A home appraisal is a document that estimates the value of a home at a given point in time. The purpose of getting an appraisal is to determine whether the home’s listed price is appropriate given its condition, location, age, etc. Appraisals usually last for three to four months, but if the real estate market changes significantly in that time, the appraised value may no longer be accurate.
When you’re buying a home with a mortgage loan, appraisals are an important part of the process. This is especially true since the majority of home loans in today’s mortgage market require a full appraisal. This document tells the lender how much your home is worth and can help them determine whether to give you a loan.
It’s important to know how long your appraisal is valid so you can ensure it still reflects the current market value of the property. If your lender thinks that your appraisal may be outdated, they’ll contact you to get an updated report.
How long is an appraisal good for in real estate?
Appraisals are usually good for about three to four months. However, this depends on the type of loan you’re applying for as well as the real estate market conditions.
When an appraiser determines the value of a property, they often look at comparable sales. These are sales of similar properties in the area that have taken place in the past six months. The appraiser then uses these sales to help them determine the value of the appraised property. However, if the market changes rapidly and prices fluctuate, mortgage lenders may require a new appraisal after only 30 to 60 days.
How long do appraisals last for different types of loans?
When you’re applying for a mortgage loan, the length of time an appraisal is valid can vary depending on the type of loan you choose.
- Conventional loan. For conventional loans, an appraisal for an existing home is usually valid for 120 days. On the other hand, appraisals for new homes can be valid for up to a year.
- Federal housing administration (FHA) loan. Federal housing administration loan appraisals are usually valid for 120 days. However, if the original home appraisal is updated, then the validity period can extend up to 240 days.
- Fannie Mae loan. Fannie Mae appraisals are valid for 12 months. However, Fannie Mae might request an appraisal update if the report is older than four months.
- Freddie Mac loan. Freddie Mac loan appraisals are valid for 120 days. Once it exceeds that, Freddie Mac requires an updated version. If it’s been more than 12 months since the effective date of the appraisal report, then you’ll need a new one.
- USDA loan. USDA loan appraisals are valid for 120 days with a 30-day grace period. If the age of the appraisal will exceed 150 days at closing, you’re required to update it or get a new report.
- Veteran Affairs (VA) loan. VA loan appraisals are valid for six months and expire if the loan closes. Borrowers are not allowed to reuse the same appraisal once it closes and must obtain a new one instead.
Do changes to a property affect appraisals?
Yes. The most accurate appraisals are those that use recent and reliable data. Therefore, any changes to the property after the appraisal takes place can invalidate the report.
For example, if the property is damaged after the appraisal takes place — whether by fire, storm damage, or some other cause — the value will likely go down. If it’s repaired or rebuilt, the cost of those repairs may influence the new market value. Additionally, if new information about the property becomes available (such as a previously unknown feature or zoning change that would affect its use) after the appraisal is done, that could also lead to a new estimate of its value.
What to do when your appraisal expires
If your appraisal is about to expire, you might not need to get a whole new one. Instead, you could get an appraisal update. An update is a new estimate of the home’s market value that takes into account recent changes in the real estate market. This can be helpful if the home’s value changed since the last appraisal was done.
Make sure to check with your mortgage lender to see if this option is still available to you. Sometimes, if your appraisal expired over a year ago, you must obtain a new one instead of updating it.
What should I do before the home is appraised?
You found your dream home and want to start the appraisal process. Like most Americans, you’ll need a mortgage to finance your dream house, which is why you’ll need an appraisal report. This reassures the mortgage lender that the home loan isn’t over the appraised home’s value.
Before starting the appraisal process, check out the mortgage lenders below to find the best financing for you.
How can I increase my home’s appraisal value?
If you are the seller of the home, here are a few things you can do to increase the home appraisal value:
1. Clean and declutter your home
One of the main things that appraisers look at when assessing a home’s value is the condition of the property. Make sure to tidy up both the inside and outside and remove any clutter before the appraisal takes place. This will give your home a more polished appearance and make it easier for the appraiser to assess its value.
2. Fix any damage
If your home has any damage that needs to be fixed, make sure to take care of it before the appraiser arrives. Small issues like a leaky faucet or a crack in the wall can become much bigger problems if left unchecked, and they can negatively affect the value of your home.
3. Update your home’s features
Another way to increase your home’s appraisal value is to update its features. If your home is outdated, consider giving it a makeover with some new paint, flooring, or appliances. This can make it more appealing to potential buyers and result in a higher appraisal value.
