Everything You Need To Know About Home Appraisals in the Current Market

Selling a house is a monumental decision that comes with its own set of complexities. One of the key steps in this process, and often a source of anxiety for many homeowners about to sell, is the home appraisal. 

This guide is designed to demystify the home appraisal process for you, providing you with expert insights that can help you navigate today’s fluctuating market and sell your house quickly in Virginia. 

Whether you are a first-time seller or a seasoned real estate investor, understanding the appraisal process can empower you to make informed decisions and optimize the potential of your property sale. 

With every nugget of information carefully curated for your comprehension, this guide promises to be your handy companion in your journey of selling your home.

What Is A Home Appraisal?

A home appraisal is an unbiased, professional assessment of the value of your home. An appraiser, who is a trained and licensed professional, conducts this assessment. 

The appraisal process involves inspecting the house thoroughly and assessing the size, condition, function, and quality of the home. The appraiser also considers factors such as the home’s location, proximity to amenities, and the recent sale prices of similar homes in the area, also known as “comparables” or “comps”. 

This comprehensive evaluation provides an estimate of the home’s worth in the current real estate market. It’s a critical step in the home selling process as it helps to determine the purchase price for your property, ensuring it’s neither underpriced nor overpriced.

How Does an Appraisal Work?

The appraisal process begins when the mortgage lender orders an appraisal, typically after a home buyer has made an offer on a house and the seller has accepted. The lender will contract with an appraisal management company (AMC), which then assigns an independent, third-party appraiser to evaluate the property. The actual onsite visit by the licensed appraiser can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, depending on the size and complexity of the property.

The appraiser will inspect both the interior and exterior of the home, taking note of the overall condition, layout, updates, number of rooms, etc. They’ll look for any major issues, such as structural problems or significant damage. They’ll also assess the home’s size, as well as any unique features, upgrades, or improvements.

Following the home inspection, the appraiser will research comparable properties that have sold within the last three to six months. They’ll compare these properties to the subject home in terms of size, features, age, condition, and sales price. The appraiser may also consider local crime rates, nearby schools, and the overall appeal of the neighborhood.

Once all this information has been collected and analyzed, the appraiser will compile it into a final appraisal report. This report contains the estimated fair market value of the property, a detailed explanation of how the appraiser arrived at that value, and any conditions that the appraiser believes are affecting the property’s value. The lender will use this report to determine whether the proposed loan amount is appropriate, based on the appraised value of the home.

What’s the Average Cost of a Home Appraisal?

How much does a home appraisal cost? The cost of a home appraisal can vary significantly, depending on several factors such as the size of your home, its location, and the complexity of the appraisal. 

On average, however, you can expect to pay between $300 and $450 for a home appraisal in the United States. It’s important to note that in some high-cost areas or for larger, more complex properties, the appraisal fee cost could be higher. 

Typically, the home buyer pays for the appraisal as part of their closing costs, but sometimes sellers or real estate agents may offer to cover the cost as a gesture of good faith or to expedite the selling process. 

Regardless of who pays, the appraisal cost is a necessary investment in the home-selling process, providing a realistic and unbiased estimate of your home’s value.

What’s Included in a Home Appraisal

A home appraisal typically includes a comprehensive home valuation of the property’s interior and exterior. For the interior, the appraiser will examine the general condition of the home, any recent updates or renovations, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and features like fireplaces or finished basements. They’ll also note the type of heating and cooling systems in place and check for any signs of structural or water damage.

For the exterior, the appraiser will assess the quality and condition of the construction materials, the roof, and the home’s foundation. The size of the lot, the landscaping, and additional external features like a garage, deck, or swimming pool will also be considered.

Other factors that are typically part of an appraisal include the property’s location, the desirability of the neighborhood, proximity to amenities like schools and shopping centers, as well as traffic and noise levels.

After the site visit, the appraiser will research recent sales of comparable homes in the local market and use this data, together with the information gathered during the visit, to determine the property’s market value. The final appraisal report will include a detailed breakdown of these findings, along with photos of the house and the comparable sales used.

Everything You Need To Know About Home Appraisals in the Current Market

What Do Appraisers Typically Look For?

Appraisers typically focus on the overall quality, condition, and functionality of the home. They look for elements that could affect the property’s value, either positively or negatively.

  1. Structural Integrity and Condition: The appraiser will assess the building’s structure, checking for stability and signs of damage. This includes the condition of the home’s roof, walls, floors, and foundation. They’ll look for signs of structural problems like cracks, settling, or water damage.
  2. Size and Layout: The square footage of the home and the layout are key factors that appraisers consider. A larger home with a well-designed layout could be appraised for more than a smaller or poorly designed home.
  3. Home Improvements and Upgrades: Appraisers take note of any renovations or updates that have been done on the house. Upgrades like a remodeled kitchen or bathroom, a new roof, or a finished basement can increase the value of the home.
  4. Age of the Home: The age of the home plays a role in its value. While older homes may have unique architectural elements, they may also require more maintenance, which can impact the appraisal.
  5. Location: The neighborhood and surrounding area also matter. Proximity to good schools, shopping centers, public transportation, and other amenities can enhance a home’s value.
  6. Market Conditions: The appraiser will consider the current state of the local real estate market. If homes are selling quickly and at high prices, this could positively influence your home’s appraised value.

Remember, the goal of the appraiser is to provide an unbiased, accurate estimate of the property’s value. By understanding what appraisers look for, you as a home seller can better prepare for this part of the selling process.

