How Long Does a Home Appraisal Take?
If you’re looking to take out a mortgage, then your lender will likely require a home appraisal. Here’s what the home appraisal process looks like and how long it typically takes.
Home Appraisal Process
During the appraisal, a professional appraiser examines the home and estimates its current market value. It’s part of the underwriting process, where your mortgage lender verifies your financial situation before giving final approval on your loan application. The appraisal helps your lender confirm that the loan amount is appropriate relative to the value of the home, and reassures you that you’re getting a fair price.
The appraiser will walk through the home and assess the condition of the inside and outside. The appraiser will also compare the home to similar properties in the area — known as “comps” — and take note of how much they sold for. Using this information, the appraiser will give a professional opinion on the current market value of the home.
There are a few possible outcomes when the appraisal comes back:
- If the appraisal comes back on par with the purchase price, then you’re good to go.
- If the appraisal comes back higher than expected, then you’re in a great position because the home is worth more than the purchase price.
- If the appraisal comes back lower than expected, then you’ll have to negotiate with the seller to lower the price, come up with the difference yourself, or dispute the home appraisal if you find errors. That’s because the lender will only lend you an amount up to the appraised value of the home. If you have an appraisal contingency in your purchase agreement, you’ll be able to back out of the deal without penalty.
Home Appraisal Timeline
“The timeframe for a home appraisal can vary, depending on the complexity of the property and the workload of the appraiser,” says Alex Shekhtman, CEO and founder of LBC Mortgage in Beverly Hills, California. “Generally, it can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. It’s always a good idea to ask your lender or appraiser for an estimated timeline so that you can plan accordingly.”
Scheduling the inspection: 48 hours
Your lender typically schedules the appraisal for you. After your lender secures an appraiser, it can take up to 48 hours to finalize the appointment.
The visit from an appraiser: 15 minutes to several hours
The amount of time it takes the appraiser to assess the home’s value depends on the size and complexity of the property, as well as how many comps there are. As you can imagine, larger and unique homes take longer to appraise.
Another factor that affects the length of the appraiser’s visit is the type of appraisal. During an in-person appraisal, the appraiser inspects both the interior and the exterior of the home. A drive-by appraisal saves time because it’s an examination of only the outside of the home. A desktop appraisal is usually even faster because the appraiser assesses the home remotely.
Processing the appraisal and receiving the report: 1 to 2 weeks
Once the appraiser has completed their assessment of the property, they’ll need time to create a report. The timeline for this part varies depending on the size of the property and appraiser’s workload. You can typically expect to receive the appraisal report in a week or two.
Disputing any errors
Once you receive the report, you’ll want to review it. Make sure that all the details included in the report are correct, and that the appraiser used fair comps.
If you do find issues or errors, you should promptly contact your lender to dispute the appraisal. Keep in mind this can slow down the underwriting process considerably. Another solution is getting a second opinion and hiring a different appraiser, though this will come at an additional cost.
Factors That Affect the Appraisal Timeline
Here’s a look at what can affect the appraisal timeline.
What can delay a home appraisal?
In general, the appraisal process can take longer for larger and more-complicated properties that have unique characteristics, according to Shekhtman.
“Several factors can affect the speed of a home appraisal,” Shekhtman says. “For instance, if the property is located in a remote area, it may take longer to find an appraiser who is willing to travel to the location. Additionally, if the property has unique features or characteristics, it may take longer for the appraiser to research comparable properties in the area.”
In addition, the home appraisal process will be delayed if there are inaccuracies in the report that you must dispute.
What can speed up a home appraisal?
If you adequately prepare for a home appraisal, this can help the process go faster and more smoothly.
“Having all the necessary documents and information readily available, such as the property’s legal description and recent home improvements, can help speed up the appraisal process,” Shekhtman says. “Scheduling the appraisal as soon as possible after the purchase agreement is signed can also help prevent delays in the closing process.”
Another way to speed up the process is to have a drive-by appraisal — which only examines the outside of the home — or a desktop appraisal, where the appraiser examines the home remotely. However, an in-person appraisal that examines both the inside and outside of the home tends to be the most thorough.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about home appraisals.