FAQ #14: Who Should Be At The Home During An Appraisal?

So far in this season of our blog, we’ve covered 13 frequently asked questions about the real estate appraisal process, and most of them are questions we get during or after our on-site visit.  Our current post is different in that we get this question before we ever get to the home.  And, it has many variations.  Here are a few:  “Who should be at home when the appraiser comes?”  “Is it ok if the seller is there?”  “Does the seller need to leave when he gets there?”  “The buyer wants to meet the appraiser at the home.  Is that ok?”

So in this short article, we’ll address this FAQ, and give you our perspective – as well as another perspective you may encounter.

In our office, we always encourage someone to be at the property if at all possible.  Of course the inspection usually takes longer because we’re talking with the occupant, but it’s for good reason!  If you’re refinancing your mortgage, or selling your home, here are a few reasons why it’s good for you to be at home during the appraisal.

  1.  Access.  For most appraisals, I’m going to need to access the interior and all areas of the exterior of the property.  This includes storage buildings, basements, barns, etc.  Some loans (i.e. FHA) require us to inspect and photograph the interior of all structures. So if no one is at home and a building is locked, the appraiser will likely need to re-visit the property later.

  2. Updates.  When I’m done looking the property over, one of the questions I ask is about updates.  Have there been any recent updates to the home?  Any remodeling?  Additions?  This information is incredibly useful when I’m estimating my overall rating of the subject’s condition.

  3. Property Information.  When someone is present at the home, I also like to double check the lot size, year built, number of bathrooms (those pesky half baths can sometimes hide!), etc.  And, if it’s a purchase transaction and I already have the purchase agreement, I’ll confirm the contract price and go over any sales concessions, etc.

Now, I know my opinion isn’t shared by all appraisers.  So from time to time, you may hear from an appraiser who wants the home empty.  And that’s ok.  Of course, no appraiser has the right to demand an empty house, so if you – Mrs. Homeowner – don’t want to leave, that’s ok.  Usually the reason for this request is so that the appraiser can complete their inspection without distractions, which is understandable.  There’s only something like 736 items we have to look for, after all!

What about buyers?

From time to time, we get a Realtor request that the purchaser be present for the appraisal.  Again, this is something that can’t easily be refused, although there can be a good argument against having a buyer present.

Sometimes, purchasers (and sellers even) assume that we’ll have the appraisal results as soon as we’re done with the appraisal inspection.  We get asked quite often, just as we’re about to leave, “Well, what did it appraise for?”  Oh, if it were only that easy.  So sometimes we get that question because the buyer wants to find out the results of the appraisal quickly.

But here’s why it’s usually not a good idea for a buyer to be present during an appraisal.  Appraisers must maintain complete independence and impartiality in the appraisal process, and having a buyer there may be seen as influencing the appraiser.  And, maybe that’s why a buyer wants to be there.  Maybe they think they’ve overpaid for the home and want to point out all the deficiencies so the appraiser will lower the appraisal, and they can renegotiate the contract price.  Or, maybe they’re scared the appraisal won’t come in at contract price, and they want to be there to try to persuade the appraiser to ‘hit the value’ as they say.  Both of these are highly discouraged, and may even result in the appraiser withdrawing from the assignment if he or she feels pressured.  And this will delay closing for another week to a month, depending on how long it takes to get another appraiser out to the home.

So in general, it’s fine if anyone is at the home, it’s best if a seller is there, and if no one is there – that’s ok too!  But no one has to leave, and if no one is there, just expect a phone call from the appraiser after their visit.

If you have a question you’d like us to feature, email me at ryanbays@riverfrontappraisals.com

For more information on this and other topics related to the appraisal process, check out our Guide To Appraisals set of E-Books at https://riverfrontappraisals.com/guides/.  

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