real estate VA loans

What Does a VA Appraiser Look For?

March 10, 2019

What Does a VA Appraiser Look For?

va loansWe’ve examined the basics on VA minimum property requirements many times on this blog. When a VA appraiser reviews a home to see if it meets VA MPRs, he or she appraises the property with a set of criteria established by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VA appraiser’s job is to make sure the property is safe, livable, sanitary and marketable — but does not guarantee or insure the building lives up to local property codes. That’s a local compliance issue which is addressed at the local level.

Naturally, if the VA appraiser does find something that doesn’t look right or is in violation of the VA MPRs, that issue is noted for the appraisal report. However, the VA appraiser is primarily interested in insuring the home lives up to the criteria listed as well as other requirements issued by the VA. So, what does the appraiser specifically examine? There are several different areas.

  • The VA won’t approve a single-family home loan for a building that is primarily commercial in nature, with living quarters making up a small portion of the floor space on the property.
  • The VA requires the property for a single family VA home loan to be a “single, readily marketable real estate entity.”
  • Any nonresidential use of the property must be, in the words of the VA Lender’s Guide, “subordinate to its residential use and character.”

It’s important to remember that a VA appraisal is not an inspection. Some appraisers include language in the comments section of the appraisal form that indicates the nature of the work done to determine fair market value on the property.

An example would read something like this:

“Appraiser has not moved or relocated any personal belongings to get a better view. Appliances and systems have not been tested beyond turning them on and off. The appraiser is not an expert in plumbing, heating, or electrical systems and the appraiser is only responsible for what is readily observable on the property.”

Borrowers or sellers concerned about the nature of the property in question should hire a qualified inspector to perform more extensive reviews of the home for a detailed report on the condition of it in regards to heating, air conditioning, plumbing, etc.

  1. [...] VA Appraisers Look For: Part Two March 16, 2011   Joe Wallace   No comments In our last blog post we discussed VA appraisals and what the VA appraiser looks for when reviewing the home. An [...]

  • Karen

    My son-in-law is a disabled Veteran and they have been pre-approved for a loan. The problem is that in their price range, the homes available are mostly repossessions and short sales with additions to the homes that are not permitted by the county of Sacramento. My question is, does VA allow a home loan on a garage conversion (without a permit) if the borrow accepts it "as built"? It is not a room with plumbing, nor any other major alterations, the garage was simply converted to a living space. Thank you for your time in answering this inquiry.

    • Joe Wallace

      Much would depend on the local code requirements and the VA appraisal. Unfortunately there's no way to tell in each specific circumstance what the VA might approve or deny but any building that doesn't live up to local codes (missing permits, etc) runs the risk of being deemed unacceptable until they have been brought up to local code . No way to say yes or no for sure, but it's definitely a possibility.

    • Joe Wallace

      Hi Byron--check with your VA Regional Loan Center for the most accurate information. VA rules do state that six years of service in the Guard/Reserve is required and any "lost time" is also required...but the rules don't state that all six years have to be served in the same branch--the rules AS I READ THEM seem to indicate that it's the length of service--not necessarily which branch--that is the key. VA can advice you on your specific situation but in general it would seem that you do qualify.

  • Al

    Quick question for you, I'm interested in a foreclosure that it's in really good shape but doesn't have a stove or dishwasher. Will those two missing items cause a problem in qualifying? Like I said, it's in great condition, just the two missing appliances have me concerned.

  • Carlos

    Question, the last owner left the master bathroom unfinished, floor and wall tiles missing, sink, cabinet and toilet not installed but everything is in a closet including the tiles. It is an approved short sale for less than the comparables, the bank will not do any repairs and will not let me because of liabilities. Will the VA inspector see a problem even if the house has 2 more bathrooms?

  • judy leonhart

    Hi,,,,My son wants to purchase my home as I have Parkinsons and will be moving to a Asst.Living at the end of this year. It needs a few repairs, the largest being the basement with some leakage in one corner, but nothing major. My main concern is the bathroom that needs to be converted to a walk-in shower as the tub is a hazard to me. We've already moved the washer and dryer to the main floor, utilizing one small bedroom. I can''t go up/down steps. However, the VA says these repairs need to be done by me, the seller, BEFORE it's appriased. We were hoping to finalize the sale, get the money, then make the repairs. But, they say repairs need to be made first. Well, we don't have that kind of money and was planning to fix things after we have cash in the bank. Why is this as we've been living wth these "needed repairs" for several years and it's not being sold to a "stranger'.....we're family ! ! Tell me why this is..... thanks

  • Mel

    Hi- We have loan approval for a VA Loan. We have a strong feeling our offer with the house we're interested in is gonna be accepted. The house was built in 2005, comps in the area were selling for about $10,000 less than the asking price. The seller counter-offered $9,000 less than the asking price, because of a moving date factor. The only thing I really saw that would be in question, would be some of the walls in the home. The current owners have young children and have the living room walls decorated with disney characters with fabric trees on one main wall. A bedroom upstairs has some fabric flowers on one main wall. Will these types of things lower the value of the home? Other than that, the house is fantastic. It has beautiful landscaping front and back, the house is clean, and each bedroom has different color walls to go with their theme of decorating. Thank you!

