Who Does What: Inspection vs Appraisal
As a Realtor, I am often asked what is the difference between an inspection and an appraisal! Great question! Whether you are a buyer or a seller the distinction between these two things is important.
Once a home is under contract the buyer usually wants an inspection of the home. The inspector is the buyer’s choice, and the buyer will own the inspection report. The inspector should be a licensed individual, not just someone’s handy Uncle Joe! Ask for referrals from your Realtor, and do some research. During the inspection, the inspector will look at all parts of the home from the roof, to the attic, to the crawlspace (if there is one). He or she is looking for any potential issues with the home, small and large. This is important to remember! The inspector will find many things which are normal wear and tear, or routine maintenance items.
The inspector also may point out big-ticket issues about which the seller was unaware. Few of us spend much time in our attic or crawlspace so it is not unusual for problems to come to light. My advice is to focus on issues related to Health, Security, and Safety but not cosmetic issues that are easily remedied. Upon receipt and evaluation of the inspection report, buyers and their agents have a couple of choices. A buyer can:
- accept the home as it is
- ask the seller to make repairs
- ask for a reduction in the sales price
- walk away from the home entirely.
Your Realtor can help with these choices and any negotiations with the seller.
The appraiser is also paid for by the buyer. The job of the appraiser is to assure both the buyer and their lender that the home is worth the agreed upon price. The lender needs this in the event that they have to resell the home if the buyer defaults on their mortgage. The appraiser will compare the home to similar properties that recently sold. That time frame is usually over the last 3-6 months. The appraiser will choose comparables as close to the appraised home as possible and will make price adjustments for any differences. For example, if the home being appraised has three garage bays, and a comparable has just two, the appraiser will make a price adjustment to make the comparable “the same” as the appraised home.
In a Nutshell
The inspection is done to determine what defects, large and small, the home has. The appraisal is done to assure the lender the home is worth the price the buyer and seller have agreed upon.
When I have the buyer my role is to be in the home during the inspection with my buyers, and then to help them evaluate the inspection report.
When I have the seller I want to advise them on how to respond to the requests for repairs after inspection. I believe strongly I should meet the appraiser at the home to answer any questions and tell them how the market reacted to the home.