What Hurts a Home Appraisal

While many factors can positively influence your home’s appraisal, some elements can potentially harm or lower its evaluated price.

  1. Poor Overall Condition: An unkempt home in need of repairs will likely receive a low appraisal. Appraisers look at the condition of the roof, the HVAC system, the electrical and plumbing systems, and the general upkeep. They’ll also consider aspects such as peeling paint, broken windows, or a cracked driveway.
  2. Outdated Appliances and Systems: Old and outdated appliances can negatively impact the home’s value. A property appraiser will take note of any outdated or inefficient systems, such as an old HVAC unit, outdated kitchen appliances, or an aging water heater.
  3. Unfavorable Neighborhood: Just as a good neighborhood can increase your home’s value, a less desirable one can reduce it. Factors such as high crime rates, proximity to industrial zones, or a location far from schools and amenities, can hurt your appraisal.
  4. Poor Curb Appeal: First impressions matter, and a home with poor curb appeal can be detrimental to an appraisal. Overgrown landscaping, a cluttered yard, or a lack of maintenance to the home’s exterior can negatively influence a professional appraiser’s perception.
  5. Unpermitted Work: Any additions or renovations done without proper permits can bring down your home’s value. Not only does unpermitted work raise questions about the quality and safety of the project, but it also can cause legal issues.
  6. The Local Market: Just as a strong real estate market can benefit your appraisal, a weak one can harm it. If local market conditions are poor, with homes selling slowly or at lower prices, this can negatively impact your home’s appraised value.

By being aware of these potential drawbacks, you can take steps to address these issues before the appraisal, thereby increasing the likelihood of receiving a favorable valuation.

How Long Does a Home Appraisal Take

The duration of a home appraisal can vary depending on several factors. Typically, the on-site evaluation part of the appraisal, where the appraiser visits the home and assesses its features and conditions, takes anywhere from a few hours to a full day, depending on the size and complexity of the property.

After the visit, the appraiser will need to write up a detailed report, which includes researching comparable homes and the local market. This process can take several days to a week or more.

Therefore, you can typically expect to receive the final appraisal report within one to two weeks after the appraiser’s visit. However, during peak real estate seasons when appraisers are particularly busy, it may take slightly longer.

It’s important to communicate with your appraiser or the appraisal management company to have a clear understanding of the expected timeline.

Can a Home Appraisal Affect Your Home Price

Yes, a home appraisal can significantly affect your home price. The appraised value of a home can influence the maximum amount a lender is willing to provide a buyer, which in turn, can have implications for the selling price.

If the home’s appraised value comes in higher than the asking price, it’s a bonus for the seller as it means they could potentially sell their home for a higher price. However, if the appraised value is less than the asking price, it could pose an issue. The buyer may negotiate for a lower price or might have trouble securing enough financing. In such cases, the seller might need to lower the price or challenge the appraisal.

It’s important to remember that appraisals are professional assessments of a home’s market value and can vary from one appraiser to another. Sellers should always ensure their homes are well-maintained and prepare properly for the appraisal visit to avoid undervaluation.

What is in an Appraisal Report

An appraisal report is a detailed document that gives an expert opinion on the value of a property, prepared by a certified appraiser. This comprehensive report includes a thorough examination of the property’s interior and exterior, an evaluation of the home’s condition and any improvements that have been made, an assessment of the value of similar properties recently sold in the area (known as comparables), and an analysis of current market conditions.

The report also contains information about the property’s location, neighborhood, and any factors influencing its value, such as proximity to amenities or adverse conditions like being too close to a busy road. It includes photos, floor plans, and a site map.

By providing an unbiased and accurate estimate of a property’s worth, the appraisal report serves as a critical tool for buyers, sellers, and lenders. For sellers, it can help determine a reasonable asking price. For buyers, it ensures they are not overpaying for a property. For lenders, it provides assurance the property is worth the mortgage loan amount.

How Long to Close After an Appraisal

Closing after a home appraisal can vary significantly depending on a variety of factors but typically occurs within two to four weeks. Once the appraisal report has been received and reviewed by the lender, the underwriting process begins.

This involves a comprehensive assessment of the borrower’s creditworthiness and the property’s appraised value to ensure the requested loan amount is feasible. If all elements are in order, the lender will issue final approval and a closing date will be set. It’s worth noting that any issues arising from the appraisal, such as a lower-than-expected value, may trigger negotiations that could further extend this time frame.

Additionally, the closing process requires coordination between various parties, including real estate professionals, attorneys, and title companies, which can add to the timeline. Therefore, both buyers and sellers must maintain open and efficient communication with their respective parties to facilitate a smoother, quicker closing process.

How Long to Close After an Appraisal


In conclusion, while the home appraisal process can seem daunting, understanding its key components can help you navigate it effectively. Despite this, there is an alternative that simplifies the process of selling your house, especially if the timing is a crucial factor for you. If you’re looking to sell your house fast in Virginia Beach, consider reaching out to a ‘we buy houses in Virginia‘ home buyer. These home buyers can expedite the home-buying process as they buy the house directly, eliminating the need for an appraisal or the hassle of potential negotiations that could delay the sale. This is a viable and efficient option for those seeking to avoid the traditional sale process and sell their home swiftly and efficiently.

If you’re looking for a ‘we buy houses in Norfolk‘ company, we can help! We’re Coastline Homebuyers, a trusted and reputable home-buying company with years of experience in the Virginia real estate market. Our team of experts can provide you with a fair cash offer for your house within 24 hours, and we can close on your timeline. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you sell your house fast in VA!

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