  • bill and sharon

    we built our home in 2011 but due to a low appraisal (we live in the country in an aircraft community) we have mortgage insurance. we have decided to re-finance with VA which reduces our loan by $400/mo. We had our appraisal and it came back $60,000 less then when appraised 6 months ago! We finished our basement but was not given any credit for a finished basement. Our house is built into a hill with more than 50% of the basement above grade. We have done some research if a finished basement can add to the value of the house and so far it may not be full value but given some value. so, is the appraiser right in not giving any value or should we have been given some value for our walk-out/finished basement? thanks!

  • Sam Ford

    I'm interested in a property that has an old pole barn on the property. It has had a few years of deferred maintenance and could be considered a hazard if left for a few more years. Maybe now for the overly cautious. Would this barn even be inspectable by the VA? I would hate to go under contract and lose money on inspections for something I don't necessarily want if it ends up being a deal breaker. I'm just interested in the home and land.

  • Kip

    I am looking at a foreclosed home to buy. The home is 10 years old and everything structually is sound. However the last owner decided to remove the lighting fixtures and some of the light switches in the home before moving. Even took a tolet seat. Strange I know. I can't imagine a VA Home appraiser finding anything wrong with the house beside the removal of the lighting fixtures and switch. All the appliances are there and appear to be original. It would only cost me a couple hundred dollars to fix it once i bought it, would they require that fixed before hand? Thank You in advance.

  • Arnold De Hoyos

    We found a house that was build in 2006 and like very much. We offer the asking price of $172,900.00 We have been VA. approved. My concern is that the houses around are valve from $10,000.00 to $30,000.00 less than the one we like. Would there be any problems when the house we like be appraised by the va.? Thanks

  • Hunter gibson

    I've found a home in foreclosure at what I feel to be fair or even better. However there are two places at the base of the siding which have slight rot going up an inch or two. Also one corner eave joint has the same. Structurally the home is sound, cosmetically these areas slightly noticeable but apparent if one is inspecting. Obviously the bank will not do or allow repairs that I know of. Is this a deal breaker? I would repair this eventually especially if the VA made it a stipulation upon purchase, is that even an option if these discrepancies are a problem? Oh, one more thing, a baseball size hole is in the dry wall of one room. Easy fix but hard to miss. Problem? Thanks for your time.

  • Candice

    Hello. We have found a home that we love, had the offer accepted and now just waiting on the appraiser. The house was built in 1890 and is in wonderful condition with a dry basement, all appliances and clean. During the inspection we found that the house has knob and tube wiring, a roof with 3 layers of shingles, but no leaks, and a hot water heater that we can't find the vent to. We plan on fixing these issues as soon as we own the house. I am wondering if you think it will pass the appraisal. Thanks :)

  • Daniel

    I recently bought a home that had a VA appraisal done, which I thought was also a inspection done per VA requirements (my misunderstanding). 3 weeks after closing and while doing paint work, I found serious rot and water damage in the ceiling, walls, and attic I dont know how it could have been missed by the appraiser, the 4point and wind mitigation inspector, or the WDO inspector. Is the VA appraiser liable for missing this? Or any of the other inspectors? Do I have any recourse as a VA buyer?

  • brandon scott

    I want a home that is foreclosed but my realtor is telling that the home wont pass VA home inspection because the previous owner "stripped" the home. Meaning he took many light fixture and switches, some of the faucet and the dishwasher. I'm not sure I believe my realtor, should I? It is a home that if move in ready would be $270,000 but I could possibly buy it for $210,000. What are my options? Should I have a VA inspector look at it at least?

  • James Humphries

    We are very interested in a rural home in SC. The house is in great shape, and sits on 33 acres. The house is a little over 45% value, and my research says that's okay for the VA, but although many lenders won't do it, I think I found one that will. All seemed well until the owner pointed out an unfinished barn/stables project. Even though the house is spot-on, and the valuation is good, would this barn project kill my appraisal and strike the deal? If they finished it, would that raise my cost? Does the barn have to be in similar shape as the house?

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