price set by the seller.

If you’re planning to obtain a mortgage to finance your home purchase, the appraisal value will also be used to determine how much funds you’re eligible to borrow. In some cases, the appraised value may be lower than the agreed-upon purchase price, meaning that the buyer would need to come up with the difference in cost.

Of course, it’s important to remember that appraisals may not always be 100% accurate. There is some subjectivity involved in the process, and different appraisers can sometimes come up with different values for the same property. That’s why it’s important for buyers to be aware of recent comparable sales in the area, as this can help them gauge whether or not an appraisal is fair.

What Do Appraisers Look for?

When an appraiser is assessing a property, they’ll be looking at several different things. Here’s a general list:

  Interior and exterior inspection: The appraiser will visit the property and conduct a thorough inspection, taking note of both the condition of the property and any features or amenities that may impact its value. This will cover both the interior and exterior of the property.

  Review of recent sales: The appraiser will also review recent sales of comparable properties in the area to get an idea of the current market value. These will be listed on the appraisal report so that you can review them, along with a street map that shows the locations of those properties.

  Assessment of the property’s condition: The appraiser will also provide their opinion on the condition of the property, which can impact its value. Therefore, it’s important for sellers to make necessary repairs or improvements before putting their home on the market.

  Square footage calculation explained: Assessing square footage is another essential part of the appraisal process. The appraiser will determine the total square footage of the property as well as the livable space. This can sometimes be tricky, as there are different ways to measure square footage and some methods may result in a larger number than others. For this reason, appraisers are generally required to also include the method they used in determining the home’s square footage on the report.

  Photos: One of the most important parts of the appraisal report are the photos that the appraiser takes during their inspection. These provide a visual record of the property’s condition and can be helpful when reviewing the report.

The appraiser’s findings are presented in reports that typically are several pages long and also include other important information, such as the appraiser’s qualifications, contact information, and any licenses or certifications they may have.

Who Pays for Appraisal Costs?

Generally speaking, appraisals can run between $300-$700 for single-family homes, though the exact cost will depend on the appraiser and the property being assessed. In most cases, the buyer is responsible for covering the cost of the appraisal, though there are some instances where the seller may agree to pay. Homebuyers may have the option to roll the appraisal cost into their closing costs or possibly the mortgage itself.

For more information on the appraisal process, or to learn more about any of our mortgage products and services, contact your local Supreme Lending team today.