In this article:
A real estate appraisal is an unbiased estimate of how much a property is worth or its fair market value. Typically, buyers need to have an appraisal conducted by a licensed appraiser as a condition of their mortgage loan.
It’s a key step in the home buying process and happens within a week of you making an offer on a new home and carrying out a home inspection. To help you prepare, we’ve outlined how long a home appraisal takes and what factors an appraiser will review.
How long does a home appraisal take?
In real estate, a home appraisal typically takes two days to a week to fully complete. To complete the appraisal process, the mortgage lender must first order and schedule the appraisal, then gather data about the home. Finally, the appraiser needs to review the data to complete the appraisal report.
Here’s how long every step of a home appraisal takes:
- Scheduling an inspection: Your lender will first order an appraisal from a third-party licensed professional. It takes up to 48 hours for an appraiser to schedule a home walkthrough.
- Appraisal walkthrough: The appraiser will come to your home and do a home walkthrough. The home walkthrough takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the home’s size and condition.
- Reviewing comparable homes: The appraiser will then review comparable homes, which takes 15 to 20 minutes. This step is fast if the appraiser uses software to quickly identify comparable homes.
- Receiving appraisal report: Compiling the information into a report takes 2 to 10 days and is highly dependent on how many other homes the appraiser is evaluating. The appraisal report for a typical single-family home is around 10 pages.
Why is my appraisal taking so long?
Of course, not every appraisal fits neatly into the above timeline. This is especially true in hot markets, and as of 2021, much of the country is experiencing a buying boom.
If your appraisal is taking a long time in 2021, a combination of factors is likely contributing to the wait. One major issue is that there is a logjam for lenders: Banks are currently working through a ton of mortgage applications as home buyers look to close on new homes, as well as refinancing applications. There simply aren't enough appraisal slots open right now to work through them in a timely fashion.
There is also a lack of qualified local appraisers: Because of shifts to remote work and other changes to workflow due to the pandemic, there are reportedly fewer appraisers available to conduct in-home appraisals.
Lenders will try to address this shortfall, but for now, your best option is to have patience. You can also look into alternative means for assessing the value of the home.
What is an online home appraisal?
These days, you can also get your home appraised online. Also known as a "desktop appraisal," an online home appraisal determines the home value using information from the internet. An appraiser will use the local multiple listing service (MLS) and public records data to assess the property’s value. Usually, this method is quicker because no physical inspection of the property is required. This type of appraisal is more popular among home sellers than home buyers because lenders require a traditional appraisal before they approve your mortgage.
There are also online resources that allow you to get a sense of your home’s value in a free, fast, and easy to follow way. Orchard offers a complimentary home valuation within 24 hours, which is useful if you’re thinking about listing soon or are just exploring your options. Our team of analysts will review comparable homes, market trends, and the details you provide about your home to give you an initial valuation. We’ll then send out an inspection team to take a closer look at the house to ensure our valuation is accurate.
What factors does an appraiser evaluate when determining the value of a home?
When determining the fair market value of a property, the appraiser usually looks at a mix of external factors, internal factors, and comparable sales. We've provided a few examples of each one below so that you have a better idea of how your home value will be determined.
- Property location (neighborhood, quality of nearby schools)
- Property condition
- Lot size
- Construction quality
- Structural integrity (roof, foundation)
- Square footage
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Recent renovations or updates
- Any amenities
Once the appraiser has collected all that information, they will compare your property to other comparable homes that have recently sold in your area. These are typically homes that are within a quarter- or half-mile from yours, and sold within the last 3-6 months.
Here, they will use the purchase price of the other properties to help inform your appraisal value. For example, if your property is roughly the same size and layout as another home that sold in your neighborhood a few months ago, but it is in much better condition, you will likely be given a higher appraised value.
How much does an appraisal cost and who pays?
You can expect to pay between $300 to $400 for an appraisal, though the cost can vary if your home is larger than average, is going to be financed with a jumbo loan, or is in a remote location that’s difficult for the appraiser to access.
While the lender orders the appraisal, the home's new buyer is the one who pays for the appraisal.
What happens between an appraisal and closing?
Okay, so the appraisal is now complete. With an appraisal report in hand, your lender will proceed to the mortgage underwriting process. If the appraisal did not raise any red flags, you could expect to close within 2 weeks.
How can I prepare for an appraisal?
The appraisal can bring on added stress, but there are ways to prepare. Reference our buyer’s checklist and our seller’s checklist for what you should do before and after the appraisal — including what to do if the appraisal comes in lower than expected. With that information in mind, you’ll be ready to navigate this step of the process.