How Much Does a Home Appraisal Cost?

Congratulations, you’ve found a home that you’re ready to buy. From the days of saving for a down payment, searching the housing market for your dream home, homeownership is almost in sight. So whether you’re a seasoned homebuyer or a first-time homebuyer, you’ll need to plan for a home appraisal before you can get final approval for your mortgage. 

You may be wondering just what is a home appraisal and how much does a home appraisal cost? Before heading into the final steps of the homebuying process, find out about the different types of home appraisals and what factors can change the price of a home appraisal.

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What is a home appraisal? 

A home appraisal is a prerequisite for most mortgages, whether you’re living in Houston, TX or looking to buy a house in Philadelphia, PA. It determines a home’s value and your lender will use the house appraisal to generate an appraisal report. The report helps lenders decide an appropriate amount to lend to a potential homebuyer to purchase that property. State-certified professionals conduct appraisals to safeguard both buyers and lenders against inflated property valuations.

Who chooses the home appraiser? 

Your mortgage lender will often recommend from a list of preferred appraisers, chosen for their track records as reliable, high-integrity professionals. As the buyer you’ll have to pay the appraisal cost, which usually is a fee added to your closing costs. However, your lender should inform you how much the appraisal will cost when you begin the pre-qualification process, so you’ll know just what to expect.

How much does a home appraisal cost? 

A typical home appraisal can range from $200 to $450. However, the cost of your home appraisal will depend on the type of appraisal you need. Here are the four types of home appraisals you might run across:

1) Uniform Residential Appraisal Report (URAR)

This is the most common type of home appraisal out there and lenders typically require a URAR before approving your mortgage.

During a URAR, a trained and certified appraiser carefully reviews both the home’s interior and exterior. The home appraisal process takes two to four hours — and costs between $300 and $400. At the end of the evaluation, the appraiser will give you a detailed report breaking down your home’s value. This is the most extensive, and therefore most expensive, type of home appraisal.

Note: The remaining three types of appraisals are generally not considered sufficient to obtain a conventional loan, but there are reasons why you may want one of these appraisals.

2) Restricted-Use, Short-form Report, or Drive-by Appraisal: 

As you might expect, this type of appraisal provides less information than other types. Therefore, this home appraisal cost is generally less expensive, around $100 to $150. However, lenders generally do not accept this type of appraisal for mortgage approval. More likely, homeowners and real estate agents may use it to help determine a home’s listing price. For this type of house appraisal, a trained and certified appraiser evaluates only the outside of the house and relies on the owner to provide information about the home’s condition and other details inside. 

3) Comparative Market Analysis (CMA): 

Real estate agents use a CMA to value a home, considering factors like nearby home values, ratings for school districts, and the home’s general condition for their analysis. CMAs provide a reasonable estimate for a home’s value when setting a listing price. While this report is more likely used as a tool for sellers rather than buyers, you can always ask your real estate agent for a CMA if you’re looking to buy. It’s important to note that lenders do not consider a CMA as a valid appraisal to determine loan value. 

4) Online appraisals: 

Numerous online sites offer home appraisals directly to buyers who want to know how much their house is worth. An online home appraisal can be free or have some cost depending on how much information you request. Lenders do not accept this type of home appraisal as a valid appraisal. 

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Factors that affect home appraisal cost

Before you have a home appraised, know the four important factors that can affect the cost of your home appraisal. 

Type of property

The type of property you plan to buy will influence the cost of your home appraisal. For example, an appraisal for a two-bedroom home will be less expensive than one with multiple bedrooms, a finished basement, and an attic. Additionally, if you plan to set up your home as a rental property to generate income, the appraiser will require a rent survey and an income statement, which may increase the cost.

The home’s value

The general value of the home affects the cost of the appraisal. As a rule of thumb, the larger the home, the more expensive the appraisal. A larger home will take more time to evaluate and results in a more extensive report. As a general reference point, properties priced at or less than $500,000 will typically result in an appraisal cost at the lower end of the range.

The home’s location 

How far does the appraiser need to travel to conduct the appraisal? Driving times and mileage are all accounted for these days, so you should expect to pay more for your home appraisal if the house is located out of town.

Type of mortgage you’re applying for

Depending on the type of mortgage you’ve applied for, it may result in a more costly home appraisal. For example, mortgages that involve a federal agency, such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), require an appraisal to include additional safety inspections, resulting in a higher cost. 

If you plan on getting a mortgage loan to purchase your new home, getting an appraisal will most likely be a non-negotiable requirement from your lender. Make sure to ask your lender ahead of time what to expect for the home appraisal cost, so you can be sure to set aside that amount to be paid as part of the home closing process. The more prepared you are throughout your homebuying journey, the more likely you’ll find yourself at ease and ready to become a homeowner.

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