When you’re closing on your new home, there are several hurdles to overcome — one of which is the home appraisal. A successful home appraisal can be the deciding factor as to whether the home purchase will go through, so it’s understandable to feel nervous about the process.
To minimize homebuying stress, it helps to know what you can expect from the home appraisal, and how long it will take.
- The home appraisal timeline starts with scheduling an appraisal and ends with receiving the report.
- The number of homes being sold or refinanced can delay the home appraisal, while cleaning the home and providing necessary documentation can speed up a home appraisal.
- After the home appraisal, you should dispute any errors and close on the home.
What Is a Home Appraisal?
A home appraisal is a professional opinion on the value of a property. It summarizes what makes the property valuable and how that value compares to other recent home sales in the neighborhood.
Here’s generally how it works:
- The mortgage lender hires a home appraiser.
- If necessary, the appraiser schedules a visit to the home.
- The appraiser will look at the home, including its location, its condition, and any completed home improvements.
- The appraiser will look at other recent home sales in the area — otherwise known as comps.
- The appraiser will gather other relevant data and offer their opinion on the home’s value.
- The appraiser will create a report to explain their findings.
In some cases, the appraiser might not visit the home in person, and they may instead opt for public data. This is known as a desktop appraisal, and is considered just as reliable as other types of appraisals.
Once the appraisal is complete, the lender will receive a copy of the appraisal report. A few days after the appraisal, you will also receive the report.
A home appraisal is important because it informs your decision on whether to go through with the home purchase. A lender usually requires an appraisal so it can use the information to decide how much to lend to you.
A home appraisal contingency is a condition in the purchase contract that protects the buyer and gives them the ability to cancel the deal if the appraised value is less than the agreed purchase price.
“Having the home appraisal contingency on the purchase contract allows for the buyer to void it based on conditions that do not meet their expectations or standards,” says David Lee, a Realtor with Keller Williams, a real estate company based in Newtown, Pennsylvania.
There are several factors that appraisers look at, including:
- Home exterior. The appraiser will look at areas such as the roof and foundation. They will examine these areas to see if there is any damage or flaws, which can hurt your home appraisal.
- Home interior. The appraiser will look at the inside of the home, checking for things like the size and layout. They also will look at recent updates and the quality of amenities.
- Comparable sales. Once data about the home is gathered, the appraiser will look at similar homes that have sold in the surrounding area. They will use this information as a guide for their written report.
Homebuyers can expect to pay $300 to $400 for a home appraisal — though complex properties can cost more. The price for a home appraisal varies depending on the specifics of the property and how long the appraisal and report take.
How long a home appraisal takes will depend on factors such as when the appraisal is scheduled, the appraiser’s schedule, and the type of home that’s being appraised. Ask for updates on where you’re at in the home appraisal process.
Your lender will order an appraisal, and the appraiser will usually take around 48 hours to respond.
The home visit from an appraiser: 30 minutes to 4 hours
The actual inspection may take longer depending on whether the appraiser will do a physical inspection or need to wait on data for a desktop appraisal.
If someone is physically visiting the home, the walk-through can take up to several hours depending on the location, size, and complexity of the property. The appraiser will look through the home’s exterior and interior.
This process can go faster if you clean up the property, making the appraiser’s job easier. Appraisers won’t check appliances, so you don’t need to worry about a broken refrigerator or faulty microwave.
Receiving the report: 1 to 2 weeks
Once the appraiser has received all the necessary information, they will write the appraisal report. Depending on the appraiser’s workload, it could take several days to a couple weeks.
The report is usually around 10 pages long and can either be a letter report, a form report, or a narrative report. It will include the final opinion on the home’s value, the reasoning behind that opinion, an adequate description of the property, market data, a signature, and certification.
There are many factors that can delay the home appraisal, such as the amount of homes being sold or refinanced. If there are many homes being bought and sold, an appraiser’s workload can get backed up, which delays the process.
The average number of appraisers has been decreasing approximately 2.6% for the past five years as of 2018. This means there may be fewer appraisers working in your local real estate market, leading to backlogs.
A home appraisal also can be delayed when a property is unique. Lee says it could be difficult for an appraiser to find similar properties, especially if there haven’t been a lot of homes sold in a particular area.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to speed up a home appraisal.
“It’s in the hands of the home appraisal professional to do their research and provide the report in a timely manner for everyone involved in the transaction to meet established milestones and deadlines during the closing process,” Lee says.
You can try to make the appraisal process smoother so you don’t cause delays. Some of these tips also can improve your home appraisal. They include:
- Cleaning your home to give the appraiser better access.
- Providing all necessary documentation.
- Creating a report that lists items like recent home upgrades completed.
Once your home appraisal is complete, you’ll receive an appraisal report. You should talk with your real estate agent about the contents of the report and what it means for you.
There are several scenarios you may face after you receive the appraisal report, including:
- The appraised price is the same as the purchase price.
- The appraised price is higher than the purchase price.
- The appraised price is lower than the purchase price.
If the appraised price is the same as the purchase price, then you’re on track to close on the home. If the appraised home price is lower than the purchase price, then you can negotiate or use the home appraisal contingency to back out buying the house.
If you have any questions or concerns, you may be able to contact the appraiser, depending on who ordered the appraisal and who the appraiser is allowed to discuss the results with.
To dispute any errors, contact the appraiser. You also can submit additional information to help your dispute.
If all parties agree to move forward, then the closing process can proceed. The remainder of the process will depend on several factors, such as any additional documentation that the mortgage underwriter needs. Closing may take an additional few weeks.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about how long an appraisal takes.
An appraiser won’t use the messiness of a home to determine its value. However, a messy home could make it harder for the appraiser to determine the condition of the home, which can delay the appraisal process.
Factors that may increase a home’s appraisal include a property being in excellent condition and having certain upgrades and repairs completed.
Home appraisers may come inside the home if they’re completing a traditional home appraisal.
The Bottom Line on How Long a Home Appraisal Takes
A home appraisal may take anywhere from several days to a few weeks from start to finish. Although there isn’t much you can do to speed up the process, you can make sure the appraisal goes as smoothly as possible. That way, you can get the report back in a timely manner and close on the property.