Whether you’re looking to buy a home with a VA loan or refinance through the VA, you’re going to have to use a VA appraisal.
An appraisal is when lenders send an appraiser to evaluate your home and establish a “fair market value” for the property. Keep in mind this is not as thorough as a home inspection, but it is necessary to get an appraisal report if you want a VA loan.
Unfortunately, VA appraisals aren’t the same as they are if you’re purchasing a home with a conventional loan. The Department of Veterans Affairs is backing the home, so they want to make sure the condition of the home is good before they approve any type of mortgage loan. This makes most VA appraisals tougher to pass, and it can slow down the process of buying a home.
But with proper planning, your appraisal will go off without hitch. Here are some tips to make sure your appraisal goes as planned.
VA Appraisal Checklist
Here are some of the general items a VA appraisal will consider when determining the value of the property:
- Is there enough space to live? This includes space to cook and sleep.
- Are there appropriate sanitary facilities, including clean drinking water, a water heater, and a functioning sewage system?
- What is the condition of the roof?
- Is the property residential?
- Are the home’s heating, air conditioning, electric, water, and other mechanical systems in good condition? Is there exposed wiring?
- Are there any inaccessible home areas like an attic or crawl space?
How to Prepare for Your VA Home Appraisal
Get connected with a real estate agent
Whether you’re getting a VA loan or refinance, find a real estate agent with VA experience. They’ll help you prepare for the VA appraisal, as well as everything else along the way.
Keep in mind that just because a real estate agent is VA certified doesn’t mean they will be helpful. Find an agent that has experience with VA loans.
Check the MPRs
In addition to assessing the value of the home, the VA appraiser will be checking to make sure the property meet’s the VA’s minimum property requirements (MPRs).
The VA appraiser is going to focus on the three S’s: safety, sanitation, and structural integrity.
A home that meets the MPRs should have a working heating system, safe water quality, safe and structurally sound roofing, no infestation or mold problems, and a safe electrical system. Your real estate agent can help you with everything as well.
If you’re purchasing a home, any problems will need to be addressed before the sale can be completed. While the costs of this can be negotiated before the closing, the entire process can take a lot of time.
Your best bet is to find a home that’s move-in ready or requires a few fixes. This speeds up the entire process and makes it easier to ace the VA appraisal.
Check your home
If you’re going for a VA refinance, you should begin by inspecting your own home. If your home has any problems that a VA appraiser might flag, such as a broken hot water heater, dry rot or dampness, or a busted water pipe. The appraiser will notice these, and they’ll require a fix before the refinance can be accepted.
Don’t put off the appraisal process until the last minute
A VA appraisal typically takes one or two weeks to be completed. However, you should always be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
In the event a VA appraisal takes much longer to turn around – or repairs have to be made – the closing date can be pushed much further back. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
Get a home inspection
While the appraiser is going to evaluate your home to meet the VA’s needs, they won’t do a full-blown inspection. After the appraisal is done but before you purchase a home, be sure to get a home inspection.
A home inspector will help you determine how much work the new home might require in the future.
The VA Home Loan & Appraisal Process
The VA appraisal is required for both VA loans and refinances, but it doesn’t have to be as stressful as it seems. If you’ve done your research correctly, then the VA appraisal should go as smoothly as possible.
Keep in mind you will have to pay for the VA appraisal yourself, and this cost can vary state by state. Fortunately, the VA has made the information readily available to home buyers and homeowners.
After finishing up with the VA appraisal, you’ll be one big step closer to getting a VA mortgage or refinance.