Appraisal Process

Understanding the Appraisal process

What is a Professional Appraisal?

A professional appraisal is an informed opinion of value derived from facts in the marketplace. It is not the personal feelings of the appraiser. In essence, it is a supportable prediction of what your house would sell for if offered on the market for a reasonable length of time.

Preparing for the Appraiser's Arrival

1. This is an appraisal of real estate, not of housekeeping! Unless it is a matter of personal concern, it is not necessary to perform an extraordinary amount of cleaning, etc.

2. Please provide the following, if available:

House location survey/plat
Copy of deed(s)
Copy of tax bill(s) or assessments notice(s)
Any HOA information
Restrictions and/or convenants

3. Tell us about any recent major improvements or property defects, if any.

4. Most appraisers set up a time range for appointments; please be patient. A prior appointment may have required additional time due to unforeseen circumstances.

5. Know ahead of time whether the appraiser is to be paid at time of inspection or by some other arrangement.

6. If you have pets, please be prepared to control them.

What You See

The most common observation made by a homeowner is, "how can they charge so much, when they spend so little time at my house?" In reality, what you see is but a small portion of the appraisal process... the inspection.

During the inspection the appraiser will most likely measure the exterior walls, take photographs, walk through the home, and ask a number of questions relating to the improvements. The amount of time taken and the actual activity will vary according to the complexity of the house and the appraiser's information prior to inspection.

What You Don't See

Most residential appraisals require substantial amounts of research before and after the inspection.

For example, lenders require the appraiser to verify market data, such as prices paid for recent sales of comparable properties, replacement costs, and neighborhood trends.

So, an inspectionon-site cannot reveal the hours which may ultimately be committed before the appraisal report is completed. For this reason, the appraiser is not prepared to discuss any conclusions concerning the value of your home at time of inspection.

After the Appraiser Departs

Location, location, location is the basic ingredient to property value, and verify, verify, verify is the basic stuff of appraising. Good work does take time! Your appraiser should know prior to accepting the assignment what the deadlines are and to whom he/she should report the value. Typically, this is the lender.

The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) prohibits disclosure of any appraisal report content to anyone other than the client. The client is the person or firm ordering the appraisal and not necessarily the one who pays for it. A lender, at your request, is required under Maryland law to give you a copy of the report provided you have paid for the appraisal service.


Since value is measured in the marketplace, it can be very fickle. Your home tends to be an extension of your personal tastes; so even though you may have spent a considerable amount of money on decorating, the typical buyer would not pay more for it. In fact, a prospective buyer may want a reduction in sales prices, allowing more for the buyer's own decorating costs. Dollar for dollar expenses to add the "little extras" so often do not increase the value dollar for dollar, but may add to marketability.

You may wonder how long your appraisal is usable? This answer will vary depending upon the policies of various lenders. Generally speaking, six (6) months would be the minimum time that an appraisal would be considered valid.