Can an appraisal be challenged?
While it’s possible to challenge an appraisal if you feel the value is low, it’s important to have a good reason for doing so. In some cases, the low appraisal may be due to an inaccurate assessment of the property or incorrect market data. If you can provide evidence that shows why the value is inaccurate, you may be able to get a second appraisal that results in a higher value.
If you’re not happy with the first report for any reason, it’s worth speaking to your real estate agent about it first. Keep in mind that you’ll likely have to pay for a second one, and there’s no guarantee that the new appraisal will result in a higher value. But if you have a good case, it’s worth trying.
Make sure to craft a data-focused rebuttal to increase the chances of getting your low appraisal revised. Instead of providing your opinion on why the home is worth more, focus on the facts. For example, point out how the poor comparable that your appraiser chose resulted in the low appraisal and suggest new ones.
Can I use an old appraisal to refinance?
A lender will only accept an appraisal if it has not expired—and typically, their terms state that the report is valid for around three to four months. Keep in mind that this can also depend on the type of loan you’re applying for, so make sure to double-check with your lender beforehand.
If your previous appraisal already expired when you’re refinancing your home, your lender might order an update to make sure your property value did not decline.
Can you reuse a home appraisal?
While you typically don’t “reuse” your appraisal, more than one lender may accept your appraisal and update it. However, since neither lenders nor borrowers can choose the appraiser, there’s no guarantee the appraiser will accept a previous report.
What should you not say to an appraiser?
A home appraiser is a professional who evaluates properties for lending, insurance, or other purposes. He or she will typically enter your property to get an accurate representation of its worth. This may involve walking through the interior and taking notes on each room’s condition and features. Many appraisers also photograph anything considered valuable, such as furniture or artwork.
When meeting with or discussing the report with a home appraiser, avoid talking about how much you paid for the home or how much work you’ve put into it. This can inadvertently lower the appraisal value. We also recommend avoiding negative comments about the neighborhood or the surrounding area. Also, don’t try to influence the appraiser’s opinion in any way, even if you think your home is worth more. All in all, it’s best to keep any conversation with the appraiser positive and focus on the good aspects of your home.
Why do appraisers lowball?
It’s possible that your home appraisal may come in lower than expected for a few reasons. Perhaps the market slowed down in your area and values decreased since you first purchased your home. Your appraiser may lack local market knowledge and experience. Finally, appraisals can sometimes be affected by external factors, such as the state of the economy and the housing market.
As a buyer, when your home’s value comes in low, your lender will not lend you more than the appraised value. Mainly because this situation could result in an underwater mortgage, which could inhibit you from ever refinancing your loan. Moreover, a low appraisal could also derail your entire home buying process.
We recommend doing the following to ensure you still get your dream home:
- Renegotiate a lower home sale price with the seller
- Request an appraisal rebuttal
- Make up the difference with cash
- Increase your down payment
- A home appraisal is a process where a real estate appraiser determines the fair market value of a home. It is used when a mortgage is involved in the transaction of a real estate property.
- Appraisers often use the recent sales of similar properties in the area to help them determine the value of the appraised property.
- When an appraisal expires depends on the market conditions as well as the type of loan you’re applying for.
- Significant changes to the property after the appraisal takes place can invalidate the report.
- If your appraisal is about to expire, you either need to update it or get a new one. Make sure to check with your mortgage lender beforehand.
- Home appraisals can be challenged. However, make sure you can provide a data-focused rebuttal to prove why the home deserves a second review.
- As a buyer, if your appraisal comes in low, you can choose to renegotiate the home price with the seller, request an appraisal rebuttal, pay the difference in cash, or increase your down payment.
The right lender for your new home
Home appraisals are an important part of the real estate transaction process, especially when mortgages are involved. Therefore, it is important to know how long an appraisal remains valid when it is time to close.
An appraised value can help you get the right home loan or refinance your current mortgage. Regardless of why you need it, be sure to inform your lender what loan you’d like and when the appraisal was completed.
View Article Sources
- Appraisers — U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- What are appraisals and why do I need to look at them? — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Banker Resource Center: Appraisals and Other Valuation Products — Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- 2021 Mortgage Industry Study — SuperMoney
- Best Mortgage Lenders | February 2022 — SuperMoney
- Home Purchase Mortgages: Reviews & Comparisons — SuperMoney
- How to Finance a House — SuperMoney
- The Ultimate Guide To Buying A New Home — SuperMoney