Purchasing your dream home can be a daunting task. You may have to employ a loan officer, get credible real estate agents, and make offers before even getting a loan. When you think the process is almost complete, your lender may request an appraisal before approving the loan.
Unless you’re new to buying homes, these processes shouldn’t sound strange. An appraisal is crucial for a successful home buying process as it helps the lenders ensure they’re not over-lending money to you.
Since the process usually seems endless, homeowners typically ask: “how long do appraisals take?” While you get a rough answer to this question by looking at the appraisal time frame for similar properties in the area, the uniqueness of most home buying processes will make that estimate inaccurate.
By walking you through some of the technical details of home appraisals, you’ll get an answer to your question: “how long does a home appraisal take?”
What Is a Home Appraisal?
A home appraisal is its fair market value determined by an established professional’s thorough home inspection. In other words, the mortgage lender assesses the home to arrive at a final estimate. An appraiser will evaluate the house based on size, condition, location, and recent sales in the locality.
Since a mortgage loan is mainly required to purchase a home, the mortgage lender will need an appraisal report to ensure they are lending you the right amount. An appraisal report is a document that carries the description of the inspection, and it includes the necessary information, complete property analysis, and estimated value.
Appraisal visit fees are around $300 to $400, and the prospective buyer usually bears the cost. The prices may vary depending on the size or type of home undergoing appraisal, and an assessment usually takes place within a week of making your offer.
The home appraisal shouldn’t be confused with an inspection. While an appraisal involves assessing a home to determine the fair market value, a licensed inspector carries out the inspection to provide a report on the home’s condition.
How Long Do Appraisals Take?
Appraisals, just like other home-buying processes, take time to complete. It’s essential to know how long a proposed assessment will take so you can plan other functions accordingly. So, how long do appraisals take?
A complete appraisal might take from a few days to several weeks, and this timeframe may change depending on the size and condition of the home and the skill and expertise of the licensed appraiser.
The appraiser should schedule the appraisal, obtain necessary data about the home during the walkthrough, review the information, and make the appraiser report available.
In the next section, you’ll get a breakdown of the steps involved, the time a home appraisal typically takes, and why they take so long.
What’s the Typical Home Appraisal Process?
Home appraisals are strictly based on schedule, making the process easy for all the parties involved. The time frame for conducting different appraisal phases varies, and the walkthrough may take as little as 30 minutes, while compiling the final report may take up to one week.
The first step in the appraisal should be scheduling, typically done by the mortgage lender. It involves seeking the service of a qualified appraiser to conduct the walkthrough. Scheduling appraisals usually takes between one and two days.
The walkthrough is the primary home inspection. This process is when the home appraiser makes a physical inspection and assesses the home. This process might take as little as 30 minutes to as long as three hours. This time difference depends on the size and condition of the property.
The appraiser looks at both the internal and external features of the home. Internal factors include the square footage, number of rooms, and the condition of the home’s interior, while external factors that influence the assessment include location, construction quality, and structure.
The next step in the home appraisal should be conducting research. The appraiser conducts a detailed market analysis by looking at comparable sales to decide the property’s actual value. The appraiser will use property records and data from local listing services to obtain the necessary information about the property and real estate market.
This process should take around two days, depending on the property size, local market, and home appraiser skills.
This final step in the home appraisal procedure is preparing the appraisal report. The appraiser’s report combines all the information collected during the appraiser’s walkthrough into a detailed document. The report is usually around ten pages long.
The appraiser submits the report to the lender and the appraiser’s estimate of the fair market value for the home. The document also explains the factors and facts that lead to the final assessment in detail. This process may range from two days to one week, depending on the appraiser’s workload and the complexity of the report.
Factors that Influence Appraisal
Since an appraisal is to determine the home’s actual worth, many factors can affect the final value and speed of the assessment. Here are some of the most common factors that influence the rate or outcome of an appraiser.
The Size of the Property
The size of the home and its square footage will heavily influence the required time to complete the appraisal. Also, it’s common knowledge that the size of a property is directly proportional to its price.
