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5 Tips for a Faster Home Appraisal

By John O'Malley

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

My name is John O'Malley, SRA. I am a (Senior Residential Appraiser) designated with the Appraisal Institute. I have been an residential real estate appraiser for 30 years. I worked as a staff appraiser for two appraisal companies from 1984 until 1993. I started my business in 1994 with two business partners. Currently our appraisal firm consists of 10 employees and 9 full-time appraisers. Our firm provides residential appraisals for 1 to 4 family properties and vacant residentially zoned land throughout all of Connecticut with the exception of Fairfield County. Our company provides appraisals to area attorneys in matters relating to divorce, mediation, probate, foreclosure and bail bonds. Most of our appraisers are approved to do appraisals for FHA (Federal Housing Administration), CHFA (Connecticut Housing Finance Authority) and VA (Veterans Administration).

What is the the typical amount of time that it takes to have a home appraisal done?

Most of our appraisals are done for area banks and are completed within two days after the property is inspected. Appraisal for private individuals usually are completed in the same turnaround time. The physical inspection of the property can take as long as 1.5 hours but inspections on average area residences can be completed in less than one hour. Homeowners should not confuse an appraisal inspection with an inspection performed by a licensed home inspector. A capable real estate appraiser is very knowledgeable on residential construction systems and most likely can spot areas of problems or concern in a building. Appraisers do not test the mechanical systems of the building nor do they look for areas of active insect infestation unless outwardly visible; those inspections are the job for a licensed home inspector or exterminator. It is the appraiser's job to estimate the market value of the property. Appraisers can be described as knowledgeable buyers of real estate, with far more experience and knowledge than the typical buyer would have.

What are some of the biggest factors in determining how fast a homeowner will get a copy of the report?

The primary factor in how fast a homeowner will get an appraisal is the complexity of the assignment. The more unique a property is, the longer it will take to completed the assignment. Unique properties have fewer comparable sales to compare the property to and the appraiser may have to seek comparable sales in locations further away or farther back in time to complete a reliable appraisal report.

Can you give some common examples of unique property features you've seen in Connecticut-area houses?

Many Connecticut properties have private wells and/or private sanitation systems. Area mortgage lenders and banks may have specific requirements for properties with theses types of systems. Homes with very high energy conservation, photovoltaic systems or geothermal systems are becoming more prevalent in Connecticut. Connecticut, because of its long history, also has a larger number of antique or period homes not found in other parts of the country.

What are two ways that a homeowner or occupant can help speed up the home appraisal process?

Area homeowners can speed up the appraisal process by providing a list of recent repairs or improvements with costs to the real estate appraiser. In winter, photographs of the home in spring and summer are helpful to the appraiser in seeing the exterior landscaping and upkeep of the property.

In most cases, how much contact does a home appraiser have with homeowners after the appraisal is complete?

Appraisals prepared for mortgage loans, paid for in the homeowners application fee are not done for the homeowner, they are done for the mortgage lender. The client of the appraisal is almost always the intended user of the appraisal report and the appraiser is responsible to the client or intended user of the appraisal report. Homeowners can have appraisals done on their property at any time as they would be the appraiser's client.

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