The appraisal process is at the core of TriMavin’s business so it’s important for our clients to have a basic understanding on how it works as well. It is a systematic procedure involving valuation that allows appraisers to answer any questions the client has regarding a property’s value, how much it can be bought or sold for on the market, facilitating a transfer of real property ownership, or merging the ownership of multiple properties among other things. To put it simply, an appraisal is “the act or process of developing an opinion of value” as defined by USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice). A certified, competent appraiser can provide the buyer with an objective and unbiased assessment of a home’s value, ensuring that the final sales price is reasonable when all is said and done.
An appraisal is required during the mortgage loan process and essential for buyers and sellers because the lender wants to protect their real estate investment before issuing a mortgage loan that exceeds the property’s appraised value. They are required for most home purchases, however there are some instances in regards to refinances where appraisals are not required, such as the FHA “streamline” refinance program. In this case homeowners who have an existing FHA-insured mortgage can refinance into a new one without the lender having his or her home appraised. This is a rare instance though and most buyers and sellers should expect to have a full property appraisal.
The lender requires an appraisal before clearing the loan to close and ordering the appraisal typically takes place after the buyer and seller have signed the contract. Lenders themselves are required to provide the appraisal at least three days before the loan closes.
Once the buyer and seller have agreed on a purchase price and the lender receives the signed contract, the mortgage lender can then order an appraisal for the property. This is typically paid for by the buyer upfront in advance as part of standard practice.
After the appraisal is ordered, the AMC the lender is working with assigns an appraiser based on his or her knowledge and experience of the property types within a given market area. The appraiser then comes in for an overview of the property, taking pictures and measurements, which can usually take a couple of hours. After assessing the subject property, the appraiser researches for comparable properties in the surrounding area that share similar characteristics to the subject and are either up for sale or just recently sold; these include the same number of bedrooms, garages, floors, square footage and more.
Altogether, depending on the appraiser’s workload, efficiency, and the complexity of the assignment, the whole process can take several business days to complete. Sometimes it can take 1 or 2 days to complete the appraisal, though this is faster than average. All of these factors can make it difficult to determine a typical turnaround time, not to mention having a shortage of appraisers in a busy market.
Many factors are out of the hands of appraisers and appraisal management companies in regards to improving turnaround time, including the issue of supply and demand, but some ways of enhancing this include maintaining an efficient and proactive QC process, having a robust appraiser network, and communicating in a precise and effective manner.
If the main issue is a shortage of appraisers in the area, particularly rural regions with smaller population bases, some useful recruitment tips include increasing pay for the appraiser as the amount of work increases, allowing for more options to become an apprentice through a career development structure, and having less intrusive requirements that allow trainees to gain the skills and experience needed to become an appraiser. This could help incentivize prospective appraisers in less populated areas to pursue it as a career and share in the burden that current appraisers have to shoulder for themselves.
Even still, in regions where there aren’t that many people, closings could take several weeks, if not months, to complete as the existing work load of the fewer number of appraisers is stretched thin for a much broader and less dense market area. Buyers should start searching for their homes as soon as possible and be prepared for any delays that come up in the appraisal process.
When the appraiser has completed his or her side of the assignment, the appraisal is then sent back to the AMC where it will be reviewed by the QC department. If quality control finds any mistakes, it is sent to the appraiser for corrections and once the report is sent back and no further revisions are needed, the report is sent back to the lender who delivers a copy of the report back to the buyer. The buyer will then have an idea of the value of his or her home and how much it would be worth on the market.
TriMavin is committed to ensuring that the entire appraisal process runs smoothly on all fronts and all parties are satisfied with the results.