Age and Condition of the Property
The property’s age and condition will also influence the final appraiser report. The appraiser will scan the home for existing faults and damages that need repairs. Afterward, the seller will need to undertake repairs before selling the house unless it is listed ‘as-is’.
Recent Upgrades and Additions
Recent upgrades and additions made by the property’s current owners will also be a factor. Upgrades include building a deck, installing new roofing sheets or flooring, or any other new significant upgrades. Making major upgrades may make your home more valuable to a professional appraiser.
The phrase “seeing is believing” is usually accurate in home-buying as appraisers typically score a home based on its curb appeal. The house’s attractiveness from its exterior and immediate surroundings will hugely affect the value.
The location of the home will also directly influence the appraised value. Logically, homes in an area with abundant social amenities and a good transportation network will be worth more than houses in a location that lacks these luxuries.
The appraiser will use the price of comparable properties sold recently in the locality to determine your property’s final value. In most cases, appraisers will consider similar properties sold within six months. But this could extend to up to a year depending on the real estate market.
Market Conditions and Legalities
The current housing market and projected future market conditions will also influence the appraisal. The property will also be evaluated carefully for standing legal issues like unpaid dues or taxes which will all be added up in the final appraisal report.
What Can Delay a Home Appraisal?
Two main factors could delay a home appraisal, and the first is the intensity of the local real estate market. In locations with a heavy workload, the number of appraisers available might not complement the workload, delaying your appraisal process.
The second is a delay in reaching out to the parties involved including the seller’s real estate agent. The appraiser needs the seller’s permission before starting the process. If there is a problem obtaining this permission, there will undoubtedly be a delay in the appraisal procedure.
How to Prepare for an Appraisal
When you sell a home you want to get the best possible deal. To make this happen, you should consider preparing your home for an appraisal. Although appraisals don’t determine the actual purchase price, nobody will be willing to pay a lot for a home that is in a bad condition.
Before an appraisal, tidy up your home to make it look more attractive, but do not try to hide any faults from the appraiser. Consider making quick repairs where necessary and ensure you inform the appraiser or appraisal management company of any recent upgrades or additions you’ve made.
Deferred maintenance will negatively affect the home selling process, but carrying out needed repairs and upgrades will lead to a higher appraised value, which may affect the eventual sale price of your home.
What Happens After an Appraisal?
The appraiser will first compile and submit their report to the mortgage lender who will then act accordingly based on the results of the report. The report can either make or mar the contract.
If the final estimated value is above the contract price, the lender will finance the purchase and the deal will enter the closing stages. However, if the value is less than the contract price, the lender will likely withdraw because loan firms don’t usually lend more than the homes’ appraised worth.
It’s important to note the use of the word “likely” because the deal could still go through if you establish effective communication with your realtor. Based on the final appraisal report, the parties involved could still renegotiate the contract. If the seller agrees to lower the contract cost and offers to pay the closing fee, the deal will likely go through.
In some cases, the buyer may agree to pay the difference from their own finances. Another possible scenario is that the sellers may dispute the value and request a new appraisal if they discover any flaws in the appraisal exercise.
Lastly, both parties may mutually agree to cancel the deal due to a lack of financing, sending the home back to the listing stage. These are all possible scenarios that could pan out after a home appraisal.
An appraisal is a crucial home-buying process. Whether you are a buyer or seller, consider seeking professional advice to keep you on the right track throughout the process.
Getting a good appraisal is about preparing your home and correcting minor faults that could get you a low appraisal value. The average assessment will take anywhere between a few days and a couple of weeks. Remember patience is a virtue that can help you get a great value on your home.
Kris Reid is the CEO of Ardor SEO, a company that helps real estate professionals get more leads and customers to predictably grow their business.
Over the years, Kris acquired extensive knowledge of SEO and its practical applications in various industries, with the main focus on real estate.
In 2021 Ardor launched the Icons of Real Estate Podcast to share proven strategies from the top producing icon agents with the real estate community.
After obtaining the real estate license in 2022, Kris joined eXp Realty and launched Homes by Ardor, the platform that was built to be the fastest way to buy or sell a house. Homes by Ardor also provides leads for its partner companies and realtors.